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On the surface, it may look as if you’ve planned your influencer marketing campaign perfectly, meticulously covering all of the bases. You’ve chosen influencers in your niche with a ton of reach and beautiful Instagram feeds, but for some reason, you still aren’t getting the hoped-for results from your influencer marketing efforts.
We all know by now that choosing the right influencers is a great start to any campaign, but how can you know for sure if you’re choosing the right influencers?
Ahead we will discuss two important guidelines that all savvy marketers should follow when vetting influencer partners—and one tip for making the most of those partnerships once they’re established.
1) Know Your Target Audience Inside and Out
We have already established that it is essential to the success of your campaign to choose the right influencers for your brand. One important way to determine which influencers are a good fit for your product is by thoroughly researching your target audience.
Thorough research about your audience and what makes them tick is step number one in partnering with the perfect influencers to promote your product. The questions you need to ask are: “Who is our brand’s target audience?” and “How can we select influencers with that same audience?”
Skip this step at your own peril. Knowing your target audience involves having a good sense of their tastes, their age demographic, their location and other influencers and brands that they tend to follow. This will enable you to find influencers who have relevant niche audiences to whom they can introduce your product. Those influencers will then influence the opinions of their followers—who are already in the choir—vastly increasing awareness of your product or service.
You want to avoid at all costs falling into the trap of selecting an influencer partner simply because she is a top influencer with a large following. An influencer may appear to be an almost perfect fit but if one little component is off, that detail could derail your marketing efforts.
For example, suppose that you’d like wellness guru Holistic Hannah, an influencer with over 200K followers, to promote your mineral supplement. Hannah is known by her fans as someone who eschews additives and keeps recipes, cosmetics and supplements as pure and simple as possible.
Hannah is relatively new at this sponsored post thing and forgot to thoroughly vet the ingredient list of your supplement, which unfortunately contains magnesium stearate. Magnesium stearate is an additive used in supplements and pharmaceuticals that is widely avoided by the holistic crowd, making its inclusion in your otherwise terrific product a deal breaker for many in this audience. Imagine the backlash from Hannah’s fans once they discover this ingredient in their supplement. It’s a lose-lose for both Hannah and your brand.
This example is presented not to disparage your excellent product in any way, just to suggest that maybe a lesser known bodybuilder-influencer like ThorBB may have a following that will better appreciate your brand. Even if Thor does not have as much reach as Hannah, your supplement will be far more enthusiastically received by his followers, who are not nearly as fussy about the occasional additive.
This scenario illustrates why audience research is crucial. Without it, at best you will be making educated guesses about your demographic. At first it may appear to be a prohibitively time-consuming task to so thoroughly research your influencers’ audiences, but rest assured that time spent investigating will go a long way toward yielding optimal results for your campaign once it has launched.
A shortcut that can make audience research less labor-intensive is to use an influencer-vetting platform like socialbook.io to look up stats like gender, age, average views and even brand mentions. Use this information to narrow down your search. You can then do a deeper dive with the influencers who meet your credentials by monitoring conversations on their posts to get to know their followers even better.
2) Give Your Influencer Partners Room To Do What They Do Best
A common trap that marketers fall into is that of micromanaging influencer partners. Here’s why this is a misstep fatal to the success of your campaign: Your influencers know their audiences, and their audiences also know them.
The foundation of the influencer-follower relationship is trust. When an influencer feels forced to post content that feels inauthentic or insincere, it drains him of his enthusiasm and of the uniqueness that drew his followers—and you the marketer—to him in the first place.
This is precisely why giving the influencer a pre-written message to post, or attempting to exert excessive control over the tone of the post will most likely sabotage your marketing efforts and be met with backlash from the influencer’s community, who will immediately recognize the lack of sincerity in the post. Here you can read more about influencer marketing misfire.
Speaking of sincerity, choosing the right influencers to represent your brand is a great way to head off issues of insincerity. If you follow the previous advice about thoroughly getting to know an influencer and her audience, it will go a long way toward ensuring that your brand message and her brand message are in alignment, and consequently all content will feel like it is coming from an authentic place.
Imagine writing dire warnings about the horrific consequences of mineral deficiencies for a breezy, light-hearted, free-spirited guy like Thor. His fans are expecting his quirky, always-look-on-the-bright-side, glass-half-full sense of humor to shine through in every post, and it’s best for your brand not to deny it to them.
Thor’s fans are influenced by his opinion largely because his way of expressing himself resonates with them. What’s more, if they suddenly sense a change in tone, not only it will make them question his sincerity, it will make them look at your brand skeptically, if not downright suspiciously.
The best way to get your brand’s message across while allowing the influencer to be his genuine self is to give him guidelines about exactly what you’d like to communicate and then set him free to express your message in his own voice.
3) Build Genuine Relationships With Your Influencers
Once you’ve allowed your target audience to gracefully guide you to the absolute best influencers for your campaign, and given them creative license to represent your product with their own unique flair, make sure to give these hard won relationships the respect they deserve. An influencer who feels he is being treated as a person and not a generic marketing tool will perform better for your brand.
You can begin romancing your influencers even before the partnership is official by sharing their content or commenting on their posts so that they can get to know you.
Other ways to nurture your relationships with influencers include holding events where members of your team can meet and socialize with them human to human. Take that extra time to buy them to lunch or coffee. Try to regularly comment on their YouTube videos or Instagram posts.
You can also consider contributing to an influencer’s favorite charity or sponsoring a project that he cares about like the Cartoon Network did with this anti-bullying campaign co-created by the Cartoon Network and FullBottle.
Deepening brand-influencer relationships is a win for all involved. The better your connection with your influencers, the more genuine and heartfelt their posts will be, which can only benefit your brand. Influencers get to create content for a brand that they truly care about, and their followers get to enjoy engaging content while becoming loyal fans of your product.
More Effort at the Outset Makes for Greater Long Term Gains
Partnerships that you’ve taken the time to thoughtfully establish can flourish and become ongoing partnerships. Taking extra time in the planning stages of your campaign to find and connect with your audience—and thereby your influencer partners—will smooth the way for further marketing efforts down the line.
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