influencer marketing



What Is Influencer Marketing?


Influencer marketing (IM) is a new way to share content and build brand awareness on social networks and traditional media. Studies show that it can be ten times more effective than typical brand marketing. IM works because it uses tactics like word-of-mouth marketing and social proof. Influencers use podcasts, videos, product testing, articles, radio, and TV shows; they are active in the industry. An influencer is someone with expertise, with a loud voice that shapes opinions in the industry, and has an impact on consumer decisions. The perception that social media are shaping purchasing decisions is wrong. It's the storytelling that matters. Influencers facilitate conversation between the brand and consumers and help elevate the brand in what they stand for. Brands now understand that influencers and customers are creating relevant content, and reaching these two is a more natural and effective way of selling. Most marketing agencies have increased their budgets for influencer marketing, and one out of three have influencer marketing as an essential part of their strategies.

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What Are the Benefits of Influencer Marketing?


✓ Increases brand authority and awareness (included in 85% of the strategies): Create content with influencers around innovation & challenges in the industry.

✓ Builds brand credibility and trust: Influencers have significant influence and enjoy high levels of credibility and trust in the market. Research shows that people would rather trust a share from a person they follow even when they don't know who created the content creator than believe a post from a reputable media source (the news source reputation can't match the trust to a person - not so reputable after all, and that's fair as they see readers as consumers to monetize, don't vet their sources, parrot back information, and most of the time spread fake news).

✓ Reaches the right customers: Seven out of ten marketers say that influencer marketing campaigns help reach a wider but tailored audience. Some audiences don't follow/trust brand-generated content. Influencers come into play and help you activate those hard to reach audiences.

✓ Generates real demand for your product or solution not relying on expensive paid clicks anymore.

✓ Generates real demand for your product or solution not relying on expensive paid clicks anymore.

✓ Post impressions is a reliable method of tracking ROI. Strategies focused on branding or engagements generate 8x ROI.

✓ 8 out of 10 marketers say IM is effective, and 9 out of 10 believe it is as effective as other marketing channels. 7 out of 10 say traffic quality is better.

✓ Half of consumers totally depend on influencer recommendations for their purchase decisions.

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Why Do Brands Need Influencers?


Brands need to show their authenticity, which is necessary for building trust, and IM helps them achieve that goal. IM can also help drive engagement, website traffic, and conversions. The identity of the sharer and trust is paramount for consumers. Followers give greater significance to the person who shared the content than to the news organization that published the article in the first place. News from trusted sources gains more shares and followers (impacts engagement). Influencers are trusted persons with large followings. Brand storytelling is more credible when recommended by a trusted source. It makes sense to make the sharers unofficial brand ambassadors and (ultimately make their consumers brand ambassadors) accomplish with more success the following goals:

✓ Promote or create content.

✓ Product Launches.

✓ Promote an Event.

✓ Boost brand searches and traffic from organic search.

✓ Step in to deter attention from a corporate crisis.

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influencer marketing strategy



How to Build an Influencer Marketing Strategy?

✓ Know your consumers: What are the target audience demographics and behavioral characteristics? Identifying the properties of the consumers will narrow down to what influencer type you need. What is your position in the market? Do influencers heavily influence your vertical? How much work have your competitors done with their programs? What is your geographical reach?

✓ Set goals: What you expect from hiring an influencer? What aspects of your performance do you want to improve? For example, brand awareness (hard to measure), engagement, more followers (included in 65% of the strategies), impressions, conversions (leads, and sales). A good fit would be a person who evokes action from the followers (conversion). Depending on your goals you need the right type of influencer (see below the types). To increase brand awareness (included in 85% of the strategies), you need the top of the game, which has massive reach. To boost brand sentiment, you need honest and authentic content. To build brand trust, you need niche influencers. To drive conversions (included in 70% of the strategies), you need the top, mid-level, and micro-influencers. To promote a product, you need industry experts and niche influencers.

✓ Digital or traditional channel selection: News columns (print and online), Radio, TV, Social networks (Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin), Digital and print Ads.

✓ Finding the right influencer: A reliable and professional person (celebrity, industry expert) that fits well with the brand message and has good engagement metrics (post impressions).

✓ Setting a publishing calendar: Schedule postings to be released at the right time to reach your target audience. Note that each channel may require a different content approach.

✓ Review all content before posting: Go through the material and make sure all stakeholders are aware of the terms and conditions (brand safety). Verify that all postings have tracking pixels in place.

