The success of influencer marketing as a tactic is largely dependent on a brand’s individual goals and, as such, no single metric can be used to quantify such. Too often, marketers are focused on impressions and engagements, when really marketers must be able to connect influencer engagement with business performance, understanding how certain types of content aids in consumers’ discovery, exploration and purchasing of products.
The success of an influencer marketing program(s) is dependent on the brand’s ability to hit their benchmarks, as determined by unique brand objectives, which are planned well before the first campaign goes live.
In this blog post, we share seven steps for hitting your influencer marketing benchmarks for your influencer marketing programs in 2019 and beyond.
1. Focus on the Right Metrics
When it comes to the ROI of content and social media, 77% of marketers reported having not been able to prove the quantitative impact of social media marketing on their business. Most marketers focus on impressions and influencer engagement as the primary metrics for social performance despite the fact that social engagement metrics have no proven correlation to business or marketing value.
Qualifying the value of influencer-generated content has historically been a challenge for marketers. Due to little clarify or transparency into influencers’ historical and anticipated brand performances, marketers often rely on cost-per-impression (CPM) and cost-per-engagement (CPE) metrics, which unfortunately can be easily manipulated by fraud or gamification.
To truly determine influencer marketing’s full business value and impact on customers’ paths-to-purchase, as much knowledge as possible is needed about customers’ current decision journeys. To address the full breadth of marketing measurement challenges — from labor costs to social media return on investment (ROI) — check out our five-part measurement framework.
2. Broaden your Influencer Target Persona
What defines an influencer today has less to do with their overall reach and engagement and more to do with their motivations, behaviors, and ability to deliver brand value through the content they create. Before developing a comprehensive influencer marketing strategy, marketers must first understand the six influencer personas that can be incorporated: mega-influencers, macro-influencers, micro-influencers, advocates, referrers, and loyalists.
Rather than focusing on mega-influencers or macro-influencers, who often get confused with celebrities, marketers have the opportunity to broaden their approach to influencer campaigns and consider the entire spectrum of influencer personas for their comprehensive influencer marketing mix, as each persona provides unique benefits and value for a brand. For an example, macro-influencers are great if you have a big marketing budget and want to generate significant visibility for a product launch or brand awareness campaign while, micro-influencers, are the most effective in driving conversions such as product purchases, survey completions or customer acquisitions.
Taking a broader approach to the personas you activate for your influencer marketing campaigns can help you track towards your influencer marketing benchmarks and take them to the next level.
3. Invest in Long-Term Influencer Partnerships
Regardless of which types of influencers, you’re planning on activating, Influencers value long-term relationships with brands and don’t want to work with brands for a one-off campaign; they want longevity, they want to contribute, and they want to be heard.
Influencers are so much more than content creators. Influencers possess unique knowledge and perspective about the business, industry, trends, social platforms, consumers, creativity, and content, which can be leveraged by marketers and help them discover new opportunities to gain a competitive advantage or an increase in the market share.
Marketers have the opportunity to engage influencers during the initial campaign planning stage for initial research, campaign ideation, and campaign strategy. Bringing influencers into the beginning of the planning process provides several benefits for marketers, such as creative concept testing before a campaign goes live.
Even if you’re not leveraging influencers for campaign planning or research, investing in long-term influencer partnerships, such as ambassador programs, offer a lot of value and can strengthen your overall influencer marketing program. Working with influencers on multiple campaigns across a longer time period will help influencers understand your brand better and be able to create content that aligns with your brand’s strategy.
4. Complement Influencer-Generated Content with Authentic User-Generated Content
While gorgeous content serves its particular purpose, many viewers also want to see the not-so-perfect photos and reviews. Tapping into existing loyalists will only further instill trust in your brand and the positive claims influencers make about your brand and products.
IGC photos or UGC, such as ratings and reviews, can improve the efficacy of any touchpoint, but they don’t compare to the compounded impact when they are combined. Complementing IGC with authentic UGC increases true impact, validating consumer confidence and communications transparency. They also can go a long way in bringing the story and experience of a product to life in ways that prospective customers can relate to.
If a consumer comes across appealing IGC on social and heads to a brand’s product page to only see that the product on the page has zero or below average reviews, they likely will be confused. Without UGC, consumers’ desire to purchase a product isn’t reinforced. Due to this, marketers have the opportunity to work with influencers to create original content as well as product reviews and ratings to affirm the content they create and further motivate consumers to make the purchase.
