The Most Important Step in Running an Influencer Marketing Campaign

Influencer Marketing ROI
Learn how to spot fake engagement on Instagram, without spending your own money to find out the hard way.
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A major issue we see in this space is that all too often, businesses will get in over their heads with a ho-hum array of influencers who don’t properly align with the brand – a recipe for disaster before it even begins.

Depending on what industry you’re in, jumping into influencer marketing in 2019 is either a good, or a great idea. Have you done your research? Influencer marketing is exploding like gangbusters, with 65% of marketers increasing their budget towards it in 2018. 

While there is a long list of reasons to be leveraging this marketing vertical, you shouldn’t just dive in for the sake of getting in the game. Approach and attack with a strategy in place, a plan to stick to, and come out on the other side with more customers, increased brand awareness, and some smiles on senior management’s faces during your next quarterly report.

A major issue we see in this space is that all too often, businesses will get in over their heads with a ho-hum array of influencers who don’t properly align with the brand – a recipe for disaster before it even begins. You want to work with a fleet of influencers that set your brand up for success. As influencer marketing expert, Tom Augenthaler puts it “if you can vet the influencers in a campaign well, you set the strategy up for success”. In essence, what Tom means is that if you want to have fighting chance of winning at influencer marketing, you need to start with the right influencers in your corner. If you fail to recognize who the influencers are that move the needle in your industry, then even the most perfectly planned influencer marketing strategy will fail.

There are two pillars of influencer marketing that really go hand-in-hand and should be carefully considered when vetting influencers for a campaign. Think, does my audience trust this person? Why should they be trusted, how did they earn their trust? Then evaluate the fit. Does this person align well with my product or service?

Trust

For influencer marketing to be effective, the influencer must be trusted by their following. Trust means that the following not only believes that the influencer has tried the product/service, it means they have tried, actively use, and enjoy the benefits of said product/service. The followers want to believe that you would only show them something that has made an improvement in your life and can make a positive impact on theirs as well. So when Desperate Housewife #17 throws up her Fit Tea Instagram post with an empty mug and a bra full of silicone, we can’t help but wonder if maybe the Hollywood secret isn’t in fact overpriced Senna extract; meanwhile impressionable young Becki spends the next four hours of her day trekking back and forth to the lavatory, but I digress. On the other hand, when Jenna Fischer wears a “Finer things club” crewneck, you know that she not only gives a ringing endorsement for the impeccable style, but she’s probably rehearsing lines somewhere, sipping a coffee, and legitimately wearing that sweatshirt with enthusiasm.

The “can I picture them using this regularly” test is pretty solid. Pop quiz, are you ready? Barry Bonds promoting anabolic steroids? Check. How about Jamie Oliver endorsing a new Texas’ Hold’ em app? Probably not. Gisele Bundchen hyping up a Hockey game? Again, no. Dwight K Schrute advocating for the benefits of beet juice? Absolutely. You get the picture.

For influencer marketing to be effective, the influencer must be trusted by their following. Trust means that the following not only believes that the influencer has tried the product/service, it means they have tried, actively use, and enjoy the benefits of said product/service. The followers want to believe that you would only show them something that has made an improvement in your life and can make a positive impact on theirs as well. So when Desperate Housewife #17 throws up her Fit Tea Instagram post with an empty mug and a bra full of silicone, we can’t help but wonder if maybe the Hollywood secret isn’t in fact overpriced Senna extract.

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Meanwhile, impressionable young Becki spends the next four hours of her day trekking back and forth to the lavatory, but I digress. On the other hand, when Jenna Fischer wears a “Finer things club” crewneck, you know that she not only gives a ringing endorsement for the impeccable style, but she’s probably rehearsing lines somewhere, sipping a coffee, and legitimately wearing that sweatshirt with enthusiasm.

The “can I picture them using this regularly” test is pretty solid. Pop quiz, are you ready? Barry Bonds promoting anabolic steroids? Check. How about Jamie Oliver endorsing a new Texas’ Hold’ em app? Probably not. Gisele Bundchen hyping up a Hockey game? Again, no. Dwight K Schrute advocating for the benefits of beet juice? Absolutely. You get the picture.

You may find some marketers who simply refer to believability – but is that where you want to stop? Do you simply want your audience to see an influencer promote something and the followers give a resounding “meh”? A collective “Yeah, I guess I can see him using that”. That’s not influence, that’s simple exposure. Go get a billboard if exposure is all you’re after. If you want real influence then the product has to seamlessly integrate with the influencer’s life.

Fit

Fit is important because we can’t just assume everyone with a large social following knows what they’re talking about. A big audience does not grant credibility. Picture this, Julio the dog trainer, who has trained over 3,000 dogs and staged 25 on the podium at national dog shows, uploads an image of himself and his prized K9 working on some tricks. He endorses a brand of treats that are great for training because they are proven to be a natural source of Vitamin B6, which helps with cognitive brain development in dog brains. You’re probably going to believe him, even if you’ve never heard of Vitamin B6 helping with cognitive development of dog brains (and you shouldn’t have heard that before because I just made it up). But if Julio the fricken’ dog whisperer just said it’s true, then hey, why not give it a whirl?

