Under The Influence

Marketing, at its core, is about influencing decisions. As marketers we want to create a compelling reason for a consumer to purchase the goods and/or services we support. For decades that was a relatively big, and expensive, task. Ad spend meant billboards, magazine, radio, and television ads which threw your message to a lot of people who may, or may not, be your target demographic. The advent of social media changed the game with access to data, ability to target, and increasingly share your message with more a more relevant audience. As social media marketing grew it gave rise to a new type of marketer, The Influencer.

Influencers establish themselves as an expert in a specific area, or the broad “lifestyle” influencer and share with their followers consistently enough for their audience to feel invited into their lives. Influencer marketing is predicted to account for up to $10 billion in ad spend by 2020 and it’s easy to see why. Younger generations don’t like being advertised too, they crave authenticity and connection. In 2015 Nielsen reported 83% of consumers trust recommendations of friends and family. Influencer marketing gives brands the best of both worlds: a recommendation from a trusted source to the consumer and some control of the message. If you’re considering including influencer marketing in your 2019 spend here are some things to consider:

What is your purpose?

If you’re entering into influencer marketing because “it’s what everyone is doing” you are going to have limited success. Every campaign activation must have a strong intention behind it. When you understand the purpose behind an influencer based campaign you can create assets and brand guidelines to support your influencer partners.

Who are your target influencers?

Start with a big list of influencers you’d like to partner with and compare their followers to your target consumer demographics. Think big and small. Micro and Nano influencers, those with under 10,000 and 1,000 followers respectively, are increasingly pulling more digital weight than their mega followed counterparts. Micro-influencers boast over 7x the engagement of accounts with a larger following and will likely cost you less to partner. Rather than spending your budget on 1-2 big influencers you can find 5-7 micro-influencers and receive far more benefit.

Outline your ask.

What do you want your influencers to do? Do you want them to post to stories or in their feed? Do you have a time period for posting or a frequency in mind? Have a clear objective, expectation, and timeline for your partners. In addition to providing them with a clear ask be willing to provide the assets they need to successfully complete the request. While having a clear direction for your influencers leave room for their voice to shine through, when something comes across clearly as an ad or out of character for someone’s posting style viewers lose the authenticity they crave.

Request information

Working with an influencer is a business transaction, you need to do your due diligence. Ask for their preferred method of compensation, performance on past campaigns, and click rates. If they seem unwilling to provide information or are unsure about what you’re asking, they might not be the best fit for your campaign. There are horror stories across the Internet about influencers faking numbers or campaigns going awry, when you do your homework you mitigate your risk.

Have a contract.

Any influencer activation is a business transaction, have a contract. It protects all parties involved and is, simply, a good business practice. We use, and highly recommend, Venture Legal for any contract needs.

Quantify your impact

When you have clearly identified your objective you will also determine how you measure it. If you are asking your influencers to show proof of performance you can also do some spot checks on your side, take screenshots of their work, look at performance on their referral codes, check your site traffic at the time of their posting. When you have a clear objective and a quantifiable way to measure you can show efficacy in your activation.  

What did you learn?

Digital marketing is a data rich environment. If you plan correctly and outline expectations you should be able to look at quantitative and qualitative information on your campaign. You can look at specific influencers and posts to see what worked and what didn’t. Armed with this knowledge you can make changes before your next campaign and, hopefully, see improved results every time.