A decade ago, the influencer marketing arena was limited only to celebrities and a few dedicated bloggers. Now, it seems like we’ve seen social media influencers rise, saturate the market and even get caught up in fraud.
If you’ve started researched on influencer marketing before, you may have found conflicting information, with recommendations that range from you should absolutely be using social influencers or that they’re not necessary for growth.
Influencer marketing strategies are more difficult to navigate than ever as a brand, but we’re here with a guide to making sense of it all.
Read on for our tips to determine if influencer marketing is for you.
What is influencer marketing?
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 social influencers have built up with their following, and recommendations from them serve as a form of social proof to your brand’s potential customers.
The current state of the influencer marketing landscape
Standing out in 2014 on Instagram was easier than today. If you were lucky enough to be featured on Instagram’s featured page or your look was just distinctive enough, then your chances of being tapped as an influencer were high. After enough brand partnerships, some have turned social media influencer marketing into a full-time career.
Rosie Clayton’s Instagram feed is filled with colorful dresses and outfits against colorful walls. During a time when VSCO’s muted tone filters were becoming popular, Rosie’s highly saturated photos jumped out. She works with brands around the world, fitting them into her aesthetic.
But things change, right?
We’re influenced by what we see and aesthetics are no different. Bright images are more common now as well as carefully propped up food against interesting backgrounds. When the ‘typical look’ of influencer marketing no longer becomes unique, what comes next?
Taylor Lorenz’s article in The Atlantic forecasts a more ‘authentic’ trend driven by the network’s youngest users that strives to return to what Instagram used to look like when your feed was just friends. Lorenz wrote, “While Millennial influencers hauled DSLR cameras to the beach and mastered photo editing to get the perfect shot, the generation younger than they are largely post directly from their mobile phones.”
To be a fashion influencer among this younger demographic, you may no longer need to rely solely on perfectly shot photos. Instead, casual poses and limited editing are now becoming more welcome on the feed.
Keep in mind that the article covered only a subset of influencers: young, Instagram users. If anything, this shift over the last five years should show how influencer marketing’s only constant is change.
Manage influencer campaigns with Sprout Social
From reporting on campaigns and partnerships to managing incoming messages, Sprout can help you manage social influencer campaigns from start to finish.
Use Sprout’s features to identify influencers in your niche, manage outreach, and track the impact of your efforts.
Find out how Sprout Social can help your brand’s influencer marketing efforts with a free 30-day trial.(Video) How To Launch An INFLUENCER MARKETING CAMPAIGN in 7 Simple Steps (Strategy, Outreach and Examples)
The value of influencer marketing
While Instagram influencer marketing is a well-known strategy, there are many other networks that are growing for influencers. According to Adweek, the industry is set to reach $10 billion in worth by 2020. Other networks like Snapchat, YouTube and TikTok have their own set of influencers with different demographics.
Influencer marketing agency Mediakix surveyed marketers at the end of 2018 to see what their feelings on influencers were for the new year.
Of those surveyed, 89% said ROI from influencer marketing was comparable to or better than other networks. The same survey noted that 65% of marketers plan on increasing their budgets for 2019.
And now that you know where we’re at in the industry, let’s examine how to create an influencer strategy.
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 influencers and what to pay them
Much like any strategy, research is the first step. Choose the platform you want to focus on first. You can always expand to other platforms 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.
If you’re unsure of where to begin, social listening can help you identify where people are talking about your industry and brand—and it can help you find the most influential voices in your industry on each platform. Check out our guide to social listening to learn more.
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. The video game industry dominates on Twitch.
During your research phase, look into the type of influencers you’re interested in. Are you going for celebrities with massive followings? Or microinfluencers with less than 2000 followers? Perhaps something in between in the 5–10k follower range is more your preference. Whatever you decide to focus on will determine your budget.
Compensation varies wildly, too, so be sure to look at common rates for those influencer types. Microinfluencers tend to be focused on a few topics and accept products. Some microinfluencers work independently while others may be represented by an agency or network. Whereas, larger accounts and celebrities will need compensation and might even go through a talent agency.
You’ll need to think about the expected ROI of your social 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.
In 2017, Influence.co published the results of their research into Instagram influencer payment. They looked at the average cost per Instagram post and found:
- The overall average price was $271 per post.
- The average price formicro-influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers was$83 per post.
- The average price for influencers with more than 100,000 followers was $763 per post.
Research is key and you’ll find yourself returning to this step often in the process.
2. Set a budget and management strategy
Now that you have some idea of what to pay influencers, you need to create your budget. Be sure to also factor in time for planning, executing and reviewing your influencer program. Running a successful influencer marketing campaign is not a set-it-and-go type of strategy. It’ll involve careful monitoring and follow up.
