Digital + Social Media

Influencer Marketing Strategy 101: Launching Your First Program

By Traci Mazurek

Does the term “influencer” conjure images of a millennial eating avocado toast and drinking green juice? If so, you’re not alone in thinking this. However, while celebrities and millennials may be the popular choice to lead your influencer campaign, don’t be too quick to write off other options. Your most influential brand advocate could be a CTO who’s also a working mother or a YouTuber covering the latest technology trends. In short, an influencer marketing strategy is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. It’s a nuanced art form, and one that should be unique to your brand and dependent on your business goals.

Influencer Marketing: What’s in it for Me (and My Brand)?

The most important thing to remember when creating an influencer marketing strategy and campaign is to consider your audience. Remember to view them as humans first, and consumers second. Create an emotional connection before diving right into pitching your product or services. People want to be spoken to as individuals and engage with high-quality content that speaks to them and their interests, wants, and needs.

Builds Credibility

One of the main benefits of working with brand influencers is building credibility among your target audience. People typically follow and personally invest in influencers because audience members trust their opinions and recommendations. Because of this, your brand can be seen in a more favorable light when a third-party is posting content about your products and services on social media.

Additionally, posts from key influencers generally look and feel more organic in social feeds. Since the content feels less advertorial, it often leads to higher engagement and brand awareness, not to mention more positive sentiment among your target audience.

Broader Reach

Finally, working with influencers allows your company to reach a larger and more diverse audience. When you work with influencers who are directly relevant to your business, such as a YouTuber who works with a smart home company and focuses on the latest consumer technology, you’ll likely see higher conversions. This is where the importance of research for your influencer marketing strategy comes into play, which we’ll discuss below.

Here are four tips to consider before launching your first influencer program.

1. Set Expectations

What do you want to accomplish with your influencer marketing campaign? Do you want to increase brand awareness among your current customers, with a new demographic, or in a new location? Are you more concerned with quantity or with quality?

For example, if the goal of your influencer marketing strategy and campaign is to get your product or service in front of as many people as possible, then sending your product to hundreds of microinfluencers who generally fit your audience (say, moms in general) would be an appropriate marketing tactic.

However, if your goal is to get your product or service in front of a more specific audience, then researching and vetting a smaller, more niche group of influencers (for instance, working mothers with a YouTube channel dedicated to reviewing consumer products) would be a more strategic move. These are individuals who have the potential to move from microinfluencer marketing to established brand advocates on behalf of your organization.

Don’t Break the Bank

Don’t let your influencer marketing strategy break the budget bank. Working with influencers who have over a million followers will typically charge up to $10,000 per post. Mid-tier influencers (those with 50,000-500,000 followers) can charge anywhere from $500 to $5,000 per post. Finally, microinfluencers (10,000 to 50,000 followers) typically charge a few hundred to $2,000 per post. Keep in mind that budget also depends on your market location. For example, an influencer with 100,000 followers in Akron, Ohio may charge less than an influencer with only 30,000 followers in Los Angeles. You know what they say: Location, location, location.

2. Do Your Homework

Before kicking off any sort of campaign, meet with your social team to do an audit of your organization’s social media platforms. First, analyze your organic social activity by looking at your social media tags and mentions. Do you have followers or positive mentions from people with a significant number of fans? These people are already interested in your brand and make a great starting point to begin building your influencer campaign around.

Let the Search Begin

From there, use Twitter and Instagram to search for hashtags relevant to your brand and business goals. These platforms are fantastic resources for finding potential influencers. Be specific about what and who you’re looking for when searching, but don’t get too granular. Let’s say you’re looking for realtors. The hashtag “#realestate” will return millions of results to weed through, though most of these will be irrelevant. However, “#realtorlife” returns fewer results, but with a higher potential for quality influencers.

Once you’ve curated a list of potential influencers, narrow it down further by looking at other attributes. This might include the candidates’ location, content, previous brands they’ve worked with, and of course, their social media channels. Finding the perfect fit for your influencer marketing strategy is about more than finding someone with a high number of followers. It’s an important metric to consider – but it’s not everything. Even influencers with tons of followers may end up having low engagement or content that isn’t in line with brand standards.

3. Set Parameters

Once you’ve selected your key influencers and worked out a contract, set them up for success. Send them key brand messages, a framework for influencer content, and parameter around strategies. This might include intel like number of social posts and how to speak to your target audience.

However, be sure to give them the space and opportunity to create content in their own unique voice. The last thing you want is for your influencer to come off as inauthentic when talking about your brand.

4. Take it Slow

Before establishing any long-term relationships with an influencer, start with smaller tasks and take things slow. Maybe their first assignment is just writing a blog post or Instagram caption for your product or service. Once they’ve dipped their toe into your brand waters, allow them to wade in a bit further. This allows you to see how their content resonates with your audience without diving right into an influencer campaign right away.

If the relationship proves to be a positive experience for your organization, audience, and of course the influencer, then it’s in your best interest to extend the contract and continue working as a team.

Influencer Marketing Strategy 101: The Takeaway

When it comes to creating an influencer marketing strategy (and the perfect influencer campaign) one thing is certain: Prepping makes perfect. Do your research, set expectations, and remain diligent about tweaking your strategy to fit your business goals. Doing so will set you up for long-term success and help your message resonate with your target audiences. Happy influencing!