10 Tips On How to Run a Successful Influencer Marketing Campaign During COVID-19
Influencer marketing has a strong influence on a brand’s industry and target audience. But how has the pandemic changed the influencer landscape, and how are brands and creators adapting to the “new normal”?
How has the pandemic changed influencer marketing?
The pandemic created an urgent need for more research on influencer marketing. According to Econsultancy, the purpose of influencer marketing has changed drastically over the last 12 months, claiming the younger generation of consumers is the biggest driver of change. As people have had more time to spend at home, 95% of consumers are spending more time on social media now than before the pandemic, according to Global Web Index. As TikTok and the popularity of “everyday influencers” increased, brands caught on quickly.
The pandemic not only increased the use of influencer marketing but also changed the way brands work with influencers. The pandemic saw a shift in how influencers and brands communicate and showed a greater focus on brand values rather than the product itself. As the pandemic influenced the economy, it made more sense to focus on relationship-based influencer marketing rather than product-based.
Why does it work?
Influencers already have a trusted following, which means their audience values their opinion far more than they do traditional advertising. Fifty percent of customers trust recommendations from influencers, whereas only 33% trust traditional ads, as reported by Social Media Today. The Digital Marketing Institute also reports that 60% of consumers would consider buying a product recommended by an influencer and that 40% already have.
But it’s not only customers that trust influencers. According to Social Media Today, 90% of brands using influencer marketing find it effective, and it has shown to generate up to 11 times the ROI of regular advertising.
…So how do we do it?
As influencer marketing has been around for a significant amount of time, there has been enough time to develop some best practices. Here are ten best practices we use at the agency, and our tips on how to run a successful influencer campaign:
Consumers see right through “sales-y” endorsements, which is why a genuine voice of an influencer to tell their personal experience has been proven to make audiences listen. According to Econsultancy, 61% of consumers prefer influencers who create content that is authentic and engaging and show how they use the products in their everyday life. They also reported that more than 90% of marketers say proving authenticity is the biggest factor for the future of influencer marketing.
Selecting influencers with the same culture and values as your brand, who are experts in your niche
The most important part of selecting influencers for your brand is to find ones that align with your values and company culture. Most influencers will only promote products that would be of value to their audience, which is the very point of influencer marketing. If something seems out-of-place, consumers tend to catch on pretty quickly. It is also recommended to focus on micro-influencers (meaning influencers with less than 100,000 followers) rather than higher-profile ones, as micro-influencers are more niche and tend to have higher engagement rates (AND they’re cheaper). According to ReferralRock, 82% of consumers are “highly likely to follow a recommendation from a micro-influencer, and 61% of consumers say that micro-influencers produce the most relatable content.”
How to reach out
After doing your research and choosing what types of influencers you want to target, it’s time to reach out. Respona recommends crafting a pitch to catch the influencer’s attention. Most influencers have a busy email list, so you want to make sure you stand out – starting at your subject line (if you intend to reach out by email). Your pitch should include what you would like them to do for you and make sure to include specifics. While you don’t want to dump a whole essay on them, make sure to include all the information so the influencer doesn’t have to ask lots of questions. It’s better to include all of the information so you’re clear on what you want from them. Including a deadline is also important so they have a timeframe to relate to.
Work with multiple influencers at once
If one influencer helps increase your reach and engagement, imagine what multiple would do for your brand! Hire multiple influencers for the same campaign to show your audience different perspectives of your product/brand.
Set goals for your campaign
Goals are absolutely necessary to run a successful influencer campaign. Whether your goal is to drive conversions, increase sales or generate brand awareness, it’s important to choose influencers who will help you achieve your goals. For example, if you’re trying to gain new customers, choose an influencer who hasn’t posted about your brand/product before. If you’re trying to reach a new market in a different country, choose an influencer from there who is in your niche.
Influencer marketing software can help you narrow it down
Influencer marketing software is a great start when it comes to finding the right influencers for your brand as their built-in searchable marketplaces allow organizations to find new influencers for their campaigns. Such software allows you to filter influencers by factors such as age, gender, location, number of followers, engagement rates, follower demographics, etc.
Setting guidelines is extremely important as you want to make sure your influencer is on the same page as you. These typically include requiring the influencer to mention your brand in the post and tag your business’ account. You might also have certain links, hashtags or discount codes you want them to include. It’s also extremely important that the influencer discloses the fact that the post is sponsored, as it is required by the Federal Trade Commission.
Give your influencers creative leeway
While you want to make sure you set some ground rules and discuss the main objectives of the campaign with your influencers, it’s important to give them creative leeway. Their followers follow them for a reason, so you want to make sure their promotions are as genuine and personalized as possible. You can always give your influencers inspiration and examples for captions, but you always want to make sure they personalize them and make them their own.
How to measure your campaigns
The best way to measure the success of your campaign is to find the Return On Investment (ROI) through impressions, reach engagement (likes, comments, shares), conversions, traffic and sales. According to Econsultancy, 85% of marketers say “engagement data is the biggest metric of success for influencer marketing.”
You ALWAYS want to make sure your influencers are fairly compensated for their work. Firstly to keep your influencers happy, but also because it can hurt your brand if you don’t. ReferralRock recommends influencer gifts such as luxury or practical gifts, free products or gift cards. According to Influence.co, the “overall average price for Instagram influencer payments was $271 per post, with an average of $83 per post for micro-influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers and $763 for influencers with more than 100,000 followers.” Just make sure to not leave out other important things in your budget. While compensation is very important, you want to make sure to include costs of influencer marketing software, employee salaries, product/service costs and content usage rights to conduct your campaign as efficiently as possible.
While the pandemic sparked influencer marketing through the roof, it has also created some concerns. According to Econsultancy, the number one concern is “fake followers” aka bought followers. People do this in hopes of getting a shortcut to receiving success and becoming an influencer but it can hurt your brand if it’s realized too late. Here are some of the most common signs of an account with fake followers:
- They have a lot of followers but low engagement.
- Several posts for a few days, but then less to none.
- Blank bio or copied profile sections.
- Irrelevant comments.
If unsure of whether an account is genuine or not, there are luckily audit tools you can use to spot fake followers and likes. Such tools can give you a score of the authenticity of their account and how valuable it would be for your brand.
We have an Influencer Marketing Program here at JSMM! Our team of social media marketing experts design customized and scalable programs for large and small clients alike. These programs are created to hit tangible revenue goals, increase new contacts and generate leads. Our secret to success is combining the right tactics with the right budget and scaling the program over time. In most cases, clients see rapid results within 60 days, increasing website leads. Additionally, after 12 months, clients are ready to mature their programs, increase sales goals, test new platforms and expand budgets. Each client is different, and therefore, treated uniquely. Our goal is to increase qualified leads and sales while managing budgets. For examples of our work, make sure to check out our portfolio including influencer campaigns we have done for clients previously.