Unlike a more automated ad strategy, 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.
If you have the time and money, consider setting up a formal ambassador program. Fujifilm utilizes its ambassadors in new product launches and in supplementing their content. With a variety of photographers and videographers at their disposal, the company’s able to diversify their feed to showcase what their equipment can do.
For brands that need a wider pool of influencers, hiring an influencer marketing agency who will do the research and coordination for you is a good bet.
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 you 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.
Influencer content that features a conversational tone and personal narrative help differentiate these posts from the type of features- or sales-driven ones a brand might do for the same product on their own feed.
Your message is just as important as your goal. While you don’t want to stifle an influencer’s creativity and uniqueness, you also don’t want them to post about something unrelated to your campaign. Determine how you want to structure your influencer marketing campaign and message so you can stick to it later on.
4. Influencer outreach: How to contact influencers
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 how 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.
You can also use Twitter analytics toolsto identify potential influencers that will fit your campaigns.
Next, determine how you’ll be reaching out to them. For microinfluencers, you could reach out directly in a private message on the same platform. For more established ones, click around their profile and they may list contact information for business inquiries in their bio. They may also link a website that denotes brand partnerships.
Summer Rayne Oakes has a multi-channel presence, which is a perk for her brand partners. In this particular video, she’s partnered up with Gardener’s Supply Company to give away a product. The brand gets increased visibility with Summer’s followers and she gets to keep them engaged with an interesting product. Even if they don’t win, they’ve been exposed to a new product.
5. Review and refine your strategy
Even if your influencer marketing campaign is ongoing, you should still have pre-determined dates where you’ll measure its progress. The next part of this guide will go into how to track your results. Not all campaigns are successful but hopefully, you’ll learn with each one you create.
How to track influencer marketing campaigns
There are a few ways of measuring the success of your campaign. You can create a specific hashtag, like #SproutPartner, to track what your influencers are doing. The Sprout Smart Inbox makes it easy to see what’s being talked about with specific hashtags, or to watch for mentions of specific Twitter keywords.
If you’re aiming for more sales, giving out affiliate codes or tracking links is an easy way of seeing how much is being generated from influencers.
Sprout’s reporting makes it easy to tag campaign-related posts. Use this feature to compare how these posts perform.
Influencers are here to stay but how the world of influencer marketing looks and operates has changed a great deal in a short time, and in five years may be drastically different from today. This guide will help you get started with building your strategy, but like any social strategy it’s important to be ready for change.
Still, while there are some unique considerations to working with influencers, setting up a campaign is the same as most marketing campaigns: research, set a budget, determine goals, find your influencers and review and revise.
Once you’ve gotten the rhythm down, you might find yourself creating additional types of influencer marketing campaigns. If you’re looking to get more resources for your team to run influencer campaigns, try out our business case template for social team resources.
An influencer marketing strategy leverages digital creators who strongly influence specific industries or target audiences to make purchase decisions. With a successful strategy, you can partner with these individuals to promote your brand, products, and services through curated messaging.What is the meaning of influencer marketing? ›
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.What is the first step in creating a social media influencer marketing strategy? ›
Step 1: Determine budget, audience, & goals
Like most advertising initiatives, the first step to creating an influencer marketing campaign is determining the budget and establishing the target audience.
An effective influencer marketing strategy requires you to speak to the right people using the right tools—and the right influencers. The first step is to define who your audience will be for this specific campaign. Developing audience personas is a great way to make sure you understand who you're trying to reach.What are the three main goals of influencer marketing? ›
However, your influencer marketing campaign should target at least one of these four goals: Build brand awareness and strengthen brand image. Increase social engagement and interactions. Improve conversions (e.g., newsletter subscribers, free trial sign ups, purchases, etc.).How you can build a powerful influencer marketing strategy in 2022? ›
Share information your followers are interested in. Talk about other brands or businesses you support. The more you share with your audience, the more they feel they can relate to you. The more you relate to them, the more loyal they will be to you and your product.What are the top 5 tips for implementing influencer marketing? ›
- Set your goals.
- Identify your audience.
- Determine your social media platforms for influencer marketing.
- Find the right content creators.
- Reach out to creators.
- Create a campaign brief.
- Get the current picture.
- Define your target market.
- Find the right influencers.
- Take advantage of micro-influencers.
- Reach out to influencers.
- Craft your campaign.
- Monitor campaigns.
Influencer marketing allows big brands to attract more customers and enables small businesses to scale up by getting them more visibility, which provides higher ROI than other marketing channels.What is an example of influencer marketing? ›
Tom's of Maine
The company wanted to increase brand awareness among health-conscious buyers by encouraging people to try their products and talk about them on social media. Tom's focused on micro-influencers, who then encouraged their followers to publish their own posts.
