Getting started in influencer marketing

 
 influencer marketing planning
 
 

In this post we ask what is influencer marketing and how can it help your business, we review a number of influencer marketing strategies that you can test out in your campaigns and finally discuss how you should define your campaign objectives and write a winning creative brief.

Influencer marketing can be an incredibly effective means of marketing your product or service. The nature of the campaigns means that results can be tracked with extreme accuracy and audience engagement can be much higher than with traditional passive mediums. But if not planned and managed carefully influencer marketing can be complex and overwhelming at times.

In our new 6-part blog series we aim to identify key challenges that brands and agencies are facing with their influencer activities and offer different strategies and tactics that they can take advantage of – based on where they are in the 'Influencer Marketing Maturity Model'.

In this first post we dive into the basics of influencer marketing and review different strategies that can help you evolve and improve your campaigns, so you can really take charge of this growing opportunity.

So what is Influencer Marketing?

An influencer is a person that has the ability to either change the behaviour, influence or shape the purchasing decisions of a group of people. Influencer Marketing therefore is the action of using said person to promote and sell particular products or services. By availing of the services of an influencer, you are in essence aiming to gain access to the influencer's audience.

An influencer may use marketing channels that are new to you or your business does not use. They may for example use social networks such as Snapchat, YouTube or Facebook.

They may be a celebrity that simply can endorse a brand or product, or they may have built up a large social media following from working hard over a period of years, to build respect and have a highly engaged audience.

So how can Influencer Marketing help your business?

Influencer Marketing, is by no means a new marketing technique, however unlike celebrity endorsed TV and newspaper adverts (which can still cost a premium), the introduction and global growth of social media has meant that anyone who has the ability to write, comment and film their opinions and then share to a global audience also has the potential to have a huge reach.

Of course whilst anyone has the ability to reach a sizable audience, only a few actually do.

Influencers, celebrity or otherwise, therefore have a powerful voice that can work in many ways to enhance and benefit your business and brand. How you may ask? Well this is a whole topic in its own right, which we may return to at a future date, but some of the key ways influencer marketing can help your business include:

Generating awareness for your business

If you work with a relevant influencer, the likelihood is that they have access to an audience that may be interested in the services or products that you have. Your issue may be that you don’t actually know who that audience is. The influencer’s solution is that they can generate awareness of your brand by simply talking about it to their engaged and influenced audience.

Increase visits to your website and social media channels

It may seem to some like common sense, however if a relevant influencer shares word on your business, shares links to your website and to your social media channels - and shares it to their whole host of fans and followers, then you’re likely to see your website traffic and social media impressions, reach and engagement increase. Also of note is the fact that many influencers tend to attract an audience of millennials and teenagers - both of which can notoriously be difficult for brands and advertisers to reach.

Help increase traffic conversions

When you get a huge increase in footfall into a shop, you need to have products on the shelves that the customer wants to buy. You need decent customer service advisors ready to direct customers to the right products and you need to make sure that even if they don’t buy from you on their first visit, you have captured enough customer details, or offered them a decent offer, to make sure that they return again.

The same can be said for working with an influencer. There has to be an end goal or objective that you are working towards. If this is to increase traffic conversions into sales, then your website must be optimised for sales. If this is to increase the size and engagement of your social media audience, then there has to be more than a scattergun approach to make sure that they convert from ghost visitors, to either prospective or active customers.

That said, influencer marketing, if done right, can be a great way to increase conversions on your website, gain more email / newsletter subscribers, generate real-time insight, and amplify the size of your own audience.

Influencer Marketing Strategies

Now, this is a complex enough subject in itself, but we’ll try to stick to the key points, so we have outlined below a few of the most typical strategies that exist in Influencer Marketing. N.B. This is simply an outline - a fully comprehensive guide to creating a influencer marketing strategy and plan will come in a future post.

The Scattergun approach

This is the typical reposting strategy. So a brand takes a piece of their own content and gets as many influencers as possible to send them out. Usually focused on one channel (e.g. twitter or Instagram) – so asking 100 influencers to post your ad (image and copy pre-defined). No real strategy and as you say – they have little or no vested interest.

So how can I quickly get my message out as far and wide and as quickly as possible.

Micro influencers

Micro influencers are influencers who although, in the greater scheme of things don’t have the biggest audience, (perhaps less than 10,000) they do have a really strong community, with followers or fans who are really engaged by what the person has to say or does. With this approach and strategy, you may decide to work with one or a number of influencers, and most importantly influencers that you know have an engaged audience that you want.

In actual fact there are two potential ways that you could do this. You could choose to focus on a niche yet highly engaged audience - like for example the Ultra Runner community. Alternatively, you could decide to work with a large number (say 50-100) of micro-influencers. Although both options could get you the same reach as working with a major influencer (like Zoella, for example), they may actually help you generate better results. Why? Well simply because the audiences they have would tend to be more engaged and thereby responsive.

