In recent years, influencer marketing has earned its place among the fastest-growing techniques adopted by businesses, and for good reason: word of mouth is the form of promotion most trusted by today's advertising-resistant consumers.
Indeed, your brand can take advantage of the authentic connection between influencers and their online audience by working together on promoted marketing campaigns that convey positive brand association, drive product awareness and ultimately grow sales.
Yet navigating the process of hiring an influencer for the first time can be both challenging and intimidating. To make the process a little easier, this is what you and your business should be focusing on when opting for the influencer marketing route.
1. Identify Your Goals
As with any component of your marketing plan, you must first determine the key objectives of your influencer marketing campaign. Are you looking to target new customers? Drive sales for a specific product or line? Or simply improve brand sentiment?
The answers to these questions will help you determine the type of influencer you should work with, the format of your collaborated content, and the KPIs you will set to measure the success of these efforts.
2. Understand the Influencer Market
Understanding the influencer market is crucial to selecting the right endorsers for you. Digital ambassadors are generally segmented into four major categories, based on the size of their online audience, and each with their own unique characteristics and benefits to businesses. They are as follows:
Mega influencers are defined as those with a digital following greater than one million people. These are usually celebrities, such as singers, actors or reality stars, and provide brands with access to mass awareness. Though they are not considered specialists in any particular product areas – and are therefore not expected to drive particularly high conversion rates – the extent of their following allows them to cut through the noise of social media. Brands turn to mega influencers to take advantage of their broad reach, boost awareness and encourage positive perception, as well as increase their own digital following. Unsurprisingly, this usually comes at a very high fee.
Macro influencers possess a similarly large following of around 500,000 to one million people; however, they are usually individuals who have developed an online presence over several years, and whose audience perceive them to have a set of particular interests or specialities. When working with these individuals, companies benefit from reaching a large audience who are more likely to consider taking action based on the promoted content they are seeing.
Meso, Micro and Nano Influencers
Boasting followings of anywhere from 10,000 to less than 1,000 people, these endorsers have small, more niche audiences compared to mega and macro influencers. However, they attract high engagement rates. This can often translate to a more favourable ROI for brand collaborations, due to the greater connection and authority between these influencers and their followers. This is an excellent option for companies with highly targeted consumers, or indeed brands seeking to reach new, specialised consumer groups. As an added benefit, these groups of influencers generally charge much less for their promoted content, too.
3. Find the Right Fit for Your Brand
Once you have determined which type of influencer best compliments your campaign goals, you must next review the individual influencers within this category to find the right one for your brand.
There are various elements to consider when compiling this shortlist, and you should adhere to the following steps during your selection process:
Check Their Suitability
Take a close look at your potential influencer's online persona and ask yourself: do their opinions and messages match the beliefs of your brand? For instance, a sporting brand should seek to work with athletes or sports enthusiasts, while it may be apt for cruelty-free cosmetic brands to work with vegan ambassadors.
Check Their Engagement Rates
Examine the influencer's audience engagement – a factor that is more significant than their follower count. Though most influencers will offer this information, each brand is accountable to conduct their own research to confirm these figures. You can calculate engagement by dividing the number of audience interactions per post, by the total number of followers. Tools such as the Influencer Marketing Hub can also support businesses in obtaining influencer reviews and similar statistics.
Review Previous Collaborations
Look into the influencer's previous brand collaborations. Have they worked with other businesses that compliment your company? Have they previously collaborated with your competitors? Complimentary work will undoubtedly attract a more positive response from your audience, while work with your competition could make a potential collaboration seem contradictory and inauthentic.
Judge Their Flexibility
Seasoned influencers are likely to have clear expectations regarding the creative freedom they anticipate in the creation of promoted content. Brands must, therefore, outline their guidelines during the initial stages of collaboration, to ensure that their product representation is controlled and consistent. This can help to avoid misplacement and miscommunication.
Assess Their Openness to Collaboration
Does the influencer know and like your brand – or are they likely to, given their previous work? Influencers who are already (or willing to become) fans of your brand will come across as genuine and authentic to their followers, and pass along a more powerful message in any promoted interaction. If, however, they are accepting brand collaborations purely for the income, the impact on their audience may not be quite as effective.
4. Be Wary of Fake Followers
Before committing to a partnership with your chosen influencer, be sure to do your due diligence and screen them for fake followers (bots or inactive profiles that significantly inflate an influencer’s reach). An issue more prevalent than many brands realise, these easily generated false followers cost advertisers an astronomical $1.3bn in 2019 alone.
5. Agree on a Price
Once you have settled on the right option for your marketing campaign, it's time to focus on the nitty-gritty of hiring them – and this means agreeing on the means of remuneration.
Generally speaking, there are three ways to compensate your collaborators:
Supply free products in return for promotional content
Many nano, micro and macro influencers, in particular, are happy to accept products from brands in exchange for positive reviews and creative content shared across their social media platforms.
Offer a paid fee
Resources such as Influence.co provide insights into the average price per post for the various influencer categories, to help businesses decide their pricing in these collaborations. Consider, too, that mega and macro influencers may be working with a talent agency, who are likely to impose additional charges.
Pay a commission
Brands can supply their influencers with affiliate marketing links and dedicated discount codes to record the traffic sent to their website and purchases made as a result of the paid partnership. You can then pay your endorsers an agreed commission for the results of each call to action group.
6. Define Measurable KPIs
Finally, don't forget to set the metrics that you will be using to determine the success of your influencer campaign. Will you be focusing on post engagement rates, brand sentiment, website traffic, conversions, or online followings? Ensure that both parties are clear on how you will be defining the success of your collaboration, to allow for better progress throughout the duration of your partnership.
Consumers continue to turn to social media to be influenced by their favourite online personalities, and gain inspiration from them regarding new brands and purchases. This form of marketing is so prevalent that a projected 6.1m brand-sponsored influencer posts will be shared on Instagram alone in 2020.
To take advantage of this, and the wider power of influencer marketing, ensure that your business beliefs are aligned to the influencers you work with, that you are addressing the correct mass or niche market, and that you are consistently monitoring your collaboration's success. Do this, and you should ensure a successful year ahead for your marketing campaigns.
What other influencer marketing tips would you offer? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!