Influencer marketing is a way to engage an audience with an influential person over social media, who helps drive traffic to your site or sales of your products. It’s important to nurture a positive relationship with influencers or run the risk of negative publicity. We curated expert tips for developing an effective influencer marketing strategy.
Here are 25 top influencer marketing tips from the pros:
1. Focus on a Long-term Working Relationship
Gary Stevens, Technical Writer, Hosting Canada
The temptation is to fling out hundreds of emails in a desperate attempt to snag the attention of an influencer—any influencer—whose audience even remotely aligns with yours. In short, bad idea. These people didn’t get to where they are in life without developing a hypersensitive nonsense detector. Change your mindset. This is not a numbers game. Find a few influencers with whom you can develop a mutually beneficial relationship and treat them like the friend you’d like them to eventually become. This is what will set you apart from the obnoxious herd clamoring for attention.
2. Make Use of Influencer Software
Megan Mosley, Marketing Content Manager, Referral Rock
Though you can find influencers on your own, influencer software can take a lot of the hard work out of it. You can use filters to narrow down to your perfect fit, and if you want to have real success, you have to shuffle through all the noise and find someone who thrives in your niche. You can also track the progress of your influencers and track ROI much more easily with a system put in place. Software will allow you to run an entire influencer program without having to do too much heavy lifting. You basically set your goals and go.
3. Consider Educators as Influencers
Shubham Aggarwal, Founder, Planning Tank®
Not every niche needs to have a business person as the ideal influencer. When it comes to academia, the market takes a different turn, and establishing credibility and gaining trust are most important when it comes to education. Experienced and knowledgeable team members are the key to growth here, so faculty members can offer the most credible and trustworthy insights to share with readers.
4. Be Active in the Online Community
Adelina Karpenkova, Brand Specialist, Serpstat
Before you can reach out to influencers, you should be active in the community. Having a live LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter account is essential if you want to get noticed. Share their content to your feed, comment on their posts, and take part in discussions. One more actionable technique is to disagree with influencers’ opinions (if reasonable) and tag them in your posts.
Maggie Aland, Marketing & Review Editor, Fit Small Business
When creating an influencer marketing strategy, your first task would be to develop a relationship with the right influencers. You need to make sure you invest your time wisely by obtaining the right contact information for your potential influencers to ensure they match your target audience. UpLead is a lead generation platform that provides you with a verified contact database of over 30 million contacts, including LinkedIn information, to help you build a high-quality prospect list. It also lets you search for contacts based on a number of criteria, and you can instantly export them directly to your CRM. Try UpLead’s 7-day free trial.
6. Tailor Your Approach to Each Influencer
Tabitha Jean Naylor, Owner, TabithaNaylor.com Inc.
Influencers often have a bunch of brands reaching out to them for collaborations at the same time. If you’re trying to target an influencer with a large audience, they probably won’t respond to every inquiry they get, so you need to make sure you stand out from everyone else. The best way to do this is to do your research and tailor your outreach approach for each influencer you contact—sending out generic copy-and-paste messages is rarely effective. Do you understand their content, their tone, and their audience? You’ll want to reflect this understanding when you contact them so they immediately recognize that you’re someone who’s already on the same page.
7. Focus on Quality Influencers, Not Quantity
Cristina Maria, Marketing Executive, Commusoft
Once you’ve established a relationship with a few influencers, you should focus on quality, not quantity. Keep a few names closely associated with your brand and support them in their growth. In return, their advocacy of your company will appear more genuine, and their audience will appreciate it more. If the first collaboration is successful and you feel that they’re the right fit, plan a long-term campaign—don’t jump immediately to the next big name. Long-lasting brand relationships are ideal when it comes to influencer marketing.
8. Don’t Chase the Number, Chase the Result
Nigel Sielegar, Principal, Corse Design Factory
Having a large number of followers doesn’t mean that it’s effective marketing. Focus on the result instead. If you sell food (like I do), sometimes it’s better to work with a foodie Instagrammer who is being followed by chefs, food critics, and journalists versus a very popular foodie who is followed by large number of random people and doesn’t really have a good concentrated audience. You have to evaluate where his or her followers are located as well; if the majority of the followers are not in the area where you operate, the large number doesn’t really mean anything.