Hero content

Hero content – is where the brand invests to produce an original piece of content (e.g. a Youtube or Facebook video) and then this is supported by promotions from their other social channels (Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter etc.). These videos tend to be with more prominent influencers and are more expensive – but the brand is looking for a big return. For a big campaign or product launch they might work with a number of influencers to produce hero content.

Sometimes this is linked to a large scale event or happening - perhaps with a big budget or on a grand scale, that an influencer would use to create a sense of occasion or generate interest. It could be for a new product launch or to relaunch a brand.

With this type of strategy it is essential to set some key goals and targets - a wonderful, creative, large scale event is great, but remember you are still looking for results.

Co-creation

Co-creation is a much more two-sided and holistic approach offering the opportunity for both parties, the brand and the influencer, to collaborate from an early stage in the ideation process to create content that works well for both. It may also involve collaborating on each other’s social media accounts and also creating well produced and valuable content that adds value to not only the brand and the influencer but most importantly to the audience itself.

Ambassador Programs

Like a musician’s super-fan, an Ambassador Program is one where you give a select number of brand super-fans all the sneak peeks and new product launches first so that they can test, play around with and hopefully sing and dance about.

Beauty and fashion are examples of industries where this can work well - the influencers in this case, could be a brand super fan with a few thousand Instagram followers, but who will quite happy to spread the word and create content with your products a key focus.

Brands will generally source a group of influencers that have a strong affinity and passion for their particular products and will then work with them over a longer period of time (e.g. a year). This in turn will help that brand to build trust and loyalty with their audience.

Defining the objectives

Defining the objectives for your Influencer Marketing campaign is essential for both your business and indeed the influencer you decide to collaborate with. After all, how can you track and then measure the success of any Influencer Marketing campaign if you don’t know what you are looking to achieve in the first place. Setting key performance indicators is a great way to measure the ROI of an influencer campaign and then set future targets.

As above where we highlighted how influencer marketing can help your business, objectives for an Influencer Marketing campaign could include:

- Increase initial brand awareness

- Drive more people to download your new app

- Drive more new customers to your website

- Gain more social media followers

- Increase customer and audience engagement

- Gain more email subscribers

- Increase sales of a product or products

- Take advantage of a special deal / offer or enter a competition

How you then set about successfully working with an Influencer and setting realistic goals for the above, really can depend on a number of factors, but it is important that whatever stage you are at, if you want to see results, you need to first set your objectives, before the ideation stage begins, where you think creatively about how your KPI can be met.

Now on to writing a winning creative brief...

Creating a winning piece of content for your influencer marketing campaign is essential. Time and effort must be taken to ensure that both the influencer and the brand are on the same wavelength and that both parties have a clear understanding and agreement on what creative direction the content will take.

Of course creative control is often hard to give up, however to collaborate successfully with an influencer you must allow the influencer to feel that they are an equally respected part of the process. Therefore a well crafted and thought provoking creative brief will give the influencer the creative freedom to conceptualise content that resonates with both their own brand and audience, and also delivers against your primary business objectives. 

To help you on this journey, we have created a simple Influencer Marketing Creative Brief Template, that's free to download and use. You can download it here.

We have outlined below the key elements that should go into a good creative brief. Depending on where your brand is at with regards to adopting influencer marketing, as a key strategy, some of these points may seem basic, however there may be a few aspects you have not yet considered. Refer to our e-book on to find out where your brand sits in The Influencer Marketing Maturity Model

1. What / When / How much?

This is the logistical part of the process and is the first thing that you will really need to agree with the influencer before progressing much further with any creative brief and agreement. You will need to propose what you want them to do (e.g. 2 x YouTube videos, 1 x Instagram Post and 1 x Snapchat video) , when you want it to be done by and what the proposed or agreed budget is.

2. Background and objectives

The most important part of the creative brief. This is where you will need to give an overview of your company, your products or services, your target audience, and your overall current strategy and objectives. You’ll then need to think about this influencer marketing project. What are your goals? What do you want the audience to feel and gain from the content and how will you measure the success of the campaign? Again, we’ve covered this in more details in our article on writing a creative brief.

3. Creative requirements

As we previously identified, the ideation of the campaign idea and content should be left to the Influencer to lead. Of course, feel free to provide your input and feedback, however leave the influencer to do their thing - after all that is why you choose to collaboration with them in the first place. You will however need to outline key elements that either 'must appear' in the content (logos, products, hashtags, @mentions, clothes, links, offers etc.) and those elements that 'must not' appear (competitor names or products for example).

4. Timing

Influencers are in demand and often extremely busy, so giving them a set of dates to hit is critical. Be clear and explicit about shoot dates / first draft dates / final cut dates / approval dates / live dates etc. and always send reminders.

Other considerations

There are plenty of other considerations to make, from video and music rights and clearance, through to the overall campaign reporting requirements. If you need somewhere to get started please download our free Influencer marketing creative brief template, it should have everything you need to help you get started.