This is the last installment of the Guide to Influencer Marketing where we’re going to tell you step by step how to develop your influencer marketing strategy.
Having selected and contacted a suitable influencer, the next step is to design and agree on the campaign. As this process is so central to the collaboration, it can give rise to certain difficulties. Your objective as a brand is to get your message across as clearly as possible. At the same time, the influencer doesn’t want to lose their individual tone or uniqueness. To aid the process, the most important thing is to have it very clear what you want for your brand out of this campaign and how you plan to make this happen. In this way, you will be able to make concise proposals to the influencer when discussing the type of content that will be produced.
One of the most relevant results from previous studies is that the majority of influencers consider it very valuable to have the collaboration of the brand when it comes to creating a message. It is important to give them clear guidelines about the type of communication and their treatment of the brand. Provide them with useful details, which they wouldn’t find from other sources such as brand trivia and product history as well as professional resources like product photos or even the chance to call on a team of production staff. By no means, however, does this mean that the influencer should simply post a message that has been created by the brand. The message needs to be the fruit of a collaborative process.
Working as a team involves taking the best that each contributor has to offer in order to achieve the best message possible. The influencer knows their public (which is also your public) and knows how to approach them; you know your brand, your product and the benefits that it offers. Make the most of this pairing of knowledge.
A study by Augure reflects the opinions of influencers on working with brands: What do influencers value when working with brands?
- 31% Support with creating content
- 28% Exclusive information
- 16% Financial compensation
- 12% Invitations to events
- 9% Product samples
- 4% Other
As you can see, what is most valued is neither financial compensation (3rd place) nor product samples but rather support from the brand when creating content, followed by access to exclusive information. The collaboration is above all a matter of developing a win-win situation where both you and the influencer will benefit on a professional level.
So how do you go about planning an Influencer Marketing strategy ?
1. Setting objectives
As with any other strategy, the first issue is to have clear what you want to achieve. Your aim might range from something small such as getting a certain number of likes on a photo to something much bigger like reaching a specified number of daily sales. Other examples of campaign objectives could be: garner loyalty in new customers, generate buzz around your brand, achieve sales conversion rates, establish a relationship with the public, improve B2B ties, increase the number of installations of your app, to name but a few.
This first step will define the strategy, meaning that it’s crucial to get things as clear as possible before the planning stage. Try to set out realistic, quantitative aims that will be measurable over time.
2. Designing the campaign
As outlined in the previous section, the entire strategy will unfold from the central campaign objective. Once you’ve clarified what you wish to achieve, the rest of the strategy will develop from it.
One of the most important factors to take into account is the budget for the campaign. First and foremost, you’ll need to determine how much you’re going to invest before calculating how much the return will be. Remember that the costs can include diverse expenses such as research, product samples, special promotions for the public and the cost of the strategy-planning itself.
Does your campaign have many messages or just one? Does it need one big-name influencer or lots of smaller-scale ones at the same time? Do you have ample time to plan the campaign content or do you need to act right now?
In the world of Influencer Marketing, many brands simply opt to send a product sample to the influencer and wait for the related post to appear. In the short run, this practice can lead to disappointing results like an inadequate message. However on some occasions it can result in an instant hit, especially when timing and spontaneity are taken advantage of.
An example of such a campaign is the one run by Samsung and Ellen DeGeneres at the 2014 Oscars. Ellen’s world-famous selfie reached three million retweets and Samsung was getting up to nine hundred mentions per minute. This all led to a huge gain for Samsung, even though more attentive users noticed an anomaly: while we could see on screen that DeGeneres had taken the selfie using a Galaxy, she was live-tweeting the event, photos included, from her iPhone. Samsung decided not to comment on this minor detail.
A different, generally more effective way of doing things is to plan a campaign that will be sustainable over time. A perfect example of this can be seen in many fashion campaigns. In this sphere, what tends to give better results is to outline a campaign many months before launch, including all seasons and collections for the upcoming year, anticipating its focus.
