Countless marketers are turning to influencer marketing to achieve outcomes for their organization. But the barrier to entry can look insurmountably high and pitfalls are plenty.
Who should you work with? What are reasonable goals? And how do you really measure success?
The challenge is real, but don’t be deterred. The right preparation and process can make building influencer social media campaigns a breeze for marketers at any level.
An intro to influence
Influencer marketing is here to stay. The practice began as traditional endorsement marketing and was often restricted to Fortune 500 behemoth brands.
The influencer marketing industry is set to reach $9.7 billion in 2020.
This has changed in a big way. Social media has transformed the influencer economy into a tactic available to organizations of all sizes. Today, companies from local SMBs to giant B2B brands — and everything in-between — look to athletes and influential individuals on social media to achieve specific business outcomes.
The influencer marketing industry is forecasted to reach $9.7 billion in 2020, according to Influencer Marketing Hub. The nearly $10 billion market saw over 380 new influencer-focused agencies and delivered $5.87 in earned media value for every $1 spend.
Influencer social media strategy has become mainstream, but there’s no cookie-cutter approach at the ready for every marketer. Success is obtainable, but there are countless hurdles to clear when building an influencer marketing campaign.
We’re here to help. We built the guide below to help you clear those barriers and avoid the pitfalls that slow so many marketers. Our checklist will help you stay organized and effectively build an influencer campaign that gets results.
Influencer Marketing Campaign Checklist
A goal without a plan is nothing but a wish. The saying rings as true as ever in the world of influencer marketing. The added human element of athlete and influencer campaigns increases the need for complete planning and a sound strategy.
When it comes to establishing an effective plan, it all starts with the brief.
Build your brief
The brief, or campaign plan, is the cornerstone of your eventual success. By creating a thorough campaign brief, you and your team will have a visible guide through each step of your campaign.
Determine the following to get started:
Outline the desired result or outcome you aim to achieve with your influencer campaign.
While many influencer social media campaigns stick to brand awareness, outcomes including revenue and lead generation are also possible when teaming up with influential people.
Determine the ultimate outcome — revenue, leads, engagement, share of voice, follower growth, etc. — and set specific KPIs (key performance indicators) to ensure your success is measurable.
For influencer campaigns, we’ve found the SMART structure to be particularly effective. Your goals should be:
What has to be done in order to achieve your goals? Objectives include the leading actions or indicators that will ultimately result in outcomes. Each objective should be measurable and specific in its role. Examples of objectives can include:
- number of posts published
- number of influencers secured for participation
- Social metrics like impressions, engagements, or click-throughs
Understanding your target market is a major key to influencer marketing. Above all else, the intended audience has to connect with the talent. You need to gain intimate knowledge of the audience’s demographics and habits on social.
Beyond selecting the right influencers, understanding your market will also help you select the right social media platforms, and craft campaign content that will resonate with them.
Your budget should be a clear reflection of your campaign goals. This will help you select influencers that fit your spend and will assist in achieving your desired outcomes.
Select the right influencers
For some, finding the right influencer is simple. Maybe it’s an athlete in a local market who has a pre-built connection to a fanbase. Maybe the influencer is already a fan of your product or service. But for most marketers, the selection process isn’t quite that easy. Still, it doesn’t have to be hard.
Challenging or not, the people are the cornerstone of your campaign. And while it might be fast to simply pick the influencers with the most followers who fall in your budget range, total followers are far from the only sign of success.
Rather than stopping at followers, savvy marketers will vet potential influencers with a combination of art and science. First, a database partner or access to performance analytics will help you to narrow down your search. Once your list of potential partners has been narrowed to fit your budget, you can sort and analyze by:
- Audience size
- Follower demographics (age and location)
- Interests and current brand partners
From there, you can begin your qualitative analysis of potential influencers. Scan their feeds to see what they post. Do their interests and communication styles align with your brand? Notice how their fans and followers engage with their content.
Take stock of the influencer’s recent posts to determine their ad vs. organic mix. If their feed appears filled with ads, you may risk reaching a tuned-out audience and potentially getting lost in the shuffle of countless promotions.
Most importantly, select ambassadors who reach your target audience and can authentically connect with your brand. The promotion should seem natural for the influencer and their audience.
Tip: companies with an influencer database and/or pre-existing network can speed up the process of finding and securing the right influencers for your campaign.
Select channels and craft campaign content
Understanding your target audience comes into play again. By understanding where they spend their time on social and what content they actively engage with, you can find them with the right message, on the right channel, at the right time.
Each social media channel has a unique audience and features that differentiate it from the rest. Additionally, the influencer (and their price) will likely change depending on the platform you’re targeting.
Once your preferred channel or channels are selected, it’s time to craft your campaign content. We’ve all seen influencer campaigns go off the rails with lazy content. “Brand speak” text with a CTA doesn’t cut it anymore.
Here are a few notes to consider when preparing campaign content:
While some traditional influencers have built their influence as content creators, most are not. They’re influential people rather than professional media marketers.
Athletes, celebrities, and other individuals like these typically don’t have the time or desire to create production-quality media.
So, if your campaign features photo or video from the athlete, be sure to:
- Keep requests simple.
- Provide clear instructions for capturing and sharing content requests.
- Provide any product or equipment needed for the content.
This style of content tends to be the norm with athletes and influential people. Rather than requiring the influencer to create their own content, the brand will capture and create the media.
Still, the content should reflect the personality of the influencer and fit the specifics of the platform.
Keep copy authentic
Nothing’s worse than a social media caption that screams #AD!
While messaging may need to be specific to achieve your ultimate goals, the copy should still reflect the participating influencer’s voice. Their audience should read the message and not be surprised by its brand-perfect tone.
Avoid common pitfalls like whitewashed messaging and cramming too many hashtags into each post. Most of all, look at the influencer’s past posts and attempt to match your marketing message with their personality.
Follow the (FTC) rules
The Federal Trade Commission has made the expectations for paid posts and campaigns with influencers on behalf of brands extremely clear. In short, influencers must disclose that they have been compensated to share a post.
Instagram now allows brands and influencers to clearly mark branded content, while disclosing the information on Twitter remains manual.
Brands and influencers can ensure compliance by being clear and direct about their relationship. Consider using:
- #ad, #spon, or #sponsorship
- “brand partner”
- “sponsored by brand“
Plan, post, perform
The perfect influencers are secured, content is created, and your hard work is finally ready to see the light of day. Now it’s time to plan and schedule your campaign posts.
Time it right
Timing on social media can make all the difference. understand when your participating influencer’s audience is most active and look to schedule your campaign post(s) to publish out around their schedule.
Either with a shared calendar, or better yet, a social media publishing platform, plan each post in advance and pre-approve the message and media.
Publish with confidence
You’ve made it this far. It’s finally time for your campaign to start bringing in results. But first, the posts have to find their way to the feed.
You could count on the influencer to share the right message at the right time. Professional influencers are often comfortable and reliable doing this. But for athletes and influential individuals, this can create a challenge for them, and unnecessary stress for you.
Rather than depending on the copy-paste-and-pray technique, consider using a publishing platform that guarantees your posts will publish at the scheduled date and time.
Your hard work has been realized. and it’s time to track results. Beyond social media performance metrics like engagement and new followers, you can track in-depth success with tools including:
- Facebook Pixel
- LinkedIn Insights Tag
- Twitter Universal Website Tag and Conversation Tracking
- Google Analytics
- UTM URLs
- Promo Codes
Tip: Learn how to track social media ROI.