When most people think of influencer marketing, they think of paid Instagram posts from the Kardashians.
While celebrity endorsements are one aspect of influencer marketing, they’re not the entire scope of the phenomenon. Influencer marketing has become quite the hot topic in the marketing world. If your organization is interested in working with influencers, here are five thoughts to help enterprising marketers get started.
1. Find the right influencer.
Start by defining your audience. Who is your ideal customer? What’s the demographic? Once your desired audience is defined, use an influencer database such as TapInfluence or Traackr.
Most sites will allow users to search specific keywords or topics to find the right targets. You may also want to search for influencers who are already talking about your brand. These people tend to be natural advocates and make great spokespeople.
Finding the right influencer takes some work. You’ll need to dig in and vet the data, a large contributing factor to the success of your campaign. Look for someone who not only posts on social media regularly, but also has a good amount of engagement on their online content. This person will represent your organization and needs to align with its goals, ethics and image.
2. Size doesn’t always matter.
Remember, it’s okay to start small. Sometimes it’s more important to find someone who has a small following but fits your niche market perfectly than for them to have thousands of social media followers that don’t relate to your company. Just because an influencer has a large following doesn’t mean that he or she is automatically the best fit for your brand.
You also don’t have to kick off your influencer marketing program on a grand scale. Most experts recommend that you start small.
Give the influencer a small project and see how it goes. If things are moving in the right direction, expand the program to ongoing campaigns and additional influencers.
3. Be prepared to pay.
A common question that many companies ask is whether it’s absolutely necessary to pay to work with an influencer? Similar to paying for increased reach via social media advertising, brand managers should view influencer marketing as another tool that requires payment to accomplish the same goal.
Depending on your brand, you may be able to work out a product giveaway in exchange for a post, but in most cases, influencers expect compensation for their posts. Last year, companies spent $570 million on Instagram influencer marketing according to eMarketer, and according to influencer tech firm Hypr, the price range per post for influencers with 500,000 to 1 million followers across social platforms is $5,000 – $10,000.
4. Measure your results with data.
From the start, a campaign should have measurable objectives. Are you looking for increased traffic to your website, a boost in sales or more brand awareness? Evaluate how influencer marketing affects all levels of your company’s marketing funnel.
Most influencer databases will provide analytics. You can also ask bloggers to provide analytics for their posts. Measure your website or blog traffic via Google Analytics.
5. Be creative.
Once you start working with influencers, remember to allow room for creativity. An added benefit is that influencers will tell a brand’s story in their own unique way. Brand managers should prepare key messages for a campaign, but let those be a starting point for an influencer. The best results usually occur when brands give influencers the freedom to create authentic content.
Don’t forget to treat your influencers with the same respect you would give the media. If all goes well, your relationship will turn into a long-lasting, mutually beneficial one.
Rebecca Renfroe is the PR Director at Dallas-based integrated marketing agency MCC where she oversees media relations and social media strategy for the agency’s clients. A version of this article originally appeared on the MCC Blog.