There’s debate around whether or not influencers are a worthy line item in the budget and if they provide measurable value to the brand. I believe that if correctly researched, relevant and on-brand then they’re worth volumes and greatly benefit your overall digital marketing strategy. Influencer Marketing is nothing new, if you consider that powerhouse brands like Nike, Tiffany & Co and Chanel have undertaken this kind of marketing for years, albeit wearing under the guise of celebrity endorsement.
When you compare the two however, you’ll notice that there’s little difference. Both have a well-developed, respected personal brand, a niche following and allow you access to an audience that potentially fits the profile of your brand’s target market.
Here is a step by step to get the most out of your influencer marketing strategy.
1. Research them
Chanel isn’t endorsing Usain Bolt and Nike isn’t endorsing Natalie Portman, because simply put, they don’t fit the brand. Just like them, your brand shouldn’t be working with influencers who don’t resonate with your target market. Don’t fall into the trap of selecting the ones with the highest vanity metrics— instagram accounts with thousands of followers, twitter celebs — they can’t authentically deliver your message and it won’t resonate as powerfully as it could have. Trust me, your online audience can spot inauthenticity a mile away, so avoid it, as well as the resulting credibility loss. Explore beyond follower counts and engage in some legitimate, in-depth research.
Take time to look at the content they put out, the people they interact with, the language they use and most importantly what they’ve said about your brand in the past. Nothing loses your campaign credibility faster than someone who has loudly decried it in the past.
2. Pay them
Your chosen influencers have a niche audience and you want access to that audience. It’s that simple. You also want them to adhere to guidelines and complete tasks that you’ve set them. Do not fob them off with a free ticket or a hamper, because truth be told, you won’t get the desired results. What’s that saying about peanuts and monkeys?
3. Integrate them
You’ve bought these digital assets and now you need to use them. Look at your campaign in full and identify each and every opportunity where placing an influencer will add value.
Are there events they can attend?
Can they appear in the ad campaign itself?
When and what kind of content should they put out?
What channels should they use?
Can they be sent relevant, highly-personalised products to talk about?
4. Brief Them
In most cases, influencers need to be led by the nose and unless you specify what you want, you might end up with a few tweets. It’s worth getting them in the room and briefing them on the campaign, giving them context and ultimately ensuring they’re a better online spokesperson for your brand. Who knows, they might come up with some really great ideas that you hadn’t thought of. After all, they know their audience better than you do and how they can make your campaign work for them.
5. Create a Task List
After all the brainstorming and briefing, it’s time to draw up their task list. This outlines your expectations and helps the influencer determine if the price you’re offering is fair for the amount of work required. This list can be as vague or as detailed as you like, but the more specific the better.
Include event dates, a content timeline, the number of updates you expect, relevant hashtags and any rules that they need to be aware of. For example if they’re attending a dinner at a secret location, which you’ll only reveal on the day, they talk about the venue online.
6. Measure Them
No digital marketing campaign should ever go unmeasured and of course, your digital influencer is no exception. Thanks to the powerful analytics suites out there, you can now track, measure and quantify the value of your influencer to your heart’s content. Look at the traffic they sent you, the conversations they hosted, the content they produced and most importantly, the consumers they attracted. Use these numbers to improve your current strategy and determine if you’ll work with them again, or if you’ll try something different.
7. If they’re off brand?
If your influencer starts behaving in a way that doesn’t befit your brand, pull the plug immediately. Remember how quickly Kate Moss was dropped?
The less your brand has to do with hate speech, offensive language and general unpleasantness — the better.