Influencer marketing is a vital channel for many brands. As the practice has matured, brands of all sizes are viewing influencer marketing as an increasingly valuable component of their overall marketing strategy – transitioning influencer marketing from an experimental strategy into a key pillar of purpose-driven brands.
This article discusses how to build the type of impactful, advocacy-generating, brand-building influencer marketing programs that are propelling a new generation of companies and breathing life into heritage brands around the world.
Read on to discover:
- What is Influencer Marketing?
- How to Build an Influencer Marketing Program
- Top Influencer Marketing Trends
- 6 Companies With Enviable Influencer Programs
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is the process of identifying, researching, engaging and supporting the people who create high-impact conversations with your customers.
Anyone can take out an ad on social media. The unique value that influencer marketing brings is the ability to collaborate with trusted, creative partners who have a connection to your buyers.
How to Build an Influencer Marketing Program
Building an influencer marketing program is a process with many considerations. Here are some foundational questions to consider as you start to explore influencer marketing.
Where do I start?
5 Steps to an Effective Influencer Marketing Strategy
Many brands face the challenge of developing an influencer marketing practice that aligns with their overarching strategy, regional needs and product launches, while also ensuring leadership has the data and reporting framework required to evaluate success and prioritize spending. That might seem like a tall order, but here are 5 steps to help you establish a foundation for your successful influencer marketing program.
Step #1: Create Your Influencer Marketing Goals & Objectives
The best influencer marketing strategies start by understanding and aligning with your business and marketing objectives. What is your organization trying to accomplish? What are the overarching themes my marketing leaders have set for the year? From there, focus on clear ways an influencer marketing program can help your team meet those goals.
State your intended goals and identify the most appropriate metrics to measure success. Establishing clear goals and aligning with your company and team objectives will clarify which influencers to look for and develop relationships with, what to measure, and ultimately how to steer your program to success.
Step #2: Define your Audience
Knowing your target customers is an integral step in kicking off any influencer effort. It’s important to define who your customer is; this includes their location, age and gender, to their marital status and interests. Understanding how they evaluate, discover and buy your product (or service) is essential for kicking off any influencer effort. You’ll use your audience personas in the next step.
Step #3: Discover the Right Influencers
Being influential is all about context. You need to find people who produce and share content that can impact your buyer’s decision making process. Ideally the influencers you work with should be an organic advocate for your brand, or someone who is highly engaged with your customers. The days of paying the influencer with the most followers to promote your product are in the past. Now it’s all about quality over quantity and ensuring you’re wisely allocating your budget. Data-driven insights make it a lot easier to find and vet influencers to ensure you are getting the best ROI possible.
Step #4: Engage & Build Relationships With Your Influencers
Next, you’ll start building your influencer relationship. Following, sharing, and linking to your influencers will be the first step in a fruitful relationship. Next, you’ll want to reach out to the influencer by email. Based on your strategy, you may pursue organic or paid influencer collaborations. Some brands find that organic works best; gifting products to those who are already advocating for their brand, others require a blend. Whether you’re doing product seeding, promotional exchanges, or simply paid advertising, you’ll want an influencer relationship management tool to help you track your communications and budget.
Step #5: Measure the Results of Your Influencer Marketing Program
Once you have established your influencer marketing program, it is time to take a step back and connect the dots – looking at the data to see what is working and what could be improved. Are your online relationships translating into more website views, purchases, social media impressions?
The most efficient way to find the answers to these questions and more is to have access to a data-driven influencer marketing software. These platforms allow teams to analyze the efficiency of their paid and organic influencer partnerships, track affiliate codes, connect their payment options, view organic and paid mentions history and more.
Being able to bring your influencer marketing efforts full circle by showing your marketing and business leaders the data that supports your program will allow you to grow your program further. Here is a great article on how to scale your program in-house.
How do I find the right influencer?
The ability to find the right influencers to partner with is critical to the overall success of your program. Before you start your search it is important to first firm up what you need/want for your brand. What topics, themes, or industries do you want to reach with your influencer marketing program? For example, if you are a beauty brand are you only focused on cosmetics or do you want to also reach hair care and skincare? Or, if you are a fashion brand do you think it’s important to build a key message around sustainability? Also, what type of audiences do you want to reach? What are their ages, where do they live? Do you have a list of keywords that are relevant for brand safety?
Once you have those important brand elements in mind there are typically three different angles you should use to find and vet potential influencer partners:
- Most brands find it valuable to look at influencers by tiers, or the size of their audience. In the influencer marketing industry, these are the widely accepted tier definitions: VIP: 5M+ audience, Top: 1M+ audience, Macro: 500K+ audience, Mid: 50K+ audience, Micro: 10K+ audience, Nano: 1K+ audience. Note: bigger is not always better! In fact, many brands have found that nanoinfluencers have high engagement rates, and micro and mid-tier influencers can create massive impact.
- Filter your search even further by looking for influencers that have the audiences with the gender, age, family status, interests, brand affinity, location, occupation, and income level that work for your brand.
- Auditing influencers’ past content is one of the most critical components of finding the right partners. Utilize an influencer marketing software to evaluate your current influencer pool by searching their past content for topics of interest (e.g. sustainability, clean beauty), relevant hashtags, and even competitor mentions.
- Utilize your list of brand safety keywords to ensure that your potential partner does not engage with topics that could be sensitive for your brand.
