The case for social media influencers.

When you open up your Instagram app, it’s almost inevitable that you'll come across social media influencer content. Even if you don’t exclusively follow a social influencer, it’s likely their content may be shared by brands you follow, or even show up on your explore page. This type of exposure is coined “influencer marketing”, and it’s when companies partner with influencers in order to increase brand awareness or conversions among a specific target audience. Depending on your company’s brand and target audience, social influencers may be a successful marketing tactic to pursue. However, before embarking on the research and outreach phase, it’s important to know the key elements and steps when working with social influencers and how to ensure a brand fit for your audience. Below are 4 things to know before you choose to work with social influencers.

Develop a strategy and campaign objective.

Just like any other marketing tactic, your influencer campaign should entail a well-thought out strategy with measurable goals and objectives. What is the outcome you want to achieve by working with social influencers? Common goals we’ve heard include increasing sales, improve engagement rate, boost website traffic, grow email list, etc. Define your campaign goals, it will be easier to research partners who fit your needs.

Research reliable and loyal partners.

Giving away your product, service or experience isn’t easy, so it’s important to ensure you’re choosing the right influencers to engage with your demographic. For example, if you’re a local boutique, you wouldn’t want to work with top national influencers with millions of followers, as most of those followers probably aren’t in your target area. Instead, working with a more localized influencer who carries clout in your geo-targeted location will lead to qualified leads and customers. After deciding which category of influencers to work with (macro, micro or local influencers) it’s time to embark on the search for valuable and authentic partners. Our recommendation is to partner with those who align with your values, mission and reputation. Too often, brands partner with influencers and it feels like a strange fit. Think of influencers as an extension of your brand. Start with thinking about the channels that are most important to your target audience. You should work with influencers on those channels primarily. Instagram remains the most impactful channel, according to MediaKix. With new formats such as IGTV, shoppable capabilities and story features, Instagram will continue to grow and possibly reach $2.3 billion in revenue in 2020. Research hashtags, blogs and top voices in your industry to find the best influencers to partner with. Be mindful to choose influencers with loyal followings, authentic voices and reliable content.

Establish a yearly budget for partnerships.

According to a 2019 survey conducted by MediaKix, the most commonly cited 2019 influencer marketing budget is between $1,000 – 10,000 per year. Although $10,000 is a lot, it can entail everything from influencer fees, production costs, product costs, etc. By no means does an influencer budget need to be this high, either. Depending on the product, an exchange of services is also acceptable, or at least worth asking. If you’re willing to trade your services/products for promotion, if can be a great first step into the influencer market. But the relationship between unpaid influencers and brands works like an editorial placement, and you won’t always have full control over the content.

Review analytics and create reports.

Measuring and reporting methods prove as valuable insight into social influencer efforts and the overall success of each campaign. Although, it can be easy to only focus on the likes and comments of each post, dive deeper into analyzing the specific tracking links or promotion codes that can measure the effectiveness of a campaign. UTM parameters are one way to track the visitors an influencer sends to your website. They can also help measure how much engagement the campaign receives. Also, giving influencers their own discount code is another easy way to track the sales they send your way. The more information and analytics provided by your influencers, the better you’ll understand the value in terms of ROI. In your initial contract agreement, request your partners send you details reports on the reach and engagement of their posts. This is especially important for Snapchat and Instagram Stories, where much of the engagement happens out of the public view. Set those clear expectations in the beginning so you can report and review the effectiveness at the end. As influencer marketing continues to expand, and the platforms change, introducing influencer marketing campaigns may be what your brand needs to continue growth and execution. Choosing the right influencers is the first step to lead your campaign to success, and the first step is building those relationships.