How To Nail Your 2019 Influencer Marketing Strategyby: Dustin Hawley | Monday January 28, 2019
Influencer marketing has evolved substantially over the past few years. And it's expected that by 2020, the global spend on influencer marketing is expected to reach $5-$10 billion. Those numbers are immense, and it's a clear indicator of the popularity influencer marketing possesses. If you haven’t yet incorporated influencer marketing into your 2019 marketing strategy, you may want to strongly reconsider that approach. With that said, it’s still important to plan your strategy well before you kickstart your marketing campaigns.
The intent of this article is to guide you through how to plan a successful influencer marketing strategy, and then deploy those tactics and achieve results. Some organizations have been dipping their toes in the waters of influencer marketing, and likely will use 2019 as a springboard to launch their marketing efforts into the influencer marketing stratosphere. They have already established some ideas and concepts around their marketing endeavors, and are all but ready to finally pull the trigger.
But other's may still be very much in the infancy of composing a marketing strategy that utilizes influencer marketing. And for organizations that reside in this demographic, the question that is top of mind is "Where do I start?" That's where we come in. So here's how to nail your 2019 influencer marketing strategy.
There's a lot that goes into an influencer marketing campaign. So how do you start?
Fact is, working with influencers is not a one size fits all decision. There are a plethora of factors and layers to the process, both in the execution and the initial decision making. For example, you can invest in micro-influencers in your niche. Or you can contract big-budget, large-scale influencers to capitalize on the volume of their audiences. And the reasoning behind each approach varies depending on your intent. And at times, your access. Another example: Lesser-known influencers can typically be accessed through a direct message on social media, or through email. On the other hand, influencers with 100,000 followers or more can be more difficult to access initially. It’s more likely that they’re featured on marketplace platforms or represented by managers or a influencer markeing agencies, like Viral Nation.
1. Identify Your Target Audience
It’s essential for the success of your influencer marketing campaign that you identify your target audience. Sure, this might sound like a very basic thing that all marketers do before activating any marketing campaign, either traditional or digital. But surprisingly, this can often be an overlooked element of the process by many organizations.
It's simple: A clearly defined target audience will help you find the most relevant influencers for your campaign. You’ll need to ensure that the followers of your potential influencers are essentially the target audience you want to reach with your marketing efforts. Having intimate knowledge of your target audience will also assist you in understanding which channels and content formats are likely to be the most effective for your campaigns.
2. Determine Your Goals
So we have now established our target audience. We know who we would like to broadcast our message to per se. So the next question to ask yourself is "Why do want to run an influencer marketing campaign? What do you want to achieve for your brand through these campaigns?"
Before proceeding any further on the processes of starting your campaign, you need to find the answers to the questions above. Running a successful campaign is contingent on having a clear list of goals in mind.
For example, in 2017, 94% of marketers aimed to improve brand advocacy through influencer marketing. And 92% of marketers aimed to increase their brand awareness. So maybe you have similar goals in mind, like boosting your brand awareness in the marketplace. But maybe your organization is already well known and established in your industry, and brand awareness is not the highest priority in your marketing ecosystem. Perhaps your intentions are to convert your audience engagements into tangible results, like direct sales. All of these goals call for varied areas of focus and modified approaches to achieve their intended goals. So again, the goals them are absolutely crucial in developing an effective influencer marketing strategy.
With that said, try not to focus on too many goals at once. That will likely create more confusion than assistance. A set of smaller, achievable goals is a much better approach in both short term and long term success. It's almost always better to focus on one (or a couple) of goals to get the desired results.
3. Identify the Right Social Media Platform
Let's face it, there are many social media platforms to choose from. In 2019, over 90% of marketing professionals prefer to use Instagram as the primary social platform for their influencer marketing campaigns. But depending on your goals (and the influencers you eventually will select for your campaign) how do you know which one’s right for you?
The social media platform you choose should depend on your target audience. Ideally, you should find the social platform that’s most used by your audience. Selecting the social platform that is the best fit for your campaign is also dependent on the type of message you want to share with your audience. The content of the promotion itself will dictate some of the influence on deciding the platform for your campaign.
Additionally, each social platform is best suited for certain audience demographics, and certain types of content as well. You should be both thoughtful and careful when selecting social media platforms for your influencer marketing campaigns, to ensure you are maximizing ROI with your decisions.
4. Find Relevant Influencers
Finally, we arrive at the metaphorical meat on the bone of influencer marketing. This process is arguably the most important aspect of running a successful influencer marketing campaign. Yes, it’s the job and responsibility of the influencer themselves to reach your target audience and create conversations about your brand. So in turn, it's your responsibility as a marketer to find the perfect influencers for your brand. This is the most crucial and challenging part of any influencer marketing campaign.
