What is influencer marketing: How to develop your strategy (2023)

A decade ago, the influencer marketing arena was limited only to celebrities and a few dedicated bloggers. Now, it seems like we’ve seen social media influencers rise, saturate the market and even get caught up in fraud.

If you’ve started researched on influencer marketing before, you may have found conflicting information, with recommendations that range from you should absolutely be using social influencers or that they’re not necessary for growth.

Influencer marketing strategies are more difficult to navigate than ever as a brand, but we’re here with a guide to making sense of it all.

Read on for our tips to determine if influencer marketing is for you.

What is influencer marketing?

At a fundamental level, influencer marketing is a type of social media marketing that uses endorsements and product mentions from influencers–individuals who have a dedicated social following and are viewed as experts within their niche. Influencer marketing works because of the high amount of trust that social influencers have built up with their following, and recommendations from them serve as a form of social proof to your brand’s potential customers.

The current state of the influencer marketing landscape

Standing out in 2014 on Instagram was easier than today. If you were lucky enough to be featured on Instagram’s featured page or your look was just distinctive enough, then your chances of being tapped as an influencer were high. After enough brand partnerships, some have turned social media influencer marketing into a full-time career.

Rosie Clayton’s Instagram feed is filled with colorful dresses and outfits against colorful walls. During a time when VSCO’s muted tone filters were becoming popular, Rosie’s highly saturated photos jumped out. She works with brands around the world, fitting them into her aesthetic.

But things change, right?

(Video) How To Use Influencer Marketing To Grow Your Business (Strategies & Examples)

We’re influenced by what we see and aesthetics are no different. Bright images are more common now as well as carefully propped up food against interesting backgrounds. When the ‘typical look’ of influencer marketing no longer becomes unique, what comes next?

Taylor Lorenz’s article in The Atlantic forecasts a more ‘authentic’ trend driven by the network’s youngest users that strives to return to what Instagram used to look like when your feed was just friends. Lorenz wrote, “While Millennial influencers hauled DSLR cameras to the beach and mastered photo editing to get the perfect shot, the generation younger than they are largely post directly from their mobile phones.”

To be a fashion influencer among this younger demographic, you may no longer need to rely solely on perfectly shot photos. Instead, casual poses and limited editing are now becoming more welcome on the feed.

Keep in mind that the article covered only a subset of influencers: young, Instagram users. If anything, this shift over the last five years should show how influencer marketing’s only constant is change.

Manage influencer campaigns with Sprout Social

From reporting on campaigns and partnerships to managing incoming messages, Sprout can help you manage social influencer campaigns from start to finish.

Use Sprout’s features to identify influencers in your niche, manage outreach, and track the impact of your efforts.

Find out how Sprout Social can help your brand’s influencer marketing efforts with a free 30-day trial.

(Video) How To Launch an Influencer Marketing Campaign in 7 steps (Strategy, Outreach, and Examples)

The value of influencer marketing

While Instagram influencer marketing is a well-known strategy, there are many other networks that are growing for influencers. According to Adweek, the industry is set to reach $10 billion in worth by 2020. Other networks like Snapchat, YouTube and TikTok have their own set of influencers with different demographics.

Influencer marketing agency Mediakix surveyed marketers at the end of 2018 to see what their feelings on influencers were for the new year.

What is influencer marketing: How to develop your strategy (1)

Of those surveyed, 89% said ROI from influencer marketing was comparable to or better than other networks. The same survey noted that 65% of marketers plan on increasing their budgets for 2019.

And now that you know where we’re at in the industry, let’s examine how to create an influencer strategy.

How to create an influencer marketing strategy

Like any marketing tactic, an influencer program takes deliberate targeting and planning. You won’t find strategic success just by sending free things out to everyone who asks or to your existing friends and acquaintances

1. How to find influencers and what to pay them

Much like any strategy, research is the first step. Choose the platform you want to focus on first. You can always expand to other platforms later but if you’re just starting out, stick with one. Ideally, your brand should already have a presence on this network or be looking to expand into it.

If you’re unsure of where to begin, social listening can help you identify where people are talking about your industry and brand—and it can help you find the most influential voices in your industry on each platform. Check out our guide to social listening to learn more.

The industry you’re in also matters when you’re planning to implement an influencer marketing strategy. Beauty and fashion brands shine on Instagram and YouTube. The video game industry dominates on Twitch.

During your research phase, look into the type of influencers you’re interested in. Are you going for celebrities with massive followings? Or microinfluencers with less than 2000 followers? Perhaps something in between in the 5–10k follower range is more your preference. Whatever you decide to focus on will determine your budget.

Compensation varies wildly, too, so be sure to look at common rates for those influencer types. Microinfluencers tend to be focused on a few topics and accept products. Some microinfluencers work independently while others may be represented by an agency or network. Whereas, larger accounts and celebrities will need compensation and might even go through a talent agency.