- Choose goals that align to business objectives.
- Learn everything you can about your audience.
- Get to know your competition.
- Do a social media audit.
- Set up accounts and improve profiles.
- Find inspiration.
- Create a social media content calendar.
- Create compelling content.
Influencers should be able to engage their audiences on a more human level or through a down-to-earth approach. Consumers are more likely to respond to people they find relatable. To ensure success, it's also important for marketers to work with influencers who are aligned with their brand's values and personality.What is a key strength of influencer marketing? ›
One key strength of influencer marketing is that it can help to build trust between a brand and its customers. When customers see that a brand is endorsed by someone they respect, they are more likely to believe that the brand is reliable and trustworthy.What are the 3 main challenges when rolling out an influencer engagement strategy? ›
- Identifying the right influencer. ...
- Measuring ROI. ...
- Getting their attention and engaging them.
- #1: Authenticity.
- #2: Expert Content Creation.
- #3: Community Management.
- #4: Trust.
- #5: Passion.
Four years ago, a famous digital analyst from the Altimer Group, Brian Solis, coined the term “Pillars of Influence”, describing them as reach, relevance and resonance – the three Rs, which are the fundamental principles in relations with influencers.What is the future of influencer marketing? ›
Micro and nano influencers will dominate the influencer marketing trends in 2022. According to studies, having more followers does not guarantee that your social commerce strategy will be successful. Rather, nano and micro-influencers can assure more interaction and engagement with their followers.How do you attract influencers to your brand? ›
- Make content better than your competitors. ...
- Share your influencers' content. ...
- Comment on their blog. ...
- Link to their content. ...
- Lead a discussion. ...
- Write a blog post about them. ...
- Give them something of value. ...
- Create content that link builders target.
Instagram has been the most popular influencer marketing platform in recent years, and this is expected to continue through to at least 2025.What are key factors for an influencer? ›
High site visits, views, likes, comments, and shares on content shows that an influencer is creating content that audiences can strongly relate to. Applying these metrics to an influencer's individual videos and posts can be a powerful strategy in choosing an influencer.
B2B influencers not only differ from B2C influencers in terms of range and channels, but often also in their basic attitude.Why is an influencer strategy important? ›
Influencer marketing harnesses the reach, authenticity and personality of individuals who have built up their own following in a specific niche with a particular target audience. Twitter revealed that 49% of consumers look to social media for advice on purchases.How do you develop a strategy? ›
- Consider your organization's mission and vision statements.
- Identify your company's core values.
- Conduct a SWOT analysis.
- Outline tactics to achieve goals.
- Create a plan for allocating resources to achieve the desired outcome.
- Evaluate results for effectiveness.
- Define your target audience. ...
- Set clear goals and KPIs. ...
- Create and curate engaging content. ...
- Focus on the social media networks that best fit your strategy. ...
- Research your competitors. ...
- Engage with your followers. ...
- Make employees your brand advocates.
- Start using chatbots. ...
- Create a personalized experience for your customers. ...
- Create an efficient content marketing strategy. ...
- Create a community for your audience. ...
- Jazz up your profiles with a diverse content strategy. ...
- Use brand advocates.
- Define your goals.
- Establish your target audience.
- Identify keywords by establishing the problems your business solves.
- Run a content audit.
- Determine which content types you will use.
- Create a content calendar & publish.
- Measure results.
- Step 1: Determine your objectives. ...
- Step 2: Build Your Marketing Funnel. ...
- Step 3: Define Your Audience. ...
- Step 4: Outline Your Messaging. ...
- Step 5: Select Your Marketing Channels. ...
- Step 6: Define Your Content. ...
- Step 7: Execute and Analyze.
- Step 1: Create a customer persona. ...
- Step 2: Identify your goals and tools. ...
- Step 3: Focus on blogging. ...
- Step 4: Evaluate existing digital marketing channels. ...
- Step 5: Automate marketing. ...
- Step 6: Nail mobile optimization. ...
- Step 7: Make it easy for customers to reach you.
Influencer marketing is effective because it leverages what social media users like best about the platform, to create brand messaging and endorsements that users not only engage with, but actively seek out.Why use an influencer marketing strategy? ›
By leveraging the power of social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, marketers can connect directly with consumers through influencers. This can help to increase brand awareness and drive sales. It can also open your brand, business, or agency to new audiences.
Influencers have the power to drive more people towards your products or services. This is because consumers trust the recommendations made by their favorite influencers. Brands can use this to influence purchase decisions and drive more conversions.
A social media strategy is an outline of the content that your business will post, the responsibilities of your social media team, and the social media channels you will use to promote your business. A social media strategy includes social media goals that complement your business' overall digital marketing strategy.