✓ Measure post-performance: Track ROI, reach, post engagement, follower growth, best performing postings and timings, landing page traffic, conversions, brand mentions in comments published.

✓ Make a business case: Was the campaign successful? Was the budget rightfully spent? If you'd do it again what would you change?

✓ Repeat the campaign: Invest in the best practices and the experience you gained to build a better influencer marketing campaign (optimization).

✓ Start-up will need to invest more time and effort than a well-known, more established brand.

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How Many Influencers Do You Need?

To get positive results, you need the optimal number of influencers. Too many influencers may add needless confusion, will increase the costs, and negatively impact relationships. Numbers vary from vertical to vertical, and the budget plays a role. An ideal number is 100-200 influencers. You need to have a plan with how much resources you will putting into the program (time, budget, content). What type of influencers you need, and how relevant they are to your brand? How will you activate them after they accept your invitation? Time is a crucial factor in getting results. If your team is composed of one person will have fewer results than a group of 2 or more persons dedicated to the influencer program. If you're using relationship management software or platform, the licensing costs will take a share of the budget. Professional influencers and celebrities expect financial compensation; you might want to start with smaller influencers to keep the costs at a reasonable level, though achieving far fewer results. Paying influencers will get you fast as many influencers as you can afford. Engaging smaller influencers will take more time, but they could turn in more brand advocates.

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How to Find Relevant Influencers?

Influencers should be relevant to your brand and consumers. If the influencer has nothing to do with the industry, the content and brand message will not resonate or sound outlandish. You have to research the community and figure out who are the leading people who get things going. Influencers don't create just popular content but original content that moves the industry forward and inspires people. It is best first to segment the community to understand the different groups, see if they are fit to be targeted, run analytics and alerts, and lastly approach the various influencer types with tailored messages. Start by creating a list of keywords relevant to your vertical. Also, look for people being mentioned by the influencer community. From that initial group, you shorten the list to those who are the best fit for your brand and niche. Affiliation with the niche removes many barriers in communication, content creation, and using an expert eye. It makes sense to engage influencers that create content relevant to your products/services and can engage their followers. You have to find the right time to reach these people as most of them will probably be too busy to reply. The best fit would be a relevant influencer with a large and engaged audience, who's excited to work with your brand (passion creates the trust), and together you come up with the right content that resonates to target customers. Start by focusing on the influencers who know you and are positive towards your brand. Check below some tips to find influencers.

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What Are the Types of Infuencers?

What is the position of the influencer in the market? What is the influencer's reach? Is it a person with limited influence in the community? Can this person engage the audience regardless of the number of followers? Note that often numbers of followers are connected to fraud.

Influencers are not brand ambassadors. Brand ambassadors have long-term contracts.

  1. Personas with up to one thousand followers are considered small influencers and rarely monetize their content.
  2. Micro-influencers or nano influencers, have up to 10,000 thousand followers and typically have high engagement rates. They create relevant content and communicate with their audience via social media platforms, blogs, websites, and forums. Micro-influencers are a fast-growing segment of IM and brands can partner with these content creators at the city level for a fraction of the spend.
  3. Blog Influencers write for their established blogs with thousands of subscribers and readers.
  4. Professional influencers have large followings up to 100,000 followers. These are highly respected industry experts, as seen from their peers. Studies show that this type has the most engaged audience.
  5. Macro Influencers can reach up to 300,000. They may have a manager and better treat them equally to celebrities. Their content resonates to their audience.
  6. Celebrity influencers exceed the 300,000 followers, are known across many industries, and always represented by a manager.

Most influencers work on a pay-per-post basis, but not all of them are motivated by cash rewards. Among the reasons to become an influential person is to grow their audience, create quality content, shape their image, get perks (products, discounts), live new experiences.

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influencer relationships



How to Engage Influencers and Build Relationships?

The best way to connect with influencers is by establishing a meaningful relationship. The first step is to understand your influencers. Then you figure out the best proposition for them based on the topics where they show their expertise, the content they like to create, etc. This way, you will have more success than with a blind, horizontal proposition for all the prospects. You will need to show them a good execution plan that transpires professionalism, so they feel secure about the quality of work. After the first campaign, you will understand that you have shared your brand voice, and that has somewhat shaped community perceptions. It will also help you build relationships with more influencers and streamline processes. To engage influencers, you can invite them to speak at your company events or contribute with their expert opinions to content that you are creating. If you already have people enrolled in your program ask them to recommend influencers they know that might be a good fit.