- Use your content and audience audit to check if they are a good fit for your brand. Has the influencer or their audience already shown interest in your products, relevant competitors, or topics that are key selling points for your brand?
- Another piece of brand affinity that many marketers are taking into consideration now is brand values. Does the influencer share similar values to your brand? The influencers you partner with are seen as an extension of your brand, you want to ensure they match what your customers are expecting from your brand.
How do I build a relationship with influencers?
There are occasions when a brand’s goal is to get in front of as many people as possible, so they pay a lot of money for a product placement with a VIP influencer. This is fine, as long as the goals are clear. However, there are huge, tangible benefits to taking the time to find the right influencer for your brand and building an authentic relationship with them.
Here are some tips to help you successfully build influencer partnerships.
- Find a creator who is already talking about your brand
- Vet their historical content to ensure they are aligned with your brand
- Build a profile for your partners so you can keep track of details
- Work with a well-performing influencer several times to build trust with the creator and their audience
- Allow the influencer to use their creativity
- Ask your trusted creators for product feedback
- Pay the influencer what they are worth, you will get value out of them feeling valued
Top Influencer Marketing Trends
Influencer marketing continues to gain popularity in 2020. Not only have marketers caught on to the ROI and relationship-building potential, but have begun to capitalize on it. But just how big is it? In 2018 a worldwide study of CMOs found that 30.5% are increasing their focus on influencer marketing in 2019. Brands are set to spend $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022.
Here are a few key trends that have arisen in just the past year and what you can expect to see more of:
As the amount of money in influencer marketing increases, so has the amount of regulation surrounding it. The law requires that brands and influencers clearly disclose when posts are born out of “material connections”, and can be held liable when they do not. The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) defines “material connections” as anything from monetary payment, to a free trip, a gift or even an ownership stake.
The FTC has taken action against celebrity influencers, sending them letters reminding them of advertising policies on social media, but ultimately they appear to be focusing mostly on regulated industries. It’s expected that they’ll aim their crack down on the advertising of vaping and tobacco products– particularly those aimed at teenagers. Additionally, they have begun restricting the promotion of predatory detox tea, cosmetic procedure, and “miracle” weight loss companies.
Increased Attention on Fraud Detection
As companies continue to expand their influencer marketing budgets and pay influencers purely based on audience size, the industry has inadvertently incentivized the rise of fake influence. In addition to purchasing followers, there is also the tactic of trading comments and likes amongst influencers. These are called Instagram pods, and while Instagram has worked to eliminate them, they still exist through apps like Whatsapp and Telegram.
The purpose of pods is to help influencers “beat” the algorithm so they are able to expand their audiences and impress brands with their engagement rate. Additionally, Influencers participate in loop giveaways to increase “real” followers, despite proof that there is minimal value in their new following.
Micro + Nano Influencers
It is widely understood that micro and nano influencers offer the most targeted, direct and engaged audiences. They’re also much more affordable, and their followers tend to trust them more than major influencers. This could be considered a trend, but we’re hoping it’s one that sticks.
Micro-influencers have under 100k followers. Typically, these are people who found their fame on the internet and have a highly trusted and engaged audience in their niche. Nano-influencers have under 5k followers, most of which they are connected to in real life. They’re a relatively new breed of Influencer, with influence in their own communities. Working with nano influencers can be beneficial to brands who are trying to work with influential community members. It’s also worth noting that this group has the highest level of engagement.
In the saturated influencer marketing space, it’s become increasingly important for influencers to have a niche. Not only does it increase their opportunity for growth, but it makes their account more desirable for brand partnerships.
Brands in 2020 are increasingly using their influencer marketing platform to identify and partner with niche influencers who are organically talking about their products (or similar products). This sets the foundation for an authentic partnership and the ability to reach a highly engaged audience.
Keep up with the latest developments in influencer marketing by signing up for our monthly Matters of Influence email newsletter.
6 Companies With Enviable Influencer Programs
We sat down with the influencer marketing team for several Kendo brands (including Ole Henriksen and BITE Beauty) to discuss how they combine their expert instincts with Traackr insights to create their winning influencer marketing formula. Learn how Kendo Brands harnesses that magic formula: Instincts + Insights = Win.
This personal health and wellness company has one of the strongest ambassador programs we know of. We invited Bailey DuMont, Director of Brand Marketing for Ancient Nutrition, onto The Fast Traack podcast to learn her top tips for creating a thriving influencer marketing program from scratch. Read or listen here to start building your own ambassador program.
Initially known as a professional hair-care line, amika began to broaden it’s direct-to-consumer strategy in 2018, including relaunching with beauty retailer Sephora. To support this effort, amika brought on Traackr to increase their influencer marketing efforts; leading to a successful relaunch. Find out what led to their success.
Melia Hotels International
Once flooded by influencer requests with no way to evaluate potential partners, this hotel brand implemented a global influencer strategy that supports 6 hotel brands across 43 countries and drives bookings. Read the case study.
The Hairdresser is the number one influencer amongst salon professionals. Coty uses Traackr to discover and activate nano influencers with strong community engagement. Hear from Coty Professional’s VP of Influencer Marketing.
Seemingly straightforward, tires are much more complex than they may initially appear. Michelin wanted to partner with influencers who drive sports cars on a regular basis, that truly understand the value of their product. Read our interview with Michelin’s VP of Marketing for Northern Europe.
Keep up with the latest developments in influencer marketing by visiting our influencer marketing blog.
To learn more about Traackr’s technology platform, click here.