What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is a method of marketing utilising the fundamental benefits of word-of-mouth. Influencer marketing involves working with key individuals to drive your brand’s message to a specific segment of consumers. In general, these individuals gain their influence through expertise, popularity or reputation.
Influencers operate in most industries and niches. This rise in popularity means any business can find success with influencer marketing - not just B2C businesses.
Why has influencer marketing become so popular?
By 2020, social media ad spend is predicted to overtake TV advertisements for the first time. Media buyers are starting to see the benefit of social media in our digitally-dependant world. With the shift in ad placement, comes the shift in behaviours. The ways we discover new products has changed and the way we prefer to interact with brands has also changed.
As consumers, we expect to see the content we want. Traditional media like TV ads only have control as to the channel and time an advert will be shown. However, with influencer marketing, brands and advertisers have much more control. Intelligent, smart targeting allows you to laser-focus on a specific customer segment, or display ads based on a target demographic.
Our digital world is social-media-first, and influencer marketing is at the forefront.
Start by setting goals
A successful influencer marketing campaign starts by setting campaign goals. Setting goals helps keep you accountable throughout the whole process and simplifies the reporting and measuring stage since you have something concrete to refer back to.
The goals you define for your campaigns are based on what you want to get out of it. You might look to:
- Improve brand awareness
- Increase your social following
- Create additional content
- Generate sales
- Increase website traffic
Before you begin, decide which goal is most important to you. Keep in mind, you can include more than one goal, however if this is your first campaign, it will be a smoother process if you stick to one priority initially.
If goals are what you hope to achieve from influencer marketing, KPIs are what you use to measure them.
Next, consider the budget. How much you’re willing to spend on influencer marketing will dictate who you’re able to work with, what campaigns you’re able to run, and how long for.
Influencer marketing budgets can range from:
Gifting (just pay to send your product) to paid. Within the paid bracket, there really is no cap or limit.
Decide on your budget and let this define the type of campaign and type of influencers you’re able to work with.
Plan your campaign
Once you’ve got a clear idea of what you hope to achieve with influencer marketing, it’s time to start planning your campaign. We’ve identified 14 types of influencer marketing campaigns. However, the type of collaboration you choose largely depends on your goals and your budget.
Next, decide on the timeframe. Do you want to run an always-on campaign with brand ambassadors who are happy to wax-lyrical about you throughout their social posts? Or maybe you want to run a single campaign to promote a specific promotion or product?
Another important element to consider is content usage rights. Usage rights define who owns the content, where it can be used and how long for. For example, without prior permission, you cannot use influencers’ content within your paid ads, if you initially only agreed to work with them on a sponsored Instagram post.
Before you begin to approach influencers, consider what sort of usage rights you’d like to have to help you reach your goals. Content usage rights should be agreed by both you and the influencer. Asking for longer rights, or extended use may require additional spend, so keep that in mind.
Alongside usage rights, think about content requirements. Although you might have some rules as to what influencers can and can’t include, be mindful to give them enough freedom to add their own creative element.
One of the reasons influencer marketing is so effective is because influencers have built their following backed by authenticity. Allow your influencers the freedom to create their own authentic content within your guidelines.
Even if you’re running a gifting campaign, you need to remember to abide by the Advertising Standard Authority guidelines. If you’re based in the US, refer to the FTC guidelines.
These guidelines set the standards for how influencers should disclose the fact they’re working with a brand and in what capacity. Even though it’s the influencer’s responsibility to include disclosure on their sponsored and branded content, as a brand, you should ensure the influencers you work with are complicit.
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but influencer research is often the most time consuming task, and poor influencer selection will result in huge budget wastage. The core focus of this section is how to find the right influencers.
Your campaign is planned, your goals are set - now, you need influencers. Influencers are generally categorised in the following way:
- Nano = 500-2k
- Micro = 2k - 50k followers
- Mid Tier = 50k - 200k followers
- Macro = 200k - 500k followers
- Social Celebrities = 500k+ followers
As a very general rule, the more followers an influencer has, the more they'll charge to work with a brand. However, it's important to note follower count doesn't always dictate exactly how much someone will or won't charge to work with you. Other variables like industry, location, audience demographics and verified status will all play a role in how much any particular influencer charges.
There are three core ways to find social media influencers. Whichever method you choose to take, be sure you get to know and build real relationships with the influencers you work with. Not only will it improve your campaign success, but the better the alliance they have with your brand, the more authentic their content will be.
Social media platforms make it easy for anyone to find users and content within specific industries. On Instagram, for example, it’s easy to search for specific users by hashtags they might use to describe their content.
