The word influencer gets thrown around a lot these days, but what really is it? Your mind might immediately go to an attractive account on Instagram, but influencers aren’t limited to merely social media.
Boiled down, the term influencer means someone who affects other’s purchasing decisions.
How do they do it?
Chalk it up to their clout. A combination of authority, knowledge, celebrity, and relationship to their followers are all ways influencers hold power over their audience’s pocketbooks.
Naturally, tapping into this kind of sway is appealing to brands. Get an influencer behind your product and you should, if the aforementioned concept holds, sell more of those products. But how exactly does a brand or business work with an influencer? Is it simply a matter of sending them free items and hoping they’ll use them? Do you need to set up a formal contract? Are there specific demands a brand can make or are you at the mercy of the influencer?
Those are just a few of the questions we’ll go through in this guide with 11 tips on working with an influencer.
- Determine Your Campaign Goals
Before you hit send on your introduction email to said influencer, a marketing team must decide what it’s campaign goals are.
This will guide not only the delivery of the campaign itself but also help determine what influencer to work with. Who you choose must share the right audience and meet the right expectations for those goals to be met.
- Work With Influencers Who Legitimately Love Your Product or Service
It’s not enough just to have someone hawk a product or service.
They need to be authentically interested in it to influence their followers. So make sure who you work with loves your product or service as much as you do.
- Make the Campaign Mutually Beneficial
Do you know what makes people work hard? When there is something in it for them. So why not make a relationship with an influencer mutually beneficial for both parties. That could mean many things for the influencer from credibility to payment, comped services to exclusive invitations. Putting a carrot on a stick isn’t a made thing in this situation.
- Give the Influencer Creative Freedom
It’s normal to want to micromanage a campaign, but in the case of working with an influencer, you’ll get more bang for your buck if you allow them to hold the reigns.
Remember, audiences see the influencer not just as an object but as a friend they can trust. Manipulate that trust too much with a heavy-handed choreographed ad for a product and that audience will walk away.
- Allow the Influencer to Be a Reporter
Many savvy influencers these days don’t just mention a product or service, they educate future customers with videos, stories, reels, and posted messages.
By allowing them to be your spokesperson, the influencer can better persuade their audience to fall in love with what you’re selling.
- Choose A Dedicated Audience Over a Huge One
Don’t let numbers mesmerize you. A large following does not necessarily a dedicated audience make.
You want an influencer who has a close relationship with their audience, not just a large following count. By researching the individual and following their account for a few days or weeks, you’ll have a better sense of how they interact with their audience and how their audience behaves in response.
Ask to see engagement statistics to verify audience interest and to ensure ROI.
- Set a Timeline
Goals are achieved when you create structure, so setting a timeline to run your influencer-based campaign is essential. Here’s where a contract comes in. Outline the time, the objective, and all of the other moving parts that both parties agree to in the contract, so that everything is transparent and the project can move forward without confusion.
- Provide a Briefing Document
While, as stated above, you want to give the influencer creative freedom, providing a strategic outline is a helpful way to encourage them to mention certain facts or information about a product or service.
It can also spell out certain important matters such as photo ownership, copy guidelines, styling suggestions, and any dos or don’ts.
- Get On the Phone or Zoom
Could all of this be handled via email? Sure. Is that the best strategy? Probably not. The better you know the influencer you’re working with, the better the process will go. Find time to set up a call via phone or video to discuss the project and ensure everyone is on the same page creatively.
- Track the Campaign
Given the incredible rise of influencers in today’s market, this might be your first foray into working with one, but it likely won’t be your last.
In order to optimize your results so you can achieve even bigger goals in your next go around it’s important to track the campaign.
Look at key metrics and gather as much data as possible to see if the process worked. Then retool and adjust for your next campaign.
- Take a Hint from Other Campaigns
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It’s also just a smart idea, especially when giving influencer marketing a chance.
Take a look at other influencers/brand campaigns and see what you like and don’t like. Then work with your influencer to develop a similar project that uses the best of other campaigns to create your own.
Remember though to stay within your budget and track the results. Just because it worked for another brand doesn’t necessarily mean it will do the same for yours. But it’s worth a shot.
Another good thing to keep in mind is to start small and build up. The chances of a celebrity agreeing to a partnership with your brand on day one are slim. And besides, that’s a different beast entirely.
Remember: Influencer marketing and celebrity endorsements are not one and the same. Rather than get discouraged by rejection, follow ReBrandly’s advice and “research, reach out, repeat.” The worst thing an influencer can tell you is no.
So if you get a “pass” just look for the next influencer to work with. There are quite literally hundreds of people making a career in the influencer space. Finding someone with mutual target audiences as your own is not impossible. It might take time and patience, but it’s achievable.
And stay open-minded. Traditional advertising has evolved. Gone are the days of simply putting up a billboard or an ad in the paper. Today’s consumers — the growing Generation Z members especially — rely on influencer marketing to make their purchasing decisions. In fact, the Kantar research group found that “almost half (44%) of Generation Z has made a purchase decision based on a recommendation from a social influencer, compared with 26% of the general population.”
You can’t argue with that kind of hard data.
Like it or not, influencer marketing is the way of the future. To get the most out of your influencer relationships remember the above tips and focus on authenticity.
This next generation of buyers isn’t interested in high gloss ad campaigns or spurious claims.
Influencer marketing can help your brand deliver what they want: a personalized experience that doesn’t feel fake.