Estimated to be worth over of $8 billion by the end of this year – and forecast to surpass a wealthy $10 billion in 2020 – influencers marketing is set to become a fundamental feature of any brand’s marketing strategy looking to tap into a wider variety of social demographics through the use of content creators and their powerful online communities.
However, it has never been more difficult to navigate the sea of independent creators and companies offering automated influencers marketing solutions.
Regardless of the size, here are the key steps a brand should take to increase their chances of working effectively with influencers in 2020.
Define your goal
Influencers don’t own a magic lamp ready to make all your wishes come true – even the genie in Aladin’s tale didn’t grant more than three wishes for those rubbing the oil-lamp. Avoid audiences that are too generic and make it clear whether your campaign aim is to build your brand’s reputation, increase awareness towards a new product/service, acquire a new demographic of potential customers, get better customer engagement, increase your number of followers, or your number of sales. Importantly, you can’t have a campaign goal that involves all of these benefits, so choose smartly.
Set a realistic budget
Having a clear number in mind, before even reaching out to content creators, will help you when it comes to making decisions regarding how many influencers you will be able to bring on board. Preferably, you will be wanting a mix of micro-influencers and content creators with a larger number of followers. Don’t be afraid of negotiating fees, especially if your campaign will have a long run, but be realistic when putting aside money to cover your influencer marketing strategy and don’t treat it as simply an occasional top-up of traditional marketing spending.
Do your homework
Once you have a very clear idea of what you want to promote and how much you can spend on it, it is time to find potential collaborators. Influencer marketing platforms will try to sell you the idea that you can find all content creators in one place at a click of a button. Don’t be influenced by that naïve solution because, like most things in marketing, one size doesn’t fit all; even two companies with similar products and target audiences can have completely different successful strategies when it comes to working with influencers. Checking who is talking, online and offline, about topics that matter to your brand is more effective than looking for creators with large amounts of followers or perfectly curated grids. Use hashtags to track keywords that lead you to influencers that are a close fit to your business and don’t ignore your own social graph because:
One of your influencers could be amongst your own network of friends or employees;
They could be people that don’t label themselves as an ‘influencer’, nor spend most of their waking hours posting pictures of lattes or smashed avocado on toast, but who are able to create great imagery and to get friends talking about real-life content.
Go beyond the post
As someone that has always worked with images, firstly photography and then cinematic videos, I truly believe the saying: “A picture is worth a thousand words”. However, I also believe in thinking outside the box. Don’t limit your influencer collaboration to static posts. Tap into Instagram stories, get your creators to work on long-format content to be used as a blog entry, work with exclusive giveaways and promo codes, and always brainstorm with your influencers how your brand can creatively engage with their online communities.
Have a contract, not an agreement
You would be surprised by the number of companies that have a kind of ‘agreement’ between brands and content creators, instead of a contract binding both sides. They are not exactly the same. Agreements are often an arrangement reached between two or more parties (if a brand’s agency is involved, for example) and it usually features a lot of branding guidelines. A contract is a very specific type of document, legally binding and enforceable in a court of law, and where is featured how and where you will use content created by suppliers, as well for how long and any fees involved – a lot of brands miss out on this.
While hiring an influencer to help with your branding it is crucial that they grant you full content usage rights. This will be very handy when you decide to repurpose content into other forms of advertising like posts on other social media platforms, testimonials or ads, just to name a few, so you don’t have to go back and ask for the content creator’s permission over and over again.
Agree on clear deadlines
As well as communicating with influencers about the kind of content that you are expecting from them, you must give them very clear deadlines, including buffer time for reviews and amends. Keep in mind that content creators are independent professionals working with other brands, not only yours, so bring to the table at a very early stage of negotiations how long a creator will need to deliver a set of content. Sometimes, one of your favorite influencers will be busy or will require much longer to create desirable content than you can wait. In this instance, just let it go and move on to collaborators that can fit your deadline needs.
Measure, measure, measure
Although measuring is the last one listed here, it is something that needs to be discussed with your content creators during the hiring process, to make sure both sides are clear about how performance and success will be measured during and after your influencer marketing campaign. Engagement is likely to remain a strong measuring tool in 2020, but don’t ignore click-throughs, discount voucher redemptions, your own followers’ growth while partnering with a poll of influencers and, if you are lucky enough, you will even be able to track where some of the new sales are coming from.