At its core, influencer marketing is another form of social media marketing that involves securing online brand endorsements and product placements from influencers and content creators who have a large and engaging social media presence. Because influencers often attract cult-like followings, they create prime opportunities for brands to reach niche audiences via sources they trust. In the simplest terms, influencer marketing is the new word-of-mouth.
Influencer marketing entails aspects of both social media marketing and public relations. While social media platforms are used to engage audiences, the methods for approaching influencers and activating campaigns are similar to those of public relations, such as curating lists of relevant contacts, pitching and sending free products in hopes of earning placements.
The value of influencer marketing
In 2021 alone, the influencer marketing industry raked in $13.8 billion and is projected to increase to $16.4 billion this year. This steadily growing industry owes its success to popular social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok that encourage engaging, short-form content.
If you’re not already taking advantage of influencer marketing, it’s safe to say you’re missing the boat. In fact, 93% of marketers have utilized influencer marketing as part of their overall advertising and public relations strategy. Both paid and earned influencer placements have proven to be highly effective in raising brand awareness and building trust with target audiences, resulting in measurable conversions and sales through affiliate links or unique discount codes.
Here are some good tips to keep in mind when launching or re-assessing your influencer marketing strategy.
Tips for driving a successful influencer marketing campaign
1. Define your goals and messaging
Before your start reaching out to influencers, you should figure out the goals you want to achieve and exactly how you’re going to achieve them. The most popular reasons for implementing influencer marketing are to raise brand awareness and increase sales. The great thing about working with influencers is that they reach very niche audiences, often making it a more effective strategy to reach new potential customers.
Once your goals are set, you’ll want to work on messaging. The best way to engage an influencer’s audience is to let the influencer be themselves, but you don’t want to give them complete free reign to say whatever they want. Determine a few key messages for the influencer to include in their post to keep your campaign on track.
2. Identify your target audience
This tip isn’t unique to influencer marketing but knowing who your target audience is will make help make identifying relevant influencers to work with much easier. Because influencer followings are so niche, verifying that their audience is also your audience is important to make sure you get a return on investment. Oftentimes, the influencers themselves will align with your target buyer persona.
3. Compile an influencer list
The key to driving a successful influencer marketing campaign is identifying relevant influencers who share your target audience to promote your brand or product. Just like public relations professionals must do their research to identify the appropriate reporters and producers to pitch, you’ll want to take your time finding the right influencers who share your target audience. Experienced influencers will have a media kit to share with you, breaking down their audience demographics, reach, category of content and compensation expectations.
When deciding on influencers, you should determine how much their audience trusts them. Having a large follower count is great, but if those followers aren’t engaging with the influencer’s content, then you might not achieve your goals. Therefore, looking at an influencer’s engagement rate is a must. High numbers of views, likes, comments, and shares any influencer receives on their posts are great indicators of a healthy engagement rate.
4. Pitch your brand
Reaching out to influencers about a possible partnership looks a lot like public relations pitching. Many influencers will provide an email address on their social media accounts, but it’s also common to reach out via direct messages. When you’re ready to inquire about a partnership, sending a personalized message to each influencer will increase the likelihood of a response. Compliment their content and let them know how much it would mean to work with them, but try not to come off as too sales-y.
Your pitch should include as much information as possible about your brand, the campaign you’re recruiting them for and how working with you will benefit the influencer beyond the flat rate. Are you willing to send them free products? Will you provide an affiliate link that they can receive a commission from? These are all things to quickly note in your pitch.
5. Always review content before it’s published
While you should give influencers creative freedom to make the content look and sound like them, it’s important to review the images, videos and copy before they’re published online to make sure it aligns with your brand messaging and campaign requirements.
While these are great tips to keep in mind when thinking about influencer marketing, the most successful efforts are those done in concert with strategic social media, PR and content. Aligning all of your communication efforts toward a common goal will help in defining a relevant and cohesive brand voice.