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Influencer Marketing 101: 8 Tips to Get Started

Can an Instagram post make your marketing strategy #blessed? That’s what plenty of marketing professionals hope when they turn to social media influencers to promote their products or services. Influencer marketing has become such a trend that it’s estimated to grow into a $5 to $10 billion industry by 2020. That’s a lot of money being spent to craft the perfect caption. 

In fact, 65% of influencer marketing budgets will increase in 2019 alone. What might be even more surprising to learn is that 17% of companies spend more than half of their marketing budgets on influencer marketing. These marketing teams aren’t just spending money to keep the ‘gram fresh; they’re also focused on increasing brand awareness and actual ROI. 

Why are social media influencers the hottest new accessory for marketers? It turns out that influencers have the trust of their followers, and that can translate into profits and brand awareness if correctly utilized. After all, research has shown that one in three millennial and Gen Z consumers trust influencers more than brands. 

This trust can easily turn into action. According to a 2019 survey of marketing professionals by Mediakix, 89% of marketers say ROI from influencer campaigns are comparable or even better than other marketing channels. 

OK, so you’re sold on jumping into the exciting world of social influencer marketing. But how do you start? Here are eight tips to keep in mind as you dip your toe into working with social media influencers so you can get the most out of this growing marketing channel.

1. Know your niche

The first part of influencer marketing is the influencer. It might seem obvious, but finding the right influencer is key to a successful influencer marketing campaign. It could be the difference between a campaign that puts you in front of the right audience and a campaign that lands dead in the water. To choose the right influencer, you have to really know your industry and niche. Who are the movers and shakers in your corner of the world? For instance, if you’re a home goods store, who are the home decor bloggers your target audience can’t get enough of? 

Pinpoint your target audience and then spend time where they do online. Who are the influencers with trust and authority in that space? Those people are probably an excellent place to start if you want a successful campaign. A little research at the beginning of your influencer marketing journey can create a campaign that truly performs. 

2. Don’t be afraid to go micro

You don’t need to have Kim Kardashian talking about your product to have a successful influencer marketing campaign. You might think the motto “go big or go home” applies to influencer marketing, but in truth, micro-influencers could be an even greater resource for your brand. 

While celebrities and A-list influencers have huge followings, some small influencers on social channels have something even more important for your campaign: the trust of their audience. While these influencers might not have millions of eyes on every post, they are more connected with their viewers, and this audience might be more likely to act on what a micro-influencer says. In fact, 82% of surveyed consumers said they were likely to buy something a micro-influencer recommended. 

Depending on your brand and budget, a micro-influencer could be someone with less than a few hundred thousand followers to anyone with less than ten thousand followers. Hone in on the message you want to tell, look at your budget, and keep an eye on the engagement rates of the influencers you’re targeting. A small influencer with a high engagement rate might be way more effective for your goals than a large influencer without the trust of their audience. Best of all, micro-influencers often cost less than their big-name counterparts and therefore can be a great way to test the waters for your first campaign. 

3. Define your goals

The first thing you need to do before you start sending out emails to influencers is to define the goals of your campaign. Are you looking to increase brand awareness? Do you want people to purchase a product or sign up for a newsletter? Maybe you just want high-quality photos you can use during the campaign and after. Knowing your goals helps you target the right influencers and start your campaign off on the right foot. 

4. Determine your KPIs 

Once your goals are in place, it’s time to specify your Key Performance Indicators. Setting your KPIs before the start of the campaign can help you determine the success of your efforts. How do you define success for this campaign? Do you want to generate 100 email sign-ups? Or maybe you define success as making 20 sales? Knowing these things can help you make the best choices for what kind of influencer campaign you should utilize.

For instance, if you want to improve your SEO, you might only want to target influencers with a blog so that they can provide links with high domain authority back to your site. Determining KPIs early on helps you steer your campaigns in the right direction.

5. Look for engagement 

As mentioned when we talked about micro-influencers, engagement is key to a good influencer marketing campaign. Some influencers have big followings but poor engagement. Remember, it’s possible to buy followers on Instagram and other social platforms. An influencer’s follower count might be impressive, but are those followers the kind with trust and belief in the influencer, or were they purchased to boost the influencer’s social cache? 

Check out their social platforms and keep an eye on engagement. How many likes and comments do their posts get? How do they interact with their followers? An influencer with a small but engaged fanbase might be more powerful for your marketing goals than an influencer with a broad but checked-out audience. 

6. Create a clear contract

Once you have your KPIs in place and your influencer chosen, it’s time to make contact and set the expectations of the campaign. Many influencers will have a media kit listing prices and services, but either way, you should provide them with a contract specific to your campaign. Make sure the campaign covers precisely what you’ll expect the influencer to do for your brand. Whether you’re looking for unlimited photo rights or a certain number of Instagram Stories, put all of this information in your contract. The more detailed your agreement, the more likely you are to get exactly what you need from your influencer campaign.

7. Keep lines of communication open 

Not all of your influencer campaigns need to be one-and-done. In fact, keeping the lines of communication open with influencers even after your initial campaign can be a smart move. These influencers already know and love your product or service now, and they’ll be more likely to advocate for you in the future. Plus, you’ve already done all the heavy lifting of getting the influencer and providing them with key messages. The barrier-to-entry for a new campaign is much lower now, which means it can be quicker and even more cost-effective to launch in the future. 

8. Review results and learn

Once your campaign is complete, it’s time to measure its success. Recheck your KPIs and see if your campaign knocked them out of the park or barely performed. Knowing the ROI of your campaign is a crucial way to determine whether it’s delivered value. You can even evaluate ROI for brand awareness-based campaigns by focusing on cost-per-impression to see if the numbers fall in line with other awareness-based campaigns you’ve run in the past. 

While reviewing the results and calculating your ROI, you might learn some valuable lessons you can take to your next campaign. For instance, maybe your website visits or email sign-ups weren’t as impressive as you hoped, but your brand’s social media channels have exploded. Or perhaps you were optimizing your campaign for website traffic and are disappointed with the results, but then notice the traffic generated converts at a much higher rate than the traffic generated by your paid search or paid social campaigns. Even if your campaign doesn’t hit the exact KPIs you set at the beginning, you might discover some interesting takeaways you can apply to your next campaign.

After all, it doesn’t seem like influencer marketing is going anywhere. Scrolling your Instagram feed, you’ve probably noticed more and more #sponsored posts. 

The next sponsored post could be yours, but make sure you keep your goals top-of-mind, find the right influencer, track your campaign’s value, and — most importantly — never stop learning. 

What do you think? Have you run an influencer marketing campaign? What are your influencer marketing must-haves? Share in the comments!

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About Morgan Glennon

Morgan Glennon is a social media and digital marketing professional living in New Jersey who loves all animals (but mostly dogs), reading a good book, overanalyzing television shows on the two podcasts she co-hosts, and fashion. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @mojotastic.