3. Co-creating content
This is the next logical step once you’ve determined your Influencer-Marketing strategy, its duration and its spread (the number of posts daily, weekly, or monthly). Now it’s time to decide what each post says and how the content will evolve during the campaign. This will put to test the ability of the brand and the influencer to work as a team, creating effective messages which fit the brand’s objectives and are also natural as part of the influencer’s feed. This is the stumbling block which needs to be emphasized the most when collaborating with influencers, though there are also other details to consider:
While the consumer has learned to ignore messages in traditional media or experience banner blindness online, Influencer Marketing is an area that is not overloaded with offers and logos. This means that a message in this sphere does not necessarily have to be the most creative or eye-catching. Rather, it needs to be suitable with the influencer’s profile, to provide something that users will want to talk about and share.
To reach this stage, everything else needs to have been set out and decided. So what now?
Don’t even think about sitting back and leaving things up to the influencer while you just wait to see the results. The brand needs to do a detailed tracking of the campaign’s evolution in order to get figures that will later help you with measurement and assessment.
You’ll need to prepare spreadsheets where you can enter all of the tracking data. You could also use specialized programs for this purpose. Or if you are unable to dedicate the necessary attention to the tracking process, the best thing may be to hire a professional team who will perform the task for you.
You’ll also need to track the actions of the campaign and user reactions, taking screenshots of everything.
5. Measuring effectiveness
This is an essential step for any campaign. It is the phase that will show if all the effort has paid off and what aspects could be improved upon. Doing a campaign without a precise measurement of results is like throwing away half the work involved. The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) advises that there are two stages of measurement:
- The potential to influence (before)
- The influence observed (during and after)
For Launch and Hustle, the five key factors to consider are:
- Total investment: In the strategy section, we spoke about deciding the budget for the campaign. Now that the campaign has run, it’s time to go back to this point and calculate if that figure truly was the total investment or if extra costs were encountered along the way. With all the details on the table, you can now analyze if the return has met your expectations and how much of a gain the brand has made from the campaign.
- Reach and ratio: Reach refers to the number of people we are seeking to approach – in this case it will depend on the number of followers the influencer has. Ratio is the gain for the brand compared to the investment made, calculated by looking at the number of page impressions, the increase in engagement and sales conversion rates.
Once you have all the final figures, you’ll need to work out the ratio obtained. This will be based on the initial reach that you determined and your original objectives, that way you can determine whether the chosen influencer was the most effective for both your brand and for the starting aims of the campaign. Remember to always pay attention to the reactions that your campaign generated. An example of a tool which can help with this is Traackr.
- Feelings towards the brand: Although the ultimate goal of the campaign is sales conversion, there are many ways through which this can be achieved. Monitoring the image your brand is giving and how people react to this is vital in order to attract a larger public and (consequently) higher sales conversion. It is also a chance to identify the weak points in your brand’s communication while at the same time exploring the areas that are working for you. A couple of tools that can help measure feelings towards your brand are Meltwater and People Browsr.
- The effect of the message on the brand: To evaluate the effect that the message has had on your brand, you should consider variables such as generation of online traffic, number of mentions for your brand or product, number of subscribers or number of followers on social networks.
- New sales: This is clearly the most important factor for most brands. Just remember that sales derived from an Influencer Marketing campaign are not always immediate, meaning that it’s important to keep an eye on data even after the end of the original campaign.
6. Repeating it all over again
Practice makes the master!
The future of Influencer Marketing
In an article from Inverted Marketing, there is an outline of three ways in which Influencer Marketing will change in the future.
- The emergence of influential profiles at a lower-scale level: The main aspiration for brands will no longer be major influencers accounts with huge amounts of followers. Rather, they will seek to pinpoint their message to the target audience, even though this will mean a lower level of exposure.
- The return to the organic message: The brand communication of the future is less prepared and less posed, making the consumer trust it more. Influencers who are smaller-scale and more familiar will communicate messages in a reliable, simple way.
- The relinquishing of brand control: Influencers will take the reigns as designers and deliverers of authentic messages.
But that’s not all, as Inverted Marketing says, once brands realize the impact that small-scale influencers can have on the way our message reaches the public, we will learn to appreciate the true worth of natural interactions. We will see the value that everyday people can add to a brand when they choose to make it a part of their daily lives. Once that moment arrives, Influencer Marketing will have become an automatic system, which regularly rewards individuals for online sharing of their favorite brands, regardless of the size of their audience.