27 Mar Dipping Your Toes Into Influencer Marketing
These days, it seems like just about everyone is doing influencer marketing. In December of 2016, 84% of marketers said they planned to incorporate influencer marketing into their marketing strategy in 2017 according to Forbes, and influencer marketing has only grown since then. In fact, in 2017, average spend on influencer marketing campaigns rose by 38.6% over the previous year. If you’re starting to feel like it’s time for you to get started in influencer marketing, you’re not alone. Many companies are struggling to get a handle on influencer marketing and worried about failing to capitalize on the positive effect influencer partnerships can have on their brand.
But is there a way to try out influencer marketing without risking a lot of wasted effort and money? Is it possible to just dip your toes into influencer marketing to see if it fits within your overall marketing strategy without wasted time or effort? Surely there’s a way to keep stakes low while you learn what makes good influencer marketing.
As you’ve no doubt guessed by the title of this article, there absolutely is a way to dip your toes into influencer marketing without high stakes and big commitments. Let’s talk about what you should do to make a small but smart start in this new marketing strategy.
Start With Clear Motives
Before you do anything else, it’s important to be clear about why you want to try influencer marketing. There are lots of potential benefits to influencer marketing, but jumping in without focus makes you less likely to manifest those benefits.
Are you interested in generating quality content that highlights your product(s)? Is it improving brand awareness that matters to you? Maybe you’re trying to call attention to a particular promotion? Or perhaps you’re hoping influencers can help your rebranding efforts?
Whatever your motives, they should be clear from the beginning so that you can pick the right influencers for the task and assess whether your efforts are really helping you reach your goals.
Determine Your Strategy
To get started on your first campaign, think like you are creating a full unique campaign and then scale it down so that you are just getting a taste of what influencer marketing is all about.
Make sure you know a) what the message you want to convey to consumers is, b) what your timeline for the campaign is, and c) how you’ll be compensating the influencers who participate.
On the subject of compensation, each influencer will have their own expectations for what’s fair, and some may have hard-and-fast rates for this kind of work. Know before you start how much you’re willing to pay for each unit of work (e.g. an Instagram post vs. a tweet vs. a blog post).
Keeping it small & simple
If you just want to dip your toe in, keep it simple by limiting the number of influencers and going with smaller, micro influencers.
Send Products To Your Fans
Before you start worrying about how much to pay influencers, you can always start by sending samples of your product(s) to influencers and encouraging them to share their experience if they enjoy the product.
This can be a good strategy if you’re looking to increase brand awareness or promote a new product. There is no guarantee that the people you are sending something to will actually post anything about it, but if your product is high quality and noteworthy, people will likely want to share it.
One way to ensure your gift will be well-received is to target influencers who have already posted about your brand, or who have similar interests that reflect your target audience. Find your fans, reach out to them and send away! Be creative with your packaging to help cut through the “gifting clutter” many influencers receive today; think about how your package will stand out and capture their attention from the start. Sending gifted product helps keep costs low, mainly accounting for product and shipping costs, and is a simple way to engage with a variety of influencers and fans alike.
However, this low-cost approach comes with a couple risks, one being the guarantee of content creation. If you’re hoping to secure branded content on a timeline with specific messaging, you might want to pivot towards compensating influencers and activating a more formal campaign.
Focus on a Few Promising Influencers
If you want guaranteed coverage you will need to compensate influencers for the posts they will be creating. For you first campaign you can choose a few influencers to get started.
Engagement, not size
One easy mistake to make is thinking that an influencer with a big following ensures big results. In reality, focusing on a few influencers that each have a smaller following can be much more effective if their followers are more engaged. Take a look at what percentage of an influencer’s following interacts with their content when they post. The more engaged their following, the more your efforts will yield meaningful results.
Instead of creating a large campaign with macro influencers, test a campaign with a handful of micro influencers who have an engaged audience. This is a great way to test your processes, strategy and get feedback for your next campaign.
Pay attention to platforms
Each media platform (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, the influencer’s blog, etc.) has different benefits, detriments, and demographics. Additionally, each influencer’s performance and audience will vary between social media platforms. Be thoughtful about where content featuring your product(s) might best shine and best reach the audience you care about.
Reach Out To Influencers
Now you’re ready to start making things happen. The important thing to pay attention to at this stage is anticipating the needs/desires of your potential influences and treating them personably. Express your enthusiasm about their past work and let them know you’d love to work with them for an upcoming campaign (and potentially more in the future).
When you reach out to influencers, make sure you set clear expectations. What are you asking them to do and how will they be compensated for it? What is your timeline for getting things done? Do you have any requirements/guidelines they should follow (e.g. using a particular hashtag or emphasizing a certain feature of the product)?
Be sure not to control your influencer(s) too much or too little. Given them some guidelines that are easy to follow, but don’t impinge on their creativity. You’re enlisting their help because they’re good at what they do and they have an existing relationship with their audience that you want to tap into. Don’t micro-manage so hard that you negate what makes them a powerful resource in the first place.
Finally, don’t get discouraged if you don’t get a response, or if the response is no. Influencers—especially the good ones—get plenty of these sorts of proposals, and not every brand is going to be the right fit. The good news is that there are plenty of fish in the blogger sea, so just try try again.
Support Your Influencers’ Efforts
Your job shouldn’t be over once the influencers have made their posts. The best way to increase the impact of your campaign and make sure influencers enjoy working with you is to repost their content (giving credit, of course!) on your own social media platforms with words of praise.
Unless you were unhappy with the influencer’s work, follow them on social media and continue to cultivate your relationship with them. If you show them enough love, they might become a powerful advocate for your brand. At the very least, you could ensure that they’re willing to work with you in the future.
In this same vein, make sure you thank your influencers for their work. Seriously. They didn’t have to work with you, but they chose to anyway. Whether or not you’ve compensated them in other ways, a simple thanks can go a long way.
When all is said and done, it’s time to take stock of how well you did. As you’re looking at numbers, it’s important to keep in mind that a one-off campaign isn’t likely to produce significant results, especially when you’re new at it. Treat your first experience as a trial run; it’s a great way to experiment and learn, but you’ll need sustained efforts to see the result you really want.
That’s not to say this campaign didn’t move you closer to your goals, though. It taught you what role influencer marketing should and shouldn’t play within your larger marketing strategy. It helped you identify mistakes to avoid next time. And hopefully it helped you initiate relationships with influencers who will come to love your brand and be a powerful advocate for you in your future endeavors.