In part one of our three-part series, we addressed challenges the influencer marketing industry is facing as well as compelling reasons to invest. In this article, we will outline fundamental strategies and tactics of a successful influencer marketing program. Regardless of your budgets or resources, consider the following framework when developing an influencer marketing plan.
Influencer marketing plan fundamentals
The first step in creating a successful influencer marketing program is to outline your overall objectives, whether they be brand awareness, brand perception, engagement or conversions.
The second step is to map your core audiences against popular social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn). Keep in mind platforms perform differently by gender. Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are more likely to influence females’ buying decisions, whereas YouTube and Twitter are more likely to influence males’ decisions to make a purchase (The Manifest).
With objectives, audiences and key platforms identified, you can utilize a host of free and paid tools to evaluate specific influencers on each platform. Consider utilizing these free and low-cost social media and influencer marketing platforms for your research: BuzzStream, BuzzSumo, Discover.ly, FameBit, FollowerWonk, GroupHigh, HypeAuditor, NinjaOutreach, PeopleMap, Pitchbox, Social Crawlytics, Tell and Upfluence.
When evaluating possible influencers, it is important to understand current engagement rates by size and platform, as they do vary. Influencer follower size matters as well. Microinfluencers achieve an average of 7X more engagement than influencers with larger followings (celebrities and macroinfluencers). The smaller the following, the more an influencer’s location may come into play.
Engagement rates vary widely by platform and size of influencer follower count. For example, nano- and microinfluencers may see a 4% to 7% engagement rate on Instagram vs. 1.2% to 1.4% on Twitter. Celebrities and macroinfluencers may only average a 0.7% to 1.1% engagement rate on Instagram and 0.008% to 0.3% on Twitter. Interestingly, engagement rates vary by media type as well. For example, Instagram engagement rates are significantly lower for video posts than images, and those rates are a fraction of the video engagement rates on YouTube (the most engaging social media platform of all with 6% to 7% engagement rates).
Negotiating with influencers
Now that you’re armed with engagement rates, you can create leverage with your negotiations, particularly in discussions with influencers who have lower-than-average engagement rates. Cost is also a factor, and it’s important to be informed about current rates for influencers. The average cost-per-post range from $100 to $4,000 depending on follower-count.
Developing an influencer marketing budget is important, and many brands are being more reactive than proactive when it comes to financial planning. I recommend starting small and increasing investment as influencers generate a return. Refine your program before you make large investments. For reference, Fashion Nova was the top spender on Instagram in the second quarter, investing $5.5 million into social media influencers. Ciroc earned second place with $3.4 million in spending followed by Flat Tummy Co with a $2.9 million investment (Instascreener).
Influencer outreach and engagement
With identified target influencers identified, the real work begins. Start your outreach with well-crafted communications that clearly outline your company values, goals and understanding of the fit between your brand and the influencer. Demonstrate you understand who they are, how you are aligned and the additional value you can provide, in order to maximize leverage when negotiating costs. For example, many influencers appreciate creative freedom and flexibility, while others may appreciate swag or additional exposure and credibility they can gain through your network.
Once you’ve secured your first round of influencers, the next step is providing raw materials (product, images, logistical support or other assets) as well as guidance or training on the products or services they are being asked to promote. It is important to ensure you’ve clearly delineated who creates content and where it gets syndicated. Some brands recruit influencers to create content for their own brand feeds (UGC), while others only want to be featured or mentioned in influencer feeds. If you intend to leverage influencer content in your brand feed, ensure it is properly optimized, sourced and syndicated for maximum reach and engagement.
Influencer marketing program management and measurement
The last two, but most impactful elements of your influencer marketing program are management and measurement. While platforms continue to improve, building process and maintaining regular contact is essential. We suggest weekly check-in calls and monthly reports as a minimum threshold. In terms of metrics, the most common influencer marketing analytics include engagement or clicks (according to 43% of marketers), views, reach or impressions (33%) and content type or category (24%).
You don’t have to be a fashion brand like Revolve or Dior to see massive returns on your investment in influencer marketing, but you do need to be aware of challenges, build a solid plan and manage your influencers proactively. In the third and final installment of the influencer marketing series, we will identify key influencer marketing trends to consider as you evolve your program.
Click back next week for Part 3 of this series on influencer marketing.
Kent Lewis, president and founder of Anvil Media, started his digital marketing agency career in 1996. He frequently writes and speaks about marketing and entrepreneurship, has been an adjunct professor at Portland State University since 2000 and co-founded a search engine marketing industry trade association, SEMpdx, in 2006.