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A Beginner’s Guide To Influencer Marketing
Posted by Cameron Francis on April 21, 2017 in Digital Marketing

Influencer Marketing

If you’re an avid Instagram fan, you’ve probably come across one of these photos.

Kristy from Kristy Who

 

Jenelle Inspiring Wit
Jenelle from Inspiring Wit

If you’re keen, you’ll have noticed that they are both carrying a HP laptop on the streets. Perhaps going to the office or, back home?

We don’t know that. What we do know is that both are carrying their HP laptops in a way that allows others (viewers) to clearly see the logo.

Maybe you can even guess the model of the laptop?

Anyway, both photos, along with several others that we haven’t posted here, were shot and first published by Scrunch, an Australian marketing company.

In fact, it’s no coincidence that both ladies carry the same laptop. The idea is to post these pictures on different online platforms and draw as much attention to the laptops as possible.

This is classic influencer marketing where you leverage celebs or other well-known persons (influencers) to drive your marketing message home and draw increased attention to your product.

In this case, it was HP Australia partnering with Vogue Australia to bring the HP Spectre, it’s latest product, to a young target audience’s attention.  

The goal is simple; “to increase product awareness among a young target market who appreciate stylish design when it comes to technology.”

And that’s where Vogue comes in. Young Australians best know Vogue for its designer wears.

Young Australians best know Vogue for its designer wear.

By partnering with Vogue, HP would instantly grab the attention of fashion enthusiasts in the country.

Consumers would instantly associate the HP Spectre with fashion and good tastes. When you take advantage of the influence of Kristy, Jenelle and the many other influencers, product awareness can blow through the roof!

Within just a week of posting the photos on Instagram, the message had reached 941,300 target consumers!

You too can start leveraging the power of influencers to gain more visibility for your brand; and as a result, outsell your competitors.

That’s exactly what this guide will show you.

By the time you’re finished reading this guide, you should be able to;

  • Set up an influencer marketing campaign
  • Find the right influencers
  • Get your messages on the right channels, and watch for your audience’s response.

We will even show you how to measure your campaign along the way.  

So let’s dive straight into it.

 

What is Influencer Marketing?

It’s powerful, hot, sexy, and talked about by everyone in marketing circles.

But what exactly is it?

Tapinfluence defines it as “a type of marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive a brand’s message to the larger market.”

Simply Measured defines influencer marketing as “a subset of digital marketing in which brand partners with a popular social media and web personality expand your brand’s reach and credibility.”

And, the Content Marketing Institute defines it as “getting others to share your story, generate interest and make your case.”

So, two things are clear:

  1. Influencer marketing involves a third party
  2. The goal is to expand reach

We want to add just two things:

  1. Influencer marketing is authentic/organic
  2. The involved third party must be a personality with a large following

A comprehensive definition, therefore, is:

“Influencer marketing is the art of leveraging the power of word-of-mouth at scale through popular personalities to drive awareness.”

The awareness can be for a product launch such as the HP case, or it can be for an upcoming event, grand sale, season offers, and so on.

 

Why influencer marketing?

There are many reasons you should be using influencer marketing. Here are a few;

Consumers highly trust influencers

A recent research, by Adweek, found that twitter users now trust influencers as much as they trust their friends.

The study also shows that around 40% of Twitter users bought an item after seeing it used by an influencer on Instagram, YouTube, Vine, Twitter, etc.

Additionally, 20% of respondents said they shared something they saw from an influencer. One-third even followed influencers on social media.

Paid ads are no longer as effective as before

Initially, getting your ads carried by Google and other ad companies was enough to give you the exposure you need.

You’d just create your ads, send them to Google, pay Google, and wait for your target customers to click on them.

Unfortunately, that trick is futile because 38% of internet users use ad blocking software.

Adblock Software

 

This means that influencer marketing is one of the best ways to reach those target customers conveniently.

It’s cost effective

Efficacy of spend seems to indicate that influencer marketing campaigns are inherently cost effective from the ROI perspective.

