Working with bloggers: Why you need an Influencer Marketing Strategy
Influencer Marketing is huge.
90% of consumers prefer peer recommendations to other forms of advertising and over 70% of brands currently work with influencers and bloggers to create buzz around their products and ultimately increase sales.
If you don’t have an Influencer Marketing Strategy, you really should consider one.
An influencer is a content creator. They can be someone with a large following on their blog or social media channels, or someone with a smaller following of people who regularly engage with their output.
The latter are are often called ‘micro influencers’, but don’t let the terminology put you off. Millennials and Generations Z-ers in particular see social media influencers as trustworthy and authentic.
But if you don’t know the field, how do you choose which influencers to work with?
Here is a rough guide to working with social influencers.
Finding influencers is easy enough; they’re all over social media, and there are plenty of third parties who hold lists of the top influencers in a given niche. But how do you pick who you want to work with?
I.E. how many people read their blog, or follow them on social media. These figures should be readily at hand; smaller influencers are likely to have a media kit to send out upon request, and larger influencers often work through an agent who will have access to these.
If a post is seen by a million people but only receives a small number of click throughs or comments, then that’s not money well spent.
Conversely, a micro influencer may have a smaller following, but you’d be unwise to discount them on this basis; a survey by Tapinfluence showed that engagement rates fell for those with over 25,000 followers.
This is likely to represent better value for money as the content will be a lot cheaper, meaning that a budget can be stretched to include multiple influencers on one campaign.
A successful campaign needs to be relevant.
When using influencer marketing, you need to ensure that you are working with influencers whose values and interests align with your brand.
Check out previous content; if they’re interested in vegan food then their audience may well also have that interest, and if that’s what you’re trying to market then you’re putting it in front of the correct people. However if you’re trying to increase awareness of a burger restaurant, it’s probably not going to go down as well.
Do research. Follow them on social media. Look at the content that they produce; is it sponsored post after sponsored post? A good influencer will have a good ratio of their own posts, and will be able to weave in sponsored content, producing paid content in the same tone as unpaid.
Sadly, where PR companies often go straight to the influencers with higher followers, it’s not unknown for unscrupulous “influencers” to fraudulently buy followers or likes, or ‘bot’ their accounts.
This practice is particularly widespread on Instagram, but fortunately just ten minutes spent looking at the comments that content receives can help convince you of genuine engagement, and there are several platforms such as Followerwonk for Twitter which will give you insights into social followers.
You’ve selected influencers to work with… what next?
Contact details should be available on their website or bio section of social media. If not, a DM should be fine.
But what should you keep in mind when writing that first email?
Do your homework
Read their ‘about me’ section, take a look at their posts. Personalise the email; never, ever pretend you’ve read something, or you’re a big fan if you haven’t and you aren’t because those are the emails influencers file in the spam folder.
If you’re a pet food brand, find out the name of their dog. If you are trying to appeal to parents, see if they share the names and ages of their children so you can communicate to them exactly how your brand is relevant. If you can mention a recent campaign that you admired, it will show them that you’re serious about working together.
Know what you want
Are you after reviews? Product placement? Blog posts? Images? Social shares? Affiliate sales? Be clear about what it is you are looking for before the initial approach.
Don’t be coy about figures
There is no one size fits all when it comes to compensation. Although smaller influencers may accept products or affiliate income only in exchange for reviews or social media coverage, you should be clear of your offer from the first email.
Many bloggers and influencers, particularly those with a large following, will expect to be paid – and rightly so; this is a business transaction and there needs to be value in it for both parties, so have a budget in mind.
Outlining a campaign with the number and types of posts required and asking for a cost will start you off on the right foot.
Know the rules
Disclosure is a legal requirement, and bloggers and influencers should be well aware of the ASA guidance regarding the disclosure of sponsored and affiliate content.
Ensure that you also know the rules and aren’t expecting influencers to break them.
The content is live… what now?
This content has been produced for you… so share it on your own channels to amplify it! You may find that your own brand engagement increases through the association. NB share doesn’t mean using images without credit, unless this has been cleared before hand.
Measuring ROI is notoriously challenging when it comes to influencer marketing.
Measuring reach, impressions/views, engagement (likes/comments/shares), increase in your own following, tracked clicks and affiliate sales are all good places to start.
However it’s not all about the quick win; don’t forget that the content will be online, accessible and linked with your brand indefinitely. If people search your brand name, and see good quality endorsements from people they trust, then it could have an affect years from now.
This is something that can’t be said of many marketing campaigns and a huge tick in the ‘pro’ column for influencer marketing.
The key to working well with influencers and bloggers is transparency and clarity.
Be clear about the brief, and make sure they know what you expect and when.
Bear in mind that the more creative control you hand over to the influencer, the easier it will be for them to produce content in their own style and the more authentic it will be. Guidelines are good; dictating the ins and outs is not.
If you chose an influencer because you love their content, let them work their magic to create something their audience will love.
Good luck with your first influencer marketing campaign!