By Kaitlyn Lambert | October 22, 2019

Despite the occasional negative opinion piece about them, social media influencers are not going away any time soon. Brands that fail to see the opportunities that exist with engaging influencers are potentially missing out on a chance to amplify their brand and engage with new audiences. 

This is not to say that brands should dive into a social influencer campaign head-first. There are certain questions that you’ll want to answer before setting out. If not executed properly, your campaign can not only eat up your valuable time, but be costly financially as well. Your team will want to have a firm grasp on your goals for the campaign, your target audience, and your budget, in order to start out on the right foot and execute your campaign successfully. 

  • Your Goals

Setting goals at the start of a campaign is going to help you make sure your organization is aligned, create a thoughtful and targeted campaign with the right messaging, and allow you to be able to look back and measure your campaign’s success. To start, you’ll want to make sure that goals for your campaign are aligned across different functions of your organization. For example, your marketing and communications teams might be aligned that the goal of your campaign is to drive brand awareness, but your sales team might be under the impression that the campaign is meant to generate sales leads. Your messaging and general approach is going to be different if the goal is sales rather than general brand awareness. It’s crucial that all goals are aligned across your organization prior to the start of your campaign, as it will be much harder to pivot once you kick things off and begin engaging with influencers. 

Aligning on goals will additionally help provide a roadmap to how you can achieve success in your campaign. For example, if you decide the primary goal of your influencer campaign is to drive traffic to your website, you can then start to think about and create the type of content you want to lead potential customers to. 

  • Your Target Audience

Identifying your target audience will help give direction to your messaging and the type of influencers that you engage with. Failing to take time to clearly identify who you want to reach with your campaign might mean that you put all your efforts into getting a message out to a group of people that it does not resonate with. The influencers you are going to be engaging will likely have their own brand identity and their followers look at their content for a specific reason. If your brand is looking to reach retirement age men, it wouldn’t make sense to talk to lifestyle influencers who primarily target young women- even if they have millions of followers you’re still not reaching who you want to target. 

Narrowing down who you’re trying to reach can also help you cut unnecessary costs. That lifestyle influencer targeting young women who has millions of followers likely charges a higher fee than an influencer with a smaller following that more closely represents your target audience. You’re getting more for your money with an influencer with a small audience when they’re a better fit for your brand and message.

One of the major criticisms that people have about influencer marketing is a perceived lack of authenticity. Fully understanding your target audience, identifying the right influencers to partner with to reach that audience, and crafting the right messaging for your audience, are ways to avoid crafting a campaign that appears inauthentic. Other than through disclosing that the post is part of paid partnership, a high-quality paid influencer post should blend in with the influencer’s typical content. It’s always better if the partnership is believable and natural, and if your audience believes that the influencer you’re working with is a genuine supporter of your brand, it’s going to make your campaign more successful. 

  • Your Budget

No matter how you slice it, your influencer campaign is going to have a cost associated with it. There is a huge range in how much you can spend on an influencer campaign, but it’s not realistic to think that there’s a free option out there. Knowing how much money you have to work with at the start is going to help you set realistic KPIs (you’re not going to reach five million people if your budget only allows to engage with a few influencers with an audience of  5,000-10,000), and help you decide which influencers you’re going to be able to engage with. 

One cost effective way of executing an influencer campaign is to begin with individuals with small, but highly-engaged and relevant audiences. These individuals are likely to charge less per-post and, if they are a really good fit for your brand, may become a genuine fan if they are not one already. If your plan is to offer products or services in exchange for a mention (rather than financial compensation), remember to tread carefully. Influencers often make their living through social media promotions and many are wary of offering their services for free. This approach will likely only work if your product or service is of real value to the particular influencer you are speaking with. Keep in mind, even if this is the route you go, you’ll still be investing quite a bit of time in your campaign, as well as the cost of the products you’re offering. 

Before launching into an influencer campaign, be prepared. There’s no need to rush into something that your organization is not adequately prepared for. With any strategy, it’s a good idea to start small and build up your program over time after learning what works and what doesn’t.