Good influencers act fast, are highly visible and can open up wide swaths of previously inaccessible terrain for brands. However, even with precise guidance, they can occasionally misfire and do a lot of damage.
Influencer marketing return on investment has been measured at as much as 11 times more effective than other digital marketing tactics. Influencers are clearly well worth adding to your marketing arsenal. But how should you do this effectively?
Depending on your timeline and your budget, here’s what to keep in mind for each.
Good and fast influencer marketing: celebrities
This is how most influencer marketing campaigns are structured. Dozens of influencer agencies will happily take your money and connect you with their stable of influencers. Within about two weeks, you can have a live influencer campaign up and running.
Depending on your budget, they can facilitate the entire process (contract negotiation, content rights usage, category exclusivity, creative brief, performance reports, etc.) or let you handle the details. After you finalize the arrangements, the influencers you choose will create content on behalf of your brand and publish it to their channels. Boom: Endorsement and visibility among your target audiences. Sit back and watch your traffic spike.
These campaigns are costly, but for good reason. They give you the greatest amount of creative control (because you’re paying your influencers) and also reduce your risk by trusting your agency to write a great brief and airtight contract.
This structure should give you the best ROI, as well. If you’ve done your research properly, you will be reaching the right audiences at massive scale. Everyone you want to reach will hear about you.
If your traffic doesn’t spike, it’s not them: It’s you.
Good and cheap influencers: advocates
It will take a talented influencer program manager at least 12 to 24 months to develop an advocate group—nurturing a handful of your existing fans and turning them into legitimate publishers, thought leaders and influencers.
This is a great long-term plan, and you’ll learn a lot about your brand and its strengths and weaknesses in the process. The resulting advocates are almost like family for your brand: They’ve been with you forever and know you inside and out.
Unfortunately, just like with families, it’s easy to start taking each other for granted. Guard against this by making your advocates feel appreciated, and make it clear that your brand and employees also deserve respect.
Fast and cheap influencers: charity cases
This is a “phone-your-famous-friend” campaign plan. I have yet to see it done well. Essentially, you’re hoping that your brand or product is so wonderful that influencers will simply recommend it for you, out of the goodness of their hearts, when you ask.
This can work if you build a long-term relationship (see advocates above), but not if you’re trying to do this fast. Offering non-monetary reciprocity (free product sample, “exposure” via your brand, etc.) can improve your odds, but it’s still a long shot. I don’t like to gamble on my campaigns.
Best practices in influencer marketing
There are some overall best practices for influencer marketing. No matter your campaign duration, budget or goals, follow these steps to improve your chance for success:
- Choose wisely: You worked hard to create your brand. Influencer partners should make sense. Their tone, their audience and their channels all should align with your goals.
- Communicate clearly: What do you want the influencers to do, and how do you want it done? Instagram post, YouTube video, blog series? Provide your brand guidelines, set timeline expectations and set up regular check-in times. A creative brief can help bring this all together.
- Define success metrics: Do you want clicks? Sales attribution? Increased followers? Make sure you know what this campaign should achieve. You can work with the influencers and their agency to structure payment around key performance indicator successes.
- Get out of the way: Now that you and your influencers have clarity, let them work their magic. Their authentic voices are their most valuable asset, so give them the freedom to use them. Their followers will disengage if they sense something is phony. As long as you’ve clearly communicated your guidelines, you should be able to trust that they’ll do a great job representing your brand.
Good influencers are like rocket launchers for your brand, but use them wisely.
Image courtesy of CHBD/iStock.