How to Perfect Your Influencer Marketing Strategy

Sam Wormser
By Sam Wormser

Once you’re up and running with your influencer marketing campaigns and have identified your target influencers, there are a few extra steps you can take to optimize your campaigns. One thing to note on influencer outreach is that this is not the type of campaign you can let marinate and run itself. Influencers can be bombarded by a long queue of branded collaborations and it’s up to you to manage their posting schedule and set follow-up dates to push for posts to go live.

I don’t think there has ever been a campaign that has gone exactly as scheduled, which is the nature of the beast of online PR, and goes the same when working with influencers. Posts are delayed since inevitably life does get in the way sometimes. Being flexible is a super important part of creating an influencer campaign that is mutually-beneficial and leads to a long-term partnership. Plus, influencers will appreciate your flexibility – kindness always wins! The best way to optimize your campaigns is to follow these steps!

Use UTMs

If your focus is on Instagram, which is our primary platform at Power Digital, you should be using UTMs to track traffic and conversions. You can easily create UTM codes using Google Analytics’ Campaign URL Builder. This helps you easily create a UTM code that will automatically populate in Google Analytics under Acquisition and Campaigns. Each influencer should get their own UTM code so you can see who is driving traffic and conversions.

Related: Getting Started with Social Media Influencer Outreach

Where does the UTM go? Link space within an Instagram bio is precious real estate. There are now link trees where influencers can include one link in their bio that then separately links out to multiple other websites. This isn’t something that everyone does or is willing to incorporate into their profile. The main way we use links and UTM codes is through Instagram Stories. For influencers with business profiles with over 10,000 followers, they can include the “swipe up” feature on Instagram Stories with a specific UTM code you provide them.

Report On Your UTMs

What do you do once the influencer shares the UTM code? Your UTMs are useless if you’re not reporting on them. You’ll be able to see traffic and conversions right away in Google Analytics, which includes the value of the purchase in dollars and behavioral metrics like pages per visit and time on site. These are all metrics you should be sharing with the client. It’s also a great way to quickly identify which influencer is giving you the most value and who you should continue a longer partnership with.

You can also use UTMs on other platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

Ask For Metrics

If the influencer you are working with has an Instagram account set up as a Business profile, then they have access to metrics further than just likes and comments. You should be asking for these metrics! Whether on the brand or agency side, this is great insight to have. On individual Instagram posts, you can see likes, comments, saves, impressions, reach, and engagement. On Instagram Stories, you can see impressions, views, replies, link clicks, and sticker clicks. Ask for these metrics from the influencer you’re working with to see how many people are viewing, clicking on the brand tag, or visiting the website.

Related: How to Measure the Success of Your Influencer Campaigns

A recent update on Instagram allows brands and influencers to enter partnerships, where the brand has instant access to the influencer’s insights on that specific post that is in collaboration between the brand and influencer. Now, instead of asking for insights and screenshots of performance metrics from the influencer, the brand has access to this automatically through the partnership.

Identify Your Top Influencers And Create Long-Term Partners

Not all influencer posts are created equal. Sometimes you’ll get an influencer who takes the perfect photo – natural looking, product in focus – and includes a short novel in their caption highlighting all of your key messaging points. This is ideal, of course, but not always what you end up getting.

We are big advocates of creating influencer campaigns rather than one-off posts, as long as you have the budget to accommodate ongoing partnerships. The reason the budget comes into play here is because when working with influencers, especially micro-influencers, sometimes they will accept a gifting exchange for posting or a small fee for one post. When you start working into multiple posts with one influencer, that budget will increase since you’re getting more out of them.

On the other end, with influencers who charge a flat fee for social posts, you can also use a longer term partnership to decrease the average rate per post and get a better deal for a package bundle.

If you’ve worked on single posts with a few influencers to kick things off and you’re wondering what to do next, tap back into those influencers who produced excellent content. Maybe they had great, high-quality photos, or they included all the messaging you requested and were overall great to work with. If so, you should continue to work with this person! It’s better to work with someone again who you know is going to perform well than to take a risk on someone new.

Related: 12 Things That Can Go Wrong Within an Influencer Partnership (& How to Avoid Them)

Chances are everyone who saw their first post aren’t also going to see the second, and those who did will only be reminded of the brand again and pushed deeper into the marketing and awareness funnel. Often times people don’t convert the first time they learn about something. Working on repetition with influencers means they’ll continue to enlighten their audience about your brand and get more eyeballs on it who may have missed the prior post.

