Maximizing The Long-Term Value Of Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is exploding, but many might wonder about its long-term value. Can that blog post, tweet or Instagram post actually translate into sales? The answer is yes.
I founded an influencer marketing agency two years ago because I saw where the industry was headed. As a former blogger, I had a unique perspective when I started my agency. I knew what bloggers needed to be successful, and I knew what businesses were looking for in influencers.
So how does influencer marketing really work, and how can you maximize its benefits? Here are a few tips from my experience (both as a blogger and a marketer) that can help boost your ROI and ultimately lead to more business.
Find The Right Content Creators For Your Brand
Finding high-quality influencers can be time-consuming, but absolutely worth it for the content these influencers produce.
When you begin looking for influencers, do your research online. Influencer marketing is about meeting your audience where they are. Looking for millennials? LinkedIn should not be your go-to place for influencers. Looking for 18-25-year olds? Snapchat is where it’s at.
Another strategy is to find out which influencers are already talking about your products. Also ask your customers, employees and stakeholders: Which blogs, Pinterest users and Instagrammers are your customers following? These are the influencers you need to reach.
But be careful: From my experience as a blogger, I can tell you there was nothing more aggravating than being approached about a campaign that didn’t tie into my main focus, which was parenting and technology. Do your research and make sure you are reaching out to the right influencers.
Finally, don’t just look at the number of followers an influencer has, either. Often, small-to-mid size influencers have much higher engagement rates than those with millions of followers. Lastly, always look at the content that influencer is creating. Does that person’s voice complement your brand’s mission, voice and personality?
Compensation will be different for each influencer. When you first approach an influencer, tell them about your campaign and gauge their interest. Agree to a set of terms and create a very specific, mutually beneficial contract (also referred to as a Statement of Work). An example of this might be: Company will send the influencer on a cruise and pay an additional $500. Influencer will provide three blog posts and six social posts about the experience.
Engage With Your Target Audience
People follow influencers because they are interested in the content these individuals share. Studies show that word-of-mouth marketing returns 11 times greater ROI than traditional advertising efforts. That’s because people ignore ads, but they don’t ignore posts, mentions and blogs by influencers they are already engaged with.
Once your influencers start creating content, use your social portals to amplify the content being created by the influencers you have trusted to share your message. Share on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and wherever else you are reaching your customers. Notes from blog posts and photos shared on Instagram also make for great additions to your company website or newsletter. Sharing this content internally also puts a face to influencer marketing efforts across all levels of the company.
No matter the age, authentic content created by trusted influencers will bring more awareness to your brand or company. More awareness means more people directed to your website, so make sure you have a clear call-to-action when they get there.
Boost SEO With “Guardrails”
It’s a fact: User-generated content and social media mentions make your company more visible on search engines like Google.
Search engine optimization – the process of getting web traffic organically when a search pertains to your company, product or service – is greatly improved by using specific keywords and links directing back to your site.
When you begin a campaign with an influencer, send them a background document that includes info about your company, bullet points about the campaign, specific links back to your website and/or social portals (whichever you are driving traffic to), and some suggested keywords to boost the campaign.
Let’s say you are partnering with an influencer to promote your specific brand of chicken being used in holiday recipes. You outline some quick talking points (our chicken has no antibiotics, is organic, etc) and then provide some keywords to boost the campaign. In this instance, an example of those would be your brand name, “chicken,” “chicken breast,” “organic,” “Christmas chicken dish” or “Thanksgiving chicken dish.” You would also provide that influencer with specific links to use on his or her website and social portals.
These “guardrails” don’t limit the influencer’s creativity, they simply offer you more concrete ways of seeing a return on investment. More content shared means more visibility, which leads to more clicks, which leads to more sales.
Measure The Campaign’s Success
After the campaign is complete, ask each influencer to send you the URL of each blog post, Pin, video, Tweet or post they shared, then compile number of impressions (how many followers does the influencer have on that channel?), number of engagements (how many people liked the post, commented on it or shared it?) and click-through rates of the specific links to your site (an individual one for each influencer for easy tracking). Programs like HootSuite can help track hashtags and social mentions.
A deeper analysis can show also show you the consumer feedback. What did the followers say when they commented on the post or shared it? Were the brand mentions mostly negative or positive?
Finally, evaluate the campaign based on the goals you set in the beginning. Did sales for your chicken go up during the holidays? Did more individuals sign up for cruises during this specific time period? These are all important factors when determining the success of the campaign.
Influencer marketing done right is simply word-of-mouth marketing at scale. Working with the right influencers, and helping them create authentic content, helps brands gain much-needed momentum in the race to win over the hearts – and wallets – of consumers.