The influencer marketing landscape is constantly evolving as platforms roll out new features, and new creators with fresh perspectives enter the fold every day. And in such a dynamic industry, marketers must always stay ahead of the latest trends to get the most possible ROI from their strategy.
In this blog, we’ll get you familiar with influencer marketing best practices to get the most bang for your buck. With a combination of tried and true approaches and best practices unique to 2023, you should have everything you need for the most up-to-date strategy.
1. Set clear objectives.
Goal setting should always be the first thing you do before implementing any new influencer marketing campaign or strategy. But don’t just tell yourself, “I am going to leverage influencers to get more sales.” If higher sales are your primary goal, great! But be sure to get as detailed as possible for your objectives.
Remember the SMART formula. Your goals should be:
- Gain 10,000 new Instagram followers by the end of the quarter.
- Drive a 20% increase in website traffic by EOY.
- Increase online sales by 15% next quarter.
- Collaborate with 50 micro influencers to generate 500 new content pieces over two months.
2. Choose the ‘right’ influencers.
When selecting influencers for your program, resist the urge to recruit based on follower count alone. While still an important attribute, vanity metrics give you a partial picture.
A few metrics and attributes to consider:
- Demographics: Your influencer demographics should align with your target audience. Age, location, gender, and family status are all important points to think about.
- Hobbies and interests: Look for creators who enjoy the same thing as your target audience.
- Engagement rate: This metric measures the level of interaction an audience has with an influencer’s content. Ideal engagement rates will vary by platform, but shoot for anything 5% or higher.
- Follower count: Audience size usually dictates the price for working with a creator. Larger influencers are more expensive but can carry your message far and wide. Nano and micro influencers have smaller audiences but are generally less expensive to work with and have more engaged audiences.
3. Authenticity matters.
Authenticity matters above all else. Consumers can smell a fake endorsement, and when they do, you’re likely to lose them for good.
Authentic influencers align with brand values and foster meaningful conversations that resonate with your target audience. This trust drives higher engagement, conversions, and long-term loyalty, resulting in higher and more sustainable ROI.
4. Be transparent about your partnerships.
Be upfront about your influencer partnerships and branded content. Disclosing collaborations fosters authenticity and ensures followers understand the context of the endorsements. Plus, most social media require you to mention a paid collab. And the last thing you need is a bad reputation on your platform of choice.
5. Build long-term relationships.
Influencer partnerships should be a partnership—not a transaction. And while one-off partnerships have value in some cases, locking your influencers in long-term will yield higher ROI when it’s all said and done.
- Credibility: As influencers become more familiar with the brand, their endorsements and promotions are likely to come across as more genuine and credible to their audience.
- Consistency: Working with the same influencers over an extended period allows for more consistent messaging and storytelling to reinforce your brand’s message and image.
- Deeper insights: Long-term relationships help you gain insights into your target audience through the influencer’s feedback and interactions with their followers.
- Brand advocacy: When influencers feel valued and appreciated in a long-term partnership, they are more likely to become advocates for the brand beyond their sponsored content.
- Long-term growth: Building relationships takes time, and influencer marketing can have a compounding effect over the long term. As the influencer’s audience grows and evolves, the brand’s presence can continue to expand and adapt alongside it.
6. Don’t sleep on nano and micro influencers.
Celebrity influencers are great for their name recognition and ability to drive massive brand awareness. But don’t sleep on the power of an army of nano and micro influencers.
Some of the main benefits:
- Trust and authenticity: Nano and micro influencers have smaller, more niche audiences. They are generally more relatable to their followers, making their endorsements seem more credible.
- Targeted audiences: These influencers usually have a very specific niche, meaning if your audiences align, you’re more likely to reach people who are genuinely interested in what you offer.
- Cost-effective: Smaller influencers are almost always less expensive to work with.
- Niche expertise: Many nano and micro influencers are experts in their niche. By partnering with them, you can tap into their domain knowledge and leverage their ability to explain and showcase your product or service in a way that resonates deeply with their audience.
- Adaptability: Nano and micro influencers are often more willing to tailor their content to suit your campaign goals. This flexibility enables you to experiment with different types of content and strategies to see what resonates best.
7. Identify micro communities.
A micro community, also known as a niche community or sub-community, refers to a small, specialized group of individuals who share a common interest, passion, or identity. These communities are characterized by their tight-knit nature and a focused connection around a specific topic, hobby, profession, belief, or demographic.
Identifying and targeting micro-communities allows you to optimize influencer marketing efforts by focusing on engaged, relevant audiences. This leads to increased engagement, higher trust, and better ROI due to the personalized nature of your campaigns.
8. Set clear guidelines…
When entering into a new partnership with an influencer, it’s important to give them a clear picture of what success looks like for the collaboration. Clue them in on your goals for the campaign and provide them with some inspiration on the style and tone for content that has worked best in the past. You might also consider implementing a content approval workflow to ensure your messaging stays airtight and on brand.
