In the last year, influencer marketing has become a necessity for any consumer-facing brand. Most brands have used social influencers in one way or another. What’s different now is the rise, prevalence and scale of numerous social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Vine, YouTube and Snapchat. With social media, brands benefit from positive contributions from their fans and followers without even having a formal influencer marketing program. So, why should you have an official influencer marketing program? If you don’t have an influencer marketing program in place, you’re missing out on becoming the marketing hero of your organization. Watch an Influencer Marketing Platform Demo and see how others are achieving 30X return on investment (ROI). If you’re thinking about a social influencer program – with or without an influencer marketing platform such as ReadyPulse – you should know the benefits of having a structured social influencer program and then ask yourself the following nine questions.
Key reasons why you need a structured social influencer program:
- Align social results with business goals from influential people within your brand’s social community
- Launch campaigns and drive product launches quickly with predictable results
- Develop a closer relationship with your brand’s influencers so you can leverage them as tastemakers for your target customers
- Get permission from influencers to use their high-quality, user-generated content in your marketing
- Ask influencers to perform specific tasks, such as upload photos or share messages, and connect those tasks with your business process
- Measure the effectiveness of influencers’ actions on your business while rewarding or recognizing high-performing influencers
Let’s take a closer look at the different aspects of influencer marketing programs and discuss the nine questions you need to answer to create a successful influencer marketing program.
1. Who are your influencers?
This is a basic question but the answer varies widely from brand to brand. At a very high-level, an influencer is anyone who is enthusiastic about promoting your brand. But you must also be able to answer the question of who is your ideal influencer – the person that will have the most sway with your brand’s target customer. Customer segmentation and social engagement with your brand may influence the persona of the influencer. In order to develop your influencer persona, consider qualitative aspects such as breadth of social influence, social engagement with your brand as well as quality and frequency of content creation. This data paired with traditional demographic aspects, such as age, gender, location, race/ethnic origin and income, can help you form your ideal influencer persona.
2. How many different types of influencers should you have?
With the advent of social media, celebrities aren’t the only ones with mass followings and social status. Social media allows for authentic endorsements from customers and fans without the formal contractual obligations (and hefty price tag) of using celebrities. Having different types of influencers such as rising talent (athletes, artists, actors, etc.), social influencers and brand loyalists allows you to scale your influencer marketing program more quickly. Additionally, different tiers of influencers allows you to have different agreements with varying degrees of give-and-take.
3. How are you going recruit influencers?
There are many ways to find and recruit social influencers. Influencers can be found using a list from your existing customers, your social audience or social users who have simply engaged with your account or branded hashtags. You can also recruit potential influencers using social ads and promotions. You can qualify influencers using surveys, assessing their current social engagement (especially involving your brand), gauging sentiment expressed on social networks as well as evaluating the quality and quantity of their content. For bigger brands, finding the right set of influencers – from millions of potential influencers – can be a monumental challenge if attempted manually. Once you identify which influencers to invite into your program, you can use emails or social communication, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram direct messages, to invite them into your brand’s influencer marketing program.
4. How will you structure your influencer marketing program?
It’s up to you whether you want to keep your program completely private or open it to the public. Creating a private influencer program makes your influencers feel special, ensuring their quality participation. Additionally, you can control the quality and consistency of the participation much more easily than a public influencer program. Engaged influencers love to interact with other social influencers, thereby solidifying the bond between the brand and influencers for your social stronghold.
5. What should you ask your brand’s influencers to do?
Social influencer requirements should align with your marketing processes and tasks should be easy to complete. Here is a sample of common social influencer tasks:
- Create content and buzz for a new product launch or for a seasonal campaign. Brands can send product to influencers to test, wear and experience; and then invite influencers to write about the product on social networks (blogs, posts, pictures, videos, reviews, etc.).
- Share a brand message or specific image across social networks. While this is the most basic influencer task, you can easily get creative with this idea.
- Invite influencers to events. Have a local or national event coming up? Whether your event is digital or in-person, influencers are the perfect place to begin promoting and inviting to attend all your events.
- Leverage brand influencers to be community leaders to answer product questions.
- Give feedback on marketing messaging. If your brand is creating multiple messages and advertisements, your influencers are the perfect audience to provide feedback on which messaging is the best.
- Provide ideas for new product design. Some of the best ideas come from your key customers. Allow influencers to share product ideas and features to utilize their interest as well as their expertise.
- Vote on new product designs. Invite influencers to vote on product designs (colors, utility, features, etc.) to determine in which direction to take your product.
- Poll influencers to find complementary marketing opportunities. Send your influencers a survey to help your marketing team discover what other key trends or marketing opportunities you may be missing out on.
6. How frequently should influencers participate in campaigns?
To avoid “brand fatigue,” you must determine the right frequency to ask influencers to participate in campaigns. A good baseline for frequency should be around two campaigns per quarter. However, in the end, it is up to your brand and influencer network depending on product launches, season, engagement, etc. It’s important to remember that not all interactions with your influencers need to be asking them to do something for your brand. As with any relationship, sending emails, special notes or posting on their feeds “just because” is a nice way to return the love to your influencers.
7. What types of incentives work best for influencers?
While often overlooked, the biggest incentive for many influencers is receiving brand recognition. This includes repurposing their content on social accounts, emails or website; communicating regularly about how valuable you find your influencers; and recognizing (either publicly or privately) those influencers who have truly gone above and beyond. As for fans and followers, recognition and rewards would be their key incentive. Get creative when planning your incentives, not all ambassadors are motivated by free product, contests and monetary rewards only!
8. What standards are you going to set for your influencer marketing program?
Imagine the perfect network of social influencers for your brand. Now, how do you keep those influencers engaged and ensure that you achieve your KPIs over time? Maintain a focus on why your brand is investing in influencer marketing program, and how it support your business goals. Have a fluid answer for the question, “What’s in it for my influencers?” Just as people change, your influencer marketing program will change over time as well – and that’s okay! Ensure you are keeping tabs on influencers’ engagement, regularly noting which influencers are posting high-quality content most regularly. Make sure you determine what scaling your influencer marketing program looks like, including both timeliness of scale as well as quality and quantity.
9. What are the key metrics you’re going to measure for success?
It’s vital to determine what key metrics are important to your brand before you launch an influencer marketing program or campaign. Take the following key metrics into consideration:
- Number of photos, videos and messages influencers share
- Influencer-reach (potential impressions) across their social networks
- Engagement and shares of the content produced by or shared by influencers
- Number of clicks that came from sharing influencer content
- Using an Instagram-friendly tool, such as LikeItWant.It, can help you more easily track social traffic to your site
Conversions and ROI
- Calculate the number of conversions due to content influencers share. This is calculated as the number of purchases that were associated with influencer-produced content, such as their personal photos and videos displayed on e-commerce sites or any other conversion pages, such as sign-up pages.