The First-Campaign Guide for Influencers and Brands
Everything you need for your first influencer marketing push
At the beginning of every year, it’s custom to go through your budgets and allocate money throughout your business. At this time, people often ask: “Is influencer marketing worth my time?”
Influencer marketing spending continued to rise in 2019, as did its percentage of the total marketing budget in many industries.
It shows no signs of slowing down in 2020.
According to the eMarketer’s 2019 Influencer Marketing Report:
“Hootsuite surveyed their clients in 2018, and 48% said they either used or planned to use influencer marketing with well-known or celebrity influencers, while 45% used or planned to use micro-influencers who have smaller, highly engaged audiences.”
Still, companies want to spend less time filling in spreadsheets and more time nurturing relationships.
With the rapid evolution of the influencer marketing space, there are many tools that both influencers and brands can tap into to create better relationships.
Let’s be honest — it’s important for both influencers and brands to find the best solutions when it comes to working together and bringing in business.
Brands can run their own ambassador program with the old-school spreadsheet database.
However, it can be time-consuming and overall confusing.
On the other hand, being an influencer can also be complicated and time-consuming.
The steps to complete an assignment can be endless — you have to be approached by a brand, negotiate a price, exchange info and the product, create content, review and revise, and then maybe get paid.
Brands often tend to give up on influencer marketing since they don’t have the time for such an option.
If you’re truly looking to supercharge your strategy, outsourcing may be the best solution.
For good or for bad, the industry is now booming with different platforms and solutions that can appeal to both parties — however, decision paralysis may happen in these cases.
After you find the right platform to measure and manage your campaigns, it’s time to define what kind of influencers you want to work with.
Finally, you ought to spend some time working on that brief of yours to make it spotless.
Why should you listen to me? Well, I run an influencer marketplace myself, so I did loads of research for you. Here’s everything you need to know about starting your first campaign, starting off with your preferred platform.
Management Platforms vs Marketplaces
Every new solution swears they’re the most incredible influencer marketing platform or the next best influencer marketplace.
What’s the best solution for your needs? Let’s find out.
What is an Influencer marketing platform?
Influencer marketing platforms are full-service solutions that allow brands (and agencies) to run influencer campaigns from A to Z.
These tend to be relatively small (even if Traackr above is an exception) and will usually provide high support levels. However, it can be hard for influencers to join the platforms (and the price tag for brands is much higher!).
What to look for:
- A clear and effective signup solution for influencers looking to join the platform.
- An easy to use and reliable analytics and ROI solution.
- A very clear communication system and payment terms.
Influencer pros and cons: Because influencer marketing platforms are full-service solutions, they provide influencers with tools that allow them to easily manage all parts of the collaboration, and they protect the influencer when it comes to creative licence and payment. Unfortunately, the number of opportunities is much lower than in the marketplaces.
Brand pros and cons: Most platforms allow brands to easily communicate with influencers. They also allow brands to create contracts and review content, and they’ll work with the brand all the way to payment (again, it does depend on the individual platforms). Analytics such as impressions, media value, and other metrics allow brands to gather insight and apply learnings to future campaigns.
Influencer marketplaces like our Creative Impact Marketplace tend to be software that either collects or lists influencers across social media (this can either be via invite or via an affiliated agency).
Brands can then filter through thousands of influencers by demographics such as gender, content type, or location.
Don’t be fooled by the name. If you come across an influencer database or network, chances are they’ll also be marketplaces.
What to look for:
- A basic vetting system for influencers.
- Insurance of real followers and engagement check.
- Tools necessary to manage all aspects of influencer relationships.
Influencer pros and cons: Influencer marketplaces aim to provide brands with as many search results as possible. If a brand chooses influencers solely based on follower count, for example, you may end up with either loads of opportunities or none at all, regardless of the quality of content. Going for smaller marketplaces with better brands that reflect your interests will save you time.