9. Analyze Influencer Engagement With Followers
Mason Ghrannie, Vice President, CBD’R US
Influencer marketing is most effective when a business connects with influencers within their niche. When choosing influencers to work with, it is important to analyze the engagement the influencer receives from their followers. This information can help a business better understand the value the influencer can bring to your business. Many influencers follow each other on social media. With that said, scraping the following of an influencer you’d like to work with is a great way to build a list of influencers within your niche.
Jillian Ilao, Review Editor, Fit Small Business
Different campaigns may call for different influencers who can help match the message you’re trying to get across. This means you need to nurture a good relationship with more than one influencer. However, building your network of influencers can be a challenge when your day is filled with other important tasks that also requires your attention. Pipedrive is a CRM tool that offers a wide array of features to help businesses manage their marketing campaign. Its pricing is designed with the needs of small businesses in mind to match their growth with Pipedrive’s affordable plans. Try Pipedrive for free.
11. Help Your Influencers Balance Activity & Authenticity
Aviram Kadosh, CEO, Shoperr
The relationship between brands and Influencers is complex, from both an activation perspective and how they mutually benefit each other. Influencers rely on brands to monetize their content, and successful ones have the opportunity to engage in a variety of brand sponsorship deals. However, on the flip side, this has a negative impact on their authenticity as creators and the perception of their followers. Their activity with brands needs to be managed correctly; otherwise, they will gradually lose their follower base.
12. Hold a Brand Rep Search
Taylor Mack, Social Media & Marketing Strategist, Small Biz Refined
If you already have some influencers following you, that’s great! It might be time to hold a brand rep search. Basically, you post that you’re looking for brand reps, and in the caption, be sure to include your expectations for the partnership, how to enter, and what the influencers will get in return (e.g., free products, discounts). This is a powerful way to get more exposure for your brand even before you start working with the influencers.
13. Choose Influencers Who Mirror Your Target Audience
Cynthia Houlton, Head of Revenue, Armoire Style
Authenticity matters much more than the number of followers, engagement percentage, or perfect images. Find influencers who look and act like your best customers, since one-and-done marketing rarely delivers returns. Ask yourself: “Is this someone my customers might follow on Instagram—does this person fit that persona?” Repetition is always more effective. Picking a group of “micro-influencers” is a great way to spread out a small budget and build awareness with regularity.
14. Start a Value Exchange
Andrew Morrison, Founder, Dotcom Gains
At first, do something for the influencer. It may be anything—perhaps writing a guest post for them or linking to their website or social media profile. This will get you in the influencer’s radar and, later on, you’ll be able to ask a small favor. If he or she agrees to do you the small favor, go back to the first step and repeat till you collaborate regularly.
15. Do Not Pitch Commission-only Arrangements
Jeff Rizzo, CEO & Founder, RIZKNOWS
The majority of inquiries that influencers receive involve getting a free product and paying them for every sale they drive. If you really want to get to the front of the list, offer a flat-rate fee that’s reasonable for both parties. You can also offer a modest flat-rate fee and a percentage commission, but if you want to be taken seriously, offer some sort of upfront fee to compensate them for their time and the risk they’re taking. Once the deal is finalized, check back with them regularly. Your goal is to foster a relationship because the next time you work together, the fees will likely be lower for friends.
16. Clearly Communicate Your Expectations
Karen Jayne Blattenbauer, Founder, Hearsay PR
While it may come off as creative freedom to allow influencers to do whatever they want to promote your brand, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment with the results. By being too vague about your expectations, you could end up with content that doesn’t meet your expectations or best portray your brand. In short, it can be a waste of time for both you and your influencers.
To avoid such issues, you should have a clear idea about what you expect out of the campaign, and you should clearly communicate that in great detail with your influencers. What kind of content are you expecting your influencers to create? Do you want them to tell a certain story instead of simply positioning the product in their photos? Whatever you have in mind for the end result, make sure you let your influencers know.
17. Know How to Spot Fake Influencers
Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO, Socialbakers
Our research has shown that brands can minimize the risk of working with influencers with fake followers by looking at two key data points: the influencer’s performance over a longer time period (e.g., six months), and their engagement level per 1,000 fans. The former metric allows marketers to easily spot spikes of followers and performance that can highlight fake activity. The latter metric gives a clear insight into whether the influencer’s followers are actually engaging with the topics that resonate with the brand’s audience. In addition, benchmarking the performance of a few influencers over time can also greatly help to identify anomalies that are a result of fraud.
