A social media influencer is one who has a very large following on social outlets. This could include things like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram.
Because these individuals can reach a vast number of people almost instantly, they are valuable to marketing campaigns.
In reality, a positive endorsement by the right social “celebrity” can greatly impact the success of a business.
For example, a short blurb about your web hosting eCommerce site from a social media celebrity could quickly increase the traffic to your online store in a relatively short amount of time.
Recent studies suggest that influencer marketing is just as cost-effective as email campaigns. In fact, the top 13% of marketers investing in top content creators will earn at least $20 for every one dollar spent this way.
However, there is more involved than simply handing the reigns over to an influential person on Twitter who has more than a 200,000 followers. The wrong connections could have serious repercussions for any business down the road.
So, what can you do to build a successful influencer marketing strategy? Here are nine tips I’ve come across that may alter how you perceive using someone with influence to share your content.
1. Define the Strategy
Before you commit to anything, you need to define your goals and clearly plan out what you want to achieve.
For example, do you want a certain number of website visitors per month or to increase revenue by a specific percentage point? Like any other strategy, an influencer marketing campaign needs a plan of action including the projected end result.
One of the best ways to set up your goals is by defining the short and long-term objectives. It’s similar to how any other marketing campaign is designed.
In reality, defining the strategy isn’t much different than setting up a campaign for pay-per-click ads.
Actually, a lot of the same principles will play into the decisions you make for influencer marketing.
For instance, you would pull ads from a PPC platform if there was no return on the investment. In this case, the influencer is the platform.
Determining what you’re trying to accomplish will contribute to the type of influencer you’re looking for and what kind of social site to use. By analyzing the return on the investment, you can see whether or not a certain individual is beneficial for the business.
If the costs are too high while not meeting the goals, then it’s time to look for a better influencer.
It’s that simple.
2. Which Social Site is Right for You?
Every social media site has its strengths when compared to others. While some people are hooked on Facebook, others prefer the video content of YouTube. One of the biggest contributors to finding the best platform is that of the product or service you’re offering.
Sites like Instagram are more centered around images than other outlets. If you have a product that can be displayed in a photograph, then this may be a more viable method for social media influencer marketing.
What if you offer services that don’t really have a tangible asset of which to snap a picture? Then it may rely more on text or perhaps explanations in video content.
For example, I’ve seen organizations who offer various web-based services use influencers on YouTube. A short blurb about the service and a screenshot of the company website later and thousands of viewers receive the message loud and clear.
The right social media presence may also rely on budget constraints. Some influencers on YouTube may be more expensive than those using Twitter. You also need to consider the amount of traffic that a single video receives as opposed to the number of views a tweet may have.
And don’t forget, there’s nothing wrong with covering your bases and finding the best influencers on all social media platforms.
3. Understand Follower Count Isn’t Everything
One of the most vital components to influencer marketing is understanding how followers and fans actually work.
Don’t be enamored by a person who has more than a million fans at his or her disposal. These numbers may not mean as much as you think.
Follower and Fan Bloating
Some people will pay for followers and fans to simply look more popular. This means that a large portion of that number are from accounts that do not interact with the content.
Instead of reaching out to 250,000 people, your influencer could be reaching closer to 1000 actual humans.
Dissipation Over Time
A person who has been developing videos on YouTube for the last 10 years may show more than five million followers. However, a large number of those people may not be as active as they once were.
You have to figure that some fans and followers will still be recorded even though they probably stopped watching three or four years ago.
This is why someone with five million followers will only receive 150k views per video.
Keep an eye on current daily and weekly growth of an influencer. This is a better gauge to determine his or her value to your campaign. Tools such as SocialBlade are great for determining the effectiveness of an influencer.
4. Verify the Influencer is Right for You
Word of mouth advertising has never been so effective. Social media experts and celebrities can reach and engage a lot of people in a short amount of time.
In fact, the retention rate for word-of-mouth ads is 37% higher than others. Which means influencers can easily help a business keep and maintain a customer-base.
Not all influencers will be the right fit for your campaign. You have to consider that each individual will add his or her own personality into the content. This is very important if you’re trying to market a family-friendly product with someone who is more “R” rated.
Another aspect to bear in mind is the niche of the influencer marketing campaign.
For instance, marketing a clothing line with a gaming video producer may not be ideal unless the clothing line is related to game topics. Just like creating ads for a landing page, relevancy between the product and the influencer is going to be pivotal.
Understanding the target audience of the influencer is as important as understanding your own. Who watches or responds to the person? How do they interact with the celebrity? What interests those who follow the social accounts of popular people? Knowing this will help determine if a certain individual is right for your campaign.
5. Contact Influencers Directly
A lot of influencers want to be contacted directly. This cuts out the middle man and increases income for the individual. It also eliminates the need to follow specific guidelines and restrictions of those third-party outreach programs.
