5 Ways to Optimize Your Influencer Marketing Campaigns in 2017

Looking at the landscape, some brands might surmise that it’s time to give influencer marketing a try

As Facebook and Google struggle to combat fake news and the use of ad blockers increases by double-digits, 2017 is shaping up to be a challenging one for marketers.

Looking at the landscape, some brands might surmise that it’s time to give influencer marketing a try or maybe to double down on their existing influencer marketing spending.

There’s an easy case to make for such marketing: Some 92 percent of consumers prefer recommendations from trusted people to other forms of advertising.

However, some marketers shied away from influencer marketing because they fear that there’s a lack of scale or some shady maneuvering involved in soliciting endorsements. To allay such concerns, here are five suggestions for doing such campaigns right in 2017:

The meek shall inherit the influence: Invest in micro-influencers

First, forget about the Kardashians. Such celebrity influencers tend to have massive social followings and little credibility. That lack of relevance translates into a lack of dollars. Fewer than 3 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a product in store as a result of a celebrity endorsement.

On the other hand, micro-influencers have lower reach but much higher relevance.

Brands who work with micro-influencers and citizen influencers have seen the payoff. An eMarketer study found that influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers see like rates of 8 percent and comment rates of 0.56 percent. That’s more than four times better than influencers with more than 1 million followers, who see like rates of 1.8 percent and comment rates of 0.09 percent.

Micro-influencers work because consumers trust them more than they trust mega-celebrities. With more brands working with influencers with as few as 60 followers to spread digital word of mouth, micro-influencers are the future of influencer marketing.

Have a killer game plan

Multiple surveys have found that marketers consistently name “finding the right influencer” as their top challenge. The key to success lies in first understanding your audience. The best, most natural matches will feature brands and influencers with overlapping audiences.

For a clear understanding of your audience, look beyond basic demographics and delve into characteristics. What (and who) do they like? Why do they prefer your brand over your competition? What do they read, listen to, and watch? Who do they follow? Use that knowledge to choose influencers.

Engage on their home turf

While Twitter is still an important player in the influencer marketing space, brands shouldn’t limit their activity to one platform. According to a SheSpeaks survey of influencers, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the top three social media networks for influencer marketing. With its recent launch of Pin Collective, Pinterest has become the latest network to clearly integrate influencer marketing into its overall strategy.

Don’t force your engagement with influencers to your preferred channel. Understand influencers’ preferred venues and engage with them there. Take the time to identify influencers across varying social networks, and you’ll not only find the best match for your brand–you’ll also expose your brand to new audiences.

Move beyond campaign-only strategies

Thinking of influencer marketing as a one-time campaign can be short-sighted and limits your brand’s potential. Building credible relationships isn’t a one-time effort, and neither is influencer marketing.

Like any marketing campaign, influencer marketing all comes down to timing. When done correctly, it places the right message in front of the right people at the right time. While one-time pulse campaigns are perfect for holiday and event strategies, brands must engage in always-on campaigns to keep communication consistent.

Track brand mentions and join relevant topical conversations to strengthen relationships and transform influencers and audiences into brand advocates.

An investment in earned influence is an investment in relationships

Authenticity is key to influencer marketing success. We’ve all seen how paid campaigns with celebrity influencers turn out–and the answer, many times, is not good. Again, the Kardashians provide the perfect example with Scott Disick’s BooTea Instagram mishap.

Audiences aren’t dumb. They’re well aware of when they’re being sold to, and they are often quick to point out as much in the comments section. Even brands that work with paid micro-influencers are being inauthentic with audiences if they fail to disclose compensation.

Consumers crave authenticity. They don’t want to be marketed to–they want real relationships. To see 2017 success, your brand needs to get real. Embrace those genuine relationships and bring the human aspect back to marketing.

Devon Wijesinghe is CEO of influencer marketing solution Insightpool.

Image courtesy of Rocky89/iStock.