For some, influencer marketing can have an almost mystical feel to it. But successful campaigns share the same core qualities.
The brand develops clear goals for a campaign. It finds the right influencer, with the right audience and the brand and influencer work in partnership throughout the campaign to ensure its success.
Done well, influencer marketing gives brands a way to connect with relevant audiences through people whose opinion they trust.
The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer reported that 60% of people viewed people like them as extremely or very credible. They trust them as much as experts. They were also almost half as likely to see business leaders as credible. Influencers bridge the credibility gap – giving their followers added insight into why they should take a chance on an unfamiliar brand.
But what do brands need to do to give their influencer campaign the best chance of success?
1. Ask influencers for the right data
We recently questioned 1000 influencers about their collaboration with brands.
Influencers reported that – when searching for the right influencer to work with – brands tended to focus only on follower numbers. Just 29% of influencers are asked by brands for their audience demographic data. Nineteen percent are asked for the results of other campaigns they’ve worked on. And only 11% are asked to share Google analytics data.
Follower numbers alone don’t give a complete picture of a person’s ability to influence those followers. Brands should be focusing on not only whether an influencers followers are right for the brand, but on how engaged they are, and how likely to take action. This makes asking for previous campaign results and audience demographic data essential to a campaign’s success.
How do you know if you’re working with the right influencer if you know nothing about their audience or where it’s located? Do you know if the influencer has a track record of successful brand collaborations? These are essential things to know before agreeing to work together on a campaign.
2. Establish a partnership with the influencer
At ZINE, we’ve found that influencers spend considerable time creating and maintaining their personal brand. Forty-four percent of influencers we questioned said that being an influencer was their full-time job. For this reason, almost half of influencers (47%) said that they would reject brand collaboration proposal if they felt it wouldn’t resonate with their audience. Authenticity matters. Far fewer (29%) would reject a brand collaboration proposal if the budget was too low.
Influencers expect to be remunerated, for the most part. While a few (mostly newer, smaller) influencers will collaborate in exchange for ‘exposure’ by the brand, 65% expect compensation for their work in the form of hard payment, or free products or access to events (such as Fashion Week for fashion bloggers).
Being allowed creative freedom is important, too – 16% of Influencers would turn down work if the brand is too restrictive with their guidelines.
When working with influencers, brands aren’t just buying content and views – they’re paying for the authority that the influencer has in the subject area and their creative direction. They’re also paying to use the relationship of trust that the influencer has built with their audience. They are leasing the influencer’s authority. Influencers want an element of control over the content because it’s their reputation and work being used to promote the brand.
Ultimately, Influencers know how to talk to their audience in an authentic and engaging way – that’s how they built their following in the first place.
Influencers also want to do the best job that they can for brands, and prefer long-term partnerships to short-term projects. Our survey revealed that 50% of influencers have worked with the same brand on multiple campaigns.
3. Communicate regularly
According to our research, only 25% of influencers knew the brand’s goals of the campaign. The brands they worked with didn’t share their overall objectives with them. This makes success impossible to measure.
Influencers need to be able to track the effectiveness of their work so that they can make adjustments before and during the campaign. Their content may be popular with their fans, but is it influencing them to take actions that support the campaign’s goals?
The influencer may feel that the campaign is successful because the content is being viewed, shared or commented on a lot, but if the brand’s goal is for the influencer marketing campaign to generate sales, it might not see the campaign as successful if sales are non-existent.
Influencers that are able to monitor the effectiveness of their work can fine-tune their content to deliver the results the brand wants while the campaign is ongoing.
Influencer marketing campaigns can be very effective, but only if the brand/agency and influencer work together to create a campaign that appeals to the influencer’s audience and encourages them to do something beyond passively viewing the content created.
Beyond finding the right influencer for the campaign – one who not only shares the brand’s values but is passionate about the product – brands and agencies need to trust the influencer with the information they need to create an effective campaign.