To find an influencer you’d like to work with, search by hashtag on Instagram and build a list in excel of people you’d like to reach out to.
A self-service influencer marketing tool is very similar to a database. With this approach, you’ll have access to a filterable database of influencers. You’ll be able to set specifications for not only what type of influencer you want to work with, but what audience demographics you’d like them to have, allowing you to perform a very targeted search hitting your exact target market. Taking a self-service approach requires more resources from you than using a managed software, however, you have more freedom in terms of which influencers you look at.
Talent management agency
Finally, you might decide to outsource the entire influencer selection process to an agency. They’ll understand your brief and offer you a selection of influencers they think are suitable. Keep in mind, this is often the most expensive approach as you also have to pay for the agency’s time.
However, if you don’t have the budget for these tools, check out a range of free ways to find influencers.
When you’ve compiled the list of influencers you think will be a good match, it’s time to reach out to them.
Influencers are likely to receive many messages from brands, so in order to maximise your effectiveness, you need to stand out. When you reach out, try to make your approach personable.
Remember, you’re here to build a relationship and not just a business transaction. The exact message you write will be unique for your business. It should reflect your brand’s tone so the influencer gets a feel for who you are straight away. Try to be detailed in terms of why you have chosen them and what you are looking for. Once you’ve built some rapport with influencers, negotiate fees and terms.
Different influencers might have their own ways of charging for sponsored content. Not only does pricing vary influencer to influencer, but it also varies platform to platform. In general, though influencers are likely to charge based on:
- CPE - Cost per engagement
- CPM - Cost per (mille) thousand
All your hard work and preparation has led to this point. If you’ve crafted a detailed brief, your chosen influencers are ready to create content that suits your needs.
Approval and publish
It’s always a good idea to see your influencers content and captions before they post. The approval stage is really important to keep your brand safe. You can check influencers haven’t made any incorrect claims about your business or products and confirm the messaging they’ve used is in line with how you portray yourselves.
If there are things to be changed, use this time to provide them with actionable feedback they can use to improve or alter their content.
Boosting influencers' content
You know the organic lifespan of content is limited. After a specific timeframe, the impact a single organic post has diminishes.
If you’re running a brand awareness campaign and one of your KPIs is reach, there’s a powerful tool you can use to ensure you hit your targets. Social platforms now allow brands to add paid ad-spend behind influencers’ content to increase the content's reach.
When you amplify influencer’s content, you drive more engagement to the content they’ve created. Simply connect your influencer’s post to your brand’s ad account. This way the results of your campaign stay within your control. You’ll have access to analytics you can use to optimise your ads and assess which influencers have the strongest impact on your bottom line.
How to measure the success of your influencer campaigns
Set benchmarks: In the absence of any monetary value through sales, set a benchmark value, such as cost per mille (CPM) from other digital marketing campaigns you've run, and compare it to the CPM achieved by your influencer campaign.
Calculate EMV: From CPM you can calculate the Earned Media Value (EMV) of the influencer campaign – this compares the value of the reach you achieved through the campaign vs how much it would cost to buy these impressions through a social channel. You can then measure EMV using engagement and CPE instead of reach.
Track sales: Use specific tracking technology, like UTM links, tracking pixels and/or referral codes that are set up as goals in your google analytics to track sales coming from each source. This way you can attribute your total revenue from an influencer/campaign and calculate the campaign’s ROI.
Assessing qualitative results: It's sometimes a good idea to measure qualitative aspects of an influencer marketing campaign such as creativity or image quality. If you assess the quality of the influencers' content and find issues, you might need to create a clearer brief to ask for more previous-work samples from the influencers you choose to work with.
Influencer marketing campaign checklist
To help you dot the i’s and cross the t’s ahead of your first influencer marketing campaign, we've put together this handy checklist to help you do a double take of your own campaign strategy.
- Set campaign objectives
- Set campaign time-frame
- Set campaign budget
- Set campaign guidelines
- Draft your legally binding influencer contract
- Compile your influencer list
- Influencer due diligence - check their audience: demographics, engagement rates and previous content
- Send collaboration request to chosen influencer list
- Approve content where necessary
- Post campaign reporting
Let's wrap it up
Having managed thousands of influencer marketing campaigns at ZINE, we know a thing or two about launching a successful campaign.
Now it’s over to you. Get started on your first influencer campaign. To support, we’re offering everyone the chance to work with up to five influencers for free.
Sign up to our self-service platform today and create your brief. It only takes five minutes, but the best part is, influencers apply to work with you.