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What Is Influencer Marketing and How to Rock It in 2018

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What Is Influencer Marketing and How to Rock It in 2018

While influencer marketing was huge in 2017, it was somewhat hit-and-miss.

Although we saw some amazing success stories, we also saw some influencers pocketing ridiculous amounts of cash for very little value exchange. To be fair, although the ‘misses’ were avoidable, they weren’t exactly anyone’s fault. Some brands didn’t know what to look for to ensure a successful partnership, and the influencers didn’t know what to do to make the brands who were paying them happy.

In 2018, smart brands and marketers are going to embrace win/win collaborations and define measurable success metrics when establishing influencer collaborations.

What is influencer marketing?

Basically, influencer marketing is where a brand partners with a person of influence to increase the brand’s awareness and bottom line by leveraging the influencer’s audience, most commonly via Facebook and Instagram content.

Influencer marketing is not going anywhere.

According to a survey done in 2016, 94% of those who did it, found influencer marketing to be effective. In 2017, almost half of survey respondents increased budgets for influencer-focused campaigns. I predict in 2018 we will see influencer marketing continue to grow, however with some moderations for improvement.

How successful influencer marketing benefits a brand.

  • The influencer’s audience is exposed to the brand.
  • A level of authentic authority and trust exists between influencers and their followers and brands leverage this.
  • The brand essence of the influencer becomes that of the brand by osmosis (this can be a negative if you don’t align with the right influencer).
  • Great and diverse content can be produced for a brand to utilise throughout their campaigns.
  • True influencers move a business’s bottom line and help to sell more stuff.

How successful influencer marketing benefits an influencer.

  • Obviously, the biggest one is remuneration including cash, product and whatever else is negotiated.
  • The influencer can gain exposure to a totally new audience.
  • The influencer can leverage the brand’s paid advertising efforts and increase their own exposure, and even increase their influencing potential.

How brands can create successful influencer campaigns.

Any influencer campaign needs to be considered, measured and mutually beneficial. Here are the steps that we use to ensure successful influencer partnerships.

1. Don’t confuse the terms model, content creator, brand ambassador and influencer.

Just because a person can create great looking photos and has some following on Instagram, they are not necessarily an influencer. There are a lot of models and content creators falsely pitching themselves as influencers. By the very definition, an influencer influences, they have the capacity to have an effect on the behaviour or beliefs of their followers.

2. Choose an influencer that aligns with your target audience and brand values.

One of the most important and often overlooked factors is to partner with influencers who align with your brand. Remember, whichever influencer you align yourself with, you are aligning with their values and brand story. You are essentially saying to the world, “We believe what they believe.” Without common values, influencer campaigns, are nothing more than superficial ads.

3. Do your research on their numbers.

Be sure to check their numbers and audience. You want to check their engagement rates (average engagement on posts divided by the total number of followers). You also need to check the demographics of those engaging with the brand and make sure they are consistent with your target audience. It’s pointless to have any kind of collaboration if your audience is female and their audience is male. Even if you are going through an influencer agency, be vigilant with checking this.

4. Proof of persuasion power.

Check for proof of their true persuasion power. You will be able to get this if they have done any campaigns with other brands. Ask for the real bottom line numbers, i.e. how many sales were directly contributed to the influencer campaign? If they don’t have this, you can run a small test campaign with them before progressing to a larger agreement.

5. Diversify your influencer portfolio.

As I mentioned above, there is a difference between models, content creators, brand ambassadors and true influencers. While it’s important not to confuse these definitions, you can partner with people from each category to fill your content buckets and diversify your reach. A model or content creator who has ambitions to become an influencer will most likely give you great quality photos in exchange for free product. If your audience responds well to someone, you may like to transition them to being a brand ambassador. Then after you put a little ad spend behind them, they may become an influencer.

6. Set clear expectations and foster a great relationship.

Most highly sought-after influencers will be represented by an agency who will hold a relationship with the influencer and do all the necessary pre-work between them and the brand. It’s important to set clear expectations about what, where, how and when the post is published, as well as if the brand gets to approve it prior to publishing. If they are a lower level influencer, you will be dealing with them directly so set clear expectations.

7. Empower, encourage and support them.

Treat them like your clients. Help them with ideas of how they can generate better results which is a win/win. Give them sneak peeks and involve them in pre-launch campaigns. Give them ideas on how they create engaging and persuasive content that dovetails into your existing campaigns.

When partnering with influencers and ambassadors, it’s important to make sure that we measure metrics that indicate a positive lift in the company’s bottom line, as well as overall brand presence.

Having dealt with influencer negotiations and ongoing relationship management I know how easy it is to start eye rolling and calling influencers ‘Divas’, but influencer marketing is a fabulous opportunity for brands and if done well can catapult a brand to the next level.

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