Unlocking Influencer Marketing: What and How to Develop Your Strategy
September 25, 2023
Unlocking Influencer Marketing: What and How to Develop Your Strategy

A decade ago, influencer marketing was a realm reserved for celebrities and a select group of dedicated bloggers. However, in recent years, the landscape has transformed dramatically with the emergence of social media influencers who have saturated the market.

Although the size of their followings may vary, these influencers wield considerable influence. Their close-knit communities foster genuine connections, resulting in heightened trust and engagement.

Nevertheless, collaborating with digital creators and influencers is a nuanced process that brands must navigate. In this guide, we aim to demystify this journey and explore how influencer marketing, along with services like website designing company, can propel your brand to success.

Continue reading for valuable insights into crafting an effective influencer marketing strategy, common pitfalls to avoid, and more.

Before we delve into the details, did you know that Tagger by Sprout Social can be a valuable resource for your influencer marketing endeavors? Tagger by Sprout Social empowers marketers to execute impactful influencer marketing strategies, allowing you to organically expand your brand's presence, connect with new and targeted audiences, and accelerate revenue growth.

In essence, influencer marketing constitutes a subset of social media marketing. It revolves around leveraging endorsements and product mentions from influencers—individuals who have cultivated dedicated social followings and are revered as authorities within their respective niches.

The efficacy of influencer marketing hinges on the significant level of trust that these social influencers have amassed among their followers. Their recommendations function as a form of social validation for potential customers interested in your brand.

Influencers come in various types, each offering a distinct range and reach. While partnering with a mega-influencer boasting millions of followers may seem like an ideal scenario, it may not always align with your brand's goals.

Some social media influencers have expansive, diverse audiences that span multiple demographics. Conversely, others command smaller but highly focused and engaged communities.

Understanding what each category of influencer can bring in terms of reach, scope, cost, and engagement is paramount in selecting the most suitable influencers for your brand.

Let's delve deeper into the diverse categories of influencers:

Mega or Celebrity Influencers: Mega influencers are the giants of the influencer world, boasting a colossal following exceeding 1 million. Often including renowned actors, musicians, athletes, and other public figures, they wield a celebrity status that enables them to captivate a diverse and extensive audience. Mega influencers are particularly well-suited for large-scale brand awareness campaigns, think of someone like Cristiano Ronaldo.

While collaborating with mega influencers can grant your brand unparalleled exposure, it comes at a hefty price tag. Additionally, due to the breadth of their audience, their engagement rates may not reach the levels achieved by influencers with more niche followings. Businesses that may benefit from partnering with mega influencers include:

  1. Large enterprise corporations with ample budget and resources.
  2. Brands seeking to target a broad audience encompassing diverse characteristics.
  3. Luxury or high-end brands aiming to create an aura of exclusivity.

Macro-Influencers: Macro-influencers typically possess followings ranging from 100,000 to 1 million, solidifying their status as established figures within their respective niches. These influencers have earned their reputation through consistent content creation and engagement, making them thought leaders in their niche domains.

Collaborating with macro-influencers offers a more focused approach compared to celebrities, as their followers usually share common interests. While partnering with macro-influencers can provide your brand with substantial reach, the cost may still be relatively high depending on your budget. Examples of brands that might work with macro-influencers include:

  1. Startups aiming for rapid exposure, growth, and credibility (e.g., Canva).
  2. Nonprofit organizations seeking to raise funds and awareness.
  3. Hotels and airlines targeting a specific yet sizable audience.

Micro-Influencers: Micro-influencers are the emerging stars of influencer marketing, typically commanding a highly engaged following ranging from 10,000 to 100,000. They thrive on specific platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.

Marketers are increasingly drawn to micro-influencers because they connect with a passionate, niche audience through their creative content, relatable recommendations, and genuine interactions. Furthermore, micro-influencers are more budget-friendly than their larger counterparts.