9. …But don’t micromanage.
While it’s important to let your influencers know exactly what you want out of the partnership, you have to give them the creative freedom necessary to make the content they know resonate best with their audience. Remember: You hired them for the relationship they’ve built with their audience, so don’t stifle their creative juices.
10. Leverage different platforms.
Prioritize the social media platforms your audience prefers, but don’t be afraid to experiment. Leveraging influencers across multiple platforms amplifies reach and engagement and helps connect with diverse audiences. This diversified approach boosts brand visibility, resonates better with varied user behaviors, and maintains a cohesive image. Plus, this system ensures adaptability in evolving digital landscapes, yielding broader and more effective brand influence.
11. Diversify your creator mix.
Sometimes partnering with creators outside of your industry can be just as effective as the ones directly aligned with you. Therefore, consider partnering with adjacent influencers who can help introduce your brand to a new audience.
Some examples of what we mean:
- A fitness influencer partnering with a food delivery service: While a food delivery service might naturally collaborate with food bloggers, partnering with a fitness influencer can emphasize the balance between indulgence and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The fitness influencer could create content showcasing how the food fits into their workout routine or post-workout nutrition.
- A travel blogger and a technology brand: A technology brand could team up with a travel blogger to highlight how their products enhance the travel experience. The blogger might demonstrate using the brand’s gadgets during their journeys, sharing tips for staying connected on the road or creating content on the go.
- A fashion influencer and a financial app service: Collaborating with a fashion influencer can add a stylish touch to a financial app’s image. The influencer could create content around smart budgeting, investment tips, or how using the app helps them manage their finances while staying on-trend.
- A Science YouTuber for a cosmetics company: A cosmetics brand might collaborate with a science YouTuber to explain the science behind skincare ingredients. This partnership could help build trust by educating consumers about the effectiveness and safety of the brand’s products.
12. Encourage user-generated content (UGC).
We’re all for leveraging influencer-generated content for honest product endorsements but collecting content from the “everyday” social media user can be just as valuable. Consider creating some unique hashtags that your fans can use to show their love for your brand. Just ensure you have the necessary content rights before repurposing this content on other marketing channels.
13. Get your employees involved.
Even if your employees aren’t technically “influencers,” their content can still be extremely valuable to use alongside influencer content in your strategy.
First of all, employee-generated content feels authentic and trustworthy. Customers love hearing from those within the organization and getting an exclusive look at life behind the scenes of their favorite brands. Plus, it never hurts to show the faces behind your products to help share your story.
Additionally, your employees are experts on your products, services, and industry. Their content can provide valuable insights, tips, and information that showcase your brand’s expertise and authority. This expertise can resonate well with your target audience and position your brand as a reliable source of information and solutions.
14. Repurpose high-performing content.
Always try to get as much mileage as possible from your influencer content. If a piece works particularly well, see where else you can leverage it.
Consider using your influencer content for:
- Customer newsletters
- Your brand website’s homepage and product pages
- Email marketing efforts
- Digital ads
- In-store displays
The list goes on and on. But as we mentioned before, obtaining necessary content rights is critical before repurposing your creator content, so make sure you have your bases covered.
15. Go live.
“Going live” is an effective strategy in influencer marketing because it offers real-time engagement, fostering direct interaction and authenticity. Live sessions create a sense of urgency, encouraging viewers to participate, ask questions, and form immediate connections with the influencer and brand. This dynamic, unscripted format builds trust, boosts engagement, and provides an immersive experience that resonates with audiences, ultimately driving stronger brand awareness and loyalty.
16. Ensure leadership understands the benefits of influencer marketing.
While influencer marketing isn’t necessarily a new strategy, the higher-ups in your organization might not fully understand its benefits. It’s up to you to give them a macro-level overview of your strategy and success.
This is a critical step because your leadership team’s support drives strategic alignment, resource allocation, and long-term success. Their buy-in also secures budget and resources, enabling effective campaigns.
With leadership on board, cross-functional collaboration thrives, leading to coherent influencer partnerships that resonate with the brand’s goals. Ultimately, leaders’ endorsement fosters a culture of innovation, adaptability, and responsiveness to consumer trends, positioning the brand for sustained growth in the dynamic landscape of modern marketing.
17. Share your brand story.
It’s important to humanize your brand by sharing your story and the people behind the products. And, of course, influencers can help.
Here are a few ideas for getting customers familiar with your brand story with the help of your creators:
- Testimonials: Influencers can create content sharing their personal experiences with your brand’s products or services. This could include how they discovered the brand, why they resonate with it, and how it has positively impacted their life.
- Behind-the-scenes tours: Invite influencers to a tour of your facilities, showing them how your products are made, the dedication of your team, and the brand’s commitment to quality.
- Founder or CEO interview: Arrange an interview with the founder or CEO of your brand, where the influencer can ask questions about the brand’s origin, values, and mission.