Once you have identified the first group, get to know them and reach out to them directly instead of hiring an agency as a mediator. Influencers are most responsive when the business contacts them directly, and 8 out of 10 prefer no mediators. Getting to know them will help you see if they are a good fit for your brand, and it will help establish a long-term relationship as they will see how professional you are. If they are too busy, do things that will help them notice you: share their posts, comment on their content, participate in their conversations.

If you are attending the same event with influencers that you find interesting, start engaging with them on social media before the event by sharing their content. Connect with them on LinkedIn and say a few introductory words and ask them to talk briefly just before the event. Continue to engage with them after the event. You may either pitch them before the event, or on social media.

To engage a blog influencer, you can write a guest post for their blog in a topic that interests their readers, or sponsor a post about your products or services.

With celebrities, you have to go through their manager. You can sponsor an event the celebrity is hosting or attending. You may ask them to pose for pictures promoting the brand, give away coupons and discount codes, or write reviews recommending the brand.

✓ Ways to launch a program with earned media: You can build long term relationships with different types of influencers. Amplifying earned media value of content marketing. Connect your internal advocates with external influencers. Do political lobbying to help change policies. Build relations with the media and high profile influencers. Works well with long-term metrics (advocacy, recommendations).

✓ Ways to launch a program with paid media: Create content and pay influencers to speak at your events. Target influencers’ social feeds with PPC ads. Works well with awareness and yields short-term results.

✓ Approach people who influence the key decision-makers (B2B). Put the sales team into influencing prospects on social media.

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Which Social Networks Work Best in Influencer Marketing?

Instagram is the number one choice when you need short-term results. The second choice would be YouTube. Instagram uses the power of images but is not fit for every vertical. It's suitable for food brands, fashion, and travel. LinkedIn has a more professional style and content than Instagram. LinkedIn is the best choice for B2B IM in verticals like tech, automation, business, human resources, logistics, etc. Twitter is the most effective channel for news and a great platform to building relationships with Twitter influencers.

Then you have to consider that customers use many devices to see the content (mobile phones, tablets, TVs, etc.)


What Influencer Content to Create?

Start with a few simple questions: Does the content represent the brand philosophy? As an employee, are you proud of creating each piece of content? Has the content potential to become viral? As a reader would you share the content?

You can start by monitoring niche comments, posts, and sharing patterns to discover the trending topics that will lead you into producing engaging content. Content will depend on the influencer type; for some, it will suffice a simple endorsement; for others, you will have to make a video. It could easily be a short interview as influencers like to share their take on things, do a Twitter chat, a podcast, or a presentation created by the influencer. Make sure you are fully prepared to deliver a quality of work before engaging any influencers as professionalism plays a significant role in their image.

Note that Instagram doesn't allow all users to add links to their posts, so you need to help your influencers set up their own storefronts.

The content should be unique, readable, engaging content, and not use any automatically-generated content tools. Authentic influencers will know how to create unique and engaging content that resonates with their audience.

Run a giveaway contest that helps to engage your audience and raise more awareness. They also are known to increasing brand interest and improving brand perception. Make sure that your contest rules require that users, like the giveaway post, tag their friends, and share it.

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influencer marketing roi



How to Measure Success and ROI?

Start first by finding the Cost of investment (COI). Costs include researching partners, setting up the program, networking, giveaways, time spent on content creation and social media outreach.

Brand awareness: The first metric is the number of influencers that you invited to your program, and the second metric is the number of influencers that accepted the invitation (those are engaged influencers - activity metric). From those engaged influencers, then you want to record how many posts were generated about your brand compared to your competitors (measures the attention the brand received). To measure brand awareness, you want to find how many posts/comments talking about the brand (volume of brand mentions or other relevant topics) were generated within the influencer community and in external media again compared to your competitors.

Brand sentiment and perception (quality of brand coverage): Start with how many attempts you've made to reach influencers then record the number of influencers that attended your event (engaged influencers). Measure how many posts the influencers generated (influencer association with the brand) and lastly find how the language of the community changed (brand perception) after the event.

Lead generation (action): First step is the number of invites, second step the number of engaged influencers. Then you find the number of influencer-generated content, and finally, you record how many leads (traffic, inquiries, subscriptions, emails) the influencer posts generated via the tracking URLs.

Revenue: Starting with the internal advocates who educate the influencers, you then pass to the number of relationships created with influencers. Then you find how many posts are positive about your brand (preference), and then you find the percentage of traffic/conversions/revenue generated by the influencer posts tracked with unique pixels.

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How much to Spend on Influencer Marketing?