You’ll need to think about the expected ROI of your social influencer marketing campaign: how will you gauge the contributions of influencer posts to your overall marketing goals? One approach might be to compare your expectations for influencers to other firms – look at how you might gauge the budget for a video production firm’s work in creating an ad for you versus an influencer creating a video. It may initially seem like judging the value of influencers is unpredictable, but this type of approach will give you a familiar point of comparison and contrast.

(Video) 8 Steps to Create Your Influencer Marketing Strategy

In 2017, Influence.co published the results of their research into Instagram influencer payment. They looked at the average cost per Instagram post and found:

  • The overall average price was $271 per post.
  • The average price formicro-influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers was$83 per post.
  • The average price for influencers with more than 100,000 followers was $763 per post.

Research is key and you’ll find yourself returning to this step often in the process.

2. Set a budget and management strategy

Now that you have some idea of what to pay influencers, you need to create your budget. Be sure to also factor in time for planning, executing and reviewing your influencer program. Running a successful influencer marketing campaign is not a set-it-and-go type of strategy. It’ll involve careful monitoring and follow up.

Unlike a more automated ad strategy, influencers are human and frequently balancing multiple partnerships, so some may fall behind in their commitments to post on time or make errors in your requested tags or calls to action. You’ll need to have the time to be more hands-on with these relationships to cultivate them, and refine your approach through experience about what works and what doesn’t in your niche.

If you have the time and money, consider setting up a formal ambassador program. Fujifilm utilizes its ambassadors in new product launches and in supplementing their content. With a variety of photographers and videographers at their disposal, the company’s able to diversify their feed to showcase what their equipment can do.

For brands that need a wider pool of influencers, hiring an influencer marketing agency who will do the research and coordination for you is a good bet.

3. Decide on goals and message

The two most common reasons for using influencer marketing are to elevate brand awareness and increase sales. However, instead of setting these broad targets as your two goals, it will be more effective to kick off on your strategy by honing in on what your brand’s needs are. Perhaps you want to increase your customer base in a younger demographic. Or you want to expand into a new user group with a new product. Or you want to skip trends and utilize influencers to talk about your brand values.

Influencers have the ability to reach very specific audiences. Instead of you relying on thousands of followers, influencers will help you ensure a very targeted audience who is likely to be interested in your product reads and engages with your content.

(Video) How to do Influencer Marketing to Grow Your Business (Complete Guide)

Influencer content that features a conversational tone and personal narrative help differentiate these posts from the type of features- or sales-driven ones a brand might do for the same product on their own feed.

Your message is just as important as your goal. While you don’t want to stifle an influencer’s creativity and uniqueness, you also don’t want them to post about something unrelated to your campaign. Determine how you want to structure your influencer marketing campaign and message so you can stick to it later on.

4. Influencer outreach: How to contact influencers

Back to step one: research. With a plan set around your network, goals and what types of influencers you want to target, we go back to researching how to actually find the right influencers to work with.

During this research, keep in mind the below:

  • Does the influencer already post about similar things to your service? For example, if you’re a restaurant and you want to promote a new menu, you should be looking for influencers who regularly post about dining out and the food they eat.
  • Are they legit? This means scrolling through their feed and clicking through on posts. A poor engagement ratio to follower count and spam-like comments are signs of a fraudulent account.
  • Have they worked with similar brands before? Depending on what type of influencer you’re looking for, a seasoned one will be able to show you a press kit that contains a portfolio of their work. The more you invest in an influencer, the more you’ll want to vet them.

You can also use Twitter analytics toolsto identify potential influencers that will fit your campaigns.

Next, determine how you’ll be reaching out to them. For microinfluencers, you could reach out directly in a private message on the same platform. For more established ones, click around their profile and they may list contact information for business inquiries in their bio. They may also link a website that denotes brand partnerships.

Summer Rayne Oakes has a multi-channel presence, which is a perk for her brand partners. In this particular video, she’s partnered up with Gardener’s Supply Company to give away a product. The brand gets increased visibility with Summer’s followers and she gets to keep them engaged with an interesting product. Even if they don’t win, they’ve been exposed to a new product.

5. Review and refine your strategy

Even if your influencer marketing campaign is ongoing, you should still have pre-determined dates where you’ll measure its progress. The next part of this guide will go into how to track your results. Not all campaigns are successful but hopefully, you’ll learn with each one you create.

How to track influencer marketing campaigns

There are a few ways of measuring the success of your campaign. You can create a specific hashtag, like #SproutPartner, to track what your influencers are doing. The Sprout Smart Inbox makes it easy to see what’s being talked about with specific hashtags, or to watch for mentions of specific Twitter keywords.