One of the reasons why you want to stay away from third-party services is to avoid some of the issues I mentioned above.
For instance, these services often don’t explore an individual’s fans to determine if the accounts that follow the influencer are indeed real.
Direct contact also gives you a chance to meet the person. Interpersonal communication can tell you a lot about whether an individual is going to be ideal for your campaign or not. Attitude, professionalism and more are all part of the process.
Essentially, this person is going to be representing your company to the masses. It’s like hiring a public relations professional. This person is going to be put in front of thousands upon thousands of potential consumers.
Will he or she do your company justice? You might be able to learn that through a personal interview.
6. Negotiate the Contract
It’s difficult to say with exact certainty that you’ll spend X amount of dollars on influencer marketing. This is because many of them pretty much set their own pricing.
What may seem outrageously high for one may be incredibly cheap for another. This is when the negotiation takes place.
There are several ways you can negotiate with an influencer. These include:
- Direct payments for ads.
Many organizations will pay a flat fee every month to an influencer as long as he or she displays an advertisement or mentions a product a certain number of times. This often has the higher cost to marketers while having a varying range for the return on investment.
- Commission-based sales.
Many influencers are fine with the idea of commission-based sales. This is when a coupon code or tracking link is provided for the influencer to share. If his or her viewers use the code or link, a commission is earned. This has a great ROI while keeping the upfront costs low for the marketer.
- Perks or free samples.
A lot of marketers will send a product to an influencer to try for free. If he or she likes it, then negotiations can start about referring the product. This helps get the individual excited to sell the product especially if he or she likes it. While this does cost a bit more to get started, it’s a great way to find quality people who will promote the product well.
Never underestimate the value of a reward system, either. If the influencer vastly supersedes your projected goals, tossing a vacation or inviting him or her to special events can help sweeten the pot.
7. Allowing Creative Liberties
Many marketers prefer if influencers follow a certain script or detail specific benefits of a product or service. Unfortunately, this makes the content seem more like an infomercial. It has potential to play poorly for your business as well as the individual’s content.
You need to allow influencers to have more of a creative balance when promoting your goods. While you don’t want them to go off on a completely random tangent that may hurt your business, giving them a bit of wiggle room can be very beneficial.
Finding the perfect balance between your company and someone who can reach out to thousands needs to be symbiotic. Producing a commercial for a product could cost the influencer fans or followers.
The person’s success will contribute to your own. Because of this, it’s important to let them do what they do best…entertain their audience.
Think about it. If a YouTube star manages to create viral content, which is more likely given their popularity, your campaign could go even further.
8. Keep Close Tabs on the Campaign
Like any other digital campaign, it’s important to keep a close eye on analytics from influencer marketing. This is one of the reasons why so many people prefer the commission-based systems where a code is used to easily keep track of visitor sales and leads.
For instance, tools like Google Analytics can keep track of referring social media sites. This can easily show if an influencer is affecting traffic to a website.
If you want to take it a step further, you can create influencer-specific landing pages and track the interactions that way as well.
Analyzing the data will show whether certain campaigns are being effective or not. It will help you determine everything from the best social media platforms to the best ad methods. Over time, you’ll be able to fine-tune your strategy to increase the ROI and grow the business.
When viewing analytics, don’t put too much emphasis on the day-to-day interaction. Look at a project over time. Not all influencers have the same amount of interaction with each piece of content he or she shares. It could simply be a topic that just isn’t as effective as another piece produced a few days from now.
9. Always Keep Your Options Open
Social media “stars” are nearly as influential from a business perspective as actors in films. Social media influencers are used for online marketing more often than singers, models and TV actors. The pool of these professionals is quite extensive, and you would do well to keep your eyes open for up-starts and new hopefuls.
Even if you find that one “golden” influencer who has helped grown the business, it’s always good to keep your options open. This means finding other individuals on various platforms who can pick up the slack should something happen.
For example, what if a popular YouTube channel creator decided to suddenly call it quits? While this isn’t common, especially if the individual is making money from ad revenue, it has been known to happen.
It’s always best to have a fall-back position in the event of any emergency or circumstance.
Some markets will invest in similar influencers on a single platform. This opens the business to potentially separate audiences while giving a backup in the event someone does leave. You can go so far as to using content creators who are vastly different from each other as well.
Sure you may have a contract with someone, but financial restitution may pale in comparison to the influence of a social media star marketing your goods. Don’t rely on signed contracts to recuperate losses when someone is unable to fulfill his or her end of the bargain.
Like the saying goes, “Don’t put all of your eggs into one basket.”
Influencer Marketing Has Great Potential
The reason why any marketer uses a particular form of strategy is because of the results. In reality, Google can be seen as an influencer. And like Google, influencer marketing campaigns rely on finding what works best for your specific needs.
Don’t assume that simply having a person blast your product or service on Twitter is going to do the job. There’s a lot that goes into creating a successful platform.