But, it’s much better than that. Though we’ve not mentioned it yet, influencers don’t necessarily have to be celebrities.

Influencers are simply people with a large following among your target audience. They can be simple everyday Joes, bloggers, social media nerds, and so on.

You don’t need to break the bank to pay an influencer. As you start out, make sure to identify one that appeals to your audience and within budget. Later on you can bring in a few celebs.

Build brand loyalty and thought leadership

By now you understand that consumers who find you through peer influence are stickier.

They won’t just buy once and leave which is what those who find you through ads tend to do. Instead, these customers will have a reason to keep buying from you.

This opens up an opportunity to build not only brand loyalty but also thought leadership.

Since such customers are inclined to listen to your branding messages (because the influencer they trust so much says so), you can groom them into your loyal supporters.

Influencer marketing is easy to track and measure

Traditionally, the best marketing channels are those can be easily measured.  

You don’t want to make shots in the dark on your next move.

As we shall see later when discussing measurement and analytics, you can measure the number of people engaging with your band messages, track direct sales, and so much more.

Even better, the internet is awash with several tools that you can use to measure influencer marketing. Simply Measured is just one of them.

Most of the tools will give you all the important metrics in a simple dashboard.  

Everyone else is going there

Lastly, according to a report by AdNews Australia, more and more marketers are falling for influencer marketing.

42% of Australian companies are already leveraging influencers and reaping huge returns.

These marketers see influence marketing as a digital form of face-to-face marketing where you engage your potential customers one-on-one.  

 

Connect, Create, Amplify; Getting Started

Having understood the importance of influencer marketing, it’s time to dive right in.

The first step is to outline your goals or what we like to call Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

 

Setting your goals

SMART simply means;

  • S – Specific. The goal must be definite. Instead of saying we want to get more brand signups, you should say we want to get 100,000 brand signups.
  • M –Measurable. The goal must be traceable and measurable. If it cannot be measured, it’s not a smart goal.
  • A – Actionable/Attainable. Don’t set overly ambitious goals. If your goals are too high, you may lose the motivation to keep going.
  • R – Relevant. Is the goal aligned with your overall goals? Does it help you get more sales and reach more people?
  • T – Timeline/Time Bound. Smart goals have timelines. There need to be deadlines. Goals unachievable within a reasonable time period should be dismissed as unrealistic.

Based on the SMART goal methodology, some of the questions you need to ask as you plan your influencer campaign include;

What’s my budget?

I’m not saying that you can’t kickstart your influencer marketing campaign with little bucks but naturally, the bigger your budget, the further you can take your campaign.

With just enough money, you can find celebs and get them to introduce you to their large audiences right away.

But even a limited budget will get you somewhere if you know where to find hidden gems within your network to help get your message across the right audience.

What is the lead time needed for my campaign?

While influencer marketing usually has an immediate impact, you may not begin to see sales until after a certain period, maybe a few weeks. In the meantime, you will see a sharp rise in subscriptions and site traffic. You need to understand this and give yourself enough time to determine the impact of the campaign.

How long will my campaign be in the market?

This too will be determined by your budget, although it may also be influenced to a lesser extent by your industry.

If you have the money, you can run the campaign for longer without hurting other areas of your business.

But if your budget is small, you must be pragmatic and run the campaign for just a few weeks first.

What type of influencers should I use?

Different industries benefit from different types of influencers. Your success will also be determined by the channels where your campaign is ran.

The idea is to find someone who is both a fan of your products/services and an even bigger fan of the platform on which you wish to market. More details on this shortly.

What success looks like

That’s where KPIs come in.

Do you simply want to increase your subscriptions?

Do you want to increase sales?

Do you want to increase visibility?

And, for all these, by how much do you want to grow?

Use hard figures when stating these KPIs. Thereafter, you just have to check with the goals to determine whether or not you’re succeeding.

Start with

 

Connecting with Influencers

Currently there are thousands of professional influencer marketers in Australia.

What exactly do you want? Reach, Trust, Relevance, Commerce, Emotion?  

The right one depends on your needs.

