Influencer marketing is the collaboration of an influential person and a brand to promote a product or service. It’s a fantastic way to connect with new customers, but it’s vital to do your research. Here’s our comprehensive guide to the dos and don’ts to create a solid influencer marketing strategy.

If you’re not using influencer marketing to promote your business, you’re missing out. These days, 23% of marketers rely on influencers to showcase their products and services on their websites and social media.

Want to get started with influencer marketing or take your influencer program to the next level? This guide will walk you through how to get started with influencer marketing, along with the benefits, the different types of influencers you can reach out to, and what to consider when planning your strategy.

What is influencer marketing?

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

Example of an influencer Instagram post

You can carry out an influencer campaign on social networks or on a website.

Expert tips

Looking to create your first influencer campaign? Here’s what to consider to make it a success.

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:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What are your key performance indicators (KPIs)? This could be more followers, more organic traffic, or increased sales.
  • Which platforms do you want to use? If you’re unsure, consider Instagram. It has over 64 million influencers, making it a great place to start!
  • What’s your budget?
  • How long will your campaign run?

By asking these questions, you might realize influencer marketing isn’t right for your business – and that’s okay. Paid social, user generated content, and hosting contests and giveaways on your own marketing channels are good alternatives.

Find the right influencers

Once you’ve nailed down your plan, you can seek out influencers you want to  collaborate with.

Ideally, you want to partner with someone who:

  • Has brand values that align with yours
  • Has enough followers to help you meet your goals
  • Can work with your budget
  • Has followers that align with your target audience
  • Is reliable and sticks to deadlines

Bonus points if the influencer already uses your product or service.

The most cost-effective, hands-on option to find influencers is to search social media platforms using hashtags and popular industry terms to see what profiles show up.

Instagram search for the hashtag #HomeRenovation

Pro tip: We recommend following influencers for a few days before reaching out to see what they post and how they engage with followers.

You can also leverage special influencer marketing platforms with features designed to help companies find influencers. Some of these marketing tools include:

Lastly, you can seek out agencies that work with influencers.

This option can save time and resources versus traditional outreach methods, although you have to pay for the agencies’ services.

Brainstorm the perfect content

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

  • Photo post on Instagram or Snapchat
  • Status post on LinkedIn, Facebook, or X (Twitter)
  • Blog post
  • Video on TikTok or YouTube
  • Story or Reel on Instagram or Facebook
  • Podcast episode

Influencer post on YouTube Shorts

When brainstorming the kind of content you’re looking for, remember that each type will have different metrics. For example, an Instagram Story is temporary content, so it will only have 24 hours to collect impressions.

You also want to consider the cadence of content. For example, you might want your influencer to create three different social media posts as part of the campaign, posted a few days apart.

Influencers are content creators first and foremost, and they know what resonates best with their audiences. Be clear in your expectations, but also be willing to step back and trust your influencer’s content creation expertise.

Ensure your social media profiles are optimized

The last thing you want to do when running an influencer campaign is to have new audiences discover your brand, visit your social media profile, and find an experience that doesn’t reflect what you offer.

Before your partnership launches, make sure all of your social media pages are accurate.

That means fully filled-out profile bios, a consistent profile photo (like your company logo), up-to-date company info (such as the link to your website), and posts that show your pages are active.

The different types of influencers

When you think of influencers, you might think of Kim Kardashian promoting designer clothing or Cristiano Ronaldo advertising cryptocurrency. However, there’s an influencer out there for every type of business.

Mega influencer

Mega influencers have over one million followers and are typically high-profile celebrities.

Instagram profile for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Brands that partner with celebrity influencers reach a massive audience, and this increased exposure (should) result in a boost in brand awareness and sales.

But celebrity endorsements are expensive. Ronaldo is currently the most-followed celebrity on Instagram, demanding $3.2 million per promotional post.

If the cost alone isn’t an issue, high-profile influencer accounts are also likely to have fake followers. Nearly one out of four of Ronaldo’s Instagram followers are fake.

Chart showing the number of fake accounts following Ronaldo on Instagram

Macro influencer

Macro influencers have 50,000 to 1 million followers.

Instagram profile for Love This Old House

This level of influencers has a broad reach within a specific niche or demographic. Many home decor and family influencers fall into this category, for example. They have an established reputation and are more affordable than mega influencers.

However, as they have a lot of followers, they might not be able to engage in the same way that a micro or macro influencer might.

Micro influencer

Micro influencers have 10,000 to 50,000 followers.

Instagram profile for Family Life With Us

These influencers are popular with marketers as they have a loyal following, high engagement rates, and are cost-effective compared to macro and mega influencers.

That said, your reach is more limited, so you may have to use multiple influencers to target potential customers.

Nano influencer

Nano influencers have 500 to 10,000 followers. 91% of influencers are nano influencers.

Instagram profile for Mona Shah

Nano influencers offer hyper-targeted reach and a very engaged audience – this is valuable as it shows high authenticity and trust. Another bonus? They’re also the most affordable option.

However, Nano influencers typically have less experience, so you might have to manage them more closely.

So, which influencer is right for your needs?

“It’s far more important to select influencers that genuinely resonate with your brand or product than to choose them based on followers,” says Connor Butterworth, CEO of Southwestern Rugs Depot.

