With the decline of traditional forms of advertising, social media is being used as a vehicle for branded messaging and content. Many companies are now setting aside large portions of their promotional spend specifically for influencer marketing, and rightly so. Influencer marketing can create up to 11 times the ROI of traditional marketing strategies.
But simply having an influencer marketing budget isn’t enough to guarantee success. In order for your strategy to thrive you must be perceptive, tenacious and, ultimately, very savvy. These 12 top tips will help you spend your money wisely and ensure maximum profit.
1. Use social media monitoring tools to take a pulse
Social media is a vital channel in marketing, particularly when it comes to your influencer campaigns. Social media monitoring, also known as social media listening, is where you observe and then analyze what is being said about your brand, your competitors, and your market in general. Keeping your eyes and ears open to what is happening out there in the wider social world, will ensure that your campaigns are on-message.
Engage with people who are already engaged in the same topics as you. By using a free site like Tweetreach or Social Mention, you can start to find people with an interest in your market and then encourage them to become one of your brand’s influencers.
2. Hone in one one particular social media site
Knowing your audience inside out is the number one rule for any form of marketing. So ascertaining which social sites your target market use most frequently will help you narrow your focus and spend your budget more wisely. It’s worth noting that Instagram dominates in the realm of influencer marketing, so if this is where your target market is at, you’ll have a lot of potential influencers, but also a lot of business competition.
3. Bigger isn't necessarily better
The allure of using influencers in your marketing strategy isn’t in how many you use, but how many followers they have. Casting a wide net doesn’t necessarily bag you a bigger catch. When you’re finding the right influencer for you, put some thought into finding a select few, rather than several. And by choosing less, that means you’ll be able to take your budget further on dazzling campaigns for them.
4. Choose engagement over followers
Blowing your influencer budget on people with millions of followers isn’t the wisest of moves. Yes, you want online personalities with a big following, but you also need to find out the actual engagement that they receive from their followers in terms of comments and clicks. A higher level of interaction indicates a higher level of influence over their followers.
Unfortunately, there are lots of bot automation services out there that can create fake engagement, and although Instagram are clamping down on this kind of activity, it is still rife. So how can you detect it yourself? It might seem arduous, but a quick trawl through suspected bot comments or likes can reveal fake engagement. For example, does their bio read like a real person’s? Has their profile photo been taken from somewhere else? Alternatively, use bot detection sites like Botcheck.me to find out if specific users have been flagged as bots already.
5. Target micro-influencers
Depending on your product and the size of your business, you might want to refrain from heading straight to the top and approaching well-established influencers. Instead, consider focusing your efforts on micro-influencers. These are people who have anything from 1,000 to 100,000 followers, and the people at the lower end of the scale may be completely new to the influencer game.
As well as having higher engagement rates, you will also be able to strike a better deal with micro-influencers due to their smaller follower base. That said, their overall impact on your business might be negligible, particularly for bigger brands. For SMEs they might provide you with a little more cachet, they shouldn’t be your only marketing lifeline.
6. Utilize loyal brand followers
Before you go out seeking professional influencers, why not start a little closer to home? Suggesting a collaboration with someone who already follows you and engages with your brand is an easy opportunity. There’s no need to do the hard sell when it comes to pitching as they already like the brand, and they might be more likely to come on board for a good price.
7. Choose the right compensation model
Pay-per-post is the most common form of influencer payment and the one that’s popular with top-tier influencers. This basically means that you pay a flat fee for their promotional content/post with no guarantee of engagement or sales. While this is certainly good for the influencer, it might not be the best use of your money. Paying for unknown results is not necessarily an effective utilization of your budget. To that end, you might want to consider other pricing models.
For example, a pay-per-click deal model ensures you only have to pay the influencer if their followers click on your link. This is a good plan if it’s tangible traffic you want to see, rather than simply superficial engagement. Or, better yet, secure a pay-per-acquisition deal, where the influencer gets paid according to how many new customers they generate. This is generally done through an affiliate link, and can refer to a sale, a newsletter sign-up, a download, or other desired action.
These two models are less common and won’t be used as much, but they can work in some high-volume niches.
8. Pay with products, not money
You can get your brand featured online by sending out product samples for influencers to promote, rather than actually paying them a fee. They get a free product and you get a free plug. Win, win! The mechanics of ordering and sending your product sample often depends on your business size. For example, if you’re a startup or an SME, you may be comfortable taking order and postage details casually over email.
However, if you’re a larger business where procedures are more important, you might require the influencer to purchase the product through your online store. In this instance, simply supply the influencer with a custom coupon code that discounts the produce fee and other charges — most store builders make this sort of customization easy.
9. Boost posts where possible
A recent Facebook development now allows you to boost your influencer’s post directly, instead of you having to share it and then boost yours (which ultimately takes away the worth of employing an influencer in the first place). Paying to boost their post will make it become more visible, with the hope of driving brand interest. Boosting is a quick and easy thing to do, and Facebook advertising costs are generally low.
10. Let influencers (and their agency) tailor the content
Copying and pasting a brand spiel and sending this out to your influencers to post is a big no no. Let them have control over the content – not only will they be pleased to retain their creative integrity, but it will also actually come across as more genuine to their followers. If your influencer is with an agency, they will know them inside out and will be able to create authentic content themselves, while keeping it in line with your brand goals. Native content is key to a successful influencer campaign, so don’t waste your brand copywriters’ time.
11. Keep track of your influences and their progress
Once your budget is all spent up, it’s not just a case of sitting back and relaxing – this is where the hard work really begins. You now need to keep tabs on your influencers and their progress in order to make sure your investments are worthwhile. You can organize yourself with spreadsheets or you can even acquire a program, like Assembly that will manage and track your influencer marketing for you.
12. Re-use influencer content
If you are resourceful enough, you can turn five paid-for campaigns into at least 10 marketing opportunities. Extract quotes and testimonials from sponsored posts and regenerate them to make them work in press releases, brand bios and other advertising projects. Just make sure that the re-use clause is outlined clearly within the influencer contract.
Hopefully these savvy tips banked for your influence marketing strategy will help you spend your budget wisely and reap the rewards of increased brand visibility and maximum profits.
Need help getting started? We invite you to schedule a complimentary inbound marketing consultation where we can discuss your current inbound initiatives, strategy and even the content marketing and lead generation process you have outlined to make sure it's a success.
Guest Blog Contributor: Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to spreading the word about startups and small businesses of all shapes and sizes. Visit their blog for the latest marketing insights from top experts and inspiring entrepreneurial stories. You can also follow them on Twitter @getmicrostarted.