- Influencer takeovers: Allow an influencer to take over your brand’s social media account for a day. They can share their perspective, journey, and insights, connecting with your audience authentically.
- Interactive Q&A sessions: Host live Q&A sessions where the influencer answers questions from their followers about your brand’s story, values, and offerings.
18. Implement challenges.
What to increase your chances of going viral? Experiment with challenges. Well-designed challenges have the potential to gain a lot of traction—especially on TikTok. Not to mention the amount of user-generated content you can gather from fans looking to get in on the latest viral trend.
19. Get input from creators on new products.
Getting creators involved in brainstorming for new products is a great way to increase enthusiasm for your next release. Not only will conceptualizing new offerings with your creators give them a sense of ownership and investment in the new release, but the unique perspective they offer is also invaluable for tapping into their audience’s preferences, needs, and overall trends.
20. Make it an ‘experience.’
Creators can do more than just promote your products in branded posts on social media. By leveraging them in your next experiential marketing campaign, you can create more meaningful interactions with your audience to help them get to know your brand on a deeper level.
Some benefits of experiential marketing with influencers include:
- Engagement and interaction: Experiential marketing creates immersive and memorable experiences that engage all the senses. These experiences captivate attendees, fostering a deeper connection with the brand and its message.
- Memorability: Experiential events stand out in attendees’ memories due to their unique and interactive nature. This leads to better recall of the brand, its message, and the experience itself.
- Word-of-mouth and sharing: Attendees are more likely to share their positive experiences with friends, family, and on social media. If your campaign is really a hit, you can even acquire some valuable earned media value from your efforts.
- FOMO: Experiential events generate FOMO among those who couldn’t attend, creating anticipation and desire for future events.
- Human connection: Experiential events provide opportunities for face-to-face interactions with the brand’s representatives, fostering a genuine human connection.
- Product engagement: Attendees can tangibly interact with products, allowing them to experience their benefits firsthand. This can lead to increased understanding and interest in the products.
21. Provide creators with exclusive content or products.
Access to exclusive content or products is a great perk you can offer creators to show them how much you appreciate their work. The exclusive products you provide could be something only your creators have access to, or you could send them an unreleased product they can tease to their audience before the official launch date.
22. Brush up on current influencer marketing statistics.
Influencer marketing is constantly evolving, meaning what might be a “best practice” today could be obsolete tomorrow. That means staying current on all the latest industry news and statistics is critical.
23. Optimize for search.
Google isn’t the only search platform you need to consider these days. In fact, about 82% of consumers say they would rather search for products on social media than a traditional search engine.
With that in mind, be sure you’re considering search when captioning your social media posts—especially on TikTok. You’ll also want to get familiar with relevant hashtags in your industry to increase your discoverability.
24. ‘How did you hear about us?’
The customer journey can be challenging to map when working with influencers. Ideally, consumers will follow a discount code or affiliate link to purchase a product when they see an influencer promote it.
However, consumers often visit the brand’s website to learn more or make a mental note of the product and Google it later. That means the sale likely gets attributed to organic search rather than your influencer’s post.
To combat this issue, consider including a survey when someone buys a product from your website. Ask customers how they heard about your brand and product, and include “influencer recommendation” as an option to give yourself a better idea of the actual ROI gained from your influencer marketing efforts.
25. Empower creators to grow with your brand.
Influencer partnerships aren’t one-night stands—they are long-term loves. And ideally, you and your creator can grow together over time.
Here are some of the benefits:
- Authenticity: Creators who have been with your brand from the beginning are more likely to authentically resonate with your products, services, and values. Their genuine connection translates to more authentic content and engagement.
- Consistency: When creators grow with your brand, their content evolves alongside your brand’s narrative and identity, maintaining a consistent message that resonates with their audience.
- Trust and credibility: Long-term partnerships build trust and credibility. As creators consistently promote your brand, their audience sees their commitment, which in turn fosters trust in your products or services.
- Shared success: When your brand grows, creators who have been part of that journey feel a sense of ownership and pride in contributing to your success.
- Loyalty and advocacy: Empowered creators become brand advocates who genuinely care about your success. They are more likely to share positive feedback and experiences with their peers.
- Creativity and innovation: As creators become more familiar with your brand, they can brainstorm creative and innovative ways to integrate your products into their content.
- Long-term impact: Empowering creators to grow with your brand fosters relationships that extend beyond individual campaigns, resulting in a sustained impact on brand awareness and loyalty.
- Mutual growth: As your brand grows, you can provide creators with new opportunities, exposure, and compensation that align with their own growth goals.
Key takeaway on influencer marketing best practices: Get creative with your strategy to reap the full benefits of influencer marketing.
A successful influencer marketing campaign requires a proper strategy and planning, as well as a willingness to experiment. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and try something you’ve never done before. With the right influencers on your team, you should have all the tools you need to create unique and memorable campaigns that drive long-term ROI.