Optimizing Influencer Marketing: How to Maximize the Value of Your Influencer Marketing Strategy
Influencers have an uncanny ability to bring millions of views to your brand literally overnight. Whereas PPC, SEO, and other channels often take time to yield meaningful results, a well-executed influencer strategy can generate a whole lot of buzz in record time.
Small wonder that the influencer marketing industry rocketed from $1.7 billion in 2016 to nearly $14 billion in 2021 and continues to trend steeply upward. As social media usage increases in the years ahead, savvy brands will utilize influencers and micro-influencers (i.e., <50k followers) to accelerate their marketing growth.
What Is An Influencer? Influencer Meaning 101
By definition, an influencer is someone or something that influences another. From a marketing standpoint, an influencer is an individual with a large digital following who utilizes their social media presence to exert influence over their audience—usually in order to raise awareness for a brand or product.
Influencers don’t necessarily have to be traditional celebrities but can be anyone with a large number of social media or blog followers. Today, influencers can be:
- Bloggers, vloggers, and digital content creators
- Micro-influencers with medium-to-large social followings
- Industry thought leaders
- Professional athletes, pop culture personalities, musicians or artists
An endorsement from an influencer can have a profound impact on the credibility of one’s brand and can take a company’s awareness from zero to viral very quickly.
Optimize Influencer Marketing
Below, we’ve listed a few of the best ways you can take your new or pre-existing influencer marketing strategy to take it to new heights.
Sniff Out the Fakes
Sometimes, influencers with low engagement rates are simply fake and should be avoided at all costs. If an influencer with 100K Instagram followers averages less than 1,000 likes per post, this indicates that the vast majority of their followers do not engage with their content.
It could be that an influencer with low engagement rates simply doesn’t have compelling content to share with the world. However, it could also be that their followers are bought and paid for. In both cases, these influencers should be steered clear of—but especially the second. Paid-for followers can elicit a ban from Instagram or other social platforms, which would completely erase the investment you made in the partnership with the influencer.
Look for engagement rates between 3 and 10% from influencers, with the higher the better. If you chase follower counts alone, you might fall victim to fake influencers followed primarily by bots.
Vary Your Influence Size
Reputable influencer marketing agencies should be able to offer a wide variety of influencers with varied influence sizes. While large scale influencers (>1 million followers) generally command high rates and have broad, sweeping reach, small scale (<100,000 followers) and micro-influencers (<50,000).
Make sure that you’re not putting all of your eggs in one basket, so to speak. Instead of blowing your budget on one or two large-scale influencers, consider diversifying with a mix of micro, small scale, and large scale. Each category comes with its own unique benefits and, often, micro-influencers carry a greater return on investment than influencers with 10 or 20 times their follower count.
Formalize Your Influencer Agreements
You can waste a lot of time going back and forth with influencers over minute details that should’ve been spelled out in your contract. Make sure that every contract you sign with an influencer contains the following pieces of key information:
- Sponsorship rates
- Invoice instructions and payment details
- Required messaging and hashtags
- Total number of posts required
- Numbers of channels required
- Length of campaign
While small questions and points of clarification are sure to arise here and there, you can save time by making your contract comprehensive and as clear as possible for a layperson.
Trusting an influencer based on their follower count and engagement rate may prove unwise if they don’t generate any sales for your company. That’s why I sometimes recommend offering a commission-only pay structure. This is especially helpful if you’re testing out a new influencer who may not generate a large number of conversions.
For instance, you can offer a product code for your performance-based influencer. For the first 50 sales, they might receive a 5% commission, whereas the next 100 sales generate an 8% commission, and so forth as the pay scale gradually scales up.
Experiment With New Channels
In 2020, TikTok grew an astounding +85.3% in additional users. At the same time, the user base of Facebook declined and other social platforms stagnated. If you had hired a TikTok influencer during this time, you could have capitalized on a rising trend and gotten more bang for your buck as more and more users would be exposed to your promoted content.
This underscores the importance of experimentation in your influencer marketing strategy. Without going out on a limb and taking risks, you risk missing out on new growth opportunities. To avoid this, I suggest diversifying with a broad range of social channels, both new and established.
Become Your Own Influencer
Influencers can sometimes command startlingly high rates for their services. Business leaders can save on their influencer budget simply by becoming an influencer (or, at least, a micro-influencer) of their own.
Not sure where to start? I recommend checking out this easy-to-follow guide on how to become a LinkedIn influencer in six steps. This is a great entry point for influencers and thought leaders because the LinkedIn algorithm is friendly toward less-known individuals. In other words, you don’t need a large following for your content to reach large numbers of people.
Putting It All Together
Finding a brand influencer that suits your company is hard enough as is. Don’t make matters worse by committing common but costly mistakes in your influencer strategy. To put together a winning formula, I recommend experimenting with new channels, diversifying the size of your followers, being vigilant with who you hire, writing clear and broad influencer contracts, and, lastly, not being afraid to be your own influencer from time to time.