Depending on what you want, there are three categories of influencers to choose from;

  • Aspirational influencers

Aspirational influencers are those who you solely go to for fame; when you’re looking to be in the limelight even just for a short time.

You might not realise immediate sales and increased traffic, but your website will definitely enjoy millions of visits.

As such, this category mostly consists of celebrities – those guys everyone knows. It’s where the likes of Kristy and Jenelle belong. Now even celebs can’t promise HP immediate sales. But because of their enormous following, they bring a lot of exposure.

Having at least two celebs instead of just one works even better; why… because 2 + 2 = 5!

The fans of the two celebs will converge and the ripple effect will spread even beyond the two fan bases.

  • Authoritative influencers

Authoritative influencers are those who have a lot of authority in their respective industries.

In fact, these influencers are so popular they work with big multinational companies.

This makes authoritative influencers a great choice for brands that desire to gain relevance within their industries.

For instance, imagine the attention you’d get if one of the C-level staff at Google mentioned your SEO services as some of the best around! Immediately, you’ll have individuals and companies in need of SEO queuing at your door.

When picking these types of influencers, choose highly knowledgeable and well respected persons within your industry.

  • Peer influencers

Lastly, you can also turn to peer influencers to spread your brand messages.

Peer influencers, as the name suggests, are influencers who the target audience sees as their peers.

It doesn’t have to be a celebrity unless you’re marketing to a group of celebrities. Rather, find someone who the target audience sees as their equal.

Peer influencers work especially well for technical industries and service providers.

For instance, a local tax company looking to reach more customers (small businesses that need tax services) doesn’t need to a celeb to appeal to its audience base. Just by using a normal guy who is well known to the audience, you can get a lot of attention.

If you’re marketing to college students, you can do the same. Don’t go for a national celebrity. Just find someone who is a celeb within the institution you’re targeting and use them to amplify your message.  

 

Where to Find Influencers

In the past, the best place to find influencers was through their blogs. You would simply look up bloggers with the most reach in your industry and hand them the job.

That is still applicable. Except that in era of social media, you’re more likely to discover these influencers on social channels as opposed to blogging platforms. We’ll use both platforms.

Here is how to proceed;

Step 1: Find similar content with a lot of reach

If someone just liked a blog post titled; “100 Ways to Boost your Email Campaign,” then there is every chance they’ll like your post titled; “How to Measure Email Marketing ROI.”

So, the very first step is to find and make a list of posts similar to yours. It doesn’t have to be exactly similar to the post you’re looking to promote. They just need to be targeting the same audience.

Wondering where to find these posts?

Use Realtime! Realtime is a real-time discovery search engine developed by Bitly. It tracks web content in real time and can show you all the clicks that are going through a URL and even display the exact links being clicked at any particular time.

You can use this tool to sort actual traffic and find the most trending posts in your niche at any particular time.

To get started, go to Rt.ly and sign up. To sign up you just need to link your Bitly account with your Twitter account and provide your email address.

After signing up, you’ll be taken to a page displaying the most trending posts at that moment.

Realtime

Enter the topic of your post in the keyword section. Let’s say you’re searching for SEO topics. So, you simply enter SEO in the keyword field.

Then, in the topic field, select from the drop down list. If you’re searching for “SEO” in “Business”, you’ll see something like this;

Realtime Topic

On the right, you can see all the trending Business SEO posts.

There are several other tools you can use to find the trending posts in your industry, including Topsy, SEOGadget’s Content Strategy Generator Tool (CSGT), and GroupHigh.

Some like Topsy can even help you find older posts in your industry that have had a lot of traffic over the years.

Step 2: Use Bitly to find out who is sharing the posts

Take the first post on your list and then in your Bitly account, paste a shortened version of the post’s link in the “Paste a link here” bar.

Bitly

A popup will appear where you can click to “View Stats.” When you click on that, you’ll be able to see the number of clicks the link has got in its entire lifetime. Scroll to the bottom to see who shared the post and how many readers each sharer was able to send to post.

