With the continuing rise of social media, advertisers are quickly finding that an endorsement from an influential person via social media platforms like Instagram or YouTube is more successful than a poster or TV ads – platforms that consumers don’t pay attention to as much anymore. Studies have gone so far as to show that 74% of consumers rely on social media for their purchasing decisions.
Why? Actors, athletes, models, and bloggers all have social media accounts—and some of the most active and influential accounts constantly show their followers what their daily life is like. Moreover, with the rise of influencer marketing amongst micro-influencers, brands have a huge opportunity to capitalize on social media influencer marketing. If these influencers post about a product on their personal accounts, it comes off as a more genuine endorsement than a heavily edited billboard on the side of the freeway.
In other words, influencer campaigns aim to fly under the consumer’s radar and look as natural as possible. What’s more, an influencer’s following develops organically. Your customers choose who they want to follow and all you need to do is follow them there. We can analyze an influencer and the content they are producing to determine if their followers would find a brand interesting and ultimately convert.
Related: Getting Started with Social Media Influencer Outreach.
So, how do you get these influencers to advertise your product? Well, fortunately, with hundreds of influencer marketing agencies popping up across the U.S., there are agencies that specialize in pairing your business with the right people. One thing to keep in mind is that choosing the right agency is just as important as the influencer. How can you tell that an influencer agency will do your company any good? Here are some tips that can help you find an excellent agency to partner with.
Established Relationships With Influencers
It’s the age of instant communication. With enough attempts, anyone can get in contact with an influencer, but it doesn’t mean the contact is meaningful. Ask the agency how they get in touch with the influencer. Will they be calling them personally after having developed a relationship or are they reaching out to them by sending them an automated email sequence? Can they show proof they do know the influencer and have gotten strong results with them before?
The stronger relationship your agency has with the influencer, the stronger your campaigns are likely to be. Agencies who work with the same influencers on multiple campaigns have the ability to run the process seamlessly, save time, and negotiate better as it is an ongoing relationship. In addition, if there is an established relationship, the influencer is more likely to know the drill and can deliver an impactful product placement that looks natural.
Matching With The Right Influencers
Who does the agency boast as one of their influencers? While it may seem counterintuitive, A-list celebrities might not be the most effective influencers for your needs. Their reach may be large, but the motive to follow an A-lister sometimes doesn’t go past their fortune or looks.
Agencies who boast niche-specific influencers understand that these people are respected authorities in their communities. Makeup tutorial artists, video game vloggers, and Instagram-famous pets all have a specific following. A word from them on a new makeup brush or dog leash does so much more than a random endorsement from Jennifer Aniston.
Related: PR Coffee Chat: Understanding Influencer Outreach.
What’s more is that your influencers might love your product and pitch your product with genuine enthusiasm. You want to target influencers who would use and love the product or service you are trying to promote so it comes across as authentic as possible.
The Proof Is In The Analytics
The bottom line is that influencer campaigns have not been measured in the past, much like traditional PR campaigns. You can guess how many people saw a social media post and you can evaluate performance based off of comments, views, and likes, but how can you track conversions and ultimately ROI? The answer is by using linking opportunities to track conversions in Google Analytics. Your entire influencer campaign will be a mystery if the agency can’t look at the analytics to see what’s working and what’s not.
Will they be tracking the channels bringing traffic to your website? What about the sales from a link posted in a tweet versus an Instagram story? Will you be regularly provided with analytics and reports to review?
The agency might have a slew of influencers perfect for you, but if they can’t adjust their strategy week-to-week or month-to-month, you could find yourself with an influencer campaign that is doing nothing more than driving general brand awareness.
Mapping Out Content Strategies
At the end of the day, influencers serve as content creators, so find out what strategy the agency has in place to promote your company. If it’s just a schedule of selfies with your product, run. Find an agency that can get creative with all the tools social media has to offer. A silly snapchat story, a personal blog, an engaging contest, or a series of Instagram posts using the product in unique ways will keep the content fresh. Variety is what makes a successful influencer campaign.
On this note, be wary of agencies that push the same message across the board. Sure, you want your customers to know the best points about your product, but hammering those points in every YouTube video, Instagram post, and tweet is not only ineffective, but it runs the risk of losing your audience’s respect. Millennials, in particular, can spot an inauthentic campaign from a mile away so you’ll want to avoid plowing repetitive advertisements into their feeds.
Instead, opt to allow the influencer to improvise a post or two from their perspective. This will make the endorsement feel more authentic and human, which will, in turn, create a better response from the audience.
Following FTC Regulations
This last point cannot be stressed enough. With this burgeoning new advertising technique, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been hard at work to protect consumers from lucrative social media advertising. Why? Because influencer marketing runs the risk of tricking the consumer into believing a product review was not paid for. As a result, the FTC created new regulations that stipulate what companies can or can’t do with their social media campaigns. Violating these guidelines could spell disaster for your company, so make sure the agency is well aware of the FTC guidelines.
Related: How To Develop an Influencer Outreach Strategy That Converts.
For instance, Warner Brothers and Machinima were both advertising their video game products and shelled out thousands of dollars to high-profile celebrities in the gaming community. The FTC noticed these companies were not following the regulations regarding social media campaigns that requires influencers must clearly and conspicuously state in their post that it is a paid endorsement.
According to the FTC, Warner Brothers paid influencers to promote a specific game and required them to do so only in a positive way and to not comment on any of the games bugs or glitches. Meanwhile, Machinima was accused of paying influencers to post endorsements without disclosing they were paid for the seemingly objective reviews and opinions about the product. Both of these companies ended up having to settle with the FTC.
The last thing you want is to end up in litigation over an influencer campaign so it is imperative to make sure the agency you select is reputable and is aware of the FTC regulations.
Your number one goal is to find the right influencer agency that works for you. When in doubt, ask for more information. After all, you are allocating budgets into a channel that has the potential to generate conversions. You want to make sure that the influencers promoting your product will benefit your company and provide tasteful, enjoyable content for your consumers. Social media marketing is an effective strategy, but saturating the consumers’ feed with bad ad-like content will just push your market out of reach all over again. Finding an excellent influencer agency will prevent this scenario from happening.
Strive to ask the tough questions and find an influencer agency that creates a holistic, authentic, and results-driven campaign. Want to chat about what we can do to elevate your influencer marketing campaign? We’d love to connect!