As important as it is, it's equally challenging to find suitable influencers. Many marketers agree that their biggest challenge is to find a relevant influencer. Which leads us to our next topic, which is a question that many brands are still asking.
HOW CAN I TELL WHO WOULD BE A GOOD INFLUENCER FOR MY CAMPAIGN?
This question is one with a multi-pronged answer. But generally speaking, you want to look for influencers who have a strong, genuine following, that are in your target market, and post high-quality content. Bonus points can be awarded to influencers who have previously worked with businesses/brands in the past. This is certainly not a contingency or potential non-starter, but it’s helpful to activate influencers who have previous experience with brands.
Working with someone who posts high-quality photo and video content cannot be stressed enough. Content is king in 2019 and beyond, and quality is of the utmost importance. So monitor those elements closely when making your list of potential influencers. At the end of the day, you want your content to give a polished look to your brand. Plus, if you can re-use those photos or videos in the future and re-purpose the created content, it's an additional benefit that can be produced from the results of the campaign.
HOW CAN I FIND INFLUENCERS?
A quick and easy starting point is to simply search some of the top hashtags in your industry. Check out some of the top posts for each applicable hashtag and see if they fit into your profile for an ideal influencer. Also, try searching on Google. Try searching “your industry name here bloggers” or, “your industry name here influencers.” You may get directed to their blog or website, and from there you can check out their Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, etc. profile to see if they’re a good fit for your brand. Agencies like Viral Nation have exclusive relationships with thousands of influencers worldwide, and can assist you in finding (and contracting) the best influencers for your campaign.
You should also strongly consider creating a resource document, like a spreadsheet, to list and assess potential influencers. In your spreadsheet, notate information like the influencers’ name, a link to their profile, how many followers they have, how many comments and likes their average photo gets, what type of content they tend to post, etc., and document any partnerships they’ve done in the past. If you don't have on hand information that spells out their past brand experiences, don't fret. Partnerships are often signaled with an #ad or #sponsored hashtag in the Instagram post. So browse their feeds and see if you discover any sponsored content that signifies the occurrence of a brand partnership.
5. Create Quality Content
So now you have selected your influencers, and the time has come to collaborate and create quality content. Sounds like the easy part of the process, but not so fast. It's no walk in the park to just throw together consumable, high-quality content. In fact, quality content is not only an incredibly important ingredient for a successful influencer marketing campaign, it's also at times the most exhausting part of the whole marketing process. A well strategized and executed marketing plan is done in vain, in the absence of high-quality content. Your influencers might have thousands of followers who trust them. But that’s not enough to get them to invest their money into your brand, especially in the content fails to compel them to spend their hard earned money with your brand.
Influencers should create and share valuable yet entertaining content on their (and your brand's) social platforms. Ensuring the content is not boring and doesn’t come across too sales-y will also likely generate better results and more genuine interactions with your target audience. Social media is all about connection, and it's difficult to achieve an authentic connection when your audience feels like they are enduring a sales pitch.
Simply put, if your content is not up to snuff, no matter how popular the influencer is, they cannot guarantee a successful campaign. However, make sure that you give your influencers the creative freedom they need to come up with quality content for the campaign. Influencers themselves say that providing overly restrictive guidelines is both restrictive to the benefits of an influencer campaign, and discouraging to the influencer themselves in the partnership with the brand. Organizations should provide a healthy and creatively encouraging environment so that influencers can create the quality content needed for a successful promotion.
6. Monitor and Evaluate, and Learn
You need to measure your campaign results against the goals you had decided on during the inception of your campaign. Both during and after the completion of the campaign, it's important to monitor and evaluate those results. A deep dive into the analytics provides an opportunity to check if the campaign is generating the expected results or not. This, in turn, brings about the possibility of making necessary adjustments to the execution of the campaign to ensure it generates successful results.
Directly track the performance of your influencers to see what sort of results they are generating for your brand. In order to track the performance of influencers, you should collect data such as engagement, follower growth, sales, and/or views generated both in real-time and post-campaign. Admittedly, it can be difficult to do this manually. So you should potentially consider investing in a good influencer marketing platform that can help you measure your results efficiently.
Keep in mind, nearly no campaign is perfect from the very start! Don’t become discouraged if things don’t work out perfectly from the get-go. The important thing is to figure out what has worked well and what you want to do differently in the future to enhance the results.
Admittedly, there's nothing easy about designing a successful influencer marketing strategy. You need to invest in and assess many aspects. From finding relevant influencers to identifying your target audience, all the way to defining the goals for your marketing campaign, every layer of the process requires deep insight and strategy to bring tangible results. But by keeping your finger on the pulse of the processes involved in successful influencer marketing, you truly put yourself in a prime position to capitalize on this growing and increasingly lucrative industry. Investing in these steps will surely enhance your social marketing efforts in 2019 and beyond.
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