Influencer marketing is one of the biggest trends of the past couple years, with the consistent growth of social media and with brands and marketers continually struggling to adapt and find new ways to connect with their audiences. It’s more important now than ever to know how to maximize an influencer-based strategy that builds customer loyalty, creates a sense of community, and, ultimately, increases the bottom line.

Whether you work with YouTubers, Instagram stars, or Pinterest fanatics, influencer marketing is no walk in the park. This is how you do it correctly to gain the best value right away.

But First, the Challenges and Struggles

Despite the fact that some studies suggest businesses are making about $6.50 for every $1.00 spent on influencer marketing, marketers still struggle to show the ROI of their influencer marketing efforts. Questions begin to pop up. Things like:

  • Which influencer should I hire?
  • Which social media channel(s) will reach my target audience?
  • How will we measure success?
  • How do we tell if all this is working?

Calculating the returns of your influencer marketing campaign will inevitably vary based on the platform, goal, budget, etc., but let’s go over a few tips that will put you in a good spot when it comes down to answering the age-old “was this campaign a success?” question.

Influencer Marketing Tips and Tricks

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Working with influencers to share and promote your brand can be incredibly difficult. As a company who has worked with a number of influencers, here are a few tips that will ensure your campaign knocks it out of the park.

Find the Right Creators

When it comes to influencer marketing, finding the right creators is vital. Don’t skimp, and do the research—in terms of the influencers out there, the following they’ve generated, and understanding where your target audience spends their time.

When it comes to the influencers themselves, it doesn’t cost a thing to reach out to dozens of content creators in various fields to find any level of expertise or even pricing in the case they are familiar with the industry. It’s finding the right mix of small micro-influencers (as opposed to macro and celebrity influencers) that can be grouped together—that’s the secret. The key is grouping them together correctly, and not many will realize that until it’s too late.

Having worked in this exact field for over six years, primarily on Instagram and well before we were called “influencers,” we’ve seen a burst of engagement and impressions in one kind of campaign in particular—those in which content creators were found within a specific physical location and were given the tools to collaborate and create together. This essentially builds upon the individual followings of each influencer and pushes them further, while they feed more impressions to your brand’s pages and calls to action.

The call to action on social can be anything. But in my experience, free downloadable content and giveaways drive more engagement than simply encouraging folks to visit your website. Make sure to push your audience to something that’s worth their time and makes them engage—and the more interactive the experience, the better.

Forget Follower Count and Focus on Engagement

Follow this simple rule: don’t let followers rule you and your campaign. That is the first mistake a lot of marketers make—gaining followers is not the game here. Instead, you want to drive impressions and eyes to your work. Followers will come in time, after you invest in consistent, quality content over a long period of time.

Whether it’s Instagram, YouTube, or even Pinterest, engagement is the key, and comments are where you will push organic reach faster than anything else in the algorithmic game today. As you probably know, social media platforms no longer show every single post to every single follower. Instead, they prioritize content based on a number of different factors, one of which is engagement in the first hour of a post. There’s tons of evidence that high engagement on a single social media post within the first hour is the most vital way to boost that post’s reach.

You can quickly analyze this by using social media “pods” on any platform. Though pods might not be your play in the long run, the data you can see there simply shows that those first few moments in a post’s life cycle are the most vital to its success.

As a marketer vetting influencers, check to see if they get a lot of engagement. Because if a potential influencer for your brand has a ton of followers but not much action on individual posts, your money could probably be better used elsewhere.

How to Collaborate with an Influencer

Whether you’re focused on the top end of the marketing funnel or closer to the buy-in level, you want to be able to help your influencers connect your brand with their audience in a way that simply makes sense and helps propel them and your brand forward. For example, offering the creator a chance to give their audience something physical, in the form of a giveaway, could generate an incredible amount of buzz especially if they don’t usually do things like this. It’s by far one of the quickest and most engaging ways to push traffic to a brand—and even push followers your way—from an audience that may not be as familiar with you but is familiar with the influencer.

If you’re a service-based business rather than a product-based company you can do the same thing, you just need to get creative with how you go about any giveaways or partnerships. One great example is the hotel industry. Many hotels offer up larger suites or luxury experiences in exchange for images and shares on social media. This same thing can be incorporated in the giveaway by allowing a follower of the creator to enjoy the same experience with an opportunity for a free stay.

Some simple tactics to keep an eye out for are driving engagement by requiring those entering to follow both accounts, and commenting on the creator’s post by tagging 3-5 friends (this drives more views to the post quickly and organically).

Either way, a good way to go about getting more value from your investment is looking for creators that have the skill to generate marketing content outside of social media as well. Working with photographers, for example, you can ask for photos on top of the shares on social media. This will allow you to continue posting content over a longer period on your own channels that all shares a similar look and style. Be warned: some influencers may ask for further compensation or payment for a package this large, but it’s a solid trade for as much product-focused content as you end up getting.

Focus on the Right Things and the Rest Will Follow

At the end of the day, if you want to find greater value in your next influencer-based marketing campaign, be sure to keep an eye on your engagement and impressions, not your followers. Also, be sure to use smaller micro-influencers in groups within a specific region to help each of them engage with each other’s followings, as well as to push more traffic to a specific location based on your projects. These few tips will drive far more return than simply going after a larger influencer at a higher cost, and you’ll get a bigger, more diverse collection of imagery and content for future digital and traditional media campaigns.

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Element Three

Element Three is a modern marketing agency for discernable brands. We build trusting, long-term relationships with clients whose destination is market leadership, fusing traditional, digital and inbound tactics to tell bold stories audiences can’t resist. We don’t rely on single tactics, stay loyal to any one medium, or favor one discipline over another. Instead, we go beyond the tried to find the truth about your customers. Using research and participation to deliver seamless brand experiences.