However, their affordability does not equate to ineffectiveness. Studies reveal that micro-influencers boast a 60% higher engagement rate than macro influencers and can drive 20% more conversions for your brand.

Nano-Influencers: Nano-influencers, characterized by having fewer than 10,000 followers, possess unique strengths. Their small but dedicated following stems from their personable content and authentic engagement with their audience.

While nano-influencers offer the smallest reach among all categories, they prove to be excellent partners for businesses aiming to target specific communities and demographics without straining their budgets. It's no surprise that more brands are turning their attention to nano influencers in 2023, as indicated by the following bar chart:

In the chart, it's evident that 39% of brands are inclined to collaborate with nano-influencers, while only 12% are likely to engage mega or celebrity influencers.

Furthermore, since nano-influencers operate on a smaller scale, they can invest more time and effort in individual partnerships. This translates to content that is tailored specifically for your brand and establishes personal relationships within niche communities.

Some examples of businesses that may find value in partnering with nano-influencers include:

  1. Local businesses looking to connect with specific communities, cities, or regions.
  2. Small businesses with constrained budgets seeking cost-effective campaign options.
  3. Artisan, home-based, or specialty food businesses targeting a niche audience interested in their unique products.

Why Use Influencer Marketing? The potency of influencer marketing cannot be underestimated. A striking 56% of young Americans have made a purchase based on a post from someone they follow on social media, making influencer marketing a formidable tool for brand promotion.

According to Influencer Marketing Hub, the influencer marketing industry reached a staggering $16.4 billion in 2022. This figure is projected to surge to $21.1 billion in 2023, as illustrated in the following graph:

The report also sheds light on marketers' sentiments regarding influencer collaborations in the coming year. Among those surveyed, a resounding 83% affirmed that influencer marketing is an effective form of marketing. Furthermore, the report revealed that 67% of marketers intend to increase their budgets for influencer marketing in 2023.

Now that we've established the influencer marketing landscape, let's explore some common challenges that marketers often encounter in this dynamic field.

Influencer Marketing Mistakes to Avoid: Influencer marketing holds immense potential for brands when executed correctly. To ensure seamless influencer collaborations and achieve successful campaign outcomes, it's crucial to sidestep potential pitfalls. Here are some mistakes to avoid:

  1. Failing to Define Clear Goals and KPIs:
    • Setting clear goals is paramount. Know the purpose and objectives of your campaign upfront.
    • Goals help in selecting the right influencers with the specific qualities needed for success.
    • Define and measure success with relevant KPIs and metrics.
    • Clear goals facilitate effective communication and accountability.
    • Hold influencers accountable by setting clear expectations and performance benchmarks.

Prioritizing Follower Count Over Engagement: One common misconception is that a vast follower count equates to high engagement. However, this isn't always the case, as an influencer might have millions of passive followers with minimal engagement.

Instead, it's advisable to collaborate with influencers who boast an engaged and loyal audience. A handful of individuals who trust the influencer can hold more value for your brand than thousands of indifferent followers unlikely to convert.

To evaluate an influencer's level of engagement, scrutinize their engagement metrics, comments, interactions, and assess their past results with other brands. This will give you insights into their influence and likability.

Neglecting to Research the Influencer: Choosing the wrong influencers can result in wasted time and resources. Unfortunately, this mistake occurs more frequently than one might think. Studies indicate that 72% of businesses opt to run influencer campaigns in-house due to concerns about fake influencers and lackluster results.

A straightforward solution is to conduct thorough research before entering into a partnership. Vet influencers to ensure they align with your brand's vision and complement its personality.