“We collaborated with a home interior designer on Instagram for a campaign. Despite not having a large number of followers, her keen eye for home decor and engaging content translated into a sizable engagement rate and increased purchases because her audience trusted her recommendations.”

How much does it cost?

The cost of influencer marketing depends on the product or service you sell, the influencer you want to work with, and the complexity of the campaign. For example, a ten-second TikTok video will cost less than a highly edited hour-long YouTube video.

Some influencers may work for free products — this is more likely if they are a nano influencer. But a whopping 93% of influencers say they will work for free if they love the brand or the product is of high value.

Chances are, you’ll need to pay to work with a successful influencer. According to Shopify, the estimated ranges are:

  • Mega influencers – $2,500 to $20,000 (celebrity influencers may charge more)
  • Macro influencers – $1,200 to $20,000
  • Micro influencers – $25 to $5,000
  • Nano influencers – $10 to $200

Most established influencers have media kits which show their rates, experience, and performance metrics.

If you decide to run sponsored posts, you will also need to take paid social advertising costs into consideration. This article advises the average cost per click and how to keep your costs as low as possible.

Why invest in influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing campaigns can come with lots of benefits, regardless of what field you’re in or who your target audience is. These include:

Building your audience

Influencer partnerships can help you access sections of your target audience that you may not have previously reached.

When you work with an influencer, you automatically capture their audience without directly reaching out to any leads. You get the benefit of an already engaged audience without the legwork.

Reaching new demographics

Regardless of what demographic you want to reach, you can find an influencer to connect you with new leads.

Influencers exist on virtually all social media platforms and cover countless industries, including travel, apparel, food and beverage and ecommerce..

Improving SEO performance

Being featured in influencer posts is also a great way to boost your search engine optimization (SEO) performance.

Example of an influencer’s blog

Bloggers linking to your website increase the number of backlinks leading to your business.

This improves your company’s reputation and can lead to improved search engine results.

Growing trust

Most people read reviews before making a purchase decision. As influencers are highly trusted within their chosen niches, a positive endorsement can mean increased sales for your business.

In fact, one-third of Gen Zers have bought a product based on an influencer’s recommendations in the past three months.

Common mistakes to avoid

While most influencer marketing campaigns succeed, nearly one in five fail to generate revenue. Here are three of the biggest pitfalls to avoid:

Failing to align on expectations

When forging a partnership with a social media influencer, it’s vital to be direct about the terms of the agreement. Miscommunication can lead to major issues and embarrassment for the brand and the influencer.

In a notorious 2015 scandal, a popular influencer was gifted two prizes from a jewelry company to give to followers. However, she ended up rigging the competition to give the prize to her friends. Determining specific terms and conditions for the giveaway could have prevented this from happening.

It’s important to clarify:

  • 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?
  • How many promotional posts are expected and on which platforms?
  • What is the posting schedule?
  • Do you have minimum metrics you’re looking for when it comes to engagement?
  • What qualifies as success in 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?
  • Will your company offer a discount code or other incentive to customers who purchase through the influencer’s link or recommendation?
  • Do you expect the influencer to sign a non-disclosure agreement or a non-compete clause?
  • What is the payment amount?
  • 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 confirm the partnership.

You may find it helpful to create an influencer proposal template, which includes a company overview, campaign goal and messaging, deadlines, and payment information.

Ignoring industry guidelines

Both parties need to be aware of the influencer guidelines in their country. In the US, this is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and in the UK, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

While the specific rules can vary from country to country, influencers must disclose their relationship with the brand (like with the ad hashtag below) and not make deceptive claims.

Example of an influencer post disclosing relationship with a brand

Breaking the rules can mean reputational damage, as well as financial penalties and having to run corrective ad campaigns. Both the business and the influencer are liable for any breaches.

Not tracking campaign performance

It’s vital to monitor campaign success. This helps you see if an influencer campaign has led to a return on investment and whether you want to work with an influencer again in the future.

Some platforms let you gather data yourself, for example, if you work with an influencer through an Instagram Collab post. Otherwise, the influencer will need to deliver the metrics to you.

A dialog box asking someone to join an Instagram Collab post

You can analyze details such as:

  • How much your follower count grew during the campaign
  • Impressions and interactions
  • How much website traffic came from the content
  • The number of clicks and conversions
  • Overall return on investment (ROI)

Pro tip: If you have an ecommerce store, give your influencer a unique discount code. You can see how many sales their campaign generated.

Example of a discount code in an influencer post

The takeaway

Influencer marketing is an effective strategy because people trust the influencers they choose to follow. Work with an influencer who aligns with your brand values, and you’ll be well on your way to social media marketing success.

Our final tip: think of influencer marketing as a long-term digital marketing strategy rather than a short-term one. Build and nurture relationships with influencers. The more they understand your brand, the more effort they will put into their campaigns.

Want more valuable information about how you can transform your online marketing? Check out the HawkSEM blog for detailed insights and all the latest digital marketing developments!

Alexandra Thompson

Alexandra Thompson

Alexandra Thompson has been in the content marketing world since 2017 and is a proud member of the Hawk writing team. When she's not writing, she's probably got her nose in a book or a Disney movie on TV.