Gen Z (and a section of Millennials) changed consumer behaviour forever. Even buying a hair tie needed social proof. They wanted to read and see others’ experience of it before handing over their moolah.
Who were these ‘others’? Bloggers, vloggers and YouTubers. Basically, geniuses populating the obscure corners of the internet before Instagram became Instagram.
Then real social media came into being. The underlying mechanics of advertising and promoting a brand remained the same, but who was genuinely influential took a 360 turn.
What is influencer marketing?
All of it points to one thing:
Influencers or creators are a brand’s biggest asset in the current era. Without them, you cannot survive. It’s a virtuous cycle:
Capture a good creator, and the audience will follow. Capture enough of the audience, and creators will follow.
So, influencer marketing is collaborating with people who know your target audience’s pulse and can influence them. By working with creators, you build connections with consumers who are likely to buy your brand.
But for it to work, you need a strategy.
How to build an influencer marketing strategy?
Creating an influencer marketing strategy takes 5 steps:
- Define your goals.
- Choose the type of campaign.
- Identify your target audience.
- Find the right influencer.
- Track your results.
Outline your goals
The first step to creating an influencer marketing strategy is finding what you would like to accomplish with the campaign.
Defined goals help shape the entire strategy consistently. More importantly, they give you a clear picture of what to track after the campaign ends (step 5).
Types of campaign goals:
- Generate awareness: Let more people know and recognize your brand.
- Build identity: Build your brand’s personality and let more people see it.
- Gain audience: Get more consumers to follow your brand on social media.
- Create engagement: Get more people to like, share, comment, and save your posts.
- Build leads: Get more potential customers through signups or offers.
- More sales: Get more customers to buy your products.
- Better loyalty: Keep customers interested in your brand.
Picking the influencer marketing campaign
Your campaign goals inform the type of campaign you should pick. Broadly, there are three types.
You can inspire the creator to share content about your brand (read: organic campaign). You can collaborate with them (not merely hire) to create branded-content (read: sponsored campaign). Or you can use a blend of both.
Types of influencer marketing campaigns:
- Gifting involves a review or mention by the creator in exchange for a free product/service.
- Mentions involve a creator briefly talking about (or tagging) your brand in their content.
- Takeovers involve the creator gaining full control of your social account to post anything for a limited time.
- Sponsored content involves paying the creator to feature on their social channels.
- Partnership involves co-creating content with the creator and posting it on both your and the creator’s feed.
- Giveaway is a contest that the creator holds through their socials, but the winning prize is your product/service.
- Discounts give the creator a unique coupon code that they share with their followers while promoting your brand.
- Affiliates are similar to discount codes. You give an exclusive code to the creator. They share it with their audience. But for every sale made through the code, the creator gets a percentage.
- Ambassadorship is a long-running influencer marketing campaign involving a brand advocate. They get access to exclusive offers and products in exchange for talking about your brand extensively and repeatedly.
Defining your target audience
The 3rd step of creating an influencer marketing strategy is determining your target audience.
Even the best strategy will fail if it is not tailored to your audience. That’s possible only when you know your buyer. So, use demographic segmentation and psychographics to find the right buyer persona.
For instance, a sustainable clothing brand’s target would be people who are eco-conscious, not those who prefer furs and animal prints.
Discovering the right influencer
There are categories of influencers. They differ by niche — travel, fitness, lifestyle, etc. They vary by follower size — celebrities, mega-influencer, micro-influencer, and nano-influencer.
The right creator falls in the intersection of niche, size and your brand. Spotting one takes effort. You have to sift through the brand’s social account, search through hashtags, and send countless emails.
You will also need to track your influencer outreach to avoid contacting the same creator recurrently. It also helps organise the entire process of collaborating with a creator.
Rules to finding a creator:
- Don’t reach out to an influencer because they have the maximum followers. It is not about size. You are better off working with a creator with a modest following that matches your audience rather than collaborating with a mega-influencer whose followers will never be interested in your brand.
- Research if there is brand synergy and your goals align by:
- Looking at metrics like engagement rate, impressions, etc. to gauge reach and authority.
- Browsing through their past content and posts to see if their values match yours or at least doesn’t deviate too far.
3. The creator’s content should be relevant to your product. It should be high-quality.
An easier way to find and collaborate with the correct influencer for a campaign is to use an influencer marketing platform. Their tools ensure that all rules are followed without any effort on your part.
Measuring the campaign results
Most brands stop at step 4. Once the creator is hired, deliverables are decided and, well, delivered; they think it’s done and dusted.
It is not. Tracking and analysing the results of the campaign is a no brainer. When you measure them, you find out if the campaign succeeded.
Assume the goal of your influencer marketing campaign was to reach 10K followers in 2 months. Without actually checking the increase in follower number, you can’t assess the true impact and take corrective actions, if needed.
Types of metric to measure campaign success:
- For awareness campaigns, track social mentions, impressions, reach, site traffic, page view, etc.
- For an audience-building campaign, keep an eye on follower numbers.
- For identity campaigns, measure PR coverage, mentions in socials.
- For engagement campaigns, assess shares, likes, comments, and saves
- For sales or leads campaigns, check opt-ins, sign-ins and new sales.
Influencer marketing strategy has no set formula
The rules on how to create an effective influencer marketing strategy are not set in stone. Yes, the path remains the same for all brands, but the nuances differ. So, use this guide to set the stage but make your own judgement calls.