From politics to travel and retail, social media touches every part of our lives. And in this comparably new digital environment, influencers have begun to have a disproportionately large effect on our choices.
Now more than ever, shoppers look to platforms like Instagram and Snapchat to determine which products they want to purchase next. And brands are beginning to see a shift in their marketing mix as social media influencers become a powerful channel for customer acquisition.
Still, even as influencer marketing grows in popularity, brands are struggling to both define and achieve success in this new frontier. Brands have a number of things they need to consider before if they want to make their influencer marketing program scalable, measurable and revenue-driving.
1. How can we apply performance marketing tactics to our influencer marketing programs?
In the past, retailers have focused their efforts on one-off deals with many different influencers. This has created a “programmatic” approach to influencer marketing, with retailers looking for whichever influencer can garner the highest views, likes or traffic at that particular moment. These campaigns also usually use the same copy or creative across multiple different influencers.
But this “throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks” approach doesn’t always work.
This is because it doesn’t allow the influencer to tell your brand story in a way that they know will resonate best with their audience. At the end of the day, the influencer knows their audience better than you do and can help craft a truly actionable marketing message.
Retailers should try to avoid this one-off approach with influencers because it doesn’t give the influencer enough time to experiment with or get to know your brand.
Instead, brands launching influencer campaigns should focus on developing long-term partnerships that reflect online performance marketing strategies. For example, most modern marketers know that online channels and strategies take time to optimize. They require a concerted effort to figure out how to best interact with potential customers and convince them to convert.
Influencer posts should also be viewed from this light because it can take multiple different viewings before your brand sticks in a potential customer’s mind. This will require, as with all other channels, testing and insight-driven learning.
2. KPIs & Metrics: What numbers do we optimize for?
Once they understand that influencer marketing is a performance marketing channel, brands need to reassess how they measure the performance of their efforts.
Because influencer marketing is so heavily concentrated on social media campaigns, it has been easy for brands in the past to measure the success of their campaigns based on engagement metrics such as likes, views, click-throughs, follows and so on.
While these engagement metrics can be important, they don’t actually speak to how your influencer marketing campaigns are affecting the bottom line of your business. In other words 200,000 likes doesn’t always equal $200,000 in incremental sales.
When setting up your first influencer marketing campaigns, it’s important for your entire team to agree upon engagement and revenue metrics to help you understand if your efforts are truly impacting the business.
3. How can we ensure that our influencer marketing programs are authentic and brand safe?
In order to hit the metrics your team agrees upon, it’s important to make sure your influencer marketing campaigns are effective. The best way to do this is to ensure that your campaigns are both effective and brand safe.
In order to ensure your brands are effective, you’ll want to engage with influencers based on your target goals. For example, if you’re promoting a regional event, it makes sense to engage with an influencer with a smaller fan base that is more heavily concentrated in your target area. For a new product launch, it likely makes more sense to work with an influencer with a large and active base.
Additionally, you’ll want to make sure that the influencer you work with is authentic and real with their promotions. But how do you sort out the fraudulent influencers?
Of course, smart brands already know to try to avoid influencers who promote as many products as possible or ones who appear to purchase followers. This won’t help your business and will likely cost you money in the end.
Instead, they focus on the ones who are truly invested (or at least selective) in the few products they support. This will help ensure the influencer’s fanbase trusts what they post. This will help keep your brand safe and will lead to a higher chance that they buy your products.
Each of these questions should be answered by retailers before they launch an influencer marketing program. But sometimes it’s easier said than done.
For expert tips on making your influencer marketing program the most successful it can be, join Wunderkind and Glossy on November 7 at 8am for a candid conversation with industry experts and legacy brands to discuss the current state of influencer marketing, how to measure it and the future of the influencer.
The panel will be moderated by by Shareen Pathak, Managing Director of Editorial Products at Digiday. Spots are limited; RSVP here.