Written by Caroline Cox on Dec 20 , 2021

As a relatively new type of brand partnership, influencer marketing doesn’t seem to be falling out of popularity anytime soon.

Here, you’ll find:

  • What influencer marketing is
  • Types of influencers to consider
  • What campaign metrics to measure
  • Tips to ensure the partnership is successful

Influencer marketing was a 9.7 billion-dollar business in 2020, and it’s expected to grow to $15 billion by 2022, according to The Drum.

Influencer marketing is when a company partners with a person or group that is influential – often within a certain industry – to endorse, advocate, or otherwise spread the word about their brand.

Want to get in on this paid social avenue? Keep reading.

woman influencer taking a video of herself

Once you’ve nailed down your plan, you can begin seeking out influencers that would make sense to collaborate with. (Image via Unsplash)

1. Map out your plan and goals

It’s exciting to jump into a new partnership like this. But before getting ahead of yourself, make sure you’ve taken the time to codify your plan and determine your goals.

You can start by asking questions like:

  • What are we hoping to achieve — more followers? Higher engagement? Increased traffic to a landing page?
  • What metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) will qualify as a successful campaign?
  • What do we expect from our chosen influencer?
  • Are our expectations realistic for our budget?
  • How long will the campaign run?
  • How will we analyze the campaign once it’s over?

Creating a plan, much like you would with any other campaign, can keep you organized and on track, while also helping manage expectations when meeting with potential influencers.

2. Find key influencers in your industry 

Once you’ve nailed down your plan, you can begin seeking out influencers that would make sense to collaborate with. 

Ideally, you want to pair with someone who:

  • Has an overall voice or mission that you can get behind
  • Has enough followers to help you meet your goals
  • Can work with your budget
  • Has followers that more or less align with your target audience
  • Is reliable when it comes to completing the campaign ask and delivering metrics if needed

To find the potential influencers to work with, you have a few options. Of course, you can start by searching social media using hashtags and searching popular industry terms to see what profiles show up.

From there, it’s common to start with a quick search engine query and see which influencers, if any, show up for industry keywords and popular topics. These could be bloggers who also have a strong social media presence, for example.

You can also leverage special software platforms with features designed to help companies find influencers. Some of these platforms include BuzzSumo, Ahrefs, NinjaOutreach, ShareIt, and BuzzStream. 

Lastly, you can seek out agencies that specifically work with influencers. This option could save you time and resources, though influencers who work with agents often have a higher price tag, since their reps usually take a cut.

influencer post on Instagram

(Image via Instagram)

3. Determine the kind of influencer you want

“Influencer” isn’t a one-size-fits-all title. Under this umbrella, there are a variety of influencer types. These include:

  • Nano-influencer (500 to 10,000 followers)
  • Micro-influencer (10,000-50,000 followers)
  • Macro-influencer (500,000-1 million followers)
  • Celebrity influencer (high-profile famous people with millions of followers and known across various industries)
  • Industry influencer (prominent in a certain field or topic, such as marketing or vegan cooking)
  • Blogger influencer (creates sponsored blog posts)
  • Social media influencer (has a popular Instagram, Twitter, YouTube page, etc.)

Unsurprisingly, there are pros and cons to each influencer type. For example, those with smaller followings may not have the reach of an A-lister, but those who do follow are often more engaged and interactive with their content.

On the other hand, influencers with seven-figure followings are sure to garner some serious traction on your campaign, but you’ll likely be paying a premium price for those eyeballs. (OK, that sounds weird, but you get it.)

4. Brainstorm the content you’re looking for

After determining the influencer type that might work for your business, it’s time to focus on the content.

Influencer content can be any number of things, including (but not limited to) a:

  • Social media photo post
  • Status post on LinkedIn or Facebook
  • Blog post
  • Video
  • TikTok clip
  • Tweet
  • Story or Reel on Instagram

When brainstorming about the kind of content you’re looking for, remember that each type will have different metrics. For example, a Story is temporary content, so it will only have 24 hours to garner impressions. Obviously, you ideally want the post to be on whichever platform the person has the most followers on.

dk metcalf sponsored tweet

(Image via Twitter)

5. Align on expectations

This is arguably the most important aspect of your partnership. It’s key to be direct and clear about the terms, payment, parameters, and timeline of this influencer campaign. 

Have answers to questions such as:

  • Will you provide messaging or will the influencer be responsible for it?
  • If it’s the influencer’s responsibility, does he or she need to send you their copy? What’s the deadline?
  • Do you have minimum metrics you’re looking for when it comes to likes, engagement, etc.?
  • What qualifies as success in terms of this campaign?
  • How long do you expect the campaign to last?
  • Do you expect the influencer to promote the campaign other than through the agreed-upon content?
  • Do you expect the influencer to sign a non-disclosure agreement or a non-compete clause?
  • How soon after the campaign ends should the influencer expect payment, and in what form will it be delivered?
  • How soon after the campaign ends is the influencer expected to deliver post metrics?

If you’re working with an experienced influencer, they may already have many of these details outlined as part of their agreement before you all confirm the partnership. If not, it’s wise to flesh out these answers ahead of time so everyone is on the same page.

6. Make sure your brand’s own Instagram profile is optimized

When you create a stellar paid ad that leads to a poorly executed landing page? Congratulations, you played yourself.

Don’t let a similar thing happen during your influencer campaign. The last thing you want to do is have people discover your brand, click over to your social media profile, and be met with an experience that doesn’t properly reflect what you offer.

Before your partnership launches, make sure all of your social media pages are up to snuff. That means fully filled out profile bios, a consistent profile photo (like your company logo), up-to-date and accurate company info such as the link to your website, and at least a handful of posts that show your pages are active.

Pro tip: If possible, your social media profiles should always link back to a page on your website where people can go for more information or to connect with you further.

bekah ad post on IG

(Image via Instagram)

7. Review campaign performance

Once you’ve paid or reimbursed your influencer, it’s time to review campaign performance. 

As mentioned above, hopefully you and your influencer are in sync about when they’ll deliver the campaign metrics to you. That’s because, in the case of something like an Instagram post, the user posting may be the only one with access to the post’s data.

(Recently, Instagram has added a collab feature for posts and Reels that allows attribution to two accounts in one post.)

Check out the results and see how they measure up to your goals. You can analyze details like:

  • How much your followers grew from before the campaign to the end
  • The impressions and interactions the content received
  • How much website traffic came from the content
  • The number of demo or consultation requests resulted, if applicable
  • The number of clicks and conversions that resulted
  • Overall return on investment (ROI)

Once you’ve crunched the numbers, you can decide whether or not this type of partnership makes sense for your brand. If so, this data can help you optimize and tweak your future influencer campaigns.

Pro tip: Anticipate an influx of DMs coming to your Instagram page as a campaign result? Consider using an automated tool that works like a chat bot to gather info and send FAQ-type responses to direct people to the proper channels.

The takeaway

If you spend any time on social media, you’ve likely come across your fair share of influencer marketing. Influencing is an effective tactic because people often trust the influencers they choose to follow.

Once you know what to expect and how to best plan for working with an influencer, the better your outcome will be — and the higher ROI you can expect.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of reading, yoga, quick vegetarian recipes, and making lists.

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