Bitly Shared Link

From the image above, you can see that Stonewall with 100 clicks referred the highest number of readers to the post, followed by Vidajay with 54.

Click on the number under the name to get more insight into the data. When you click on Vidajay’s number for example, you’ll get the following information;

Bitly Clicks

The idea is to find the sharer with the highest number of social media clicks. If most of the sharer’s traffic are coming from “other” sources, it means that they got the clicks by emailing their subscribers or linking to the post. Ignore these “other” sources for now.

Most people who like your post will generally tweet it or share it on Facebook. From the above stats, you can see that Vidajay is a good influence to reach out to for this type of posts because he got a lot of clicks on Twitter. The next step is to reach out to him!

However, it’s wise to reach out to more than one influencer in case your preferred candidate isn’t available or turns you down.  

So, list down dozen other potential candidates if you can. Then, click on their names to go to their social media pages and from their profiles, locate and note down their email addresses.

Step 3: Ask them to share your posts

This is the fun part but it can also be the painful part because it isn’t uncommon to be turned down.

To minimise the chances of being turned down, we recommend that you make prior contact with the influencer before asking them to share your posts. If they have a blog, you can leave a comment there.

Most of them will reply to your comment and then you can take the conversation forward.

Once you have a rapport, send them an email requesting that they share one of your blogs. Or, if you want them to come over for a photo shoot, like HP did for the launch of the Spectre, ask about that too.

However, that can be really expensive and is often practiced just by the big brands.

Then wait for a reply. In most cases, you’ll only hear back from a small fraction of the recipients. If you sent out 10 requests, for example, you may get two or three positive replies, which should be enough!

 

Create Awesome Content

Others say that you should begin by creating content then find your influences later. We don’t agree with that.

While it might work at the early stages of influencer marketing where you just create content and then rush to the internet to find someone to share it, we believe that for the best returns, the content should be co-created.

You should sit down with the influencer, brainstorm what to write about, and even coordinate the publishing.

Once you have an influencer in hand, follow the steps below to create awesome, engaging content.

The good thing is that after following all the steps in finding an influencer, you’ve already done most of the work so content planning will become very easy.

Revisit your goals

Earlier, we went through the process of creating your goals for the influence marketing campaign.

Ask yourself what you want to achieve with the campaign.

Some businesses crave visibility, some are looking to increase sales, some want to increase their authority, and so forth.

You’ve even found the right influencers to help you advance these goals.

Now, you need the right content to help you reach the goals and take your business to the next level.

Select topics

Before you start looking at the content types, list down the topics you want to base your content around, keeping in mind the keywords you used when finding the influencer.  The influence might even help.

First, brainstorm the topics on your own with the help of your team members.

Afterwards, you can come up with about three topics based on the original area of interest.

For example, if you already know that the influencer likes sharing “Small Business Tax” content, you can come up with several topics on small business tax, identify the three topics and send to the influencer.

Your influencer will be able to share what they feel would help their followers most at the moment and there you have a deal.

Identify types of content or media mix

Now you can discuss the best way to convey your message clearly.

You can write blogs, articles, guides, eBooks or even create infographics. You can also take photos and prepare videos for sharing on YouTube, Vine, Instagram, and so on.

Again, the choice will depend on the message and the influencer.

If your influencer isn’t very popular on YouTube, you may want to overlook that channel.

Interestingly, most influencers, especially celebs, are very popular on almost any platform they land on. Whether it’s Facebook or Vine, they ‘ll take it by the storm.

If you picked an influencer who has a voice among your target audience, this too should become very easy because your customers will be their followers on whichever platforms they use. That’s why you need to go to every length to find an influencer who matches your business.

Co-create content

Now that the planning is complete, it’s time to create content.

This sounds simple but coordinated creation of content can be a demanding process.

For instance, when Choice Hotels wanted to create branded content for influencer marketing, they asked the influencers they had identified to visit the hotel and take a lot of photos at specific locations.  

The hotel workers even shot a few videos with the influencers that were later shared on YouTube and Snapchat.

