6 Secrets for Influencer Marketing Success
Influencer marketing can be a tricky road to navigate. However, if you approach your campaign with the right expectations, your influencer marketing efforts could yield high results. Use these six secrets to help you set up your influencer marketing programs for success.
Secret #1: Set realistic influencer marketing campaign goals
Campaign goal setting is important. Why? Because influencer marketing without goals is a waste of time. And influencer marketing without being tied to business goals is an even bigger waste of time. Just as you wouldn’t make a capital expenditure without assessing your business need, you wouldn’t spend money on an influencer marketing campaign unless your end goal was to move your business forward. Check out the questions below to set realist goals for your campaign.
“Going viral” is not a goal.
If you’re thinking:
- “We need a viral video!”
- “Make it go viral!”
Then you are going about it completely the wrong way. Companies, influenced by the constant barrage of viral videos shared via social media, want all their social media programs to “go viral” and think that virality is the key to brand marketing success.
Wanting a campaign to “go viral” is not a viable campaign goal. Going viral isn’t realistic — and, besides, it often doesn’t map to business goals like engagements or sales. What you want to do is set practical, measurable campaign goals that will (maybe) set you up for virality, but more important, help you achieve your sales and/or marketing goals, whether you go viral or not.
What are you trying to achieve with influencer marketing?
When preparing for an influencer marketing campaign, think about what the overall purpose is. For example, is your campaign:
- Launching your new company, product, or brand
- Sharing a charitable initiative
- Amplifying a special offer, like a coupon
- Promoting a contest or sweepstakes
- Advertising an event
Your purpose might be one of these, a combination, or all of them. Whatever the case may be, start by thinking about what your marketing need is and how influencers will fit into that plan.
How will you assess your achievements?
After the purpose of your campaign is set, you need to decide how you’ll assess your achievements by selecting a few measurable targets. These targets can be anything you want — from the number of people who download a coupon to how many times a tweet is shared (tracking via your unique hashtag) — as long as they’re tied to sales or marketing goals.
If you’ve never done an influencer campaign before, set some metrics so that you can gather baseline data about your campaign, and then use that baseline data to gauge future campaign success.
Here are some suggested targets to get you started:
- The number of visits to your website
- The number of increased Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and/or Facebook followers
- The number of likes, comments, and/or shares a Facebook post gets
- The percentage of increase in sales due to a coupon or promo code
- The number of tickets sold to an event based on a trackable URL
- Increase in foot traffic to your retail store
- Brand awareness (more people talking about you online)
- Better data on your customers
One of the main reasons why it’s important to have business goals is so that you can track your return on investment (ROI). Influencer marketing isn’t free, and as with any marketing program you run, you want to make sure that the data you gather supports your spend.
How will you achieve your influencer marketing goals?
When you’ve decided on the purpose of your campaign and how you’ll measure your achievements, you need to think about how you’re going to git ’er done! Here are the main questions you need to answer:
- Do you have the time, expertise, and resources within your organization to not only create your influencer marketing campaign, but also find, vet, and hire the right influencers for the job?
- Are you familiar enough with social media analytics to gather and measure the data you’ll be collecting?
- Would you rather hire expert consultants and/or agencies to do the creative work, manage the influencers, and/or collect the data?
How you answer these questions probably depends on the timing of your influencer marketing campaign, your marketing needs, and your budget. If you’re in a hurry, you may want to hire outside help — but keep in mind that most agencies require several weeks of lead time and may charge a quick turnaround fee if you need a campaign to run sooner.
If you aren’t on a timeline, you may want to budget to hire a creative team, which includes a staffer who is knowledgeable about influencer or content marketing or an analytics expert. Think about what’s best for your company and your needs, and go from there.
When will your influencer marketing campaign run?
The timing of your influencer campaign is very important. Think about when you’d like your campaign to run. Is it seasonal? Does it correspond to a holiday? Is it tied to an event you’re promoting?
Let’s take a month-long holiday campaign as an example. You have a product that would make a fabulous holiday gift. Ideally, you want to start promoting that product in November, having your influencers marketing your product all month long in advance of the holiday shopping rush. If you’re in the United States, you may want to launch your campaign around Thanksgiving and capitalize on the Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopper mindset.
Working backward from there, this means your influencers should be familiar with your product and know what their scope of work is (exactly what’s expected of them and what they’ll be sharing) and have all assets and materials needed (product photos, videos, and/or descriptions) by the date of your program launch.
This means that the creative for your campaign — including goals, assets, and influencer scope of work — needs to be completed at least three to four weeks in advance of influencer selection, vetting, and hiring (including getting all employment contracts signed). Depending on the number of influencers you’re hiring, that process alone can take two additional weeks even with experienced professionals doing the selection and vetting.
Six weeks in advance of your November campaign launch puts you in mid-September, which means you should already be thinking about plans to lock down your influencer marketing holiday promotion in the summer.
Even if your influencer marketing campaign isn’t tied to a holiday, you should give yourself at least two months to come up with a plan, set goals, figure out how you’re going to achieve them, and begin gathering your data. When you’ve done all that, you’re ready to launch your influencer marketing campaign.
Secret #2: Know your audience to develop influencer marketing goals
The second secret to setting your influencer marketing campaign up for success is knowing who is talking about you and where your potential customers are.
Who’s talking about you?
