Influencer marketing was the "it" marketing tactic of 2015. But it's not as easy as it might sound, especially when you're working with high-level influencers for complex social campaigns. Add multiple stakeholders to the mix, and it becomes even more involved.
Whether you are working with influencers from Twitter, Vine, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram, you'll need to take a host of factors into consideration before getting started with these social all-stars.
From establishing goals and identifying influencers to managing the process and measuring your success—oh, and don't forget the legalities of it all, too—here are some key steps for launching a social media influencer campaign.
1. Get all stakeholders on the same page
Before you begin identifying influencers or reaching out to them, align your internal and external teams and set expectations for the campaign. Doing so includes defining your audience, setting campaign goals, and establishing roles:
- Audience: Whom do you want to reach? Who is your target demographic? The answers will help you determine which social networks to target.
- Campaign goals: What will your key performance indicators be for the campaign? Is your goal based on engagement, conversion, share of voice?
- Roles: Who will do what in each part of the campaign process? Assigning roles throughout the planning, identification, outreach, and measurement process is critical, especially with larger or multiple teams.
Allow time for a few hiccups along the way, too.
2. Create an influencer archetype
Sit down with all stakeholders to define your ideal influencer. Assign quantifiable metrics to that archetype, based on the goal of the campaign. Nail down specifics such as...
- Reach (how many followers your ideal influencer has)
- Resonance (how his/her message is shared within social communities)
- Relevance (his/her contextual fit)
Include demographic and psychographic information, such as age, interests, and where they live. It doesn't hurt to also create a list of influencer no-no's, such as "no profanity" or "does not include references to illegal substances within social content." This step will save you time down the line—so no one from your brand team says, "This person is not a good fit for our brand/campaign."
3. Understand potential barriers
There is a new type of agent these days: those who represent social influencers. In fact, there are agents who represent Vine-only "stars."
Social influencer agents can either harm or help your cause, depending on their involvement level and restrictions. They can be helpful in the sense that they can hold the influencer accountable. But they also drive up the price of your influencer, because they take a cut of the total influencer fee.
Remember that agents are concerned with the interests of their client and not necessarily those of your brand. Make sure you are firm with them and loop the actual influencer into all communications.
4. 'Legalize' it
We'd like to trust agreements made over the phone and via email, but... get it in writing.
Contracts set down expectations of both the influencer and the brand-side stakeholders, and they help cover your brand's booty. So that your resources are safeguarded, the contract should define general responsibilities, processes, and rights.
Of course, contracts are enforceable in a court of law, and most influencers take them very seriously. Moreover, if they don't adhere to your influencer campaign guidelines, you have a legal way to breach the contract.
When developing your influencer agreement, feel free to include terms to monitor the type of content your influencer releases on his or her channel when working with your brand. For example, you may wish to stipulate that the influencer not post any content throughout the duration of the agreement that could interfere with the brand image. Examples include content that...
- Contains profanity or offensive language
- Is sexually explicit or suggestive or contains nudity
- Is violent or derogatory to any race, gender, or religious group
Sure, some of these may sound a bit extreme, but setting standards early is imperative to a successful relationship.
5. Create an iron-clad process
Most social campaigns include in-house (brand) and external teams (agencies or freelancers), as well as the influencer and (if applicable) the influencer's agent. With multiple campaign contributors, you must stay organized.
The best way to stay organized is to use marketing technology that serves as a project management tool for your influencer campaign. Tools are available for managing social campaigns (we recently used our ClearVoice software on Intel's latest back-to-school social campaign #YourDeviceYourLife).
6. Keep it authentic
Nobody really likes being marketed to, but that's especially true of millennials, who happen to be the most active generation on social media. Consumers value creativity and authenticity with brands, and part of being authentic is maintaining the integrity of the social network.
Each social network has its own unwritten rules. Vine doesn't operate the same way as LinkedIn or Facebook, for example: Vine caters to a much younger audience, mostly young millennials and the group after them (which some call Generation Z and others call the homeland generation). When running a Vine campaign, be sure the videos your influencers produce are creative and funny—and include the sponsored message as an afterthought. That is the best way to connect to this particular audience.
The rules are different for producing an influencer post for Facebook, on the other hand. It's OK to have your sponsored message at the front of your post. It's what the Facebook audience expects.
Simple "rules" such as these can make or break your campaign.
7. Recap and measure campaign goals
Data tells a powerful story. It offers proof that you have met your campaign goals. How do you know whether your campaign was successful if you can't measure the impact of what you are doing?
Get everyone—including influencers—on the same page by tracking and communicating key performance indicators for your campaign. Share progress as it's made, even early in the process.
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Over time, running your influencer marketing campaigns will become second nature. But for the first few campaigns, follow these rules for influencer success.