Brand pros and cons: Influencer marketplaces provide brands with a very, very long list of people to skim through unless you choose a specific niche. Brands are still required to manually manage other aspects of the collaboration process using email and spreadsheets.
So which solution is right for you?
Ultimately, the best option for you is to do your research and go with trusted sources.
Empowering influencers to work with brands they love on their own terms is what both platforms and marketplaces are striving toward.
Influencers can manage their campaigns and projects within one all-inclusive solution, and they can also pitch themselves for the latest opportunities.
Nano, Macro, and Micro-Influencers: Which Ones Are Best for My Brand?
The rise of influencers in virtually every industry has overwhelmed brands, marketers, and influencers, forcing them to confront a rather twisted version of what I call the “Goldilocks Paradigm” (yes, I love a big word every now and again).
The paradigm strikes when it comes to the size of the audience of the influencer — which is, in itself, still not that surprising. There are three categories (this could easily be turned into five categories, but realistically, I like to keep things simple): nano, macro, and micro.
Each of the three kinds is applicable for different needs — however, in recent days the metrics when it comes to the ROI (return of investment) of influencer marketing have shifted.
While there’s not necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution to influencer selection, brands and agencies are now focusing less on the macro influencer — too big — and nano — too small. Instead, they’re targeting the micro-influencer, which is, well, just right.
If I may borrow Seth Godin’s words, marketing on a large scale can sacrifice what makes you special in the first place — and the internet is anything but small.
Instead of going big, says Seth, businesses should look for “the smallest viable audience” of fans and build meaningful and dedicated communities around them.
One thing I want to note, though, is that it’s not all bad for macro and nano influencers.
Macro-influencers can offer celebrity credibility, and they’ve therefore shifted to working with fewer brands and creating longer-term partnerships.
Nano-influencers can convert a small audience and are usually the ones you see popping up at events and networking.
Back in the early days, brands would allocate huge marketing budgets for just one celebrity or macro-influencer to promote their brand. Today, the rise of micro-influencers has made influencer marketing affordable for everyone.
As I go through the list, I wanted to clarify that I count micro-influencers as content creators with between 1k and 100k followers on their social media accounts. This makes their services much more affordable, as well as ensuring a much closer relationship with their audience.
Macro and mega: too big
You can fit into these categories bigger influencers and celebrities with a large social media following (think Kim Kardashian and all her sisters).
They reach more people, and they obviously can have a massive impact, but they come with a higher price tag and much less engagement than their micro or nano counterparts.
Another issue is that their demographic is much wider, and probably their following isn’t looking for them to help them with a specific need (for example, fitness tips or cooking inspiration). Instead, their audience is following a “celebrity” trend — I’m totally guilty of that, especially with people like James McAvoy or Ryan Reynolds.
Best for: Longer-term partnerships, partnerships, and product co-creation.
Nano-influencers: too small
This category of influencers is made of people with less than 1,000 followers. While they have a smaller reach and a more niche audience, brands are attracted to their cost efficiency and “newness” to the space.
However, brands need to be aware of the significant drawbacks, including the fact that due to their small audiences, their performances are harder to analyse (and most platforms don’t allow influencers with less than 1,000 followers to join).
This means, as a marketer or a brand, you’ll be spending a lot of time on influencer management and engagement if you want content creation oversight and approval on hundreds to thousands of pieces of content.
If you want to drive quantifiable ROI for brands at scale, this may not be the best place to go.
Best for: Events, gifted campaigns.
Micro-influencers: just right
Rates for micro-influencers are lower than those with millions of followers, enabling marketers to stretch their budgets further.
Typically, these influencers aren’t celebrities. They’re real people with a deep passion or subject-matter expertise. They’re often more relatable than big-time influencers, and their content can feel more authentic and personal.
A lot of them are photographers, content creators, and web celebrities that have been authentically and organically born and bred on these platforms and have built an audience over time. Compared to nano-influencers, they have a larger reach and have professional-grade images and video content.