Here are key areas to explore when researching influencers for your brand:

  1. Audience Demographics: Analyze the influencer's followers to ensure your campaign reaches the intended audience. Examine factors such as age, gender, location, and interests (e.g., Millennials with an affinity for women's issues) to ascertain if they are likely to become your customers.
  2. Interactions, Voice, and Content: Evaluate the influencer's engagement rate, their tone of communication, and the type of content they create. For instance, if your brand projects a playful and casual image, partnering with an influencer known for formal, business-oriented content may not align.
  3. Authenticity and Influence: Forced partnerships can come across as insincere and harm both your campaign and brand image. Authenticity ranks as the most crucial trait for users when deciding to follow an influencer on social media. Therefore, collaborate with influencers who genuinely appreciate your brand and products. Their followers trust them for a reason, and you wouldn't want your brand to jeopardize their (and your) credibility.
  4. Experience with Branded Content: Has the influencer previously collaborated with other brands? Have they worked with your competitors? Scrutinize their past content to detect any red flags and gauge the value they can bring to your campaign.

Writing Poorly Constructed Briefs: Effective influencer marketing campaigns hinge on well-structured briefs. A well-crafted brief equips influencers with the necessary details and resources to represent your brand effectively, without stifling their creativity.

Here's a brief breakdown of what to include in your influencer brief:

  1. Campaign Goals: Clearly outline the primary objectives of your campaign and what you aim to achieve.
  2. Company Background: Provide a concise overview of your company, its brand identity, and the products or services you offer.
  3. Product Details: Highlight key product benefits, features, and differentiators.
  4. Target Audience: Define your target audience, and if available, include an audience persona.
  5. Budget: Indicate the budget allocation for the campaign.
  6. Timeline: Share your preferred timeline or campaign duration.
  7. Brand Assets: Specify if you want the influencer to use your brand assets, such as logos, colors, and fonts.
  8. Content Guidelines: Communicate any words or ideas that should be avoided in their content. For instance, if sustainability is a core value for your eco-friendly brand, make it clear that the influencer should refrain from featuring plastic or other harmful products.

A well-structured brief ensures that influencers have a clear understanding of your campaign's objectives while allowing them the creative freedom to authentically represent your brand.

Restricting the Influencer’s Creative Freedom: While providing comprehensive briefs is essential, it's equally important to strike a balance and avoid overwhelming influencers with excessive directives. Dictating the influencer's every word or action can stifle their creative freedom, resulting in content that feels scripted and lacks authenticity.

Another common mistake is micromanaging the content creation process. There's no need to scrutinize multiple drafts or subject the influencer to numerous rounds of revisions. Allow influencers to infuse their unique touch into the content. Remember, they are experts in creating content that resonates with their audience and fosters trust. Your brand's role is to provide the necessary resources to support the creation of exceptional content.

Not Setting Expectations Upfront: Establishing clear expectations from the outset is crucial for fostering a smooth and productive collaboration. This, in turn, contributes to a successful campaign aligned with your objectives. It's imperative to agree on the following aspects in advance:

  1. Timeline and Deliverables: Define the campaign timeline, including start and end dates, along with any content submission and publication deadlines. Specify the required deliverables, such as the number of posts, stories, or videos the influencer needs to create.
  2. Payment and Terms: Reach a consensus on the payment structure, whether it involves a one-time fee, ongoing retainer, or performance-based compensation. Discuss the payment schedule and any additional terms, such as bonuses for outstanding performance or penalties for missed deadlines.

Focusing on the Wrong Metrics: Influencer marketing encompasses more than just driving sales, and solely fixating on conversion and revenue data can lead brands astray. Consider a broader range of metrics to assess the impact of your campaigns effectively. Some additional metrics to explore include:

  1. Engagement Metrics: Evaluate likes, comments, and shares to gain insights into content resonance and audience interaction.
  2. Brand Awareness Metrics: Measure views, clicks, and website traffic to gauge campaign reach and audience interest.
  3. Follower Growth: Monitor new followers to determine the influencer's role in enhancing brand visibility and expanding your audience.
  4. Inbound Leads: Keep track of inquiries and messages your brand receives to analyze the campaign's influence on generating inbound leads.

