With certain credibility and a strong presence in digital environments, influencers have the potential to become advocates and prescribers of your brand. Their ability to, as the name suggests, influence other people’s behaviour is rooted in various factors, such as the size of their community (level of impact on their target audience –reach–) or their expertise in a specific area (level of authority and reputation within their community).
At this point, when the influencer market is reaching its maturity stage, we all probably have a clear idea of who these public figures of the digital universe are. In fact, many of us may have already had the opportunity to work with them in some of our marketing actions. Reviewing Tomoson’s report, it is not surprising that influencer marketing has become an essential tactic when it comes to boosting brand awareness or driving sales of a specific product:
- In the case of millennials and centennials, for example, we find that only 1% of them trust social media ads, but conversely over 33% turn to influencers to review their recommendations before making a purchase.
- Moreover, around 40% of people claim to have bought a product online after seeing an influencer had recommended it on their YouTube or Instagram profile, and 71% of respondents believe that an influencer’s voice is honest and authentic and keeps their audience engaged.
- Last but not least, we cannot forget that influencer marketing generates a ROI of $6.50 for every $1 invested.
To further emphasise the importance of this data, McKinsey’s recent study on the subject shows how a small share of active influencers accounted, in proportion, for a very high percentage of the total product recommendations.
Superdigitalisation as the ultimate driver of influencer marketing
The pandemic has accelerated many digital transformation processes that were already underway –such as the rise of TikTok (and, therefore, of TikTokers too)– and the influencer sector is no exception. Institutions are also striving to keep up with this wave of change: in Spain, the new Code of Conduct on the Use of Influencers in Advertising has entered into force in January 2021, and applies to current influencer marketing campaigns, as part of the influencer partnership agreement.
On the other hand, the health crisis has generated an environment of innovation, forcing influencers to evolve as content creators and to become even more professional. And, due to advertising and budgetary restrictions, brands have also been forced to find new ways of communicating with their target audiences.
Therefore, when it comes to activating influencers within our brand strategy, we are faced with a sea of possibilities that can generate uncertainty and frustration among marketers: How do I make sure I am choosing the right influencers for my campaign? How do I design an influencer marketing strategy? How do I contact them? How do I budget their fees and collaborations? What should I take into account when closing deals? And the star question: how do I measure the ROI of my actions?
At Good Rebels we work with a firm, solid and structured methodology, always prioritising the return on investment, extolling creativity in activations and, of course, working together with the influencers to build valuable content that connects with the target audience.
The 6 steps towards building brand advocacy with influencers
To achieve the above, we have designed a six-phased influencer strategy, with the aim of defining all the key elements of the campaign, from ideation to final analysis, including influencer selection.
1. Brief and strategy
Briefing is always an essential step in any campaign, but even more so if we want to work with influencers. A good brief will make the campaign much more effective since it is the base of the development of other two key phases of the process: hunting and selection.
An optimal briefing should contain a good summary and some context about the campaign and the brand, including the objectives, the budget, the platforms, the target audience and the volume of influencers that we are looking for.
Searching for (not selecting) influencers is one of the biggest obstacles for marketers. Hunting refers to all those tools that we use when locating influencers within the digital environment.
Although we can’t always count on technological tools for this task –either because the volume of campaigns is not high enough to make hunting platforms profitable, or simply because we don’t know they exist–, 11posts, Primetag, Heepsy o Leguidenoir are just some of the many platforms that can help us find influencers through segmentations such as age, sex, origin, area of expertise, number of followers or level of engagement.
If we don’t have the technology to do this automatically, the process becomes much more laborious and manual, and we will have to make use of our industry knowledge: previous campaigns developed with influencers, events they have attended, the environments they are in, the audiences they speak too… In this way, we have two possible starting points:
- If we are aware of marketing actions involving influencers, we can track their profiles using the campaign’s hashtag. For example, #PureActiveAcademy.
- If we know some private or public events attended by influencers, we could track their profiles through the event’s hashtag, such as #OscarMayerParties
If we look at the “Following” section of an influencer’s profile, we will see that they also follow other influencers, either as fans or because they are friends with them. In this way, we can navigate between communities and detect profiles that could be interesting for our campaign.
The final profile selection is one of the biggest concerns for marketers when designing their influencer campaigns. It is important that we make a structured, data-driven decision, based on the analysis of the profiles that were pre-selected at the hunting stage. Identifying what we are looking for (the main KPIs that profiles should have) and, most importantly, defining what we are not looking for is a good starting point.
Until now, the most common metrics were related to the number of followers, likes or reach. However, these figures can nowadays be falsified with a simple Google search (such as “buy followers on Instagram”). So how can we make sure that the metrics are real? How do we know if an influencer’s engagement rate is high enough to meet my objectives? Will they be able to drive traffic to my website as I have asked them to?
