Monday, November 23, 2020
Liz Dorland - Public Relations Counsel

The buzz around influencer marketing is intensifying. From new homeowners to professional renovators, anglers to construction workers, moms to business owners — nearly everyone is seeking advice from a person on social media that they trust when it comes to products, business management and more. When executed strategically, influencer marketing can increase trust in a brand, grow conversations and awareness of the brand’s offering, and support the sales funnel.

Brands have aligned themselves with big personalities for decades — from celebrities hawking cigarettes to fictional characters like Santa Claus promoting Coca-Cola. Influencer marketing takes the idea of endorsement and micro-targets it. But it’s more than selecting a person that has the greatest number of followers, shipping a product to them and crossing your fingers for the right review. Here are five keys to execute a smart influencer marketing program that will not only move the needle, but build a stronger connection with your target customer.

Key #1. Find the Right Influencer

When setting out to find “the” person for your campaign, don’t solely focus on their following numbers. Influencers with smaller follower counts might have an audience that's more relevant to your brand. You can divide influencers into four categories:

Nano Influencer: 500 to 5,000 followers
Micro Influencer: 5,000 to 30,000 followers
Macro Influencer: 30,000 to 900,000 followers
Celebrity: 900,000+ followers

Research shows that 82 percent of consumers are highly likely to take the recommendations of a micro influencer1.The influencer and their followers should look like your customers. Unpack the influencer’s following and learn about the audience’s demographic and psychographic makeup.

Key #2. Nail Down the Basics of an Agreement

As with any campaign or project, it’s important to set your objectives, goals and strategy before launching into an influencer campaign. When you share those fundamentals with your influencer, you can start to build a basic agreement, which should include:

  • Schedule
  • Appropriate Handles for Your Brand
  • Hashtags
  • Brand Rules
  • Photography or Safety Guidelines

It’s important to walk through the agreement with the selected influencer(s), so they have time to ask questions ahead of capturing and publishing content.

Key #3. Craft a Story That Fits Both Brands

Influencers have a brand, too. Depending on the size of the influencer (Macro, Micro, Nano or Celebrity), they may have thought through what their brand is, what it sounds like and what content works best for the audience. It’s important to know and understand their brand to avoid backlash that could result from unauthentic content. Collaborate to craft a piece of content that feels natural to their storyline. Having an influencer review a product and talk about “all of its greatness” is fantastic, but make the story more impactful by framing it up as “Problem + Product = Solution.” Achieving this in an authentic way is critical to making content that connects.

Key #4. Pitch for Earned Media

The influencer has successfully produced and published a stellar story about your brand and/or product and the post is receiving great engagement. Now, reach out to your public relations team and let them know about the story so they can pitch it for earned media coverage. A magazine will release an annual editorial calendar that outlines each issue by topic, and editors are seeking stories to fill the space. If your influencer has a great story and nice content — it strengthens the pitch.

Key #5. Integrate Influencers into Your Marketing Plan

Look at all elements of your marketing plan and see how influencer content can help accelerate your goals. Can you:

  • Use it on social channels.
  • Incorporate the content into a monthly newsletter.
  • Integrate the influencer into event materials such as booth invites, livestreams and educational seminars.
  • Capitalize on these opportunities by creating content (for both the influencer’s channel and yours) at these events.

Whether your brand is B2C or B2B, influencer marketing requires partnering with an individual that looks like your customer, and working with them to develop authentic and dynamic content on their social media platforms. Getting it right requires research, planning and meaningful conversations. It takes the right message, with the right messenger to make a Real ConnectionTM. Watch “Staying Ahead of the Influencer Curve” for more tips to develop a winning influencer program.

1Source: Influencer Marketing Hub’s Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report: 2020