The three biggest goals of influencer marketing campaigns are as follows, according to a summer 2016 report by Altimeter: Improve brand advocacy (94%); expand brand awareness (92%); and reach new targeted audiences (88%).
They're all valid goals that'll complement your efforts to increase the bottom line and further solidify your brand as a mainstay in our digital-centric age, but accomplishing them hasn't always been easy.
If you'd like to join the growing number of businesses using the proven power of influencer marketing—to the tune of a $6.50 return on the dollar invested—then read on.
Keep in mind the following five keys for improving your influencer marketing campaigns, and watch your brand not just meet but exceed your influencer marketing goals.
1. Get an intimate feel for your audience
If you intend to spend time, money, and effort to hire an influencer for your marketing campaigns, you'd better make sure it's a match made in digital heaven.
Though you may think that the strategy is simply to hire the "best" influencer for your brand, it may be more useful to start by tapping into your user base to see what kind of followers you have, how they interact with your brand and one another, and what their other interests are. From there, you'll get a greater sense of the type of influencer they'll be most receptive to.
In short, don't push a person you think would be effective to lead your marketing campaign based on follower count or niche alone. (An example of an imperfect partnership: Selena Gomez, named the most influential public figure on social media in 2016, was selected as an ambassador for Pantene North America in 2015. Despite her 230 million following across multiple platforms and a 65% female audience, only 25% reside in the United States and a mere 3% engage with her posts. In other words, Selena's ability to sell products to women in the US is marginal.)
Instead, dig deep. Put in research to truly understand your audience members, and let their activity, comments, and propensities guide you toward making the most educated and informed choice.
2. A greater following doesn't always make for a greater campaign
Although reeling in a superstar digital influencer with a million-plus followers could be a coup for your brand, such high numbers don't automatically make for an effective marketing campaign.
If your influencer of choice doesn't directly correspond to your target demographics, or if hiring him/her requires a big-time budget, you may find that the payout isn't quite as lucrative or beneficial as you'd hoped it would be.
Instead of focusing on potential influencers' numbers alone, it's better to focus on the quality of their own, personal brand and the type of engagement they typically receive.
In 2017, there has been a continued shift toward the use of micro-influencers—account holders with fewer than 100,000 followers. Brands are leaning heavily on micro-influencers because they achieve a higher ROI with these smaller players. Micro-influencers with an audience of under 100,000 made up over 90% of the influencer activity on Instagram in January—a significant shift from 2016 numbers.
There's every likelihood that a partnership with an influencer who has 10,000 followers but high levels of engagement and an authentic voice will prove to be more effective than one with an influencer who has a million followers but limited engagement and who already promotes a host of other brands.
3. Craft the campaign with—not for—the influencer
You're hiring an influencer to help augment your brand's business goals, which likely include gaining a greater social following and thus boosting your bottom line. Neither of those improvements can be made if your followers (and theirs) sense that your joint initiative comes from an awkward, underdeveloped, or inauthentic place.
Your influencer must have some business acumen to have retained such a sizeable following, so make sure your partnership really abides by the meaning of that word: Try not to strictly push your own agenda; instead, focus on collaboration and active communication to create the optimal work dynamic and marketing campaign.
Followers will immediately sense that an influencer campaign is too scripted or overly promotional, which often results from marketers' being too demanding or too formal. By allowing your influencer to use his/her own voice and style to introduce your brand to his/her audience, you'll prove that you trust the influencer's judgment and understanding of what will work best for his/her audience. Such faith will not only increase the chances of successful conversions but also pave the way for more lasting and meaningful partnership opportunities.
4. Be selective when choosing your platforms
Not all social networks are created equal, and not all will necessarily be optimal platforms for launching your influencer marketing campaigns.
Thoroughly evaluate your marketing metrics to see where your efforts have been most profitable and effective thus far, and where perhaps you may need some more adjustments or a revitalized strategy altogether.
It's also essential to know what platforms will be a naturally good fit for your products or services on offer. A clothing brand, for instance, obviously necessitates a strong visual presence via photography and video to show how the apparel fits and moves; a social gaming app geared for teens may have its biggest impact with the youth-oriented Snapchat; and a nonfiction-book launch may be best targeted with a leading journalist or fellow writer on the more text-centric, news-minded Twitter.
Just as with real estate, influencer marketing is also all about location, location, location.
5. Use technology to take your campaign to the next level
It goes without saying that all your marketing campaigns—with or without the aid of an influencer—must be measured, analyzed, and actionably refigured to optimize future initiatives.
In addition to analyzing relevant KPIs, it can be beneficial to use content-aggregating platforms and software to help determine the status quo on your niche market, key demographics, leading trends, topics, and more. For example, if you use Facebook as your campaign platform, make sure you implement its conversion tracking software; with it, you can easily boost influencers' posts as well as assess the ROI they provide.
You can also use tools like TagBoard to display influencers' posts prominently on your site, which provides social proof when a potential customer logs on.
Other tools, such as Bitly, are helpful for determining ROI of a campaign by keeping track of every click an influencer drives to your product.
Furthermore, there's a host of digital marketing companies that specialize in influencer marketing in the digital sphere if you'd prefer to rely on the services of proven professionals. These services include accessing influencer audience demographic, psychographic, and geographic data to assess the reach, engagement, and amplification of certain influencers prior to activation.
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Whatever your influencer marketing campaign may be about, keep those five keys in mind and you'll be set to achieve digital domination (and boosted profitability) via brand awareness and advocacy.