The point is, depending on the influencer campaign you’re running, you may have to bring your influencers on site and work with them one-on-one through the content creation process.

Unless all you want is to get the celeb to “click” share on blogs and social media posts, you need to plan for these one-on-one interactions too.

If you’ll be taking photos and videos, make sure to plan for the shooting. Arrange for the cameras that will be used, then with the help of the influencer, identify and stage shooting locations, and plan shooting times.

For professionally shot photos and videos, you may even want to consider getting a professional photographer or acquire professional video equipment.

Repurpose the content

Repurpose Content

The last step is to produce the final copies of the content that will be published.

This is where repurposing comes in handy. You can use the photos and videos you took to create multiple types of content.

For example, even after posting the photos on Instagram, you can later on edit them for use in your guides. And the videos can be posted on YouTube and later on embedded within your blog posts. You can even share snippets of the shootout on Facebook and Twitter.

But before posting, edit the content accordingly.

You can’t post the same videos used on YouTube in your Facebook posts.

Remember that Facebook videos can’t be that long.

If you recorded a 10-minute video of Rebecca Gibney tasting some of your new wine brands, you may want to edit that to about a minute before sharing on Facebook.

The same applies to photos. Photos for Snapchat, for example, have to be edited with the audience of the platform in mind.

Snapchat users are trendy and full of life. Before sharing your photos there, use the platform’s editing tools to breathe some life in them.

If you were creating text content and wish to get some traction on social media, determine what messages will work best on the various social media networks.

Then, publish the content!

 

Amplify

From this point on, the idea is to get your content to reach as many people, through as many channels as possible.

Amplify

While sharing your videos on YouTube and photos on social other media platforms is a great way to attract attention and reach a lot of people, you can reach even more people through unique strategies.

Three such strategies that work excellently are;

Giveaways

The government has a few regulations on giveaways but that shouldn’t stop you from offering your consumers freebies.  

After sharing the video (say of the influencer tasting your wines), ask the audience to tweet it and provide a prize for the user with the most retweets.

Since the influencer will be running the contest, there is a low barrier to entry for consumers. A lot of people will participate and before you know it your product could reach millions.

Contests

One thing you can do when working with more than one influencer is make them compete among themselves.

Say you have three peer influencers brought in to help increase the visibility of your new product. You can have each influencer sharing their content separately and competing to gain the most likes/shares.

Conduct a vote, asking participants to vote for the influencer with the best content. With this strategy, the influencer becomes more invested because they want their content to win.

Their fans too become invested because they want their favorite “celeb” to win. All this leads to a viral potential for the campaign.

Events

Another great opportunity especially for locally based brands is to host a live influencer event. Events are a bit more expensive compared to just asking an influencer to share your blog. But they also have a very high potential.

Arrange an event and have the influencer in attendance. Then consumers in attendance can have the chance to interact with the influencer and even take photos with him or her which they can later upload to social media.

Influencer events have been found to work best for verticals that are more service-focused and do not have a physical product for the influence to trial.

 

Measurement and Analytics

Once the campaign is underway, measure it’s impact to find out which methods, styles and strategies work best for your business.

There are multiple approaches for measuring influencer campaigns but we prefer the Convince and Convert 4-Point goal-based strategy.

The strategy involves measuring the success of your campaign based on the four well-known influencer marketing goals; visibility, engagement, content, and revenue.

  • Goal: Visibility

If your main goal was to gain visibility (one of the main reasons most brands use influencers in the first place), then the first metric you need to measure is the number of new potential customers who became aware of your brand through the campaign.

Convince and Convert can help you track these numbers. You can also use free tools such as Google Analytics to see the data from your campaigns.

  • Goal: Engagement

After measuring your visibility, use the same Google Analytics to measure your engagement metrics.

Engagement

Engagement simply means the number of likes, comments, views on YouTube, repins on Pinterest, retweets on Twitter, shares on Facebook, and other interactions users had with your marketing messages. Engagement is a good indicator of how consumers feel about your brand/products. The higher the engagement levels, the better off you are.