18. Trust Your Influencer’s Expertise
Laura Gonzales, Marketing Manager, Audi Bellevue
In order to have a strong relationship with influencers, you need to establish trust. Influencers know their audience well, and they know what works. Give them the opportunity to create the content they believe will do well. If you limit their creativity, their content will be unnatural.
19. Set a Goal Ahead of Time
Cara Wood, Digital Marketing Manager, ShopPad, Inc.
Like any marketing campaign, it is absolutely crucial to set your goals ahead of time. I recommend setting the key objective (e.g., sales, brand awareness) and then creating numerical goals to hold yourself accountable. What your objective is will impact who you choose to work with. For instance, micro-influencers who have a highly engaged following tend to work well for sales pushes, while influencers with a huge reach (but are more expensive) tend to work well for brand awareness pushes. And of course, make sure to give your influencers codes or special URLs to keep track of the traffic and sales that come from them to determine the success of your campaign.
20. Establish Targeted Brand Collaboration Opportunities
Nina Pfister, Co-founder, MAG PR
Your business can work to establish a brand collaboration partnership. This is typically a paid digital advertising opportunity that engages a select influencer (or several) who connects closely with and inspires your shared target audience to sponsor your brand in a creative way. For instance, one example of a brand collaboration could include a sponsorship agreement whereby the influencer is paid a fixed cost to review your free product via their blog, and then shares positive social media posts, pointing to a special promotion you’re running for their followers specifically.
21. Engage Personally With Influencers
Ismael El-Qudsi, CEO & Co-founder, SocialPubli.com
Show influencers that you understand what they do for their communities by sharing ways in which you can deliver value to their audience. Engage with them beyond the period of time of the campaign by frequently commenting on their social media posts, and keeping them in the loop about new things happening in your business that may be relevant to them and their audience. Invite them to exclusive events you may be hosting, or even send them flowers on special days like their birthdays or when they’ve reached an important social media milestone. One small sweet gesture can go a long way.
22. Find Genuine Brand Fans
Eric Sheinkop, Co-founder & CEO, DesireList
Seek out authentic brand fans versus people for whom your product is not genuinely a part of their life. With the prevalence of sponsored social posts, consumers are savvy to influencer marketing. Influencers who are genuine brand fans have built a trail of authenticity and can speak about your products with knowledge and personal experience, adding the crucial component of credibility to their content.
23. Choose an Active Influencer
Geoff Crain, Digital Director, Kingstar Media
No matter what your business realm is, be sure to select an influencer who posts regularly. What good is an influencer who only posts a few times a year? It is important to find influencers who are active and engage with their followers on a weekly basis. The flow does not have to be constant, but just active, regular, and authoritative. Read a few posts by the influencer you are interested in working with to get a feel for their style. Determine if they engage you and make you want to learn more about the products they are posting about.
24. Don’t Ignore the Up & Coming
Devin Beverage, CEO & Founder, DevBev Co.
Don’t rule out influencers-in-the-making—especially if you’re on a budget. By the time an influencer makes it to 100,000 or even 50,000 followers, some brands are willing to pay them up to $5,000 per sponsored post. Search for the micro-influencers, those whose posts don’t make quite as much noise yet. Search for people with 10,000 or more followers, or even as low as 5,000. Some of these people may not have been pitched by brands much yet, and are more likely to leap on the opportunity (and post for you without breaking the bank).
25. Connect Over BuzzStream
Chachi Flores, Senior Manager of e-Commerce, Peacock Alley
Build a successful influencer campaign by dominating your outreach strategy with BuzzStream. Reduce the time it takes to manually find influencers using the “Discovery” feature to identify the right people to reach out to. You can quickly build a list of influencer prospects and manage them all in one place. Building and maintaining relationships becomes easier when you can keep track of your outreach attempts in one designated location with BuzzStream. Create the most optimal promotion for your business by securing your time and streamlining your influencer outreach strategy.
The online community’s significant impact on a company’s success is here to stay, and business owners will need to develop the best influencer marketing strategy to promote their brand if they want to stay relevant. Use our list of expert tips and help your business stand out online with the right connections.
Did we miss out on your favorite influencer marketing tips? Share them with us in the comments.