Influencer marketing – it’s a shiny new marketing toy, but do you really know how it works?

A Screenshot of Justin Bieber promoting Calvin Klein via Instagram

We often think influencer marketing alone will drive engagement. When in reality, it’s a combination of compelling content, optimisation and smart measurement that drives performance in these campaigns.

From our experience playing in the influencer marketing space, success comes from creative storytelling that connects the brand with the influencer.

The Rise in Influencer Success

A stock image of a girl looking at her cellphone

Social Media use has risen by staggering amounts over the past few years. The rise in online advertising has been to the same effect, with consumers being exposed to hundreds (if not thousands) of ads online each day.

This is why influencer campaigns are experiencing so much success. Instead of a generic retailer hitting us with constant ads (with the intention to interrupt and sell), our influencers tell us stories and evoke an emotion from us.

But, Don’t Fall Into The Traps

A screenshot example of Scott Disik's Influencer copy and paste blunde

With the new and exciting opportunities for brands to reach untapped audiences, comes caution and uncertainty… and sometimes, mistakes. Scott Disick recently got burned by his Instagram copy and paste fail – while it may not be shocking that Disick isn’t an avid Boo Tea drinker, it pays to be upfront with your sponsored posts.

Grey Area in Transparency Standards

Influencer Marketing (in it’s immature state) has recently come under fire for being dishonest to consumers in that for some consumers, the authenticity behind sponsored content was not easily distinguishable. From a consumer standpoint below, there is nothing that explicitly suggests a paid relationship between Kylie Jenner and Sugar Bear Hair.

A Screenshot of Kylie Jenner's Instagram Post promoting Sugar Bear Hair without a distinguishable sponsorship hint

In February, the Advertising Standards Authority updated its guidelines to cover new legislation around influencer campaigns. The guidelines state that the parties involved in the influencer/brand relationship are responsible for ensuring that the paid nature of the post is transparent to the audience. However, the overarching accountability for this sits with the brand.

Facebook and Instagram have introduced the option for influencers’ to select the brand to be their ‘Branded Business Partner.’ As you can see below, Branded Business Partnerships are a tidy and professional way to disclose the paid partnership – without the tracky ‘#ad or #spon’ at the end of the post.

An example of an Influencer using the new Instagram Sponsored Content Mechanism

The setup also allows the brand to view basic performance insights and to put boosting spend behind the post.

A screenshot example of how to set up a branded business partner in facebook

Fake/Bot Followings

Unfortunately there is always someone willing to make a buck by lying to people – insert fake followings here.

The rise in Social Influencer Marketing has seen individuals ‘buying’ their following (through bot-like followers), and then using these ‘followers’ to entice advertisers. Some individuals even purchase fake engagement levels to further cheat the system.

With Influencer Campaigns, we recommend being ‘stealthy.’ Do your homework – Investigate the influencers’ engagement, the comments on their post, and ask around. In New Zealand, we are lucky that our 2 degrees of separation makes asking your neighbour a very easy task!

A stock image of a person about to upload an image to Instagram

There are some helpful tools that also digitally ‘check’ followings to ensure that they are legitimate. A number of influencers use these tools to prove their following. We believe this this should also become a legislative standard before an influencer can engage with advertisers or be listed on a Social Influencer intermediary website.

Our Tips On Running A Great Campaign

We’ve had great success in running influencer campaigns for our clients, but we’ve definitely had our fair share of learnings. Here are our five top tips when launching a campaign.

Don’t be Too Impression Focused

Yes, impressions are great. But using an influencer that has 100,000+ followers will in no-way guarantee success for your campaign. Instead, focus on creating relevant content that will entice users to click your CTA link and check out your product/service.

If you are looking for a metric to select your influencer, a combination of both followers and engagement should be your north star. Without engagement, your ROI will be zilch. We usually look for influencers with an engagement of 2% and over.

Have a Clear Goal

Having a clear goal will enable your campaign to take off on a clear path (towards success… hopefully!). Are you after conversions? Leads? Or do you want to generate awareness for your brand?

Whatever your goal is, this should determine how you shape your campaign.

If your goal requires the user to leave their social platform for your product – make sure your offer is compelling enough. If your goal is for someone to fill out a form, give them a reason to spend that time!

Keep it Organic

Remember. The influencer’s audience aren’t there for your product.

They are there to see their favourite people online! Try to keep this in mind when asking your influencer to whip up content – keep things as organic as possible and you’ll reap the engagement benefits.

Include a Call-to-Action

Ensure your influencer’s post ends on a strong call-to-action. What do you want users to do? Fill in the form? Buy the product? Use the discount code? Make sure it is clear and simple for the individual.

An example of a clear call to action used within an Instagram post

Trust Your Influencer

Your influencer engages with their followers daily, if not, hourly – they know what they like, how to talk to them, what time to post, the format(s) that perform best and so on.

Make sure that you listen to the influencer and ask them for insight during the idea generation process – this will ensure your post resonates with the desired audience.

If your campaign includes a gift-based promotion for the audience, you could also look to your influencer for suggestions.

Test, Test, TEST!

Don’t forget to test your campaigns and measure your ROI. When looking to use influencers for our clients, we always test first to prove ROI before moving onto future campaigns.

Set your campaign(s) up with UTM links to track on-site engagement and the journey of your users once they leave the platform and onto your site – it might surprise you how viable the channel is.

Also be sure to check if your direct traffic is positively influenced during the campaign period – and maybe even beyond!

An example of how to create a UTM link online

Running an influencer campaign can be a risky process, as you are dealing with a lot of uncertainty – but the benefits and ROI can make it well worth it.

Be sure to follow these tips when you launch your campaign and get in touch with us if you ever need any help!

Phoebe Prescott, Brand and CS Support

Phoebe Prescott, 19 April 2018