Best for: Specific campaigns, content at scale, ambassadorships.
Who Should I Choose?
Whilst doing marketing research for our platform, we did a poll of 500 health and wellness brands and asked how highly they rank the quality of their influencers’ audience over the quantity.
We ran the same survey two years in a row, and the results were fascinating. In 2018, 30% ranked quantity and quality on almost equal grounds, whilst in early 2019, the same survey saw 75% of brands ranking quality of followers over quantity (based on 500 brands surveyed in 2018 and 2019 on Creative Impact Marketplace).
All I am saying is, you have a couple of options. You can either manually check the quality of influencers, or use a platform that has a benchmarking system to make sure the influencers you choose are going to be talking to real people.
Regardless of which “size” you want to go for, understanding the “quality” of your influencers will make a huge difference in your strategy going forward.
Understanding new, creative ways to reach a key audience within a budget will help you get results that are “just right.”
How to Write an Influencer Marketing Brief
By actually owning a platform, we started realising a few aspects which, otherwise, we may have not noticed about the different aspects of running a campaign.
Yes, I’m talking about your brief.
The truth is very simple: Getting influencers’ attention is not as simple as it may look.
We believe in influencer relationship management above everything else, and brands sometimes tend to have this weird presumption that by offering influencers a payment, any campaign would be something they’d eagerly jump at.
However, creating a brilliant campaign requires something more.
How can you create a campaign that will spark interest among influencers?
Your brief is what can make or break a campaign.
What is a brief, anyway?
The brief has all the information and details required for influencers to join your campaign – it should be easy enough for an influencer to have a look at your brief and decide whether they want to join your campaign or not.
After working with health and wellness brands on individual campaigns as an agency, we learned a lot about creating an engaging brief.
This is why we have key guidelines for our brands about what they should look for in a brief.
- About you: The brief should have a summary of you as a brand and your mission. Talk about the history of the brand, the core messaging, as well as the product you’re looking to promote and the main goal of the campaign.
- About the influencers: You should also define what kind of influencers you’re looking for — we always recommend engagement over followers, where possible. Things such as location, gender, or specific niches and channels should also be taken into account. Marketplaces also allow brands to access all this data as they create a campaign, saving them loads of time requesting information or looking for info.
- Other info: The first brief should also clearly mention the tasks for the influencers, what’s expected of them, and the specifics of their posts. (We always recommend letting creators go wild with the way the post will look. Instead, talk more with them about mentions and hashtags.)
- Payment and assets: A lot of people seem to forget that compensation or incentives are not all you can expect from a campaign. For example, is the influencer required to buy any product, or will it be sent to them?
The brief should be short, sweet, and to the point. Long enough to entice people but not overwhelm them.
The terms section
The terms section can be part of the main brief (especially when working with a marketplace) or it can be sent directly to the influencer within the agreement. It should include essential information, such as specific posting details.
These include points like timeframe, hashtags, handles to be mentioned, and an ASA and FTC compliant ad reference, as well as their posting policy.
Do you expect influencers to submit their content for approval? All of these details must be asked and agreed on before agreeing on a campaign.
Last but not least, it’s essential to agree on logistics, such as the shipment of products and repurposing content going forward.
If you’re not flying solo, remember that different marketplaces and platforms work in different ways. While some marketplaces don’t necessarily require this level of specifics, it might be a good idea just to ensure that the influencer is doing everything you expect them to before their post goes live.
We personally choose to educate brands to define terms within their initial brief, as a clear aim to educate each member of the marketplace to be responsible for the relationships they build online.
If you’re not working with an external platform, remember that briefs are not a substitute for an agreement between influencers and brands.
It’s essential to have a clear brief in order for your campaign to run smoothly, but you’ll also need to work on agreements to make sure both parties are covered legally in case of any misunderstanding.
Summary of influencer marketing briefs
Just like any other proposal, an influencer marketing brief needs to entice the influencers and make them want to work with your brand.