Our sweet spot has been working with an influencer for a series of posts over a few months that incorporates a blog post if they have a blog and are active on it, two or three Instagram posts, and two or three Instagram Stories. The stories is a great way to do an unboxing and then drive people to the blog post and to the brand website with a swipe up link.

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Put The User-Generated Content To Use

Part of our strategy at Power Digital is to incorporate our influencer content across marketing initiatives like social media and social ads. Your user-generated content from influencers is the perfect way to supplement organic social content, ad creative, and website photos, but it’s not doing anything just collecting in a drive folder if you don’t put it to use!

Make sure to either have the influencer release their image rights to you or even better ask for their permission to share the photo or video content and then tag them for credit, whether in the photo, as a watermark, or in a caption. Including the influencer the content came from can add a third-party endorsement and build brand credibility without you having to toot your own horn.

The other bonus about sharing the content the influencer created is that it’s a great way to return the favor for them. You’re giving them great exposure by sharing on social and your website when you give them credit and they want to reach new eyeballs. Think of this as they created something for you to reach their audience, so your existing audience would want to see that content too! Often times we have influencers ask us if the brand we’re working with can share their post to help them foster a larger audience as well. It’s a great way to further develop the relationship with them and show credibility.

Pull The “Refer A Friend” Card

Finding the perfect influencer for your brand is not easy, especially since you never know how well a partnership is going to work out until you give it a try. This is where pulling the influencer referral card with someone who has been an exceptional partner to you can come into play.

Influencers are usually innately social people – they love social media and they love interacting with other influencers. That’s why an influencer you’re currently working with is the perfect person to ask to refer other influencer friends to your brand collaborations. Just like you wouldn’t refer someone to a job opportunity at your company who is lazy, an influencer will probably refer other like-minded influencers they think would do a great job as a collaborator because it’s also a reflection on the influencer themself.

Check Out Your Direct And Non-Direct Competitors

Is there another brand in your space who is also doing influencer marketing? Look at the tagged photos of that brand on Instagram to get a quick peak into who they are collaborating with, what their photos look like, what messaging they are conveying, and what the overall strategy is. See something you like? Incorporate it into your influencer strategy! This may seem obvious but is often overlooked and can be an easy process to incorporate a competitor analysis into your influencer strategy.

Related: Rating Influencer Partnerships – What to Look For

Whether this is a brand in the same space doing the same thing as you or a non-direct competitor that appeals to the same target demographic of your brand, it provides a surprisingly non-sneaky way to poke around and see what other people are doing to get other influencer ideas and insight that you can leverage in your campaigns.

Noticing Your Influencer Campaigns Are Falling Flat?

If you aren’t seeing great results overall, make sure you’re doing these three things:

  • You should have a signed agreement with each influencer that outlines the strict campaign guidelines including posting timeline, hashtags, messaging points, product focus, and anything else that needs to be included like UTM codes. This will ensure they are at least aware of everything from the start and you have this to fall back on if they aren’t adhering to the guidelines.
  • If their Instagram post didn’t get great engagement, ask them to share another Instagram Story. Often times influencers will include Stories if they’re already working with you. Push for repetition!
  • Think about creating a story that takes the followers through a journey with the brand. Start with a brand introducer – maybe an unboxing that’s not sales-oriented – then lead into the full blog or social post with more information on the brand and what the influencer thought of it, then have them do a third follow-up post to further drive awareness and at that point conversion.

Still not seeing great results?

The root of the issue might be who you’re working with. Try pivoting from one-off posts to long-term partnerships as we’ve seen this to be more conversion-driving. Focus on quality over quantity!

Think about the audience that each influencer is speaking to. This can be tricky to put yourself into the mindset of someone who’s following an influencer. If you think about the type of content they share and what gets the best engagement you can often deduce what is resonating with the audience and what that persona is.

Related: How to Choose the Right Influencer Agency

Keep in mind that influencers set up as a business profile also have insights into what percentage of their audience is male and what percentage is female as well as the age range and geographic location. These are insights you should be asking for. If they have a mostly male audience and you’re advertising something oriented towards women, that could be why your influencer performance is falling flat.

At the end of the day, your campaign preparation is a huge factor in whether or not an influencer campaign is going to sink or swim. Feel free to contact us to chat about your influencer campaigns and how we can help you take it to the next level!

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Samantha is a PR manager and account manager at Power Digital where she executes on everything from top tier media relations, to SEO outreach and social media influencer outreach. After spearheading the influencer marketing arm of the PR department, Samantha has created strategies and partnerships with social media influencers to elevate both brand awareness, engagement, and ROI for our clients. Outside of the office, she's obsessed with all things food and exploring the outdoors.