Lack of sufficient compensation is the biggest mistake in launching a campaign. Research recommends spending up to 20% of the marketing budget with half or more on Instagram. The costs could start from $20K when working with an influencer marketing agency but you can launch a successful influencer marketing campaign on almost any budget.


Compensation models:

✓ Cost per engagement (number of engagements driven with content - very effective).

✓ Cost per click (number of clicks driven to landing page - very effective).

✓ Pay per post (fixed amount for each post).

✓ Perks (free products/experiences instead of monetary compensation).

✓ Cost per acquisition (cost per conversion or cost per action). Pays per number of actions or acquisitions.

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What Are the Challenges in Influencer Marketing?

Insufficient dedicated resources: Influencer relations remains still an immature category in marketing departments and, as such, will always be disproportionately affected in corporate restructuring. In plain words, when headcounts take place and budget cuts, IM is not the focus.

Lack of understanding how to measure ROI: Some brands are skeptical because the industry lacks reporting standards, and they can't trust the numbers in post-campaign reports. Programs with no reliable measurement and goals not aligned with business objectives.

No quality content: Brands publish a sheer amount of content, creating too much noise and impacting engagement metrics. Brands and influencers have to come up with content that will attract shares (not always the best quality).

No confidence: The employees either don't understand the program or are not confident to build relationships with influencers. Typical messaging that works for traditional marketing won't do well with influencers. Early rejections, lack of responses might cause disappointment and subsequent efforts to fail. Lack of internal education and practice on IM programs brings more failure down the line.

Senior management shows poor understanding: Executives are fans of traditional channels where they have seen ROI from quasi instant results, and as such innovative marketing programs that promise results later in time don't make an easy business case, they are not convinced, thus might not give approvals for all the program phases, sufficient budgets and not enough trust.

Everybody today with a camera or a cellphone thinks they can become influencers and make big money. On the other side, there's no exclusivity; you can find influencer networks, agencies and talent management companies claiming to represent the same influencer and that's bad for reputation.

YouTube content creators have pushed influencers out of YouTube and in the hands of Instagram where there's little content regulation, and it's easier to use with pictures you can control.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has developed a list of rules governing influencer-brand relationships. A business relationship between an endorser and an advertiser should be disclosed.

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What Is Influencer Marketing Fraud?

To increase their profits, some influencers purchase followers or engagements (incentivizing followers to engage with their content), so there's no genuine connection with their followers. Brands tend to judge an influencer by the audience (pay-for-reach model) instead of measuring the content value. The practice has been to generate a cost per post based on an influencer's follower count and multiply that by the CPM. In part brands used to do so because they lacked the resources to check every single follower, and ad agencies didn't provide all the data for a full assessment. Influencer agencies are aware they can't stop the follower fraud so they're charging clients based on post impressions (impression tracking). Instagram introduced a business accounts insights program that shows how many people saw an influencer's post. What that means for influencers is that those with less engagement will see their income dropping even if they have large followings. Some agencies charge clients based on fixed CPMs regardless of how many followers the influencer has. Pricing based on impressions blocks influencers from naming their rates (reach-based model) when working with an agency as now it means they have to deliver ROI.

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What Influencer Marketing Tools to Use?

If you're not using influencer marketing software, you can manually do a hashtag search and look for people that post in your industry or competitors. You may find already brand advocates, so reach them first. Google Analytics will show you the referrals from a specific network and with the tracking pixels that you have given to the influencers to use in their posts.

The right way to select software is to see if it meets with your influencer program needs. Standard features include the ability to find, contact, compensate influencers, and track performance. Here's a list of platforms and software solutions: #paid, adMingle, Adly, Adproval, Advowire, Agorapulse, AspireIQ, Bideo, Blogmint, Blogsvertise, BrandBacker, BrandBrief, BrandChamp, BrandPlug, Buzzoole, BuzzStream, BuzzSumo, Companion, Content BLVD, CreatorIQ, Exposely, FameBit, FamePick, Find Your Influence, Grapevine Logic, HYPR, Influencity, InkyBee, InNetwork, InstaBrand, Izea, Julius, Klear, Linqui, Liquid Social, Markerly, Megan Media, Modash, Mustr, NeoReach, Nevaly, NODE App, Onalytica, Peadler, Phlanx, Pitchbox, Post for Rent, Scraawl, Scrunch, Style Coalition, Socialbakers, SocialBook, SocialBrands, Socialix, Sway Group, Tagger, TapInfluence, The Flux List, Traackr, Upfluence, Webfluential, Zoomph.

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