How to work with influencers

I would be surprised if there was anyone who hasn’t heard of influencers. They have been in the news a lot of late. Mostly getting a bad rap, but working with eco-influencers is a fantastic way for eco minded businesses to get their products in front of eco conscious consumers. 

People trust recommendations over company advertisements. I’m sure that the idea of potential customers being recommended your products by someone they admire sounds exciting. Using influencers has the potential to transform your business but only when it is done the right way. Much of the bad name around influencers is actually due to poor relationships. Before we get stuck into building mutually beneficial collaborations lets quickly define what an influencer is. 

According to Google an influencer is ‘a person or thing that influences another.’ In particular they are ‘a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media [or website].’ 

Influencer
Screen shot of the definition of influencer from a Google search

There is a wide range of influencers including bloggers, product reviewers, industry experts. Influencers are anyone who have a large following who trust them as a source of information. Through a collaboration they use their influencer to help your potential customers make buying decisions about your brand. 

steps to successfully work with influencers

The number one mistake businesses make with influencer marketing: choosing the wrong influencer!

This usually happens because the business hasn’t clearly defined what they want to achieve from the collaboration. In this article I’ll talk with you about how you can set up mutually beneficial relationships and it all centers around choosing the right influencer/s. The wrong influencer will result in low engagement and wasted efforts for both you and the influencer.

The 8 steps to a successful influencer campaign

1

Set your goals/outcomes

Spending the time to set your goals and desired outcomes will ensure that you have the strongest ROI (return on investment) possible. 

It will also mean that you can accurately measure the results. For example if your goals is to increase brand awareness then number of blog views or Instagram story views will be your metric. If your goal is to increase sales then click throughs to your website or sales will be your metric to measure. 

You can also pass your goals on to the influencer/s so that they can shape their content to make sure you meet your goals.

 

It really helps us to know the brands business goals or the problem they’re trying to solve through a social media collaboration. Are you looking for more Instagram followers? Do you have a sale and want to drive traffic to your sale site? Is your product new to the market and you need it to be demonstrated to be understood? 

For example, if the client is looking for a push to their website for a 24 hour flash sale, we would most likely recommend using the SWIPE UP feature on our Instagram Stories over a permanent post.

As a blogger who was formerly a PR person, I can say with confidence that blogs have more potential to gain new customers for your brand than mainstream media. I once had a PR client who would only see 5-10 clicks through to their website from major publications like the Travel Chanel but would see 100+ clicks through from microbloggers with readerships of around 10,000 people. Blogs produce detailed content that is consumed by direct target markets and usually don’t have more than one article go up a day. The content is less saturated and more likely to be read than a major publication that may have millions of page views but dozens of articles published daily. Bloggers will also continue to support your brand—they’ll tag you in Instagram posts whenever they use your image and keep your products in mind when they’re being interviewed.

2

Determine your budget

There are two main types of collaborations with influencers: in kind and paid. The amount of budget you have will control which of these you can do.

In kind means giving your product to the influencer for free. The only ‘budget’ you need for this type of campaign is the cost of your products and shipping to the influencer. If your product is low cost this will restrict the amount of content and type of influencer. A mirco influencer will usually be on board to do 1 Instagram post and/or 1 blog post. If your product is high end (expensive) and is a product the influencer really wants they will be more likely to create additional content such a multiple social media posts/stories and a blog post.

Paid collaborations involve giving your product and paying for content. With paid collaborations you will have more leverage to negotiate specific types of content such as videos, unboxing, x number of social posts/stories. You are also going to be able to work with larger influencers (and reach a bigger audience). 

My best advice for a brand is to be realistic with 1) your budget 2) your expectations of an influencer engagement.  Make sure you are aligned with an influencer partner on the “value exchange” – how you view the partnership whether paid or in exchange of goods and services.  Also remember that it takes time to create content, and free product typically doesn’t mean an influencer will write a blog post or shoot content for Instagram for you (unless you propose an item / service that the influencer views to be an equal exchange of value). 

3

Define your target market

When choosing influencers a match between your target market and their followers is going to be more important than follower count. A micro influencer with 2000 followers who shares content about overlanding is going to have higher engagement for a company that sells portable car fridges than a ‘celebrity’ (with millions of followers) who shares content on fashion, hair products and makeup. 

There doesn’t have to be a direct match between the content but think about if the followers of the influencer are your target market.

Is your goal to spread the word about the product to as many as possible, or is it about creating long-term relation with happy consumers? When the later, I recommend to hire an influencer with less followers aka. “Micro-influencer”. Micro-influences usually have expertise in their field and high engagement/follower. This means that you can attract potential customers and share your works on the deserved area. Target audience is everything. Be ware! Micro-influencers tend to be picky with who the collaborate with. Make sure to be transparent and create a win-win profitable platform.” 

