This article has been contributed by Anna Medina.
Everyone’s talking about influencer marketing these days. But only a few really know how to benefit from it.
The strategy seems like such a simple idea. I mean you partner with someone, sign an agreement, and have them promote your products. How hard could it be, right?
Unfortunately, it’s more complicated than that. Even an Instagram star with 2.6 million followers isn’t always able to sell as little as 36 t-shirts.
The point is: never rush into something as tricky and complicated as influencer marketing. You need to really figure everything out before doing anything.
No worries, though. By the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll be ready to make the right steps to building your brand with influencer marketing.
Let’s start by going over the basics (I promise it’ll be quick).
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is a marketing strategy whereby a brand partners with a person to act as a thought leader and impact the buying decisions of a specific audience.
Brands mostly hire social media influencers because of the easy access to target audiences it gives.
Is this strategy worth your time?
Absolutely. Successful influencer marketing campaigns generate a return of up to $6.85 for every $1 spent.
Let’s ensure that you have a good chance to get nice returns like this.
Your journey to finding the right influencer to work with begins with you. To make your partnership work, you need to have your brand ready. The influencer is much more likely to agree to collaborate if you have decent branding (strong visual identity, user-friendly website, etc.)
That’s why I recommend going over this essential branding reading (if you’re already sure your brand is super awesome, skip it, the tips are next):
- Branding, Identity & Logo Design Explained.
- Branding Explained: A Complete Guide to Creating a Memorable Brand
How to Sell More with Influencer Marketing in 2020 and Beyond
Okay, so how do you hit the ground running with influencer marketing? Easy, follow these steps.
Step 1: Find the Right Influencer
A poorly skilled influencer is a common reason why campaigns fail. That’s why brands are trying to avoid that by desperately looking for influencers who rule their niches. That makes sense, yes, but the fact that the influencer “rules” doesn’t mean he or she is the best for you.
What matters in influencer search is:
- Authenticity. The best way to tell an authentic influencer is to assess content engagement – comments and likes. If they get a consistent stream of likes or comments on their posts, chances are good that they’re not fake.
- References. This one is simple: ask an influencer to provide at least a few references from previous brands. If they don’t have any recommendations, that could be a red flag.
- Audience location. An influencer might be popular in one city but totally unheard of in other ones. If you’re a local business, check where an influencer’s audience comes from to avoid targeting the wrong area.
- Content quality. The best content sparks conversations – comments, that is – in posts, so go through the posts of a chosen influencer to see if it’s true for them.
These four points should give you quality options to choose from.
If you’re wondering if you have to search for influencers manually, no worries. There are nice tools like Buzzsumo and Mention that automate this process. Both come with free trials, so you’ll learn how to look for good influencers for free.
Step 2: Write a Detailed Campaign Brief [+Template]
Since you’re doing your influencer campaign the right way, you need a campaign brief. It’s a very important document that serves as a campaign roadmap for the influencer.
The brief depends on a lot of factors, but it should answer these essential questions:
- What are the primary and secondary goals for the campaign?
- How are you going to measure the performance of the campaign?
- What kind of branding and marketing materials are you going to provide (if any)?
- What products or services do you need to promote and with which content?
- What is the timeline of the campaign?
These are the essential points to cover in a brief. If the influencer is to deliver great results for you, they need to know what you need from them.
Need help with getting it done the right way? Here’s a campaign brief template for you to use.
CAMPAIGN BRIEF TEMPLATE
1. Who Are We?
Provide a quick intro to your company. Include information about previous influencer campaigns.
2. Campaign Goals
Describe the goals and objectives of the campaign.
3. Channels, Deliverables and Timeline
Give an overview of:
- Social media platforms you’d like to use
- What content you want them to publish (deliverables)
- Content frequency, e.g. 2 posts a week for the entire timeline of the campaign.
4. Target Audience
For example, “Women aged between 25 and 35, interested in the latest graphic design trends in the U.S.”
Describe how you will measure the results, e.g. the number and dollar value of sales made on your landing pages, meaningful engagement like comments and link clicks.
6. Marketing Materials
Provide links to materials (or attach files) with your branding guidelines and other marketing content. It will help the influencer understand how you prefer to communicate with customers. You may wish to cite other campaigns you find inspiring.
7. Dos and Don’ts
Give tips on how to handle the campaign, e.g. “include #fashiontrends in every post.” Also provide advice on specific don’ts, e.g. “Don’t compare us to brand X.”
Describe how you will compensate the influencer for their cooperation.
Writing a clear and easy-to-understand brief is a must to prevent misunderstanding and other issues.
Have no in-house copywriters to take care of that? No worries, go to review sites like Pick the Writer or Writing Judge to see top-rated writing and editing services.
The last thing: don’t treat your brief as a static document. It’s quite possible that the influencer will propose changes based on their experience. This can help you achieve better results, so be open to suggestions.
Step 3: Co-Create Content
Many brands fully trust influencers with content ideas. Typically, influencers supply a list of the best content for Instagram or another network they prefer to create. That’s totally okay – you’re the one who approves it, anyway.
But let me tell you why you should participate in creating content:
- You contribute your content ideas and suggestions (in many cases, it’s necessary if the product is complex; the influencer might need help with learning about it)
- Content gets approved and published faster
- An influencer can teach you something new about the target audience
- You understand what products and content work best.
