If you take a look at the Google Trends chart for ‘Influencer Marketing’, it’s clear that this relatively new form of marketing is a hot topic that just keeps getting hotter. In fact, the sharp rise in interest over the last 12-18 months has seen it already overtake ‘Online advertising’ as a topic, and the gap is increasing almost every month.
However, influencer marketing shouldn’t be considered as merely a replacement to advertising, and treating influencers as advertising platforms is a key mistake that many brands make. Here’s our ‘Six of the Best’ guide to creating an effective influencer marketing strategy.
1. Choose the right influencer
One of the biggest mistakes with influencer marketing is to simply partner with influencers who have the biggest followings, rather than influencers with the most relevant followings for your product or service.
For example, if the product is a gaming mouse geared towards FPS gaming then an influencer who is a respected FPS gamer, perhaps a current or former esports professional, or someone who is renowned for their skill, would be a better fit than a more casual gaming influencer who has 10 times or more total fans.
Engagement with a relevant audience matters more than following – after all, what we’re looking for is influence not just reach. So, look beyond just the number of subscribers or Twitter followers, and dive deeper into the authority of their content and their engagement with their audience.
2. Get to know them
Email and instant messenger are fine, but there are no substitutes for actually meeting someone face-to-face. Influencers are just normal people, like everyone else, and getting to know them better will make it easier to understand what works best for them, as well as for you and your brand. One of the best places to meet influencers is at the events they attend, such Dreamhack for gaming or a Comic Con for popular culture.
3. Be authentic
It’s vital to ensure that an influencer is a good fit for your brand, even if they have a relevant, highly-engaged audience. Pairing a more cautious or family-friendly brand with an edgier influencer isn’t going to work, because it will not seem authentic, or worse it will backfire completely.
A recent example of a well-matched influencer partnership is energy drink brand G Fuel’s ‘Black on Blackberry’ campaign with Dr. Disrespect, which perfectly matched the tone of the brand and influencer to create an authentic and memorable result.
Ensuring authenticity also extends to the campaign and content, which needs to be tailored or adapted to each influencer. Asking an influencer to read off a bunch of specs, or regurgitate some marketing blurb will seem fake, even if the influencer would agree to it in the first place. Remember that it’s an influencer’s credibility with their audience that matters most, so don’t do anything to damage that credibility – the influencer won’t thank you for it, or want to work with you again!
4. Be emotional
Figure out what it is about your product or service that people love and make this the focus of your campaign. Again, influencers are normal people and so are their audiences, so the most effective content or collaboration will be one that instills a genuine desire for the product or makes it memorable.
Sometimes less is more, and while there may be ten great things about your product that you want to communicate, the truth is that the audience won’t remember all of them. And if none of these talking points elicit an emotional response then they will forget about it completely and the campaign will be a bust.
5. Listen and learn
No-one knows their audience better than the influencer themselves, so make sure you ask for their advice and tailor your campaign accordingly. If the influencer doesn’t believe that your message or suggested approach will resonate well with their audience then they know best, and it would be advisable to adapt your content and brief based on their feedback to ensure the strongest and most authentic result.
6. Set clear expectations and measures of success
Measurability is important in any campaign, so make sure you set clear objectives right from the start. Again, don’t get blindsided by reach alone – yes, reach is good, but a video with 50,000 views and 5,000 engaged fans is better than one with 500,000 views but only 2,000 engagements or actions.
So, determine your goals and expectations and ensure they are clear in the brief. For example, if a key goal of a YouTube integration campaign is to generate click-through to a website then make sure the brief is clear about the need to include a trackable URL in the video description, and for the influencer to encourage their fans to check it out.