4

Make an influencer wish list

Make a list of the influencers you’d love to promote your products/brand. This can be a manual process or using a tool such as Hype Auditor’s discovery or BuzzSumo.

Tara Nolan, Founder : Creator : Influencer of The Conscious Connoisseur
The “influencer” space can be a tough one to navigate these days with so many creators and voices out there. But that’s also a good thing – because brands can really micro-target an audience and drive deeper engagement with an audience that’s likely to convert to a loyal customer.  

5

Research influencers

Before contacting any influencers, research them in depth. Look at the type of content they are posting and if that would resinate with your target market. Also make sure the influencer will be open to your brand. A #zerowaster is not going to be interested in reusable plastic bags so it is best to not waste time trying to make that collaboration work. Do you have an eco travel product? Then find an eco influencer that travels. Do you have a high brow brand? Then a collab with a funky, trendy hipster influencer isn’t going to work for your brand. 

Check out brands they have worked with in the past and strike out any that have worked with your direct competition. 

You’ll also want to weed out any ‘fake’ influencers. Read more in my blog post How to spot fake influencers to ensure your collaborations are worth it.

 

My best tip for businesses wanting to create relationships with influencers is to develop an authentic connection with the influencer. We want to see that the brand is invested in our mission/ feed and that partnering with them will be a value-add to the content we are sharing with our audiences. If you are able to find brand-alignment as well as being personally invested in the work of the influencer, they will want to collaborate with you in the future. It is good to clarify the terms of the relationship, the expectations of the work, and how you plan to stay connected in the long term.

My tip is do your research! It will help both you and the influencer you’re working with. I get emails daily from brands that have clearly not read a single word of my blog and it is so frustrating. They’re sent out a mass email to every blogger they can find their campaign probably won’t be that successful. 
 
It may seem really obvious, but so many people don’t do it. If you read the influencers blog/social and look at their pictures then you get to really see if their writing style and photos fit with your brand and you won’t be surprised when you finally read the content they’ve produced for you! There’s nothing worse than a brand wanting you to completely change the way you write or take photos for a campaign, it kind of feels like that don’t actually want you or your content! 
Authenticity over numbers – When choosing to work with an eco influencer numbers aren’t always the most important consideration. Eco influencers often have an authentic like-minded fan base who share the same goals and values. Even if that fan base is small, authenticity plays a large role in these eco-conscious communities. Check their engagement, not their likes. 
Bianca Caruana - The Altruistic Traveller

6

Contact influencers

Customized a message to each influencer. Take the time to set up the collaboration correctly from the start. 

Briefly outline expectations, include your goals/desired outcomes, payment type (free product or paid), general expectations. You can get into more specifics in follow up messages but the main components of the collaboration should be outlined so that the influencers can make an informed decision.

Write out your expectations before starting the collaboration process. 

  • Do you want your product posted within one week or one day?
  • Do you want your logo to be shown in the post?
  • Should the influencer use a set of hashtags? 

An open line of communication on expectations from both parties creates a seamless process that makes both parties happy. 

7

Send a contract/agreement

Be specific about what content the influencer will create and what they will get in return and when. 

Also include what data/insights you want to get back from the influencer during and after the campaign. 

Include as much detail on what you require without restricting the influencers creativity. Remember that you are collaborating with them because you believe they can portray your products to their audience and they know their audience best. Set up expectations on both sides by detailing general requirements (i.e. 3x story posts over a week period or 1 blog post 1000+ words with 4+ images including one of the influencer with the product) but don’t restrict the influencer with detailed requirements of outfit requirements or a script)

It’s not that uncommon for a brand or their PR agency to send us a contract detailing the expectations and we will sign it or ask for revisions before the collaboration begins. For example: a travel influencer had a collaboration with a car rental company. The influencer posted twice daily on her stories but was getting multiple daily DMs from the car rental company saying “more, more, post more!” Of course if there had been an agreement at the onset about the number of daily posts, frustration could have been prevented on both sides.

… be very clear on the format, details of and timing of the influencer content so all parties are pleased with the end result. 
Good luck! 
Tara Nolan, Founder : Creator : Influencer of The Conscious Connoisseur

8

Post agreement analysis

Use the data you receive from the influencer and your internal data (i.e. from Goggle Analytics) to assess the success of the campaign. Discuss with the influencer what worked or didn’t. 

Make sure you are assessing against the goals/outcomes you set up at the start. If your goal was brand awareness don’t assess the success of the campaign on how many sales you made. If your goal was increased sales then of course use that metric. 

Bianca Caruana - The Altruistic Traveller
Analyse your results – I always appreciate when I receive feedback from a brand that they have received traffic directly from my blog or social media. It’s important for me to see that the collaboration is mutually beneficial. Track your referrals and traffic using tools such as Google Analytics, URL parameters or affiliate partner platforms.