Are you tired of hearing about influencer marketing yet? Well according to just about every year-end review, it’s among the top trends for 2017 so you’d better get moving if you want to keep up.
A study published in eMarketer showed that nearly 85% of marketing and communications professionals worldwide expected to launch at least one campaign involving an influencer in the next 12 months. If you look at Google's keyword search for influencer marketing, it's increased more than 90 times since 2013, according to Adweek.
With the rise of ad blockers, the decline in traditional TV viewership, and the steady rise of social media, marketers need to fully embrace influencers in order to get their message heard in 2017 and beyond.
So where do we start and how can we be successful?
- Do Your Homework: Whether you're using an agency, a multi channel network, or doing it yourself you need to do your homework first. Who is your target audience? What content do they respond to? What social channels do they use most frequently? Where do they live online?
- Research Social Media Influencers: There are a number of ways to pick an influencer. According to Marco Hansell II, CEO of Speakr, "The easiest default is to hire an influencer agency to help do the search for you. Your next best bet is using some of the tools out there to help you with your search. If you don't have a lot of money to pay for any of the above then you can always search on your own. Some platforms are easier than others and have either top lists, top users, or suggested users to help the process."
- Understand Your Influencer: Spend some time building rapport to find out who they are and what motivates them. Surprisingly, money isn't always the top motivator for influencers. Authenticity, brand fit, and good press often matter more than getting paid. Marco Hansell reminds us that, "Influencers are people too! You're not buying a radio spot, you're interfacing with a human being and you need to understand that all influencers aren't made the same."
- Define Your Metrix: How are you going to measure whether your campaign is successful or not? Measurement tools are readily available for Facebook and Twitter but are still in the infancy stages with newer platforms. That being said, there are still ways to measure success on any channel. Remember what gets measured gets managed.
- Set Expectations: What are you hoping to accomplish with your campaign? Do you want to drive sales, traffic, or create brand awareness? Marco Hansell states that, "You need to focus and have only one goal. You can't try to do everything. Remember that a person will only engage one way with a post. They'll retweet it but not like it. They'll like it but not comment."
- Determine Where The Content Will Come From: Will the influencer create the content or will you? I think the best method is to give the influencer is an outline and let them run with it. Tell them the message you are trying to get across, along with some requirements (like including a link or a hashtag) and give them the freedom to do what they do. It's best not to be dogmatic and to work together to convey your message.
- Don't Forget About FTC Compliance: One of the biggest mistakes I see companies make is that they aren't FTC compliant. According to Adweek, "The rules are clear just be ‘honest and not misleading.' For short-format or ephemeral platforms, the FTC has agreed that ‘#ad’ effectively notes that the influencer has been compensated in some way. For YouTube videos, influencers should state that they are working with the brand, received compensation or complimentary products." Will this hurt an influencer's reach? Nope. Marco Hansell says that, "As long as the product they are endorsing fits with their brand, the audience won't care. They actually want to see the products that they like and use."
It’s funny how things come full circle. Back in the early days of TV and radio, content was created in order to sell a product. Soap operas were actually there to sell soap. With the rise of DVR, Spotify Premium, etc. we’ve figured out ways to bypass ads. Now the social media stars are taking it back to the old school: Inserting ads into their content in order to sell us stuff.
This article originally appeared in Forbes on December 13, 2016