Other than just engagement, measure the Cost Per Engagement (CPE) of the campaign. In other words, how much in dollars do you spend for every engagement? The CPE can later be used to calculate your return on investment.

  • Goal: Content

Many brands are greatly motivated by the higher quality of content, especially images (both photos and videos), that they can get from influencers. Let’s be honest, the Kristy photos with the HP Spectre are much more likely to appeal to fashion enthusiasts than if HP had just taken photos of the laptop without the actress.

Convince and Convert has observed the same trend among their clients. In fashion and luxury industries, high quality photos of celebs considerably increase engagement levels, click-through rates, and even orders when used in emails.

This gives a few ideas of some of the metrics to measure if content was your primary motivation – engagement levels, click-through rate, sales, and so on.

  • Goal: Revenue

Finally, what we’ve all been waiting for – Return on Investment (ROI). How much money are you making from the campaign? Compared to what you’re spending, are you making a profit or a taking loss on the campaign?

There are four quick ways to measure the ROI of your influencer marketing campaign;

  1. Using an affiliate link – Use a unique affiliate links to track online sales generated through the influencer’s direct efforts.
  2. Using promo codes – custom promo codes allow brands to measure the impact of influencer marketing beyond immediate sales. Most ecommerce platforms including Shopify freely provide these promo codes to store owners.
  3. Google Analytics – Google analytics allows you to create “Event” goals from where you can track online customers that visited your e-commerce platform via an influencer’s blog or social channels. The setup page for event goals looks like this on Analytics;

Goal Revenue4. Isolated marketing – here, you select a certain product that, for a period of time, you only promote through influencer marketing. You can then track that product’s sale throughout the entire funnel.

 

Nurturing Influencer Relationships

If you’ve followed all the steps covered in this guide, your campaign should at this stage be running smoothly and generating traffic and/or sales.

But don’t stop there.

You may need this influencer again sometime in the future for another job. So, it’s time to learn how to keep them in the look for a long period. Here’ how;

  • Thank them

They’ve done a great job. They’ve helped you get more customers and convert more sales. Surely, they deserve even a simple thank you note. A short handwritten note works brilliantly for these situations.

Thank You

  • Make it a true relationship

What do we mean by this? Simple, don’t make it a contract relationship where you only call the influencer when you want them to share your content. Find ways to become true friends with them, constantly exchanging ideas and opinions.

  • Deliver value

Again, don’t treat the influencer like they are some tool you just pay for and dump. Even if you pay them, think from their perspective and ensure that you’re doing your best to help them grow too. They’ll be more than grateful.

  • Give it time

Keep in mind that relationships aren’t built in a day. You don’t get to know someone and become their best buddy the same day. The same applies to influencer relationships. Give it time. Build it. Don’t expect them to fall for you on the first day.

  • Share

Maybe you don’t know it but the truth is that just by virtue of owning your business, you’re a celeb in your own rights. You’re an influence too. This means that you too can share your audience with the influencer by sharing their posts and commenting on their blogs.

  • Meet face-to-face

When the time is right, ask to meet the influencer in person! Face-to-face conversations off the internet are invaluable and can help take a cordial relationship to the next level.

 

Wrap Up

It must have been a long read and implementing each of these tips might not be the easiest thing for a small business owner. But these strategies can be the difference between an average business and a high-flying one. 

Here’s how Sean Ellis of GrowthHackers.com puts it.

The marketplace has become very competitive. You must change the rules in order to succeed. Use this guide to rig the game and hack your way to the very top. 

The good thing is that you don’t have to tackle everything in one go. It all depends on your business. If you’re already getting enough traffic, you can start at conversion optimisation. If you’re converting enough customers, start by working on your retention. 

Then, go through to the last point, and start all over.

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Cameron Francis

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Cameron Francis is the CoFounder & Managing Director of ETRAFFIC, Melbourne's #1 Creative & Digital Marketing Agency. For over a decade Cameron has been providing growth marketing and digital strategies for over 2,000 small businesses, start-ups & entrepreneurs around the country.
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