Now that we've navigated potential challenges in influencer marketing and strategies for overcoming them, let's delve into crafting an effective influencer marketing strategy tailored to your brand.

Creating an Influencer Marketing Strategy in 5 Steps:

Influencer marketing has evolved beyond Instagram, with influencers present on various platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Snapchat, each catering to different demographics. To craft a successful influencer marketing strategy, you must approach it strategically rather than simply sending free products to anyone who asks or relying solely on personal connections.

  1. Find Influencers and Understand Payment Structures:

    • Begin your strategy by conducting thorough research. Start by selecting a platform to focus on, ensuring it aligns with your brand's presence or expansion plans.
    • Utilize social listening to identify conversations about your industry and brand, helping you discover influential voices within your niche on each platform.
    • Consider your industry's suitability for specific platforms; for instance, beauty and fashion thrive on Instagram and YouTube, while the gaming industry excels on Twitch.
    • During your research, assess the type of influencers that best align with your goals. Decide between celebrities, micro-influencers (fewer than 2000 followers), or mid-tier influencers (5–10,000 followers), which will influence your budget.
    • Compensation for influencers varies widely. Nano-influencers often accept products as payment, while micro-influencers may work independently or through agencies. Larger accounts and celebrities typically require monetary compensation, possibly through talent agencies.
    • Calculate the expected ROI of your influencer marketing campaign, comparing it to other marketing investments to establish a benchmark for influencer value.
    • Tools like Influence.co's Instagram influencer rate map can assist in estimating compensation based on audience size and industry.
  2. Set a Budget and Management Strategy:

    • Develop a budget that accounts for influencer payments, planning, execution, and campaign review. Influencer marketing requires ongoing monitoring and adjustments.
    • Recognize that influencer relationships require active management due to influencers balancing multiple partnerships. You may need to be more hands-on to nurture these relationships.
    • Consider establishing a formal ambassador program, especially if you have the resources. This program can involve leveraging influencers in product launches and content creation.
    • Alternatively, if you need a broader pool of influencers, hiring an influencer marketing agency can streamline research and coordination.
  3. Determine Campaign Goals and Messaging:

    • While brand awareness and increased sales are common influencer marketing objectives, start by pinpointing your specific brand needs. Consider if you aim to expand into a younger demographic, target a new user group with a product, or convey brand values.
    • Influencers possess the ability to reach highly specific audiences. Tailor your campaign goals to align with these audiences, ensuring that your message resonates with them.
    • Craft a message that balances a conversational tone and personal narrative, distinguishing influencer posts from traditional brand features or sales-driven content.
  4. Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Measurement:
    • Define clear KPIs that align with your campaign goals. For instance, if your goal is brand awareness, track metrics like impressions, reach, and engagement. If you aim for increased sales, monitor conversion rates and click-through rates.
    • Leverage tracking tools and analytics platforms to measure the impact of influencer content. Platforms like Google Analytics and social media insights can provide valuable data.
    • Consider using unique promo codes, affiliate links, or UTM parameters to attribute sales and conversions directly to influencer efforts.
    • Regularly review campaign performance against established KPIs and adjust your strategy as needed.
  5. Build Strong Relationships with Influencers:

    • Communication and collaboration are key to successful influencer partnerships. Establish a transparent and mutually beneficial relationship from the outset.
    • Clearly communicate campaign expectations, guidelines, and deadlines to influencers. Be open to their creative input while ensuring alignment with your messaging.
    • Offer influencers the necessary resources and support to create authentic content that resonates with their audience.
    • Maintain consistent communication throughout the campaign, addressing any questions or concerns promptly.
    • Recognize and appreciate the contributions of influencers by acknowledging their efforts and showcasing their content on your brand's platforms.

