As entrepreneurs, at some point we have to delve into the world of marketing to help shape the odds in our favour, because it's all very well having a brilliant product or service, but if no one knows about it we won't get anywhere.
The field of marketing and marketing communications is vast, and thanks to rapid technological developments, it's constantly progressing, changing and evolving and keeping abreast of marketing trends is a job in itself.
One aspect of marketing that technology has had a huge hand in developing is influencer marketing. In the old days, the closest thing we had to influencer marketing was celebrity endorsement, but today's influencers aren't necessarily famous celebrities, but they can have millions of social media followers and must be able to demonstrate consistently high levels of audience engagement. They are authentic and should only agree to get involved with a brand if it's truly aligned with their values and beliefs.
Most influencers operate in a B2C environment, although there are a growing number of niche influencers who serve the B2B market and more traditional sectors. Influential B2C influencers tend to be consumers themselves and many B2B influencers are experts in a particular field with a respected profession.
Working with marketing influencers can bring about great results, fast, whether that's reinforcing or boosting a brand's reputation, achieving more sales of a particular product or creating hype before a launch, but you need to know what you're doing, why you're doing it, who you're getting involved with and how to measure the results.
Here are some top tips for working with influencer marketing:
1. Choose the right influencer/s for your audience
First you have to truly know who your audience is and which social media channels they use. Then, do some proper due diligence into your potential influencer/s. Go back in time and check there are no scary skeletons in the closet. Have they amassed their followers organically? Do they have the audience reach you need? There are platforms you can use to find influencers.
2. Understand digital performance KPIs
Digital performance KPIs are measured in number of unique visitors to a website, number of followers (be sure they're organic), number of likes of posts, number of views of videos, number of shares and most of all comments, or overall engagement. Watch for the sentiment of engagement. Does your influencer/s receive positive comments regularly?
3. Provide a proper brief, no more than three key messages
You need to develop a critical eye and be able to confidently brief and give views on visuals, scripts, copywriting and audio content. In order to do this you need to be crystal clear about your campaign objectives and ensure the brief is an alignment. Give as much information as you can and get your influencer/s excited. Don't give more than three key messages. Be sure to specify deliverables, so if you want them to use certain hashtags, specify them, but don't constrain the influencer/s too much or they won't come across as authentic. The influencer needs to lead on the creative and you need to lead on the brief. Specify whether you'll put any media spend behind the campaign. This can be a sweetener for influencers, helping you to negotiate the terms and fee.
4. Write robust terms
You must ensure your terms and conditions are watertight, clear and within the Law. Your terms must protect you and specify campaign deliverables and timelines. Allow for two rounds of feedback and specify anything that is not acceptable, such as using certain language or mispronunciations. The campaign period and ownership is generally one to three months. If you want it to be longer then you'll generally have to pay the influencer/s a higher fee. In influencer marketing it's generally the influencer who leads fee negotiations. They'll tell you how much they want based on the brief and campaign objectives and you negotiate from there, rather then you saying how much budget you've got.
5. Know how to monitor and respond in real time
Once your influencer marketing campaign is underway you'll need to monitor it and know how to respond in real time. Make sure you're prepared. Haters will hate, no matter what. How will you manage negative comments? Make sure you have a plan for handling any negative fallout in real time. I believe AI will be useful for monitoring this in the future. There's a bunch of campaign monitoring software out there to help you in this quest.
6. Know how to measure the results
How you measure the results will depend on your campaign objectives. Again, there are several platforms out there that can do this for you. You'll need to know how to measure the results to work out your ROI.
7. Hire a specialist agency
Engaging in influencer marketing will cost you money, unless your campaign is for a very worthy cause or charity and you can persuade influencers to get involved for free. But that rarely happens. Working with influencer marketing is no easy feat and whilst it may cost you more money overall, working with a specialist agency should take away a lot of the work and hassle for you.
Overall, just remember that your audience must believe in the personality and credibility of the influencer/s you choose. A true influencer won't do it just for the money. They will have to believe in your brand. Any influencer worth his or her salt wouldn't want to comprise his or her own reputation as being an authentic influencer with an organic following.