As consumers continue to trust third party validation over all other forms of marketing, influencer marketing is growing as a viable conversion strategy.

At the same time, traditional digital advertising channels are beginning to see limits in effectiveness. As trends in ad blocking grow— as much as 47% of consumers leverage Adblock technology - and consumers tune out traditional ad channels— Facebook user growth is slowing dramatically, brands are increasingly turning to influencers to help get their message across with more passion, creativity and authenticity. In fact, 94% of marketers who use influencer marketing find it an effective practice, and see results as high as 11x the ROI of traditional advertising.

Every PR practitioner is in a different stage of building out their influencer marketing strategy, but there are some steps to always review and apply. Let’s get into it.

 

Define And Identify Your Target Audiences

One of the biggest opportunities—and subsequently one of the biggest challenges—with influencer marketing involves selecting the ideal influencer for your brand. Marketers noted that finding the right influencers is one of their top challenges in influencer marketing.

Partnering with the right person and cultivating the right relationships can make or break your brand’s campaign. It’s important that the influencers you choose match both your brand personality and your audience. By first identifying your brand’s target customers, you can help ensure that you pick the right influencers.

To target the right influencers and build effective relationships, it’s critical to understand:

  • Conversion statistics: Build out coded links and get deep into the analytics to understand ROI; focusing on digital PR metrics will strengthen your reporting
    (54% of marketers use ‘conversions’ as their top metric to measure the results of their influencer marketing campaigns.)

  • Audience breakdown: Leveraging different audiences for different campaigns

  • Influencer affiliations: Brands they are already affiliated with, that may complement your strategy

 

 

Did You Know?

Micro influencer vs Macro influencer: Micro influencers are ‘normal’ people, so to speak. Most of the time they have fewer than 10,000 followers. They’re a more affordable, flexible option for many brands.

Macro influencers, on the other hand, are often famous and might even be a household name; some are celebrities with tens of thousands or millions of followers (which their price tag reflects). Some are only famous on one platform, which is something for a brand to keep in mind if they’re running a campaign across multiple platforms.

 

Creating An Influencer Marketing Gameplan

An Influencer Marketing strategy is more than a campaign. It’s built into the fabric of the marketing plan, as a way to enhance strategy and increase marketing ROI. Also, Influencer Marketing is always on, because building credible relationships isn’t a one-time effort. Once a relationship is established, the payoff is long-term value.

Don’t be left behind → 39% of marketers plan to increase influencer marketing budget in 2018, with 19% planning to spend over $100,000 per program.

 

 

4 steps to Kick off your influencer program:

  1. Identify the right influencers: 50 to 100

  2. Start to follow their social media channels:  Start small and make your interactions natural; consider building a Twitter list

  3. Set up alerts for each individual author: Add around 20 to 25 to your list each week

  4. Engage with their content: Respond to articles and blogs they write, share/retweet/like their content, etc.

Quick tip: This is relational. Take the time to understand how influencers you engage measure themselves. Synergy here is important for long term value and relationship. According to a Hashoff survey, 88.1% of influencers used likes to measure the success of their content. The second most popular metric is comment rate, which 46.6% of influencers chose as their method of measuring campaign success.

Did You Know?

51% of marketers believe they get better customers from influencer marketing. That’s because the relationship began with trust in the influencer. - Tomson Research Study [source]

 

Earn Your Influence, Don’t Pay For It

Authenticity is key to influencer marketing success, but the lines are getting blurred with a heavy focus on paid influencer programs. The consequence is the true relationships get lost in the mix. Fundamentally, influencer marketing is about leveraging the credible voices of others to build awareness, consideration and take action around your brand or cause.

Credibility doesn’t start with a cash transaction. People crave authenticity. They don’t want to be marketed to; they want real relationships. And the quickest way to come off as inauthentic is to pay for attention.

The solution? Earned Influence is the key to an effective influencer marketing effort. To connect at an authentic level and build mutual value is the key to effective long-term influencer marketing results.

This isn’t to say that you never want to pay influencers who are working as content creators on your brand’s behalf, but that you want to start the relationship from a place of authentic brand enjoyment and not simply a big paycheck that gives them false enthusiasm for your brand.

 

 

Influencer marketing doesn’t have to be a daunting undertaking, but cultivating relationships with influencers does take time. Planning and executing a comprehensive influencer marketing strategy will give your brand bigger returns over the long term and is worth the investment of time and resources. 

Consumers increasingly identify with influencers because they feel more like someone they could be friends with in real life, and therefore they trust their brand recommendations.