Influencer marketing is more than just an overused buzzword. It can actually establish or further your brand’s image.

Simply put, influencer marketing is the act of partnering with key influencers to co-create engaging content that promotes your product, service or brand. Seems easy, but a lot of brands (emerging and established) get it wrong. 

Done correctly, influencer marketing can help you increase your brand recognition, expand your customer base, and ultimately drive more website traffic and sales. Nonetheless, just handing over free products, services or trips to influencers will not guarantee your brand’s success.

To show how powerful a influencer marketing campaign can be, A study by McKinsey found that “marketing-induced consumer-to-consumer word of mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising.”

However, over the past few years, I’ve heard entrepreneurs, brand managers and communications professionals, complain about their failed influencer marketing efforts. For the most part, all of their stories ended with lots of freebies given away (and oftentimes compensation) and no real impact, except for thousands of Instagram likes.

So what’s the issue? How could something that seems like such a great marketing strategy, go so wrong? Based on my conversations, I’ve compiled a list of the most common factors brands fail to address.

If you’re thinking about launching an influencer marketing campaign, keep the below points in mind. This is not a comprehensive list, but should help you get things started.

Have a (written) plan: Obvious? I don’t think so. Some people like to wing it, but I believe planning all aspects of any marketing initiative is extremely important. You’re investing time, money and energy, into building your company’s brand, so you should have a well-planned course of action. What should go in your plan?

  • Your goals and objectives
  • Key audiences
  • Target influencers 
  • Key messages
  • Content and visual guidelines
  • Timelines
  • KPIs

Look beyond follower count: So, you really want to work with the Instagram influencer who has 30k followers, but only ~80 likes a post? That’s probably not a good idea. And while likes to followers should play a huge role in your selection, it shouldn’t stop there. Look at the amount and types of comments their followers are leaving on their posts. Do their organic posts garner more engagement than their sponsored posts? Do their followers want to buy or use what they’re selling? Influence is not just about numbers, it’s about driving action. 

  • Find influencers who are your ideal customer
  • Ask to see their analytics reports from previous campaigns
  • Monitor their post frequency 
  • Make sure your proposed content fits into their feeds
  • Look for strong and consistent visuals 
  • Make sure they’re not promoting your competitors (or talking negatively about you)

Have an agreement: Enlisting influencers without a contract should never be an option. After you find influencers who are interested in being a part of your program, send them a contract to make your partnership official. Plan ahead, because there could be some back and forth to ensure both parties are aligned on the scope and deliverables. Your contract should include:

  • Goals 
  • Deliverables
  • Key Dates
  • Post campaign expectations
  • Compensation and payment methods and schedules

Control the content: People might disagree with this, but I think this is where most brands go wrong. If you’re giving away freebies (+ compensation) in exchange for promotion, you have every right to direct and review the messages and visuals the influencers create. You wouldn’t pay for a spread in a magazine and not direct and choose the images and copy, right? So don’t give away your control with influencers. It’s important to let the influencers manage the tone and style of the visuals and content, so it’s cohesive with their personal brands, but you should make sure you collaborate with them to achieve your goals. Here are some suggestions:

  • Share a condensed version of your campaign plan before they begin
  • Highlight key messages and terms
  • Include campaign or brand-related hashtags
  • Provide handles to tag and links to include
  • Create mood boards for visuals and sample content
  • Schedule a review session

Have a CTA: This is arguably, the most important piece of your campaign. What do you want people to do when they see your influencer’s post. Do you want them to visit your website, stop by your retail location or sign up for something? Be clear on what you want to happen and be sure your CTA is direct. If you want their followers to visit a link, be sure to make including a link to your site or landing page in their bio a part of your agreement.

  • Determine what you want prospects to do
  • Make sure you can measure the success of your CTA
  • Ensure the CTA is enticing
  • Evoke a sense of urgency
  • Use a variety of CTAs with the same goal

So if you’re thinking about launching your first influencer campaign or rebounding from a failed attempt, be sure to follow the above simple, but helpful rules.

If you have other ideas on how to execute a successful influencer marketing campaign, share them below.

Featured Image by Que