With influencer marketing becoming an estimated $10B industry by the end of 2020, it’s no secret that it has become a top marketing priority for most brands. Influencer marketing can be an incredible tool for creating brand awareness and growing a loyal audience for startups. We’ve seen the rewards for brands in fashion, travel, and even B2B technology.
However, the key to producing a successful campaign is in the prep work. Whether you plan to build and manage your influencer marketing in-house or hire an agency like BMV to develop your startup influencer marketing campaign, here are five questions every startup marketer should ask before engaging influencers.
1.What types of influencers will we work with?
Terms like nano-, micro-, and mega-influencers may seem like flashy marketing jargon, but understanding their differences and the impact their audiences will have on your campaign is essential.
Mega-influencers are often real-world celebrities that come with a huge follower count. And price tag. At a minimum, they have over a million followers, which essentially guarantees that consumers will notice your brand. Unfortunately, mega followings can come with minor benefits in terms of loyalty and engagement. So while a lot of people will see your brand, they likely won’t interact with it. On the other hand, nano- and micro-influencers have fewer followers – some as low as 1,000 – but even if their aggregate following is lower, oftentimes, their loyalty is much fiercer than those with massive follower counts.
In turn, this can result in much higher engagement rates and conversion. These influencers are increasingly seen more like friends or neighbors than celebrities because they prioritize building a community amongst their fanbase. At BMV, we generally recommend that our startup clients stick to micro-influencers with 10,000 to 40,000 followers and with >3% engagement.
Additionally, you’ll need to think about whether you’ll work with influencers that cover a specific niche or have a more general follower base. Are you looking to work exclusively with travel influencers for your startup? Or maybe foodies? Perhaps you want their audience to be of a certain age or local to a specific city? Getting as specific as possible about your influencer and their followers’ demographics will save a lot of time and effort throughout your entire campaign.
2.How long will the campaign be, and how many times will each influencer post?
The length of each campaign from concept to activation can vary widely depending on the number of influencers involved, whether they’ll need to be sent a product or attend an event, and how efficient your outreach process is. With that said, we’ve found it’s best to have a reasonably short activation period when posts are live. This is because shorter windows maximize the visibility of a campaign and provide a better chance that people will see and share the campaign’s content. Typically, the most prolonged activation period we would suggest for influencers’ posts to go live would be one week. For some campaigns, if it’s feasible, they can all be activated in a single day.
Usually, the ideal outcome of your campaign will guide your timeline. For instance, if you’re doing general product promotion, we’d suggest stretching the campaign activation over a week or so, however, if the campaign supports a launch, then have everyone’s fingers ready to hit ‘Post’ all in one day. Of course, it’s good to be realistic heading into any campaign, so know if timelines need to shift, and your influencer campaign stretches over a few weeks, that’s ok too.
In terms of how many times each influencer posts, the answer depends! This is where BMV’s Start Small > Analyze > Scale strategy comes into play to maximize the benefits of your budget. If your budget allows 30 grid posts, you can have 30 individual influencers post one time and start with a smaller group of 15 influencers. If 10 of them provide great stats, expand their contract for the second round of posts or a giveaway for even more follow interaction. This scenario would have ten influencers posting twice and ten influencers posting once.
3.How much creative freedom will the influencers have?
Marketers often find themselves thinking, ‘Is marketing an art or a science?’ And determining the philosophical foundation of influencer marketing is no different, so your marketing team must decide how much creative reign your influencers will have. This is an important line to draw before you start outreach so your team and your influencers will all be on the same page when it comes to creating and approving content.
What exactly do I mean by “creative freedom?” Your team needs to decide how much flexibility your influencers will have over the imagery, copy, and script (if using video) of the content associated with your brand. On a highly variable scale, you could either create the entire post for them and require they use predetermined copy and imagery. You could give them complete, liberating control over what they post and provide minimum requirements like tag your brand and maybe a relevant hashtag.
By completely controlling your influencer content, you risk the posts looking like stuffy advertisements, which result in consumers’ eyes glazing over and their thumbs swiping. By taking complete control, you’ll likely lose interest from the influencer and their audience. People often follow influencers, especially micro-influencers, for their unique style and personality, so molding them into a carbon copy of your brand doesn’t fool viewers and doesn’t convert. On the other hand, giving an influencer too much creative freedom runs the risk of not having your brand message come across, which could confuse viewers who come to your site or profile.
Luckily, there is a sweet spot where your brand can collaborate with influencers by offering suggested copy, some creative direction, and a whole lot of trust. It is possible to produce a post that aligns with both of your brands, tells your story, and most importantly, grabs viewers’ attention.
4.How do we plan to interact with the content once it is posted?
It is always a good idea to show your influencers some love by interacting with the branded content you’re paying for, but how you do it will vary based on your goals and overall social media strategy. Ways of interacting with content will also vary depending on the platform being used. On Instagram, you can like, comment, re-post, send to your story, save and share. Tik Tok, YouTube, Twitter, Twitch, and LinkedIn also have a unique variety of ways to engage with content.
Interacting with influencer content is beneficial for a variety of reasons. One main reason is that the more likes, comments, shares, etc., the post has, the more likely other people will see it because each platform’s algorithm will prioritize it. Additionally, it establishes a better relationship with the influencer you’re working with, which will set you up for success if you plan to further the engagement and work with them in the future. Suppose part of your strategy is to include influencer content in branded content marketing campaigns. In that case, it’s important to note this in the contract and get explicit permission before using their content on your channels.
Creating a strategy for interacting with influencer content will also help manage how much time and workforce will need to be spent tracking, engaging, and measuring the campaign. By predicting the workload, you’ll be well prepared to handle the various intricacies of managing influencer marketing campaigns.
5.What stats are most important for measuring success?
Like any marketing campaign, developing KPIs will be integral to understanding the success of your campaign and learning what can be improved next time. Influencer marketing success metrics can include engagement, reach, link clicks, profile visits, net-new followers, net-new leads, purchases, video views, promo code tracking, and even mentions. But not every one of these measurements will be relevant for every campaign. By developing KPIs based on campaign goals, you’ll be in the best position to utilize the correct statistics. Here are some example goals and best statistics to track:
Goal: Increase brand awareness
Reach – How many different people saw the post?
Impressions – How many times was the most viewed overall?
Likes – How many likes did it get?
Comments – How many people commented, genuinely showing interest in the post?
Shares – How many people shared the post with someone else?
Followers – How many new followers to your account did the post generate?
Goal: Revenue and lead generation
Link Clicks – How many people navigated to your website from the post or influencer’s bio?
Purchases – How many of those people ended up purchasing off of your site?
Promo Code Usage – How many people used the influencer’s special promotional code to get a discount off of a purchase on your site?
These are just two examples of the many different goal and measurement possibilities for influencer campaigns. Once you decide what you’re hoping to achieve and set your goals, you’re ready to go live! Our biggest tip on measuring goals is to receive updates one day after each post goes live, and keep track of all of your measurements in one place.
While influencer campaigns may have many moving parts, answering these five questions will leave your startup’s marketing team well prepared for launch. Are you looking for some extra guidance with startup influencer marketing? We’re happy to help. Reach out to us today!