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9 things to be aware of when thinking about your influencer marketing strategy
The term ‘influencer’ is one we have heard increasingly frequently in recent years. Many brands have utilised well-known individuals as ambassadors for their services and products to target wider audiences and convert them into customers.
Influencer marketing can indeed offer sizeable benefits for your business – including visibility, improved reputation and rising sales. However, as with most marketing types, you need to get your strategy right to unlock its full potential. With influencer marketing, where you rely on third-party individuals to promote your brand, it’s even more essential to be careful to avoid disaster.
By creating a fool-proof influencer marketing strategy that accounts for all the factors at play, you will build efficient working relationships with ambassadors who fit your values, supply outstanding content on behalf of your brand, and bring new customers to your door.
In this guide, we have outlined the nine top things to consider as part of your influencer marketing strategy so that you can experience the benefits without any pitfalls.
1. Define your goals
The first step of your influencer marketing strategy should be determining what you want to achieve. This will underpin all the activity you do, including selecting an influencer and creating content that directly helps you fulfil your objectives.
The goals of your influencer strategy should coordinate with your broader marketing and business goals. Marketing aims might include increasing reach and brand awareness, building reputation or increasing your market share. Depending on the specific target, you need to understand how influencer content will help you move towards your intended results.
Once you have defined your objectives, you need to tailor your strategy accordingly. You will also want to inform any influencer you work with of your goals so that they have a complete understanding of what is expected and can push content that helps to facilitate your ambitions. This means including these objectives within your brief.
2. Research influencers
When utilising influencer content, you need to find a representative who suits your brand vision and values. This means identifying someone with a substantial enough following and the power to convert their audience into customers, who can portray the right message about your brand.
Many businesses pursue influencer marketing as a quick way to increase their reach. As such, it can be tempting to choose a household name with millions of followers – but this might not necessarily be the best person for your brand. It’s essential to research the multitude of influencers out there and select someone who has the best chances of converting the customers you want.
Spend time on social media and other online platforms to uncover individuals who suit your requirements. This could include finding ‘niche’ influencers (such as FrankenCreations, shown above) over ‘reach’ – people with a smaller following, but often with enhanced loyalty and engagement from fans. By considering different possibilities, you will be better placed to find a perfect match without having to shell out large sums for a big-name influencer who doesn’t effectively target your desired customers.
3. Refine your approach
Once you know what you want to achieve and have selected someone to work with, it’s time to focus on how you’ll get them on board. Remember that any deal you make is a two-way street, so you’ll need to prove the value the influencer is getting alongside the benefits for your company.
Make sure you responsibly approach influencers. They may get countless proposals from businesses every day, so you need to take a personal approach. Be sure to follow their social media profiles beforehand and use your subsequent understanding of their content to highlight how your campaign can work with their brand. You should also reinforce the advantages to them, either through payment, incentives, or follower base growth.
One way to approach investors might be through email or direct messages. Avoid coming across as pushy or ‘spammy’ and give them time to respond – they may be receiving countless messages every day. An alternative is to use a specific platform that matches brands and influencers together, such as Upfluence.
4. Monitor trends and topics
When determining the specific content you will include within your influencer campaign, it’s worth keeping tabs on any current trends. If you can collaborate with an ambassador and cover a trend, it can maximise your results.
There are different ways to weave trends into your content. One example might be if there is an upcoming holiday or awareness day, which you could use to provide a relevant angle for your offering and target people at a time they’re most interested. Other examples might include content around a popular topic or incorporating a social media trend (such as a video challenge). In the below example from Marks and Spencer’s Percy Pig character, they have combined Valentine’s Day, a social media video trend and a celebrity (Fred Sirieix) in one post.
View this post on Instagram
By monitoring trends, you will identify what people are interested in at the opportune time, empowering you to create content that engages people and offers favourable metrics for you and the influencer.
5. Carry out competitor research
As influencer marketing has grown in popularity, the market has become saturated. Many businesses are now using influencer content, and a user would not need to scroll far down their feed to find an example of a paid post. With so many influencer campaigns out there, it is crucial to stand out from the crowd to get attention.
Take the time to look at what content is out there already among your competitors and the wider industry. This serves two purposes: firstly, it will help you to establish what has worked well for others and replicate this in your campaign. Secondly, it will enable you to identify gaps – new ways of using influencers that your competitors haven’t – to bring creativity and innovation to your strategy.
