With the growth of social media, a new type of marketing has been born: influencer marketing. Nowadays, a select group of people who have a large social media following may be essential for brands to connect with consumers.

While in the past brands relied on the press to broadcast their messages, now they need to work with influencers to achieve the same goal. But journalists and influencers aren’t alike. Brands need to know how to work with both groups to get the most out of their campaigns.

Misha Shemyakin, Meltwater’s Sr. Director of Product Management, held a webinar with Dominic Vicencio, Account Director at Surdell & Partners. In it, they discuss working with social influencers, how to find them, and how successful relationships look.

Here’s what we’ve learned.

Why Social Influencers Matter

The key behind social influencers is that they are real people with whom consumers can connect.

Besides the authenticity of social influencers, influencer marketing works for another good reason: the strength of word-of-mouth. That is, it’s easier to trust the recommendations of a friend than a marketer. Ogilvy has found 74% of consumers identify word-of-mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decision.

By connecting with social influencers, brands can tap into two large audiences:

  • Millennials, the generation with the most spending power
  • Gen-Z, the first generation born with fluency in social media

While influencer marketing is still relatively new, last year, 86% of marketers admit to using influencer marketing tactics, while\ 92% found it effective.

Developing an Influencer Campaign

To start an influencer campaign, the first thing you need to do is define your goals. That can include:

  • Entering a new market
  • Acquiring new customers
  • Increasing brand awareness

With these goals in hand, you need to identify influencers that can help you reach audiences to achieve these goals and that align with your brand.

Then, you need to negotiate with the influencers. You need to know their number of followers, their engagement level, and other essential metrics. Also, remember to treat an influencer relationship, as you would any business partner (have a contract, detail deliverables, and tie that to a calendar).

After you’ve identified an influencer, you need to provide brand training. They need to know how to talk to their audience about your brand. Give them the message you want to convey, and let them say it their way.

Before finishing, coordinate the rollout. As always, you need to plan every detail before making the campaign live, so the executive quality is top-notch.

Finally, measure your success. Analyze the sales increase, the click-to-purchase ratio, and other metrics tied to your goals. To this end, tools like Meltwater’s Social Influencer platform can help.

How to Avoid Pitfalls

While influencer marketing can be highly effective, there can be some challenges you may run into when implementing a campaign. Here are a few of them you need to be wary about:

Research Your Influencers

As said before, you need to research every influencer before starting a campaign thoroughly. Check every social media account, every post for the past few years, the kind of companies they work with, their voice, and more.

Validate the Followers

There has been a rise of influencers with fake followers or influencers that have stolen someone else’s identity, as reported by The New York Times. For that reason, you need to make sure the followers of your target influencers are real and are your target audience.

Ensure Requirements Are Understood and Respected

You want to make sure deadlines and content is agreed upon by both parties involved. Also, the influencer needs to guarantee to respect key messages and brand guidelines.

Follow FTC Disclosures and Guidelines

Recently, the Federal Trade Commission made it mandatory that influencer-based marketing messages clarify paid endorsements.

Make sure the influencer respect’s the FTC’s disclosure rules and mentions your relationship when they spread your brand messages.

Takeaway

Since influence marketing has shown to be effective in a media-saturated landscape, it will continue to play a vital role in the way brands communicate with their audience. 

If you’re ready to wade into the reeds and implement a social influencer program, you can see the whole on-demand webinar here.