However, if Barb the Dental Hygienist tells you about the same brand of dog treats, you’d probably be left thinking “okay Barb, you don’t even know the difference between a Nova Scotia Duck Toller and a Mini Golden Retriever… please”, and you wouldn’t think about those treats again.

That’s the power of a strong referral.

Fit is so incredibly important because you cannot have the full trusting attention of an audience without it. When you’re looking at influencers and can’t decide if they’re a good fit or not, run through this list and you’ll find that the answer becomes more apparent:

  1. Would my current customers value this influencer’s opinion on the product?
  2. Is this influencer already endorsing a product that accomplishes the same objective?
  3. Does this influencer have any discernible background that gives them credibility in the field?
  4. Is this influencer capable of connecting with their audience on a personal level? Do they engage with them in the comments? Do they share insightful content into their life?
  5. Did they show a genuine interest in your brand when you contacted them, or did they seem to only be into it for the financial gain?

If your influencer isn’t a great match, then you need to continue searching for the right fit in order for your brand to establish trust between influencer and audience. After all, the influencer is in many ways, an extension of your brand and often the first touchpoint you have with your target market.

When the fit isn’t right, it can be, well… awkward

Fit is important because we can’t just assume everyone with a large social following knows what they’re talking about. A big audience does not grant credibility. Picture this, Julio the dog trainer, who has trained over 3,000 dogs and staged 25 on the podium at national dog shows, uploads an image of himself and his prized K9 working on some tricks. He endorses a brand of treats that are great for training because they are proven to be a natural source of Vitamin B6, which helps with cognitive brain development in dog brains. You’re probably going to believe him, even if you’ve never heard of Vitamin B6 helping with cognitive development of dog brains (and you shouldn’t have heard that before because I just made it up). But if Julio the fricken’ dog whisperer just said it’s true, then hey, why not give it a whirl?

However, if Barb the Dental Hygienist tells you about the same brand of dog treats, you’d probably be left thinking “okay Barb, you don’t even know the difference between a Nova Scotia Duck Toller and a Mini Golden Retriever… please”, and you wouldn’t think about those treats again.

That’s the power of a strong referral.

Fit is so incredibly important because you cannot have the full trusting attention of an audience without it. When you’re looking at influencers and can’t decide if they’re a good fit or not, run through this list and you’ll find that the answer becomes more apparent:

  1. Would my current customers value this influencer’s opinion on the product?
  2. Is this influencer already endorsing a product that accomplishes the same objective?
  3. Does this influencer have any discernible background that gives them credibility in the field?
  4. Is this influencer capable of connecting with their audience on a personal level? Do they engage with them in the comments? Do they share insightful content into their life?
  5. Did they show a genuine interest in your brand when you contacted them, or did they seem to only be into it for the financial gain?

If your influencer isn’t a great match, then you need to continue searching for the right fit in order for your brand to establish trust between influencer and audience. After all, the influencer is in many ways, an extension of your brand and often the first touchpoint you have with your target market.

When the fit isn’t right, it can be, well… awkward

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The bulk of the work involved with an influencer marketing campaign comes before the influencer has the product, posts about it, or anyone ever sees the post. That’s right, it’s all about properly vetting the influencers, ensuring they are the right fit and that they’re trusted. Place an immense amount of importance on this and you will find success.
 
Take your time with it, consult peers, and get a good feel for the influencers you want to work with. A neat tactic is to reverse-engineer your influencer sourcing from your customer database. For example, if you sell custom made headphones for winter sports, and your customer base is made up of Canadian males between 17-26 years old, who enjoy extreme sports, and care about being trendy, then Mark McMorris might be the guy for you. Then you find mini versions of Mark. Find the local ski guy who has 6,400 followers, likely has a similar following (demographically speaking), on a smaller scale, of Mark McMorris. It works great if you do this on a mass scale with micro-influencers, more so than one or two high profile celebrity endorsements (plus it’s much more cost effective).
 
“But Lucas, aren’t people already able to spot an advertisement when they see one on Instagram?”
 
With influencer marketing being around now for a few years, social media users are now able to spot an influencer endorsement when they see one. Typically, consumers don’t enjoy being marketed to. Without the right fit, you’ll often see people in a sponsored post’s comments bashing the influencer for endorsing a product – occasionally being called a “sellout”. But, if you’ve nailed the influencer fit, the referral is strong, the content is organic and your influencer hasn’t tried to force the product down their audience’s throat, you’ve found the recipe for success! Audiences and followings alike respond well to influencer marketing when the fit is right; and why wouldn’t they? When done correctly, it should be people you care about, introducing products that you’re probably going to be interested in anyway.
 
The bottom line is that influencer sourcing and vetting has to be done diligently and with a concrete strategy in place if you want to succeed. Ask for help, it’s out there!

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