In today’s sprawling media landscape, marketers have been forced to surrender much of the control over their brand image to consumer-generated content. Owned media and organic content make up a small piece of the collection of branded moments on which public opinion is based.
So how can brands regain some control over the conversation? With social media influencers.
Influencers wield considerable power over their followers’ opinions, beliefs, and spending habits. Their personal connection to a specific, yet sizable, audience makes them valuable tools for brand management. An influencer can introduce new customers to a brand and even rehabilitate an unfavorable brand image, all when properly supervised by a savvy marketing team.
The first step in developing an influencer campaign is to outline your goals. Clearly defined goals, along with firm budget parameters, will focus your search for the right influencer to work with.
There are three main types of influencers: macro, micro, and nano.
True to the name, macro influencers hold the largest following — usually over 250,000 — and many are considered celebrities independent of their social media following.
Brands partner with macro influencers because of their massive reach. Working with this type of influencer will scatter and expand your brand across other major social networks, covering all types of markets and demographics. Macro influencers work best for high-level brand awareness campaigns.
The drawbacks of a wider audience may outweigh the benefits, depending on your campaign goals. In general, the larger the influencer’s following, the more diverse the audience’s interests, locations, ages, and demographics, which can result in a lower overall engagement rate. Macro influencers are usually expensive, and because of their reputation as an influencer, will likely have worked with other brands, maybe even your competitors.
Working with individuals with smaller social followings, known as micro or nano influencers, is a better option if you are seeking a deeper connection to a niche market that will result in measurable engagement. Micro influencers typically have social followings between 10,000 and 250,000; nano influencers have followings under 10,000. They are better options for brands with smaller budgets who are looking to gain a foothold into a niche market. These influencers are in close communication with their followers and can achieve the same benefits as traditional word of mouth recommendations.
Think of influencer marketing like other any other advertising channel: Would it be more effective to promote your hospitality brand on Tripadvisor.com or CNN.com? The promotion on CNN.com is likely to get millions of views, but the Tripadvisor.com placement will get you a lot more engagement. According to Experticity, 82% of consumers are “highly likely” to follow a recommendation from a micro influencer. The more refined the audience profile, the more powerful the recommendation of the influencer, and the more meaningful the engagement with the audience.
More on Influencer types: [Webinar Replay] How to Build Brand Awareness and Increase Engagement with Influencer Marketing
The Art of Influencer Selection
After you’ve decided what type of influencer will be the best ambassador for your brand, it’s time to go shopping for the right influencer.
Consider the following factors as you search:
- Alignment with your target audience: You have to truly understand the audience you’re trying to reach. What are their likes and dislikes, what problem are you trying to solve for them, and what motivates them? Find influencers with followings that most closely match your target audience.
- An engaged and active social media following: Monitor the number of likes, comments, and shares the influencer receives for each post. How often do they post and how consistent is their posting schedule? Engagements per post is a valuable metric to determine how much the posts are resonating with the audience, but should be assessed among other metrics. Try to evaluate the nature of the actual interactions qualitatively. If they elicit genuine responses from followers, the influencer will drive the results you’re looking for.
- Passion: You’ll want reassurance that the influencer is passionate about your brand and product. Authentic enthusiasm drives users to action. If an influencer isn’t excited about the products they promote, they are not right for you.
- Authenticity: Effective influencers don’t sound like a commercial or a voice behind a logo. They seem like normal people taking part in normal activities with the products that they use on a regular basis. Make sure that promotional messaging stays natural and true to their voice to retain this authenticity. As a brand, you want to make sure that an influencer’s voice is compatible with your brand image.
Finalizing the Content Plan
When working with an influencer, you should maintain a delicate balance of autonomy and oversight: you should trust in the influencer’s ability to find the most effective way to communicate with their followers, while making sure your key brand points are being properly communicated.
Make your expectations clear from the start by discussing the following campaign elements:
- Key Talking Points: What is the central theme that you’re trying to convey to the audience? What makes your brand or product stand out from competitors? What else can be added to your pitch that would resonate with the influencers’ following? Maybe you’re promoting something that’s eco-friendly, or child-safe, or you’re donating a percentage of sales to special cause. You don’t need to give the influencer a script, but a few key highlights will benefit both parties.
- Media Format: On which platform will you find your target audience? How does your influencer utilize that that platform? If your influencer’s preferred platform is Twitter, for example, you’re better off using a static image and a short caption than a live video.
- Brand Voice: Provide a guide to your brand voice so that your influencer’s messaging is aligned with yours, and to ensure all recommendations are tied back to your brand.
In the best partnerships, the influencer has the creative freedom to do what they do best with only general guidance from the brand. The influencer’s ability to tell a story and connect it with the brand will pay off in the end.
Influencer posts perform well organically, but to get the most out of your campaign, we highly recommend additional paid advertising tactics.
Paid Social Boosting
Your influencer has the ability to connect you to their network and their followers’ networks. Boosting posts from the influencer’s own social account, with links to your website, will give the brand promotion an even wider reach.
More on Paid Social: [Blog] What's the Best Platform for Social Media Advertising?
Segment users who’ve clicked or engaged with the influencer’s organic or boosted post, and serve them retargeted ads across the web. This tactic allows for the campaign to continue running while maintaining a word of mouth feel.
More on Retargeting Ads: [Blog] 3 Out-of-the-Box Ways to Refresh Your Retargeting
Continue the Conversation
Partnerships with influencers don’t have to be one-time thing. If your influencer campaign runs successfully and you’re pleased with the results, stay in contact with your influencer even if you aren’t ready to run additional campaigns. A good influencer partnership can grow into a brand ambassadorship in the future.
More on how Cybba works with influencers: [Blog] Dispatches from the World of Influencer Marketing
Cybba runs full-service influencer campaigns without the massive upfront buy-in required by influencer agencies. We handle the research, recruitment, and the onboarding of influencers that are the best fit for your brand. Our experts recommend amplification strategies like paid social boosting and retargeting, and work within your budget to achieve the goals you look for in a campaign.
Interested in getting started? Get in touch with us today!