5. Provide an Informative Brief that Allows Room for Creativity
Even with the most thoughtful briefs, many marketers struggle connecting their brand’s voice and campaign vision to influencers’ authentic voice and style, which contributes to the larger theme of influencer-brand dissonance in the content creation process.
Too often, influencers are brought into the campaign process only after a campaign has been launched, which does not allow the campaign to be designed or implemented with influencers’ perspective or aesthetic in mind. Influencer marketing platforms and agencies are often at the helm of this problem as they frequently limit their engagement and relationship with influencers to activation and late-stage campaign management.
Influencers’ abilities to create relevant content, share consumer insights, and vet campaign ideas add a great deal of value to all marketing functions involved in campaign strategy and design. As such, influencers should be invited into the campaign process earlier and briefed on the full context of the campaign’s execution – beyond just the content they are responsible for creating. By doing so, this allows marketers to receive candid feedback from influencers based on their own experiences engaging and interacting with their audiences.
When on-boarding influencers, it’s important to establish creative boundaries without compromising creative autonomy by working with influencers as co-creatives, using the brand on-boarding and campaign style guide templates seen here.
On-boarding influencers to your brand style guidelines and campaign vision work to align expectations towards co-creating a cohesive brand experience, which is integral to helping the consumer find the information he or she needs, regardless of the device, network, or channel. Enable creativity by not giving the influencers a script. This allows influencers to use the language that they normally would use to create genuine and authentic content for their audience.
At the same time, be sure to provide influencers with product/service benefits to help them feel fully informed as well as remove any ambiguity by being clear on expectations on deliverables, reporting, and timelines.
6. Follow FTC Guidelines for Disclosures
Following the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines is a must for both marketers and influencers.
As more money enters the influencer marketing landscape, the more the FTC continues to expand its guidelines and crack down on violators. In April 2017, alone, the FTC sent out over 90 letters to marketers and letter, reminding them of the disclosure guidelines.
With influencer marketing in the mainstream and its popularity only rising, it’s important to make sure that you are not only up to date on the latest FTC guidelines, but are also playing a role in instructing and helping the influencers that you work with to properly disclose their relationship to your brand when promoting or endorsing products or services on social media. Having clear and concise directions regarding proper FTC disclosure in the creative briefs that you’re providing to influencers or your communications with them is a necessity.
While there are different forms of acceptable disclosure, the most common for influencers to include with branded or sponsored content are #sponsored or #ad. However, those hashtags alone don’t meet the guidelines of the FTC. The placement of the disclosure itself also matters. For social media platforms like Instagram, an influencer must use include disclosure in the first three lines of the description (before the ‘more” button) while for YouTube content, the influencer must include a verbal disclosure at the beginning of their video.
Educating and monitoring the influencers you engaged on proper disclosure will help your influencer marketing campaigns run efficiently and help you avoid any fines, legal action or perhaps, more importantly, a hit to your brand’s reputation. Proper influencer disclosure also increases the trust that a consumer has for your brand when he or she comes across an influencer’s post. Consumers will see your influencer marketing campaigns as trustworthy rather than deceiving.
7. Offer Adequate Compensation
When working with influencers, it’s important to remember is that it’s a two-sided partnership. It’s not just what the influencer can do for you, but what you can do for the influencer. It’s not only important to keep in mind what type of influencer you’re working with, but also important to make sure the compensation you’re offering matches the ask. For an example, macro-influencers, who typically make a living off of paid collaborations and partnerships, likely aren’t going to partner with a brand for solely product. On the other hand, micro-influencers, who typically create content on the side, are much more likely to post for product only – of course, depending on their following.
What a brand pays an influencer ultimately depends on the marketing budget for the campaign, the campaign asks, and the type of influencer that it’s looking to engage. Of course, there are best practices when it comes to offering adequate compensation to influencers, but there isn’t a one-size-fits-all model.
There are other factors that should be considered in what you offer an influencer. Some examples of these include whether the influencer has to submit a draft of their content prior to posting if an influencer has to create more than one piece of content or an influencer is being asked to go in-store to purchase product vs. shipping it to them directly.
For more insights, access our 2018 Influencer Perspective report and survey here.