Social media is inextricably tied to almost every aspect of daily life. It has changed how we communicate, how we share information, and how we make decisions. Now, instead of turning to television for news and entertainment, audiences look to Facebook and Twitter to learn about the world around them; in lieu of reading magazine articles about where to shop, eat, and vacation, consumers now seek out recommendations from YouTubers, Instagrammers, and Snapchat stars.
With less time being spent consuming traditional media (especially television), the time spent on social media platforms has grown to over 60-90 minutes per day among U.S. internet users. The rise of ad blocking usage, too, has become a major concern for marketers, as this technology prevents digital display ads (like banner ads) and pre-roll ads (which precede Facebook and YouTube videos) from reaching their intended audiences.
In response to these trends, influencer marketing has increasingly replaced traditional forms of advertising as one of the most effective ways to reach online audiences. Today, 84% of companies plan on implementing an influencer marketing strategy in the next 12 months, and one study found that 82% of consumers would take the advice of a social media influencer when deciding what product to buy.
Graphic sourced via Google Trends
Despite the growing popularity of influencer marketing, however, many marketers are still unsure how to leverage the influence of social media stars to develop, launch, and measure effective influencer marketing campaigns.
How to develop an influencer marketing campaign in 10 steps
Launching your first influencer marketing campaign can seem like an insurmountable task, especially for marketers who have never worked with social media stars before. Here, we break the process down into ten, manageable steps to help companies navigate the complexities and avoid some of the common pitfalls associated with influencer marketing campaigns:
Step 1: Determine budget, audience, & goals
Like most advertising initiatives, the first step to creating an influencer marketing campaign is determining the budget and establishing the target audience. Setting campaign goals, or key performance indicators (KPIs), will also help inform what type of campaign you create and which influencer (or group of influencers) you will partner with.
Step 2: Choose the best platform
The platform you select for your influencer marketing campaign will likely be determined by your target audience. Do your consumers spend the most time on Facebook or Snapchat? Would your audience be most receptive to a YouTube video or a sponsored Instagram post? Answering these questions will help you choose which social platform will result in the most successful campaign.
Step 3: Set a publishing schedule
To ensure an influencer’s content is impactful, you should consider coordinating the campaign launch with other advertising initiatives and across multiple social media channels. Once you select an influencer, he or she will also know when their followers are the most engaged—take advantage of peak days and optimal publishing times for best results.
Step 4: Find the right social influencer
75% of marketers say identifying the right social media influencer to work with is the most challenging aspect of rolling out an influencer strategy, though the process can be simplified by checking each social media star before initial contact is made, utilizing influencer marketing tools or platforms, and/or partnering with established influencer marketing companies and agencies. Influencers should align with your company’s messaging and brand identity, have high levels of social engagement on their content, and correspond in a prompt and professional manner.
Step 5: Outline the influencer marketing campaign
Once an influencer has been chosen, it’s your responsibility to clearly communicate what you expect from the campaign. Create a campaign brief that includes copy points, creative guidance, and goals, but don’t try to exert too much control over an influencer’s content. He or she will likely know best what will resonate with their audience, and marketers are advised to work with each social media influencer when developing campaign content, not dictate at them.
Step 6: Negotiate rates & draw up contracts
Though many influencers will have a “rate card” with predetermined compensation figures, more complex campaigns may require negotiations. Once an agreement has been reached, all parties should sign a legal contract stipulating payment, deliverables, publishing schedule, and, licensing rights.
Step 7: Review campaign content
Before launching the campaign, take the time to review all aspects of the influencer-related content to make sure it includes the necessary copy points, aligns with your brand’s messaging and, most importantly, adheres to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines regarding proper disclosure of sponsored content.
Step 8: Launch the influencer marketing campaign
Once all content has been reviewed and approved, give the go-ahead to push the campaign “live” as scheduled. You should closely monitor the campaign and document any notable engagement at this time, as sponsored content will likely generate the most social attention immediately after publishing.
Step 9: Amplify & Optimize
To boost the reach of the influencer marketing campaign, share sponsored content on your own social media accounts and ask the social influencer to do the same across all social platforms (if appropriate or as predetermined in campaign contract). You may also choose to publish additional content that directs audiences to visit the campaign’s photo, videos, Snapchat Story, or blog post, and optimize the campaign by changing the wording on the content’s Call To Action (CTA).
Step 10: Report & Analyze
Evaluate the success of the influencer marketing campaign by collecting as much data as possible, including reach, impressions, views, engagement, click-through, sales, and anything else that will help you determine campaign performance. For an objective assessment of how engaging the campaign was, compare the sponsored content’s performance with the influencer’s typical metrics for non-sponsored content.