6 Critical Things to Know About Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is nothing new. The buzzy marketing tactic has been floating around in various forms for the past several years. But, as it becomes more commonplace, and more and more industries and companies are taking it seriously as part of their digital marketing mix, it’s important to note what influencer marketing actually does for your company. For those that don’t already dabble in influencer marketing, it can be intimidating to get started. You might ask, “How do you find the right influencers?” “Do I have to pay them?” “How much direction can I give them?” “How can I trust them?”

Well, let’s ease your mind and get you started on the right foot. AAF Reno started the year hosting a panel on influencer marketing (featuring yours truly) and I’m here to share some of the key takeaways from the luncheon.

Influencer Marketing Strategies for 2020

1. Put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and investigate.

Before you send out a contract, and before you even reach out to an influencer, do your research. Not only should you get to know their brand, you should get familiar with their analytics and any potential skeletons in their closet. Scroll through the influencer’s feed for the last several months, and make sure they don’t have a history of saying things that don’t align with your brand and values. Check that their engagement rate is in alignment with their follower size. Do your due diligence and make sure they are the right fit. (Trust us, they’ll be doing the same research on you if they don’t know your brand yet.)

2. Give influencers freedom AND a creative brief.

The power of influencers is in their genuine connection with their audience—the trust that has been built over years of content creation and DMs. Trust them to create content that fits their brand and yours. That said, you still need guardrails. Enter: the creative brief. This is where you—the brand—get to clearly define your goals, expectations, key messaging points, hashtags, approval processes, timing and more. This gets everyone on the same page from the get-go.

3. Build that relationship.

On the panel, Christina Erny, senior manager of digital marketing for our client, Visit Reno Tahoe, explained that she’s worked with the same influencers multiple times—sometimes it’s a paid exchange, sometimes it’s not. It depends on the needs of the destination as well as the needs of the influencer at any given time. She’s able to have this kind of fluid and amicable relationship because it’s genuine. In Erny’s case, she’ll have dinner with the influencers while they’re in-market and get to know them IRL, not just their Instagram personality. The handshake isn’t dead, people. Long-term relationships can have long-term rewards.

4. Pick platforms that align with your goals.

Want to drive clicks to your website? Instagram feed posts might not be the best route because it doesn’t have the functionality to support hyperlinks in the caption. Someone needs to take additional steps to go to a link in the influencers bio. It’s additional friction. Want to gain reviews for your product? Consider partnering with influencers on SEO-driven blog posts or YouTube videos that users can easily find in months and years to come as they are researching your product or service. There are numerous ways to partner with influencers based on their strengths and your goals.

5. Always remember that every influencer is its own small agency.

Let’s say you ask a fashion blogger to write a blog and post a photo on Instagram as part of a new collection launch. To make that content come to life, the influencer is acting as the business development team negotiating the contract, the creative director driving strategy, the wardrobe stylist, makeup artist, copywriter, editor, photo editor and a million other roles behind the scenes. Be respectful of the skills, expertise and hours of work that they put into a partnership. For many, it’s a full-time job and just receiving free products doesn’t pay the bills. Treat them with the same respect you would treat an agency partner. Yes, that includes having a budget to pay them when it makes sense.

6. Influencer marketing isn’t a replacement for a digital marketing strategy; it’s a piece of the puzzle.

You need a complete, multi-channel strategy beyond influencer marketing. From having a strong social media presence to an integrated search strategy, you need to look at your digital marketing holistically. Influencer marketing is a part of the puzzle—not a complete solution. As an added bonus, content created by influencers can be leveraged for paid advertising, landing pages, organic social media and more if you have the right contract. Bottom line: Get your influencer marketing integrated.

Looking for a partner to help you craft a creative digital performance strategy for 2020 and beyond—influencer marketing included? Let’s chat.