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The Do’s and Don’ts of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing continues to grow year after year. Open your phone, and chances are you will find #ad or #sponsored strewn across your screen within your first several scrolls. While traditional success may be measured in conversion and sales, there are a slew of ways influencers can help take your business to the next level that have nothing to do with your bottom line. 

Studies have shown nearly all consumers (92%, actually!) trust influencers more than traditional advertising or endorsements from celebrities, and with 83% of brands paying for influencer campaigns directly from their marketing budget, it’s important to get the basics down before sending out that check. 

Use the below tips to help guide you through the journey that is influencer marketing—from start to finish. In today’s ever-changing social media landscape, you never know what has the potential to go viral… and you don’t want it to be for making a rookie mistake. 

Establish your goals and call to action.

Are you simply jumping on the bandwagon, or do you have a clear goal in mind that influencer marketing can help accomplish? Influencers bring a lot more to the table than simply posting a pretty picture. They can assist in creating content for your website or social channels, establish brand credibility and recognizability, and of course generate sales and traffic to your business. The key is to get clear on what you want most out of a partnership and go from there.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when choosing influencers.

Targeting niche groups could be a one way ticket to more sales and a loyal customer base. If you’re looking to promote your newest functional beverage, your obvious target demo may be female millennials with an interest in wellness. But what about the biohacking community or crypto traders that find themselves awake every morning at 5 a.m.? 

Educate yourself on the creator’s goals, audience and voice.

An obvious but helpful question to ask yourself is, “Does my product resonate with their community, and does their tone convey the message we are trying to communicate?” If an influencer is known for having a dry, sarcastic sense of humor, but you’re trying to reach people who aren’t native English speakers for your new language app, it’s best to look elsewhere.

Determine your budget or request rates first.

If you don’t know where to start when it comes to what you should be offering, there is no harm in reaching out directly and asking for a creator’s media kit or established base rates. A general starting point is $1000 for every 100K followers, but this varies across industries.

Don’t expect influencers to work for free, for product, or exposure. 

In 2021, we should know this by now. This is how they make a living. Ask yourself if you would put in hours of work for a bottle of shampoo? In addition to budget, be sure to always send products, enroll them in a free membership, or offer whatever it is you’re trying to market. If they’re not already familiar with your brand, this gives them time to get acquainted with what they’re promoting and become genuine fans.

Tell the creator who you’re trying to reach, and don’t be afraid to ask for advice.

No one knows their community better than they do, and they know how to engage best with them. Ask if they have past case studies from similar brand campaigns, if their TikTok followers are more open to endorsements in comparison to their Instagram community, or if they see the most conversions from podcast ads. 

Communicate prior challenges and what hasn’t worked well for your brand.

Transparency can be key to successful content. If you notice less engagement on product photos that don’t picture the creator, communicate this to them and allow space for brainstorming and tweaks so you’re not making the same mistake twice.

Please don’t base your final decision on follower count.

Micro-influencers, those with followings less than 15,000 people, actually have a better engagement rate and result in more sales. The difference is most noticeable on TikTok, where micro-influencers see their average engagement rates reach 18%, while macro-influencers receive just under 5%.

Don’t expect a quick turnaround without an increased budget.

Like any job, creators have schedules and deadlines to abide by. Many don’t jam-pack their calendars with sponsored content, which benefits their credibility, their followers’ feeds, and the brands they have chosen to partner with. If you are working on a tight timeline, be courteous of their time and offer a higher rate in return for quicker work. 

Utilize new features and growing social platforms.

Brands often shy away from using new features or social platforms because they can’t justify the spending without proven track records. Consult the creators you’re working with on how they can help you break into this space. Remember when Instagram implemented stories on their platform and it didn’t take off immediately because of Snapchat? But now Snapchat is becoming less relevant, and Instagram has profile highlights where stories can live forever. 

Don’t write the script.

Though it’s fine to send talking points or differentiators for creators to touch on in their promotion, keep in mind their followers want to hear their opinion first and foremost. Engaged communities can easily tell when something is scripted and disingenuous. 

Measure success and engagement on your own terms.

Success looks different for every influencer marketing campaign. Of course, sales are important to look at, but are more people talking about your brand? What is the sentiment in the comments? Was their post shared frequently leading to more followers or page views? Circle back to your original goals and evaluate what worked and what didn’t.  

Determine next steps for your partnership.

After finding your campaign was a success (congrats!), decide if this may be a valuable long-term partnership. Is the creator open to becoming an ambassador or promoting across all of their socials on a monthly basis? More and more brands are hiring influencers as creative directors and consultants—this could be a huge opportunity for both of you! The possibilities are endless when it comes to influencer marketing, and that’s why it’s so successful.

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