Influencer marketing — whether as a complement to a fine-tuned social media marketing strategy, or as a smaller component of a broader media campaign — is losing its “test tactic” label with forward-thinking brands and businesses. Now, influencer marketing is quickly becoming a viable, reliable way for those same brands and businesses to efficiently get their messaging in front of the right audiences.
Smart marketers have also learned not to assume that influencer marketing (or even social media marketing in general, for that matter) is only a B2C play. B2B companies are seeing ROI with the tactic and are reaping the benefits of the positive word of mouth it hopes to inspire among different audience segments.
To help you plan your next influencer marketing campaign, we’ve put together a checklist of things to consider as you work through project parameters, goals, and strategies. Doing so will help you build a structured roadmap to follow during all stages of the planning process and better help you gauge program success after the fact.confidence as you plan your next campaign.
Whether your influencer marketing opportunity is a stand-alone project or part of a larger campaign, knowing how much money you have to work with from the start will help guide your overall strategy and decisions about the number and type of influencers you can engage, as well as other factors like social media channel considerations and influencer content post frequency.
Though larger budgets are always nice to work with (more money = more opportunities), successful influencer marketing campaigns are completely achievable with more frugal client budgets. Smaller-budget ROI is also very attainable when influencer marketing is introduced and tested as a small slice of a more expansive media campaign pie.
A longer project window — 6+ weeks from initial client approval until the first sponsored content goes live — means more time to identify, vet, and secure the right influencers for your project. Shorter timelines are definitely doable, but you may want to consider using one of the many third-party influencer identification platforms out there. This will speed up the process and free up your internal team to focus on other important items, like messaging strategy, FTC compliance, and which KPIs to monitor and measure during and after the timeline window to ensure ROI.
Whatever timeline you’re given, it’s always helpful to create a team-accessible, working document to note specific tasks and deadlines so everyone touching the project can collectively keep it on track. Always allow time for client input and approvals, regular influencer communication, and make sure to be prepared for any other issues that might pop up.
You’ve got your budget and timeline ironed out, now, let’s talk audience. Reaching the right audience is paramount to a successful influencer marketing campaign. You want your marketing efforts to matter, your budget to be effectively utilized, and your messaging to get in front of those who are most likely to appreciate it and act upon it (that’s where that nifty “influence” part of “influencer marketing” comes in!). It’s really important to know your audience first — understand what makes them unique — before you begin your influencer search.
These questions can help you determine who your target audience should be:
Ask yourself as many questions as possible to narrow down your optimal target audience. Doing so will help you know exactly what types of influencers will best help you reach your campaign goals.
Now that you’ve figured out the “who” of audience strategy, it’s time to turn your attention to the “what” — what is it that you want the audience to do with the information they receive from your influencers?
Here are some questions to help you identify the “what” behind your strategy:
All of these objectives (and many, many more) are achievable with influencer marketing. Making sure you know exactly what actions you want the influencer’s audience to take will help define and drive your overall campaign strategy.
As you’re beginning to plan your influencer marketing campaign, be sure to set some S.M.A.R.T. goals.
S.M.A.R.T. goals are:
Your goals will guide your strategy. They help determine which KPIs to track and optimize so you can effectively show your client (or internal stakeholders) the benefits and ROI of the project. Defining SMART S.M.A.R.T. goals from the very beginning also makes easier work of end-of-campaign analytics and other recap documents.
When you’re ready to begin your influencer search, there are many factors to consider. Homing in on the type and number of influencers you’ll need to reach your ideal audience is a great place to start.
Determining influencer type and number is heavily dependent on your budget.
Ask yourself these questions to help guide your influencer search:
Also think about post frequency. Many influencers with smaller audiences are often more approachable and willing to work with a brand or business to publish multiple posts and include other deliverables as they work to grow their own “influencer” brands.
There is certainly no shortage of beneficial industry-related articles on influencer types out there. Because we found similarities when we performed our own research on the subject, Infinity’s social media team synthesized our findings and developed our own set of definitions. Feel free to use these when planning your next influencer marketing campaign strategy:
Beyond type and number of influencers, there are other items to consider when identifying the right fit for your brand/company:
Content focus — What other types of content is the influencer comfortable with? Will extra education be needed to help him/her better communicate about your product/service? Will the influencer’s audience be receptive to content about your brand/company?
Audience engagement vs. audience size — If the influencer has millions of followers but only gets a hundred or so “likes” per post, how “influential” will he/she actually be? Lopsided engagement and skewed vanity metrics can also signal fake followers/bots, so be aware as you’re doing your research.
Prior FTC compliance — This is an important one. Has the influencer properly disclosed past compensated relationships with brands/companies? How has that disclosure occurred? Most legitimate influencers will know that disclosure compliance comes with the territory. If you can’t find evidence of it, we’d suggest moving on in your search and finding another influencer.
Alignment with brand values — Has the influencer posted questionable content that could become a PR nightmare if an audience aligned it with your product/service/brand — even if it was posted months or years ago? Does the influencer use language that might be offensive? There’s someone out there for everyone, but if you’re seriously considering a specific influencer, we recommend a thorough search of past and present content across his/her blog and social channels to ensure value alignment and brand safety.
Compensation takes many forms in the influencer marketing game. What are you willing to offer your influencer? Of course, there is good old monetary imbursement (we’ll get to the ins and outs of that in bit), but some influencers are also compensated in other ways:
The growing need by brands and companies to secure legitimate, effective influencers to complement larger media campaigns has created some competition in the space. Long story, short: determine what you can afford/provide, make it desirable, and negotiate from there.
Many established influencers have set monetary rates per post, per channel, per image, etc. Some even post this information in the “work with me” or “let’s partner” sections of their blogs or websites, so you can easily see if your budget will allow any type of collaboration. It’s best to reach out to a prospective influencer first to share your opportunity, gauge his/her level of interest, then have the compensation chat.
As a marketer, it is imperative to understand that whether you compensate your influencer(s) with cold hard cash, products/services, or other special swag, he/she must disclose the relationship with your brand/company in every piece of content/online deliverable. Not doing so puts both the influencer and your brand/company at risk for fines and sanctions from the FTC. A simple #ad placed at the beginning of any piece of content is the easiest way to let an audience know there’s a compensated relationship behind it.
Congrats! You’ve found some amazing influencers. Now, what do you want them to say?
One of the most important things to consider when working on the “message” part of influencer marketing is authenticity. Yes, you are paying for the content, but you still want the influencer to speak to his/her audience in the voice to which they’re accustomed. Anything other than an authentic, true-to-character voice from your influencer could actually work against you in the long run.
The best advice we can give you is to provide your influencer(s) with 2-3 key points you’d like them to get across in their content. Then, let them have the freedom to be themselves. Don’t try to “over direct” the post content. Influencers know their audience better than you do, and they can actually recommend ways to communicate your message more effectively than you had envisioned.
Also, be clear and upfront about any client social profile tagging or hashtagging (especially #ad for FTC compliance) requirements prior to content launch. Set expectations from the very beginning, listing them — in addition to all deliverable requirements and timeline — in a robust Influencer Agreement/Contract. Also be sure to include what the influencer should not do in any sponsored content (ex: defame, use foul language, mention a competitor, etc.).
Consistent communication — with the influencer, with your client/stakeholders, with your internal team — is vital throughout the whole influencer marketing campaign window.
You’ve Got This!
Influencer marketing can be exciting, educational, and rewarding. In fact, our social media team learns something new with each influencer project we work through together. Whether you’re an influencer marketing pro or a newbie with the tactic, we hope the above checklist gives you a bit more confidence as you plan your next campaign.