You’ve watched your competitors enjoy success over the past few months by teaming up with popular and relevant social media personalities and you’ve decided you’re ready to take the plunge into influencer marketing. Now what?
Before you siphon your marketing budget to influencer projects and embark on an influencer campaign you need to have a basic plan in place. The beauty of influencer marketing is that there is an inherent flexibility and release of control. As a brand marketer you can’t always predict how an influencer’s audience will react to sponsored posts, but just because you don’t have complete control over the end product does not mean you should approach the campaign without a game plan. Here is a rundown of the steps you need to take to build an efficient influencer process and set your campaign up for success:
Set Goals: What do you actually want to achieve through this campaign? Are you simply testing the influencer waters with a small budget? Are you looking to drive brand awareness or generate sales? Determining clear-cut goals to serve as the foundation of your campaign will set you up for success.
Stick to Your Budget: Are you at liberty to spend without abandon, or have you been tasked with stretching a $5K budget as far as possible? Knowing your budget constraints from the onset will help you to correctly determine the types and tiers of influencers that should be involved and how many.
Determine your Timeline: Are you hoping to implement an influencer campaign to coincide with a major brand promotion or announcement? Or, is your goal to instate a long-term influencer program to support brand goals throughout the year? Deciding on a timeline, and adhering to it, is critical to campaign success.
Align with Influencers: Finding influencers whose content aligns with your brand goals and ideals can make or break a campaign. It’s tempting to go after a prominent influencer with a large follower count because their potential reach is so great. However, a relationship with top-tier influencers may not result in the highest value for your campaign or brand. Finding influencers that already regularly publish content that correlates to your campaign messaging, or influencers whose fan base is enthusiastic and active may give your brand more of a boost than a high follower count can offer
Build Relationships: It’s easy for brands, especially big brands, to trick themselves into believing that they hold all the cards in an influencer relationship. While an influencer may be interested in working with a brand, they don’t necessarily need to work with any one brand – they can pass (and they will pass) if brands do not go about building relationships in the right manner. In a sense, influencers are brands in their own right; influencers have defined content interests, clear voices, unique aesthetics and goals and standards for their online content. Brands must approach influencers having already done their homework on that unique person and what distinguishes them, their content and their followers. Generic outreach or general disregard for their work won’t win you any points. Furthermore, it’s important for brands to respect the duality of influencer relationships. Just because an influencer is willing to post on behalf of a brand does not make them a brand’s puppet.
Track Progress: Mistakes happen to the best of us. It’s all too easy to misspell a brand name or include the wrong link; some influencers are involved in numerous campaigns at one time and inevitably a slip-up will occur. Managing an influencer campaign does not stop once contracts have been signed, rather, it’s the job of the campaign manager to stay involved, even when the ball is in the influencer’s court. Not only will consistent commitment to the campaign allow campaign managers to catch or rectify small hiccups, but it allow for re-strategization, if needed. If the first round of posting in a multi-round campaign doesn’t elicit the results the brand expected, there is an opportunity to work with the influencers to tweak the creative direction, the copy tone or the calls to action before round two.
Share Your Success: Don’t let your efforts go unseen. Share your influencers posts to your own social media accounts and, if there is any remaining budget, give them a boost with some paid promotion. The influencers that you’ve tapped to participate in your campaign likely produced some pretty creative visuals and copy; adding in posts with a new voice or angle will give your brand’s social feeds depth and may even entice some lapsed followers to re-engage!