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Key Steps to Planning an Influencer Marketing Campaign

Scrabble tiles spelling 'influencer'

So, you want to start an influencer marketing campaign. My first question is, why?  

The reason I ask is because influencer marketing can be a highly effective marketing technique, but it doesn’t work for everyone, or every sector, and it can deliver different results if managed as a solo strategy or as part of a wider campaign. 

Before you embark on an influencer campaign, go through the following steps to make sure you’re fully prepared…

1. Define your goals

What are you trying to achieve with an influencer campaign?

  • Brand awareness - Often influencers are used to spread a message to gain as much online reach as possible. Reach is effectively the number of eyeballs on your product or service.
  • Engagement – Having a target engagement rate (ER) may affect your strategy. Using techniques like polls can help to get your audience to engage with the influencer (and your message).
  • Conversions – You may want to use influencers to drive sales to a website by using an affiliate code, attendees to a conference, downloads of an app and many other ideas.

All these goals should ideally be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

2. Research influencers

This process takes the most amount of time. First, you need to think about the themes and messaging you want to create from your campaign and define the type of influencers that could best promote your story.

For example, if you were opening a new Vegan restaurant in London, it makes sense to consider Vegan influencers based in London.

You can do this by pulling together a list of suitable candidates, which you can do on a spreadsheet and assess their feeds, judging what their engagement rate is like by assessing their last 10 posts/videos. 

The most important thing to consider is whether their values align with yours. Could you work with this person? After all they are promoting your brand.

You can of course use an influencer platform or agency, PR or talent agency or social media specialist to help you with this process if you don’t want to do it on your own.  If you are looking for a sizeable campaign, my suggestion is to work with a specialist agency or platform, because managing an effective influencer campaign with multiple moving parts and people can be hugely cumbersome.

3. Set a budget

Influencer marketing can be very cost-effective for emerging brands, but can vary depending on what platform you use.

YouTube is the most expensive, but that’s because it takes quite a lot of time to create a video and edit it properly. An Instagram post shot at home could be more cost effective.

The higher up the influencer chart, the higher cost. Kylie Jenner might cost you $1m per Instagram post - but then she does have 215m followers.

If you want to run a gifting campaign, i.e., not pay for content/post promotion, you should ask if you can send the influencers your product, without asking them if they promote it (and hope that they do).  

Another consideration is whether you want to add a discount on your products, that only the influencer can use supported by a measurable link or code.

Aside from the cost of the content, you may wish to use the content on other collateral like your website, or on other platforms and will need to pay a rights usage for this.

(You’ll be able to get a more detailed idea of costs in my book Influencer Marketing Strategy.)

4. Reach out to influencers

Reaching out to influencers does not come without its challenges, as a huge percentage will not respond unless they want to, or they feel that your proposition really aligns with theirs.

My first piece of advice is to never treat them as a salesperson or a media asset – they are a specialist content creator with enormous value.

If you want to get 20 influencers on board, you’ll need to reach out to at least 30/40. Some may also decide to drop-out before the agreement is concluded for various reasons.

You might like to engage with their posts before you approach them to create a level of interest and engagement, and email can also be an effective way to do this.

Firstly, ask them if they would be interested in a campaign, perhaps don’t provide all the details but enough to pique their interest, with the aim to build up a relationship with them from there.

5. Brief properly

This is one of the most essential parts of the influencer strategy and its an area that frustrates influencers most when it is not done well.

You need to make sure every element is extremely clear: what content you want and when, if it is part of a wider campaign and what that looks like, what the approval process is, the brand guidelines, what platform the content should appear on, how long the campaign will last, etc.   

Most top talent will have talent agents representing them so you may have to go via them. They will certainly create a contract that parties must sign, which will also stipulate the importance of #Ad disclosures and details of how payments will be made (and of course all the specific details outlined in the brief).

6. Campaign execution and evaluation

Once the campaign is running you will need to evaluate and monitor its results constantly (or have a partner/platform that can do it for you).

One of the benefits of influencer marketing is that by using multiple individuals, you can see different levels of performance on different pieces of content at different times. Many campaigns also have a specific hashtag linked to a product or brand.

Once the campaign is over, you’ll have huge amounts of data, which will help you run another campaign using the successful attributes of the first one. You might find that an influencer campaign supported by paid media was more effective, or as part of a wider campaign.

Either way, what’s important is that you measure the performance against the main goals you set.

Think you can handle all of that? If so, you could very well be on your way to your first influencer marketing campaign – good luck!