Besides, the influencer would be much more committed to the success of the campaign if you show a desire to help them.
So, how can you collaborate on content creation?
If the influencer agrees to co-create content, you can:
- Provide them with images, social media posts, or articles from your business blog and other content that the campaign might benefit from
- Always offer to give feedback on the content created by the influencer
- Participate in content creation using a shared account on a graphic design platform.
Co-creation of content is a win-win strategy because you can learn a lot from each other. Give it a try if you can, but never dictate your requirements to the influencer! Creative freedom matters to them.
Related: How to Get Traffic & Leads with Content Creation.
Step 4: Never Use Vanity Metrics
Some brands make a mistake by focusing on the wrong things when measuring campaign performance. These are often called “vanity metrics,” which means they have nothing helpful to tell you about the campaign.
In years gone by, limited experience led businesses to measure success of influencer marketing campaigns using metrics such as views/reach/impressions and engagement. However, as of 2020, brands are measuring success against campaign goals and are using more tangible metrics.
Here are this year’s most popular ways to measure success of influencer campaigns, according to The State of Influencer Marketing 2020: Benchmark Report.
Image source: The State of Influencer Marketing 2020: Benchmark Report
Stay away from the following metrics when creating your campaign brief:
- Content views. This is almost completely useless because it doesn’t measure your main goal: sell your product.
- Likes/followers. You can count these as long as you want, but it means nothing if no one makes purchases. Count sales instead.
- Website visits. How do you know if that’s one person visiting a bunch of times, or a bunch of people at once?
Focusing on those metrics basically means wasting your time. In fact, that’s one of the reasons many brands prefer micro-influencers. Their audiences are smaller – between 1,000 and 100,000 – but much more engaged and interested in buying.
Step 5: Ask the Influencer to Review Your Product
Promotion without any justification is a bad idea, and no influencer worth their salt would agree to it. So, ask your chosen influencer to provide an in-depth, creative and objective review of your product – after they’ve tried it for free, of course!
Since positive reviews influence 91 per cent of online customers, you should definitely have them. When a review comes from an influencer a customer trusts, the effect on sales could be amazing.
An influencer is likely to propose to you some ideas on how to create reviews.
Here’s what they may suggest. These content types are the most effective, sales-wise:
How-to articles on a blog
An influencer can show how your product can help solve a typical problem their followers have with a blog article.
YouTube influencers are a big hit because people love videos. Have your influencer teach viewers how to use your product to solve a problem and explain why they like it.
This video review from Jon Rettinger, a popular YouTuber who makes tech reviews, is a good example:
Instagram TV video reviews
IGTV is another popular source of video-based product reviews. This is easy because the influencer doesn’t have to go through the trouble of shooting a detailed review and editing it for YouTube.
Step 6: Promote Your Brand and Products with Stories
A good way to introduce your brand to an influencer’s audiences is with a story. Brand storytelling is a powerful customer acquisition and marketing technique that pairs perfectly with influencers.
In fact, studies have shown that “creating authentic content about brands” was the top benefit of influencer marketing.
Image source: The State of Influencer Marketing 2017
For example, you can share your brand’s story or product development details with an influencer and ask them to come up with a creative post.
The content doesn’t have to be brand-focused, of course. The influencer might think of ways to place your brand or product in the lives of their followers and show how it can help.
Here’s an example of a simple story.
A well-known photographer, Jesse Driftwood, shares his story of choosing a career in this Instagram post. He uses his partner – Audible, a company selling audiobooks – to listen to various professional books to make a better choice.
Many young people can relate to this experience, agree?
The influencer presents the story in a really simple yet relatable way. With Driftwood being a micro influencer, his audience is very engaged and likely to try Audible.
Another great thing about this post is that the campaign makes it easy to try the product. The first audiobook is free, according to Driftwood, so trying the service is risk-free and easy.
Related: A Guide to Storytelling for Designers & Business Owners
Step 7: Consider Using TikTok
TikTok is a rising star in the world of social media. It made vertical video popular again and enjoys 800+ million active users around the world. With a prevailing majority of users – over 45 per cent – aged between 20 and 39, it’s a perfect platform to target Millennials.
TikTok influencer marketing has been around for a relatively short period of time, but we have already seen many successes. The community of influencers on the platform has also been growing.
Some of the most followed accounts include Loren Gray (45.9 million followers) and BabyAriel (34.4 million). There are many micro influencers, too, so brands don’t have problems finding good options in specific niches.
Just one post from Loren Gray’s recent campaign with Chipotle, for example, has amassed 724.7K likes and more than 5,000 comments.
Image source: TikTok
Altogether, the campaign has attracted 500+ million views, becoming the best performing branded challenge in the U.S. (yes, the influencer’s followers were quick to pick up her idea of dancing and posted their content with the hashtag #guacdance).
So, TikTok is definitely worth the try, and the tips you’ve been reading in this post totally apply there, too. Especially if you’re selling to Millennials and Generation Z.
Step 8. Respect the Law
It goes without saying that your campaign must comply with the latest requirements from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Take a look at the Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers, FTC’s guide to influencer campaigns.
Over to You
Whew, you’re done!
Now you know how to sell more with influencer marketing. You just learned the basics of the strategy and got some pro tips and tools to make it work.
Hope you’ll keep them in mind the next time you’ll decide to go for an influencer campaign! Fingers crossed for your success!
About the author: Anna Medina is freelance writer.