While brands can benefit from the large followings and high engagement levels of mainstream influencers, engaging a micro influencer with a smaller (10k-100k) but more finely tuned audience can also reap awards.
Influencer marketing is nothing new. Yet the ways brands engage influencers – and the way those influencers impart their value as ambassadors – continues to evolve. While the idea of engaging a celebrity to be a brand’s spokesperson is an influencer engagement strategy that has stood the test of time, Instagram Stories & Reels, YouTube Videos & Shorts, and other social media tools have become increasingly popular avenues for influencer engagement.
While the appeal of engaging an individual with a sizeable, established and engaged audience is undeniable, taking the time to identify the types of influencers who are best aligned with a brand’s mission, vision and values is due diligence that can make the difference between a campaign that delivers modest versus memorable results.
Whether you are a nonprofit looking to engage niche influencers to advance your mission or a consumer brand seeking to cultivate new customers, ask yourself these key questions before contracting with an influencer.
#1: Who is my target audience?
When evaluating a mainstream influencer, it is highly likely that you will find those who have many followers who fall within your target audience as well as some who lay slightly outside of that niche. With that said, it is important to be crystal clear about who your ideal audience is and what attributes may lead someone not to be a good prospect for your product or service. Keeping this information top of mind can help with vetting influencers to find the best match(es) and optimizing the ROI of a campaign.
#2: Which, if any, influencers are my competitors engaging?
The influencer marketing sphere is highly competitive. Many well-established influencers are in the coveted position of being able to name their price – or at least drive a tight round of negotiations – which can make is challenging for smaller or newer brands to break into the influencer marketing space. And, many competing brands are leveraging influencer marketing to give themselves an advantage in the marketplace.
In the first scenario, considering a micro influencer – someone with a notable following but a more narrowly focused audience – can be advantageous. While they may not have as large of an audience as a mainstream influencer, they likely have an audience who is more closely aligned with your mission, vision and values…all of which can lead to a higher converting campaign.
In the latter scenario, it’s prudent to hone in on what makes your brand or cause unique from the competition and use those key attributes to refine your list of target influencers. And, if you saw a competitor working with an influencer who you feel is a prime target for your brand, it never hurts to reach out and see if they are still engaged by your competitor or if there experience with that brand has left them open to alternative partnerships.
#3: How will I measure the success of an influencer marketing campaign?
What are your goals? Convince prospects to demo a product or app? Sell a subscription service? Raise funds? Attract volunteers? While this short list barely scratches the surface of what a brand or cause could aim to accomplish through influencer marketing, identifying clear, measurable objectives and a baseline definition of success is key to evaluating the impact of your influencer marketing efforts.
#4: How can I replicate the success – and potentially expand – my organization’s influencer marketing efforts if they work well?
Best case scenario: You exceed the engagement and conversion metrics that were set out at the beginning of the campaign. And, better yet, those who engaged are now voluntarily spreading the good work about your company or cause on social because they were so impressed by the value you delivered to them. Now what? Do you look to re-engage the same influencers in a future campaign? Expand to engage influencers with similar audiences? Or layer on a coordinating ad campaign or contest to drive more engagement and conversion? While there aren’t any right or wrong answers to these questions, be realistic about how quickly you can scale your influencer marketing program and ensure you can meet the expectations of your newfound and growing audiences.
#5: How can I refine my strategy or redirect future resources if influencer marketing doesn’t net the projected ROI?
Another scenario: Your first influencer marketing campaign underperformed. Before you abandon influencer marketing over disappointing ROI, break down the results as carefully as you can. Factors to look at include: timing, unplanned events that occurred while your campaign was running, tech failures, competing campaigns, trolls and bots, etc. If you are able to identify any missteps or glitches, is it worth making a second attempt once those items are fine-tuned? Or, does it make sense to scale down to a smaller group of influencers and put those remaining resources towards a different marketing channel that would coordinate well with your influencer marketing effort and help to bolster the collective ROI?
While influencer marketing requires careful research to identify and vet the individuals who are most aligned with your company or cause, leveraging individuals with well-established and highly engaged communities can significantly bolster an organization’s audience and engagement. A well-orchestrated influencer marketing campaign can help an organization to reach new stakeholders, grow its online communities and provide an avenue for executing a creative campaign that educates, engages and converts. And, most importantly, it can help to set one apart from the competition while cultivating an eager group of raving brand ambassadors who can be activated and engaged for years to come.