Influencer marketing is more than just a buzzword. It can be an effective way to reach audiences and turn them into loyal customers. At a time when getting people to notice your brand is increasingly challenging, influencers can help businesses break through the noise.
Most companies automatically associate influencers with celebrities or mega-media personalities. But any content creator on social media with a respectable following can sway audiences and impact their purchasing behaviors. Business leaders who want to include working with content creators in their marketing strategies will find there are many to choose from.
That said, it’s essential to put careful thought into the process. You want to partner with people who speak to similar target markets and can help you achieve your marketing goals. Before your business collaborates with an influencer, here’s what you need to know.
Understand Your Objectives
As with any marketing strategy, you should start with an outline of your goals. Determine what your company is aiming for, whether that’s building brand awareness, increasing trust or boosting sales.
Most brands struggle with visibility at launch, but maybe you have a problem with your audiences’ associations with your brand. People know who you are, but it may be for reasons that don’t align with your desired image. Influencers won’t correct that issue overnight or by themselves. However, their content can become a part of an impactful digital PR campaign or strategy. If your goal is to rebrand your business, you can make strides by working with others who represent the image you want to convey.
You also need to understand what role influencers will play in reaching your objectives. If you want to expand your audience reach, what does that look like? For some companies, it will mean increased exposure to and conversations with specific demographics. Other businesses will want to strengthen their reach within core target markets. Knowing your main and supporting objectives will help you avoid mismatched expectations and misaligned partnerships.
Consider the Big Picture
You might naturally gravitate toward influencers with more followers if your goal is to increase reach. Your intuition tells you that someone with a bigger audience will boost yours. While the size of an influencer’s following is one thing to consider, it shouldn’t be the only factor determining fit.
Considerations such as where your target customers live and who they are can impact influencer marketing’s effectiveness. For instance, influencers’ content isn’t as powerful in Japan as in India or Brazil. Surveys show that fewer than 10% of Japanese consumers buy something because of an influencer’s recommendation. In Brazil, that percentage rises to around 45%. U.S. markets are somewhat middle of the road, hovering just under 20%.
Besides potential reach and market effectiveness, you’ll want to evaluate relevance and engagement. Look at what type of content influencers on your shortlist are posting. Does it match your brand’s values and the qualities you want to be associated with? Also, research and observe whether influencers’ followers interact with their content. If someone isn’t posting frequently enough or inspiring engagement with their followers, they may not be the right match.
Give Influencers Creative Control
Yes, you want your brand voice to be consistent. That’s why you’ve made a shortlist of content creators you believe align with that voice. But effective influencers typically know what content resonates with and moves their followers. While your business can provide brand and content guidelines, don’t try to exert control.
Most content creators won’t view attempts to manage every detail of what they produce or post in a positive light. They may turn down a collaboration request or end a partnership if that’s what working with you is like. Instead, get out of the influencer’s way and let them do what they do best. More than likely, they’ll have a list of ideas for how to promote your brand’s mission or mention a product.
It’s better to work with those ideas and monitor the influencer’s campaign results than to micromanage them. Your guidelines should include essential information about your target markets and brand values. You might have specific logos, color schemes or established hashtags you’d like influencers to use. But for the most part, stand back and let influencers run with creative briefs or guides.
Gather the Right Metrics
An influencer’s content mentioning your company or what you offer may get a bunch of likes and shares. While high engagement is a positive indicator, measuring metrics that align with campaign goals is more important. Otherwise, you might evaluate an influencer’s effectiveness based on the wrong parameters.
Say your end game is to boost online sales. You want to determine the impact of an influencer’s content on website purchases. Likes, shares and comments may increase brand or product visibility, but that’s not what you’re after. Having an influencer include a unique link or discount code in their content is a better way to measure ROI. In this case, effectiveness is about driving sales and gaining new customers.
As you map out your influencer campaign goals, match them with the metrics you require to verify success. Measuring results may be a bit trickier for campaigns that aim to change people’s opinions. In the short run, it’s not necessarily about increasing sales. You may need to follow up with surveys or partner with agencies that research market perceptions.
Working With Influencers
Influencers can help businesses reach marketing goals when other forms of promotion and advertising fall short. However, leaders should think strategically about whom they partner with and what impacts collaborations will have. Outlining objectives and measures of success can steer campaigns and partnerships in the right direction.
It’s also important to be realistic about your company’s ambitions and the amount of control you’ll have. As with any marketing tactic or technique, you need to monitor influencer marketing’s effects and give it time to work. The good thing is, influencers are highly motivated to produce results. After all, it’s more than your brand’s success that’s on the line. It’s also theirs.