Influencer Marketing Strategy: Its Benefits and Challenges

The influence of social media has changed brand marketing strategies and the focus has shifted towards influencer marketing. On Instagram alone, it has become a billion-dollar industry.

Using influencer marketing is one of the best ways to organically target an engaged audience and promote brand awareness.

A recent survey showed that over 40% of marketers planned to increase the amount of money spent on influencer marketing in 2018.

Unlike traditional marketing campaigns that catered to the masses, today’s online marketing activity is focused on account based marketing. Highly valued prospects and leads are targeted through the channels they use and presented with offerings most relevant to them. Using influencers to do this has many benefits, but it also presents some challenges.

Finding the Right Influencer

One of the greatest challenges is choosing the right influencer. Does the influencer have a voice and personality that’s a good fit for your brand? If you choose the wrong person, your campaign could under-perform, but worst case scenario, your brand reputation could never recover.

Alignment with your brand ideals

The reputation of influencers can work very favorably for your brand as long as they’re aligned with your brand ideals and can position your brand as one to be trusted. They can help you with lead generation and increase your conversion rates.

Evaluate quantitative metrics

You will have to evaluate quantitative metrics to ascertain whether the influencer has enough followers and achieves consistently high engagement rates. Likes, shares and comments help the social media manager of a company to find out how active an influencer’s followers are and how they react to different types of content. You need to steer clear of influencers who may have many followers but low engagement rates.

Similar audience demographics

The influencer’s audience demographic has to be in line with your brand’s audience demographic. Find an influencer who holds sway over your target audience, and you could reap great rewards.

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Similar product endorsements

Look at what type of products the influencer has already promoted and see whether they are similar to yours. You may even find that some influencer has already mentioned one of your products and working with this person would probably feel authentic and genuine to the target audience.

Quality of content

Check the type of content an influencer was responsible for in the past. Look at the quality, substance, tone, consistency and focus of the content. Did it position the brand in a positive light without being too promotional? Was it in line with the brand’s image and goals? What kind of engagement did it generate?

Establishing a relationship with the influencer

You can’t just assume that an influencer will be delighted to partner with you. Influencers receive many opportunities, and they are often highly selective. They only choose to work on campaigns they care about. You have to establish your credibility and present your business proposal ideas in a creative, thoughtful way. Weak influencer relationships translate into unsuccessful campaigns.

Use social media to come up on an influencer’s radar

You may want to start sharing some of their posts or making comments. Do this regularly and consistently where appropriate, but don’t overdo it. If your comments are pithy, relevant and entertaining, they are likely to draw attention.

Befriend an influencer rather than just making a pitch

Get your social media assistant to do some research into the influencer. This will help you to find reasons to make the influencer care about your campaign. If there’s any recent work you found particularly impressive, be sure to mention it. Find points of common interest and use these to start growing the relationship.

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Be clear about what you expect

While approaching an influencer, you need to define what you expect to achieve from the relationship. You can’t be vague and just say “Let’s try and do something together.” Unless an influencer has a concrete idea of what you expect, you’re likely to be ignored.

Be clear about benefits

As much as you need to tell influencers what you expect, you need to be clear about the benefits of the partnership to them. They receive monetary compensation, but they often receive other perks too, such as free products, free trials, trips and even inspirational retreats. These perks help to build the relationship with your brand.

Giving the influencer creative freedom

When brands don’t allow influencers to express themselves freely, brand messages may sound insincere and scripted. It may be hard to give up creative control, but unless the influencer’s followers enjoy the content, they won’t support it.

You have to trust that influencers know what they are doing

They have often managed to build up huge followings on social media because they know exactly what their followers want. They should be able to come up with authentic, original content for you that they know will be viewed and shared by their many followers.

The most successful brands give influencers the space they need to promote a brand authentically. One example of this is Subaru’s #Meet an Owner campaign where bold, adventurous influencers made posts and videos featuring Subaru but kept their own style and flavor.

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Their opinions are highly valued

Influencers create content for you around their opinions, personalities and day to day lives. On social media, their opinions are highly valued by their followers, and they wield considerable power.

Any suggestions or recommendations from them can spread like wildfire and affect the real-world decisions of their followers. Lenovo reached out to millennial influencers to showcase their products which were positioned as a go-to tool in their normal lives in authentic, personal videos.

Types of creative content they can produce

They may decide to incorporate your product or service into their content as a creative Instagram post, a captivating video or an entertaining blog article. By integrating the brand content organically into their lifestyle content, they influence followers who want to emulate how they look, what they buy, what they do and where they go.

Give final approval

To maintain some control over messaging, you may need to implement some specific requirements for copy. You should also ask for final approval before copy goes live. You don’t want to become embroiled in any controversy or impropriety caused by inappropriate content that could affect your brand image. Set up a way to vet content before it appears.

Coordinating with influencers

Influencer marketing campaigns have many moving parts. If you don’t schedule enough time for communicating with an influencer during a campaign, it can impact its success. You need to set up clear expectations with regard to timelines and responsibilities for each part of the campaign from the very beginning. Utilize your social media marketing tools optimally to derive the best output from influencer tie-up.

The initial proposal

Some issues to cover during the initial planning phase would be the terms of engagement, nature of the content, how and when communication takes place. A proposal template such as the one offered by HubSpot can be used to formulate a timeline and goals for the campaign.

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Issues that may arise

Many issues can arise during the course of a campaign, such as missed deadlines and wrong or incomplete deliveries. Other details that can cause problems are delays in payments, content approval, and product shipments. To avoid any such issues, you can opt for corporate social media services from a reputed agency.

Using an influencer marketing agency

Partnering with an influencer marketing agency can help to eliminate any coordination problems because they are used to dealing with all the intricacies of such campaigns.

Avoiding Violations of FTC Requirements

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has strict guidelines about advertising disclosures on social media. In 2017, it sent notices to nearly a hundred brands and celebrities for violating these guidelines.

More transparency

What the FTC’s guidelines are based on for sponsored content is the assumption that consumers will react differently to recommendations that come from trusted friends than from people who are compensated for endorsing a product. They want more transparency and place the onus on brands and influencers to divulge their relationship.

Proper disclosure on every platform

Influencers have to clearly identify when they are being given financial compensation, a gift in exchange for a post or a free product. Proper disclosure has to be included every time a product or service is being promoted for compensation. The FTC also has different endorsement requirements for sponsored content on each social media platform.

Measuring the success of influencer marketing campaigns

It is a challenge to measure ROI when using influencers because it’s hard to determine direct financial returns.

One way to help with tracking the impact of the influencer is to use discount codes or influencer-specific links. These can help to determine click through and conversion rates.

Other less direct ways to measure return is with factors such as social media reach, impressions, and engagement rates. Various tools are available to help you measure the number of impressions and engagement generated by the influencer.

There are tools that measure engagement and also help you to monitor the cost of every impression and engagement together with the overall amount spent on a campaign.

Conclusion

Influencer marketing has many benefits if you can find the right influencer. One of the biggest challenges is to find someone who is a good fit for your brand and has the same target audience as your company.

It can be a challenge to build a relationship with influencers and allow them the creative freedom to market your product or service in a way that keeps their style and flavor.

Campaigns can be challenging and require close coordination with influencers regarding deadlines and other issues. It can also be challenging to keep up with all the FTC requirements and to measure the results of a campaign. However, there’s no question that the benefits outweigh the challenges.

Influencer marketing can take your brand to the next level.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.

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