By understanding what exists already, you will build on others’ efforts and find a unique space for your strategy – with the result of getting your content seen and engaged with against the rest.
6. Align influencer content with broader marketing
When considering your influencer marketing, you need to figure out where it sits alongside your broader marketing strategies. The likelihood is you will be putting out activity on owned channels alongside any third-party profiles, so you need to ensure cohesion. This particularly matters if a user were to click through to your brand profile or website after seeing you on an influencer post.
By running complementary strategies across all marketing effort, you will build a consistent brand image that indicates who you are, what you offer and what customers should expect. This can be done by using similar aesthetics in posts, repeating brand messages and keeping one tone of voice. This helps to build credibility and reputation and prevent the audience from getting confused by mixed messages. It will also enable you to experience favourable results across all activity, making the influencer campaign an integral part of a broader, robust marketing approach.
7. Understand what content your audience wants
A campaign of any kind only works if it serves the needs of your target customers. It is vital to comprehend who your audience is and what content they want to see in their buyer journey.
The needs of the customer matters from the influencer selection process all the way to the end outcome. You need to identify people who your customers will listen to and create content that compels them. This means addressing the challenges they face and knowing what interests them. Use tools like buyer personas and consumer research to gain this insight.
Once you have built an understanding of your audience, use this to create a streamlined strategy that serves their needs and effectively converts them from prospect to buyer. You also need to remember that content needs to address the preferences of both your customers and the influencer’s followers so that both parties get value. If you’ve selected a suitable ambassador, these should ideally map onto each other.
8. Seek opportunity
Whilst trying to stand out from the crowd of influencer campaigns, it’s essential to seek opportunity and new ways to optimise your activity. Be open to industry trends and aim to be ahead of the game, rather than copying others.
New opportunities could include using rising platforms for your influencer campaign (such as a new social media channel or app), experimenting with post formats or employing tactics that haven’t been done before. Essentially, you should search for ways that differentiate your campaign from the rest, pursuing avenues that your competitors haven’t thought of yet.
Breaking the mould in your campaign has many advantages. Firstly, it gets your brand spoken about, which can increase awareness. Secondly, it forges your authority by showing you as an industry leader. And finally, it stands out more to those who come across it, making them more likely to engage. Your selected influencer will also benefit from these outcomes.
Remember to still be careful in your approach and keep any content aligned with your brand and target audience. The key is finding the perfect balance between creativity and market disruption while still understanding what will perform best with your audience.
9. Be honest about paid content
The final lesson to remember in your influencer marketing strategy is the disclosure of sponsored content. You will likely have heard how crucial this is already, but non-compliance continues to plague the industry.
When running an influencer campaign, you must make sure all posts are marked with an appropriate tag. These tags might include ‘paid’, ‘sponsored’, ‘ad’ or ‘gifted’ depending on what the deal for the campaign is. Regardless of the wording you choose, it must be unmistakably clear that there is a commercial aspect to the content.
Disclosing paid content is essential for many reasons. Firstly, brands who fail to do so may experience consequences such as being investigated by the Advertising Standards Agency, who can then apply sanctions such as publicising your breach of rules (thereby affecting reputation) and banning you from running ads. In some cases, you will be asked to take down the content in question, meaning all your efforts will be lost and money wasted.
Secondly, consumers are becoming wiser to influencer content and those who break the rules. Undisclosed paid content is deemed as misleading, and your customers won’t appreciate being lied to. When trust in influencers can already be low, this causes further damage to integrity and may stop people from engaging with your campaign.
Make sure you and the influencer you are working with understand the guidelines for disclosing paid content. This will ensure compliance and enable you to prevent reputational damage by being upfront and honest with your audience.
When you are crafting an influencer marketing strategy, your aim is to get favourable outcomes. To achieve this, you need a carefully considered campaign, using the right influencer and in keeping with your brand vision and goals.
Several factors encompass your strategy, such as covering trends and focusing on customer need. By incorporating all these factors, you will create compelling content that converts people, receives engagement and offers mutual benefits for you and the influencer.
This will allow you to effectively embrace influencer marketing as part of your more comprehensive strategy with positive impacts on your bottom line.