At a fundamental level, influencer marketing is a type of social media marketing that uses endorsements and product mentions from influencers–individuals who have a dedicated social following and are viewed as experts within their niche. Influencer marketing works because of the high amount of trust that influencers have built up with their following, and recommendations from them serve as a form of social proof to your brand’s potential customers.
How to create an influencer marketing strategy
Like any marketing tactic, an influencer program takes deliberate targeting and planning. You won’t find strategic success just by sending free things out to everyone who asks or to your existing friends and acquaintances
1. How to find and pay social media influencers
Much like any strategy, research is the first step. Choose the network you want to focus on first. You can always expand to other networks later but if you’re just starting out, stick with one. Ideally, your brand should already have a presence on this network or be looking to expand into it. Demographics vary on each network. If you’re unsure of where to begin, our article on social media demographics is a good starting point.
The industry you’re in also matters when you’re planning to implement an influencer marketing strategy. Beauty and fashion brands shine on Instagram and YouTube.
You’ll need to think about the expected ROI of your influencer marketing campaign: how will you gauge the contributions of influencer posts to your overall marketing goals? One approach might be to compare your expectations for influencers to other firms – look at how you might gauge the budget for a video production firm’s work in creating an ad for you versus an influencer creating a video. It may initially seem like judging the value of influencers is unpredictable, but this type of approach will give you a familiar point of comparison and contrast.
2. Set a budget and management strategy
Now that you have some idea of what to influence, you need to create your own budget. Be sure to also factor in time for planning, executing and reviewing your strategy. Running a successful influencer marketing campaign is not a set-it-and-go type of strategy. It’ll involve careful monitoring and follow up. influencers are human and frequently balancing multiple partnerships, so some may fall behind in their commitments to post on time or make errors in your requested tags or calls to action. You’ll need to have the time to be more hands-on with these relationships to cultivate them, and refine your approach through experience about what works and what doesn’t in your niche.
3. Decide on goals and message
The two most common reasons for using influencer marketing are to elevate brand awareness and increase sales. However, instead of setting these broad targets as your two goals, it will be more effective to kick off on your strategy by honing in on what your brand’s needs are. Perhaps you want to increase your customer base in a younger demographic. Or you want to expand into a new user group with a new product. Or you want to skip trends and utilize influencers to talk about your brand values.
Influencers have the ability to reach very specific audiences. Instead of relying on thousands of followers, influencers will help you ensure a very targeted audience who is likely to be interested in your product reads and engages with your content.
4. Find your influencers and contact them
Back to step one: research. With a plan set around your network, goals and what types of influencers you want to target, we go back to researching to actually find the right influencers to work with.
During this research, keep in mind the below:
Does the influencer already post about similar things to your service? For example, if you’re a restaurant and you want to promote a new menu, you should be looking for influencers who regularly post about dining out and the food they eat.
Are they legit? This means scrolling through their feed and clicking through on posts. A poor engagement ratio to follower count and spam-like comments are signs of a fraudulent account.
Have they worked with similar brands before? Depending on what type of influencer you’re looking for, a seasoned one will be able to show you a press kit that contains a portfolio of their work. The more you invest in an influencer, the more you’ll want to vet them.