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 Jan Kelley
INSIGHTS

Jennifer Candlish

Communications Director

The 5 Fundamentals for Successful Influencer Marketing

Influencer Marketing has become an industry buzzword – but what does it actually mean and what can it really do for your brand? Influencer Marketing is grounded in the concept that people turn to the people they know, like and trust for advice. Whether we are looking to purchase a new car, test a new brand of mascara or change our commercial product distributor, we all turn to the people we trust to confirm our thinking, challenge our decision making and provide personal experience.

The truth is, people don’t trust brands. People trust people.

According to Nielsen, 83% of consumers say they trust personal recommendations above traditional advertising. Brands are coming to the realization that influencers are now telling their stories better than they do. By tapping into influencers, brands are able to reach, connect and engage audiences in ways they never have before. Overall the approach is helping brands:

  • Strengthen authenticity & credibility
  • Increase audience reach (broad & niche)
  • Improve brand/product transparency
  • Increase visibility (improved SEO, increased traffic)
  • Create greater accessibility
  • Increase trust

To get the most out of your influencer efforts, there are five fundamentals to consider. 
Let’s break it down:

1. The Right Goals

Without direction, influencer marketing is just nice people saying nice things about a company, brand or product. While this isn’t a bad thing, it certainly will not help ladder up to your organization’s marketing communications goals. When jumping into influencer marketing, it is important to have the end goal in mind – what needles do you want to move and how could an influencer marketing approach contribute to that?

When considering an Influencer Marketing approach, it’s important to start by asking the right questions. For example:

  •  What would success look like?
  • What do we want to change?
  • Whom do we need to target?
  • How could influencers help us do that?
  • What would we want our influencers to do?

2. The Right People

“Don’t base an influencer marketing strategy on the influencer. Base it on the customer. Meaning, if you care about your customer and look for those they value, you’ll naturally find those who influence their decisions.”
-Sam Fiorella, Co-author of Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage, and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing.

Essentially, it’s important to realize that although there might be many people who want to work with your brand, not everyone is the right fit. When looking for influencers, consider the following filters:

Influencer Level: Are you looking to partner with a Macro influencer who has a substantial following? Or do Micro, or everyday, influencers make more sense for your approach?

Expertise: How well known is this influencer? What are they known for specifically? Would the content of your brand or campaign be appropriate coming from this influencer, given their perspective?

Values: Does your brand fit with their personal brand? Do you have the same perspective on the subject matter at hand, or do your views conflict?

Reach: Can this influencer engage your specific audience? Do they specifically have reach where your audience spends its time – social channels or beyond?

Demographic: Are they connected to the right people? Is this person’s following similar to your company’s buyer persona?

Notoriety: Is this influencer well liked? Is his/her popularity based on admiration, condemnation or what is their appeal?

Engagement Levels: Is this person engaged with their community? Or conversely, do they have a large following but aren’t responsive or truly connected in ways you need them to be?

3. The Right Relationship

Brands have realized that short-term, one-off influencer campaigns often do not benefit their brand or even the influencer as much as long-term partnerships. Transparency, authenticity and collaboration are critical in building long-term and reciprocal relationships with influencers. The stronger a brand’s relationship is with its influencers, the more committed and invested they will be throughout the campaign, and life of the partnership. In a study done by CrowdTap, 77% of influencers said the biggest reason why they partner with brands more than once is because the brand grants them creative freedom.

When working with influencers, it’s important to remember they are the experts of their own audience. They know and understand what will resonate with their followers, and brands should be ready to listen and learn from them. Successful influencer campaigns do not have a purely transactional relationship with influencers; rather, it is give and take.

4. The Right Content

Audience need, preference and interest should be at the heart of the content you create with your influencers. At the end of the day, you’re not creating another ad. It’s about providing content that is informative, educational or inspirational, not overly promotional. And above all, it must be interesting. A piece of content could check all the boxes for a brand’s objectives, but if it’s not truly interesting for the audience and something they’re going to stop to watch or read, then it’s not really doing its job.

5. The Right Measurement

Most marketers would agree that tracking and measuring results of influencer marketing efforts is the most challenging part of the activity itself. In a recent study, 78% of marketers said that determining the success of influencer marketing campaigns would be among their top challenges this year. When brands hand over the keys to their campaigns and let influencers take the wheel, it can be tricky to track exactly what they’re getting out of the efforts, and how those efforts are contributing to overall brand success.

The first step in effectively measuring the success of an influencer marketing campaign goes back to setting out the right goals at the beginning. It is critical to clearly define what your campaign goals are and set in place the right processes and tools from the start that provide clear visibility.

Before you jump in

Whether you’re already executing campaigns, or debating dipping your toes in, it’s important to consider what you truly want to get out of your efforts and relationships. And be realistic, because a Kardashian likely isn’t going to talk about your product. But someone who means more, is more like your audience and connects better with them might, and that could move mountains for your business.