By following these steps, you can develop a well-rounded influencer marketing strategy that maximizes the impact of influencers, effectively engages your target audience, and achieves your brand's specific objectives.Establish Influencer Outreach: How to Contact Influencers

Once you've completed the initial research and have a clear plan based on your network, goals, and desired influencer types, it's time to delve into the practical aspects of finding and reaching out to the right influencers. During this phase, consider the following:

  • Relevance to Your Brand: Verify whether the influencer already creates content related to your industry or services. For instance, if you run a restaurant and want to promote a new menu, seek influencers who frequently share dining experiences and food-related content.

  • Authenticity Check: Scrutinize their content and engagement. An influencer with an unusually low engagement-to-follower ratio, along with spam-like comments, may indicate fake followers or a less genuine audience.

  • Past Brand Collaborations: Investigate whether the influencer has previously partnered with brands similar to yours. Experienced influencers may provide a press kit showcasing their portfolio of work.

Utilize social media analytics tools to identify potential influencers across multiple platforms that align with your campaign objectives.

Next, decide on the outreach approach:

  • Direct Messages: For micro-influencers, reach out directly via private messages on the same platform.
  • Contact Information: Established influencers often provide business inquiry contact information in their bio or link to a website detailing brand partnerships.

Example: Summer Rayne Oakes, a multi-channel influencer, partners with Gardener's Supply Company in a YouTube video, enhancing the brand's visibility among her followers and keeping them engaged with an appealing product. Even those who don't win the giveaway are exposed to the brand's offerings. 


Review and Refine Your Strategy

Continuous evaluation and refinement are essential, even for ongoing influencer marketing campaigns. Establish predetermined milestones to measure campaign progress and effectiveness. The next part of this guide will delve into tracking your campaign results. Not all campaigns yield immediate success, but each one offers valuable learning experiences to inform your future efforts.

How to Track Influencer Marketing Campaigns:

Measuring the success of your influencer marketing campaign is crucial to understanding its impact and effectiveness. Here are several methods to track and measure your influencer marketing campaigns:

  1. Branded Hashtags: Create a specific branded hashtag for your campaign, such as #SproutPartner. Encourage influencers to use this hashtag when posting about your brand or products. Utilize social media management tools like Sprout Social to monitor and track the usage of these hashtags. The Smart Inbox feature in Sprout Social allows you to easily keep an eye on conversations related to specific hashtags and keywords.

  2. Affiliate Codes and Tracking Links: If your primary goal is to drive sales, provide influencers with unique affiliate codes or tracking links. This allows you to directly attribute sales and conversions generated through influencer referrals. You can track the performance of these codes or links to measure their impact on your campaign's success.

  3. Tagging and Reporting: Leverage reporting features in social media management platforms like Sprout Social to tag campaign-related posts. This enables you to gather data on the performance of influencer-generated content and compare it to other campaign elements.

By implementing these tracking methods, you can gain valuable insights into the reach, engagement, and conversion rates of your influencer marketing campaign. Regularly analyze the data to assess the campaign's effectiveness and make informed decisions for future influencer collaborations.

Create a Successful Influencer Marketing Strategy for Your Brand:

Influencer marketing is a dynamic field that continues to evolve. While the landscape may change over time, the core principles of building a successful influencer marketing strategy remain consistent. Here's a recap of the key steps:

  1. Research: Begin with thorough research to identify the right influencers and platforms for your campaign.

  2. Budget and Goals: Set a clear budget and define specific campaign goals based on your brand's needs.

  3. Influencer Selection: Choose influencers who align with your brand, have genuine engagement, and fit your budget.

  4. Messaging and Content: Craft a clear message and content strategy that resonates with both the influencer's audience and your brand's objectives.

  5. Measurement and Tracking: Implement tracking methods, such as branded hashtags, affiliate codes, and reporting tools, to measure the campaign's success.

  6. Review and Refinement: Continuously review campaign progress and adjust your strategy as needed to optimize results.

While influencer marketing may evolve, these foundational steps will help you navigate the ever-changing landscape and build effective influencer campaigns for your brand's success.

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