Whether it’s a long-term collaboration, content creation, or brand ambassadorship, setting up a good relationship starts from setting up a great, engaging brief.
It’s unsurprising how many brands are looking to dip into influencer marketing and how many platforms are out there.
Measuring Your Efforts
When it comes to working with influencers, brands (and influencers alike) struggle with one very simple thing: tracking results. This is unsurprising, really.
Even if performance is still something that marketers are struggling to fully quantify since the metrics are still unclear, there’s no doubt that UGC (user-generated content) is outperforming brand-created content. This shows that being able to witness your products in real life is as essential as your next photoshoot.
Why do influencers need to know their value?
The number of followers is not a viable metric for return of investment anymore.
Influencers will be priced according to their performance in the future, and influencer platforms can help influencers (not just brands), allowing them to see their current engagement and analytics without having to calculate them by themselves.
How can brands measure ROI?
One of the more impressive results from the Influencer Marketing Hub survey was the finding that 70% of brands and marketers measure the ROI on their influencer marketing campaigns.
One of the initial complaints we heard from our Creative Impact Marketplace brands was that startups found it difficult to determine an ROI on influencer marketing.
“76% of marketers in a Linqia study said that the most significant influencer marketing challenge for 2018 would be determining their campaign ROI.” (9 Mind-Blowing Influencer Marketing Statistics)
Clearly, with influencer marketing now mainstream, businesses now understand the need to customise their ROI metrics to match their campaign needs. They also understand the ease of having a platform that can guide them on how to do so.
Engagement rate comes first
I would always recommend looking at the engagement rate first and foremost.
The more engagement, the more reach you’ll get. It’s as simple as that.
Engagement isn’t just great for conversions, but it’s also good for genuine conversations and audience insights. It’s incredibly easy to calculate engagement rate — you just need to dust off your math skills.
As a way of comparison, engagement is much higher on Instagram than a platform like Twitter — including a baffling example of accounts with 1,000 followers at an engagement rate of 7.2% on Instagram, compared with 1.4% on Twitter.
Media value comes next
If you’re looking at brands and influencers to partner with, I’d recommend finding a way to calculate their media value. This is something we made part of our core benchmarking at Whole Influence, and since its launch in 2019, it has been the most effective way to define ROI for our brands — with 82% of brands ranking it as their ROI metric.
There are a host of tools for influencers to calculate their media value — and brands can access this number (usually a percentage) via their influencer marketing platform of choice.
Quality of followers
HypeAuditor is the Instagram analytics and fraud detection tool. Nowadays, everyone wants to be Insta famous and have hundreds of thousands of followers. But this doesn’t happen instantly.
Popular creators spend months and years working to achieve meaningful results. Meanwhile, others are trying to force the growth of their accounts by using ambiguous methods.
In the best-case scenario, you won’t reach your desired goals, and in the worst, your account will be flooded with tonnes of bots who drop your reach and damage your reputation as an authentic influencer, as well as not being able to deliver the results promised to a brand.
How can influencers and brands avoid metric and data overwhelm?
When you see 750,000 results found on Google, you’re not overwhelmed.
You just click on as many as you want as they’re the most relevant ones.
The only reason why people are overwhelmed is that they have to use many tools, many metrics, and lots of manual work to get to the bottom of which influencers to use.
We all know that “likes” will matter less and paid social will be much more efficient thanks to changes to Instagram algorithms of displaying paid partnerships’ posts.
What will matter in the future is finding the most relevant, most authentic influencers.
People who can produce genuine or even viral content that’s appealing to brands’ target audiences and can be tested on influencers’ audiences. If successful, it can be amplified through paid social to all users within the brand’s target group.
Starting an influencer marketing campaign doesn’t have to be hard. Still, you’ll need to remember these key aspects:
- Where will you host it?
- Who are your influencers?
- What is your brief?
- How will you measure it?