Influencer campaigns can be a fantastic channel for social media marketing. In a time where social media users have become sceptical of slick advertising campaigns, influencers offer a more authentic impression of brands and their products. It’s also a much more discriminate approach. Rather than casting the net wide, you can focus your efforts on the people most likely to appreciate what you do or make. Influencers can also help to lend your brand credibility, especially those considered to offer valuable insight into certain industries. Not surprisingly, 92% of marketers who used influencers in the last year found it a successful strategy!

But as a new medium, many businesses are struggling with how to get the best from their influencer partnerships. This brings us to rule number one. The success of influencer marketing isn’t determined by how much money you throw at it! Success lies in choosing strategic partnerships that will attract the right audience. This requires a deliberate approach, and we’re here to help smooth the road for you.

So, what exactly is an influencer?

Influencers are individuals with a strong presence on social media. They use their credibility to promote certain products and services, usually in exchange for money or other benefits. Many of the most well-known influencers are celebrities in their own right (A.K.A the Kardashians). But most develop a presence in specific consumer markets, such as cosmetics or travel. Businesses can give their brands considerable exposure to new audiences by entering into partnerships with individuals well-known within their industry. Partnerships between businesses and influences can take many different forms, such as:

Gifting products or services
Sponsored posts
Customer Reviews
Guest blogging
Influencer contests
Attending brand events

How to choose who to work with:

If your company has already gained traction online, you may already have influencers approaching you. This shows they are already interested in your brand and understand how it will appeal to their audience, which does a lot of the work for you! But otherwise, you will have to put in some work to attract them to your brand.

Before you even start looking for influencers, it’s important to choose the right platform. Certain channels will work better for some brands over others. Appearance-driven industries, such as art or fashion, are highly compatible with visual mediums like Instagram. However, it’s not such a good fit for businesses who can’t be summed up in an image and a short caption. Blogging platforms and LinkedIn are therefore much better suited to services over consumer goods.

Make sure that you know your audience. Think about who they will follow, and whose opinions they will value the most. Your existing customers are a great place to search for partnerships; they are already enthusiastic about your brand, and know why it’s amazing! The best influencer content is always built on genuine impressions, so your search should begin with those you don’t have to ‘sell’ your brand to.

The best influencers are not those who have the highest following. Although it’s tempting to choose those with a lot of zeros on their follower count, this won’t mean a more successful partnership. Research shows that ‘micro influencers’ with less than 100k followers have a 60% higher engagement rate. This is because their audience revolves around a narrower range of interests, which creates a stronger community. Because you're trying to target those most interested in your industry, someone with a smaller reach but a more engaged audience is a goldmine for your marketing efforts.

Building mutually beneficial partnerships:

Successful partnerships are always a two-way street! There’s no point pursuing influencers that won’t benefit your brand, or else expecting to give nothing in return for their work. The key to lucrative, long-term collaborations is finding a middle-ground which benefits both parties.

Set clear guidelines and expectations. At the start of the partnership, make sure you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. This includes the output of content, expected traffic and engagement, and specifics such as keyword mentions. This will help to ensure that you and the influencer will have a successful partnership.

Respect the creative control and judgement of who you are working with. Micromanaging your influencers’ content will definitely hurt your marketing efforts. Getting them to re-post your old content is unlikely to get traction with their audiences, and is a waste of a great opportunity! Influencers have sizeable followings because they are skilful at getting a message across. You should use this your brand’s advantage! Cultivating and maintaining authenticity is key to successful influencer marketing, so be willing to incorporate their suggestions. After all, they will have a better grasp than anyone else on what will appeal to their audience!

Capitalize on the content created. In other words, sharing is caring! You are only getting a fraction of the potential from your influencer’s content if they alone promote it. To maximise its reach, be sure to share their content on all of your own social media channels or blogs. This also gives your influencer exposure to your own audience, which is of great benefit to their future business opportunities.

How to measure the success:

If you are going to engage with influencer marketing, you will obviously want to know whether it was a good investment! The trick here is looking for good-quality engagement rather than statistics. If your influencers post gets a lot of likes, this doesn’t necessarily mean you will see an increase in customers. The number of comments and how many people tag others is a much better sign of organic exposure. Using special discount codes and specially embedded URL links in your influencers’ content is s great way to help you track the amount of traffic that has come specifically from your partnership.

Influencer marketing can be an excellent way to give your brand exposure to new audiences. The trick is making sure that you partner with the right people who can show your off your product or service at its best!