Five golden rules for great influencer marketing

Influencers: the secret to reaching new customers, or an expensive waste of time? Rightly or wrongly, social media influencers have come under fire recently, but they can still be a powerful part of your marketing campaign. All you need to do is know how to work with them.

Tasha TennantSocial Media Manager

Influencers were supposed to be the shining beacon among a sea of ads vying for our attention. They were a genuine voice, singing the praises of brands they used, loved and trusted.

But, lost in an algorithmic minefield scattered with paid-partnership, #Ad and #Gifted, the authenticity of influencers has come under scrutiny recently. As a growing number of influencers saturate social media, their followers have become hyper-aware of content that feels disingenuous. And they’re switching off.

Are influencers worth the marketing spend?
On the other side of the equation, marketers need to prove the value of investing in influencers, who command on average £403 ($507) per Instagram on-feed post, £167 ($210) per Instagram Story, and £623 ($783) for a video on YouTube. And these are sold in using overly simplistic KPI metrics such as reach or likes, which don’t really reflect meaningful impact.

So, if audiences are sceptical of promoted content, influencers’ fees are skyrocketing and the success of their content is hard to measure, can marketeers successfully use influencers at all?

Three brands that are getting influencer marketing right
Influencers are still alluring. ASOS has long championed them with its ‘ASOS insiders’ programme. This has been a huge success because it’s focused on long-term engagement, building trust and authority over time through organic growth of influencer channels. The strategy also championed influencers, personality and style over follower numbers.

Earlier this year, Lush announced it was ‘switching up social’ and closed its social channels in favour of influencer marketing. Lush has a loyal customer base. By ditching its organic channels and investing heavily in an influencer strategy, the brand will be able to celebrate the diversity and individuality of its community, who are united by a common concern for ethically sourced products.

Beauty brand and millennial-favourite Glossier was founded on a direct-to-consumer model that used social to grow a hardcore fanbase focusing on micro-influencers and superfans to expand its network. Glossier’s strategy works because it screams authenticity. It shuns traditional celebrity endorsements and focuses on rewarding the devoted base who, in turn, act as micro-influencers hyping Glossier products on their own channels.

These brands aren’t just dipping their toes in the water of influencer content, but have made it a core aspect of their marketing strategy. It works because, in each case, influencers are selectively matched to their brand and demographic.

Influencers are still relevant because social media is the bridge to the consumer and influencers carry your message over that bridge. Following these five golden rules can make influencer marketing work for you.

1. Know what you want
In order to find the right influencer, you need to know clearly what your campaign aims are, who your brand is and who you want to reach. Only then can you get an idea of the influencers who can help you achieve your goals.

2. Size matters
Nano, Micro, Mid-sized, Macro, Celeb. Each influencer bracket provides a different form of interaction with an audience and it’s important to think about which type is going to work for you. The smaller their network, the stronger the connection between them and their followers; with increased follower count your campaign will have more reach but probably less meaningful engagement.

3. Who’s your type on paper?
Not all influencers are created equal. Don’t be lured in by size. Instead, focus on each individual’s values and personality. By ensuring their regular content aligns with your brand, you increase the chance that their followers will also be interested in you.

4. Invest in your relationship
Think long term. Research shows that influencer-brand partnerships that extend over several posts and campaigns see significant increases in engagement and sentiment. Long-term collaborations improve credibility, brand association and ultimately ROI.

5. Work together
Influencer or not, innovative content is still king. When working with influencers, make sure you have something original for them to share with their followers. Allow influencers to lead how content looks on their platform. They know their audience best and you have hired them for their personality – let that shine through.

Good influencers spearhead a community and have a genuine connection with their audience, founded on shared interest and values. Good business is about forming strong relationships. Therefore, collaborating with the right influencer – who believes in your brand and reflects your target audience – gives you unique access to a new network that is more likely to be receptive to your messaging.

Influencers connect brands with primed audiences, they expand your potential network and help grow a new loyal following – when used considerately, they are an excellent addition to your marketing strategy.

Click here to view two of our recent influencer videos for P&O Cruises.