If your company has a social media presence, you need to know where your audience — fans and potential customers — is talking about you. Do you have a product or service that people tweet about or share about on blogs? Or are lively conversations happening on your Facebook Page? Before starting any influencer program, take the time to investigate and listen in on conversations already happening about your company, product, industry, and/or competitors on social media and focus on who’s doing the talking.
Grassroots conversations may already be happening about your brand. Get to know those influencers. Introduce yourself to them, whether via a hello tweet or by leaving a comment on a blog post, as a way to begin a relationship (see the nearby sidebar). People who are already talking about your brand on social media are your organic influencers. They have the power to affect your brand in positive or negative ways.
Establishing an authentic relationship with them — where you engage their opinions and ideas — is a way to keep their view of your company or brand positive. And when you’re ready to start your influencer marketing campaign, you can contact these influencers first to see if they’d like to participate.
Where are they talking about you?
It’s not just who is talking about you, but where. When you see where the most engaged social media interactions are happening, you can target your influencer marketing campaign to those particular channels.
For example, if you’re a fashion or beauty brand, you may want to focus your influencer marketing on Instagram, like Jimmy Choo, Motives Cosmetics, Flash Tattoos, or Christian Siriano. All those brands leverage Instagrammers to share their content.
It makes no sense, for example, to focus on Pinterest for an influencer campaign if you sell cloud services. Pinterest is a visual channel, so it lends itself to sharing visual content like recipes, workout ideas, decorating tips, and fashion inspiration.
Know where your audience lives. If no one is talking about fundraising on Instagram, you’re wasting your time doing your campaign there.
Secret #3: Keep your influencer marketing campaign on message
Sometimes the first question seems to be when starting any influencer marketing campaign is, “What’s the hashtag?” The key message is just as important as the goal, and making sure that everything you do drives activity back to your key message matters. If your marketing plan is a rocket ship, your messaging is the flight plan and social media is the rocket fuel.
Marketing plan = Rocket ship
The rocket ship analogy is useful when talking about influencer marketing. Just as you wouldn’t attempt to explore space without a rocket ship, you shouldn’t engage in influencer marketing without a plan.
Messaging = Flight plan
With your rocket ship in place, you need a flight plan to get to space, and that’s exactly the purpose of your message. What will you be asking your influencers to do? Share a coupon code? Tweet a link for a charitable donation? Post a photo? Whatever it is, your influencer marketing flight plan needs to have one clear, consistent message. Pick one call to action so you don’t confuse your influencers and/or your potential customers.
Social media = Rocket fuel
You’ve built your rocket ship and your flight plan is solid. Now it’s time to take off! The social media channels where your influencer marketing campaign will live are the rocket fuel you need to send your campaign into outer space.
By tracking where your influencer conversations are already happening, and by leveraging those channels, you can give your influencer marketing campaign the fuel it needs to take off. Influencers will be sharing your content in the channels where it makes the most sense, and you can leverage the influencers’ audiences or communities within those channels to spread your message far and wide.
A marketing plan is your rocket ship, and social media is the rocket fuel that sends it to outer space or somewhere amazing. Without a plan, without a ship, you just have a bunch of liquid that can catch fire and burn down your launcher.
Secret #4: Keep your influencer marketing campaign agile
It’s important to have an influencer marketing plan in place, but be sure to build in contingencies just in case Plan A doesn’t work as planned.
Say you have two dozen influencers contracted to write blog posts, but what happens if three of them get sick, one person’s laptop dies, and another has a family emergency and can’t complete her work by your deadline? Hopefully, you’ve also identified five backup influencers who can step in and take their places to get your job done. Even with the best laid plans, anything that can go wrong often will go wrong, but it doesn’t have to be a disaster if you’re prepared.
Secret #5: Recognize the power of emotional stories in influencer marketing
Emotions — from awe and anger to sadness and joy — make content go viral. You want to set up your influencer marketing campaign to go viral, but Psy is busy making another video (plus you can’t afford to pay him) and your cat is camera shy. How to create a compelling story that people will want to share? Start with a story people will care about!
If you want your influencer marketing campaign to be set up for virality, you must create an emotional angle for your story. What emotion will your brand story elicit? Will it play on humor? Or will you aim to inspire? https://www.dummies.com/business/marketing/branding/building-a-brand-for-market-success/Brands have spent millions of dollars on creative concepts and marketing plans to ensure virality. If you don’t have millions of dollars to spend, you have to come up with a compelling story, formulate a solid plan, and identify the right influencers to help spread your message. Then hope for the best.
Beyond the emotions of virality, two other factors are at play:
- Good viral content tugs at the heartstrings or makes people feel something, and that’s not necessarily tied to any of the emotions mentioned earlier.
- Good viral content is relatable. Content is contagious when people want to feel a part of the story and then share it not only because they relate, but because something about the sharing is a reflection on them as well.
Secret #6: You get what you measure in influencer marketing
Marketing — especially in new spaces and platforms — is iterative, which means you make changes and adjust as you go. What worked? How do you do it more? How do you scale? You can answer all these questions by setting goals for your campaigns and tracking those goals. In that sense, you get data from what you measure.
Let’s say the goal for your month-long holiday influencer marketing campaign was to track the number of visits to your website and to sell more of your product by sharing a coupon code across social media. Your influencer marketing plan should focus on having influencers share a link to your website where people can then find a coupon code to use toward a purchase
Before you start your month-long influencer marketing campaign, gather some baseline information about your website traffic and know your typical sales numbers for your product. At the end of the your month-long promotion, check your site traffic and look at your sales numbers.
You get what you measure — and hopefully the results are what you were expecting!