Fortunately, there are tools and tricks that can help us answer these questions, and ensure we preselect the ideal profiles to successfully carry out our campaign.
- Identifying fake followers: although there are tools, like SocialBlade, that allow us to detect whether or not a profile has fake followers, we can also find out by measuring the evolution of its community over the last few months. For example, if we analyse the following profile, which has more than 100,000 followers, it is strange to see that in the last few days it has lost 270 followers and only gained 30. Usually, the ups and downs are more or less stable, so in this case it is likely that they made a massive purchase of followers the previous month which gradually disappeared from their community over the following weeks.
- Looking at ER%, CPAs and CPMs through tools like the ones previously mentioned, or by manually analysing influencers’ latest posts.
- On the other hand, the demographic component (i.e. the gender, age and geographical area of the influencer) is also key when deciding whether the selected profile will meet our business needs and our communication targets. In this sense, Upfluence is a tool with which, by installing a Chrome plugin, we can quickly analyse a profile on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter or any other social network. In addition, it also provides interesting data, such as those mentioned in the previous points.
The negotiation phase is one of the most tedious and delicate parts of the process, but also one of the most important when it comes to safeguarding the well-being of our campaign. Once the proposal is finalised, we must proceed to close the contract with the influencers.
To avoid misunderstandings, it is vital to have a collaboration agreement between the agency or brand and the influencer. Although our recommendation will always be to carry out this process through an expert legal team, these are some of the essential elements that must be included in the document:
- Project description: briefing on content, mentions, tags, formats, channels and publication dates.
- Content details: number of posts, due dates or number of changes allowed.
- Image rights and paid media inclusion.
- Contract duration and exclusivity: establish the duration of the campaign and whether there is exclusivity of non-competition.
- Financial terms: compensation and deadlines.
- Intellectual property and GDPR.
- Analytics: right to share the performance results of the generated branded content.
OK, but how much should I actually pay an influencer for the work I’m requesting? Whilst there is no universal price list that can help us define the costs of our influencer campaign, experience (as in any other area) is essential. Marketers who have worked with influencer overtimes have acquired insight not only into the pricing of the different profiles, but also how to negotiate the fees for each campaign with them or with their agents.
Similarly, the very nature of a campaign or product will facilitate the purchase of the different publication packages, which will impact on the final cost of the influencer: it is not the same to negotiate with a consumer brand than with an insurance company, or with a recognised brand than with an newcomer. In addition, working with long-term ambassadors will also help you package contracts and significantly reduce profile costs.
Here comes the moment of truth, the campaign activation with our influencers. In this fifth phase of our strategy there are 3 essential points to bear in mind:
- Approved calendar. The project manager must confirm the content publication or campaign execution date and, unless there is a major issue, stick to it until the end of the campaign. This point is of vital importance, as in large campaigns (of, say, a hundred influencers) lack of coordination can be disastrous. Influencers are people, with their lives, their problems, their illnesses… and some things may not go as planned. Interchanging one profile for another in our calendar can help us save the campaign smoothly. And this will only be possible if we have planned all the content in advance.
- Influencer briefing. Although you may think that all the emails and calls you have exchanged with the agency or influencer are enough, this is not the case. Once the negotiation has come to an end, we should draw up a brief written or illustrated reference document, addressed to the influencer and indicating the essential details of the campaign, so that we make sure the actions are carried out correctly. It may be useful include a reminder of the publication date, the hashtag or mention of the campaign or resources for inspiration.
- Content reception and approval. We will receive and approve content according to the dates established in our calendar so that the campaign runs smoothly.
6. Reporting and closure
Although, until now, the most commonly used objective in influencer marketing campaigns was reach, new ways are currently being explored to also use influencers’ in business or sales campaigns.
In fact, it is not uncommon for brands to use influencer-specific discount codes (Wetaca and Colvin use this format on a daily basis). At Good Rebels, we also use this tactic, as well as tracked links, to analyse the sales generated by influencers on the Domino’s Pizza website or in the #MicrocinandoConLG campaign, which we developed for LG Electronics.
When analysing an influencer marketing strategy we should mainly take into account the key KPIs defined at the beginning of our strategy: was it a branding campaign? Did we want to sell a particular product on our website? These are some of the essential indicators for each of the different campaign objectives:
The sector is becoming more and more specialised. Brands and influencers are learning to coexist organically, establishing new models of collaboration, new ways of reaching audiences and, in short, new synergies that help both businesses. And 2021 will mark a before and after in the integration of influencers into marketing strategies.
Now more than ever, we have to approach influencers in an organised and planned manner. At Good Rebels we have no doubt: methodology is key to developing an effective influencer strategy with a measurable and profitable ROI.