What is influencer marketing: How to develop your strategy (2)

If you’re aiming for more sales, giving out affiliate codes or tracking links is an easy way of seeing how much is being generated from influencers.

What is influencer marketing: How to develop your strategy (3)

Sprout’s reporting makes it easy to tag campaign-related posts. Use this feature to compare how these posts perform.

Conclusion

Influencers are here to stay but how the world of influencer marketing looks and operates has changed a great deal in a short time, and in five years may be drastically different from today. This guide will help you get started with building your strategy, but like any social strategy it’s important to be ready for change.

Still, while there are some unique considerations to working with influencers, setting up a campaign is the same as most marketing campaigns: research, set a budget, determine goals, find your influencers and review and revise.

Once you’ve gotten the rhythm down, you might find yourself creating additional types of influencer marketing campaigns. If you’re looking to get more resources for your team to run influencer campaigns, try out our business case template for social team resources.

(Video) What Is Influencer Marketing and How Can It Benefit Your Business? | The Journey

FAQs

What is the meaning of influencer marketing? ›

At a fundamental level, influencer marketing is a type of social media marketing that uses endorsements and product mentions from influencers–individuals who have a dedicated social following and are viewed as experts within their niche.

How do you create an influencer strategy? ›

How to Build an Effective Influencer Marketing Strategy
  1. Document your goals and key performance indicators.
  2. Map the influencer landscape.
  3. Build an influencer strategy to content promotion to goals and KPIs.
  4. Find and research influencers.
  5. Nurture relationships before the ask.
  6. Start early.
23 Mar 2017

Is influencer marketing a marketing strategy? ›

Influencers can help you grow your following, make sales, or simply get the word out about your business. No matter what, today is a great day to start creating your influencer marketing strategy.

What is an example of influencer marketing? ›

Tom's of Maine

The company wanted to increase brand awareness among health-conscious buyers by encouraging people to try their products and talk about them on social media. Tom's focused on micro-influencers, who then encouraged their followers to publish their own posts.

What is influencer marketing and why is it so important? ›

Influencer marketing allows big brands to attract more customers and enables small businesses to scale up by getting them more visibility, which provides higher ROI than other marketing channels.

What is the benefit of influencer marketing? ›

Influencer marketing has several benefits. Not only can it help you increase brand awareness and drive more sales, but it can also help you avoid ad blockers, reach niche audiences, boost your SEO, and so much more.

What are the strategies of influencer marketing? ›

What is an influencer marketing strategy?
  • Builds trust and credibility with the influencer's fans.
  • Boosts your brand awareness by sharing your story through valuable content.
  • Fills the gaps in your content strategy.
  • Allows you to reach audience members that are already interested in your product or services.
8 Aug 2022

How can I improve my marketing influencer? ›

Social media is an immensely powerful tool in influencer marketing, but don't forget the “social” part of social media. Interact with your followers, and be an active part of the community. Also, don't be afraid to show a little humanity in your online presence.

What skills do you need to become an influencer? ›

All influencers must know how social media platforms work, know which platform is the best match for their target audience, and stay up-to-date regarding emerging platforms and trends in their particular field. They also need knowledge of social media optimization and marketing techniques.

How popular is influencer marketing? ›

In recent years, influencer marketing has really been on the rise. What was a $1.7 billion industry in 2016 has since grown to become a $9.7 billion industry in 2020. In just 2021, it grew to $13.8 billion and is projected to expand to $15 billion in 2022.

What is another name for influencer? ›

Sometimes, influencers can also be called leaders, bellwethers, motivators, inspirers, trendsetters, fashionistas, or celebrities.

Which influencer marketing is best? ›

The top social media channels for influencer marketing are: Instagram, Youtube and Tiktok, with Instagram being the most popular one among these channels. Youtube and Youtubers are gaining more and more popularity and are projected to surpass Instagram in terms of influencer marketing budget in the next few years.

Who is the most successful influencer? ›

The Most Popular Influencers on Instagram 2022
  • Lele Pons. 44M followers. ...
  • nusr_et. 35.6M followers. ...
  • Dan Bilzerian. 32.4M followers. ...
  • Amanda Cerny. 24.8M followers. ...
  • Zach King. 24.3M followers. ...
  • Chiara Ferragni. 23.9M followers. ...
  • pewdiepie. 21.7M followers. ...
  • Cameron Dallas. 21.6M followers.

How do you attract influencers to your brand? ›

9 Strategies for Attracting Influencers to Your Content
  1. Write Great Content. ...
  2. Highlight the Influencer. ...
  3. Visit the Same Sites They Do. ...
  4. Use Scientific Reasoning. ...
  5. Add Images. ...
  6. @ Mention Them. ...
  7. Share Their Stuff. ...
  8. Ask the Influencer for a Post.
30 Aug 2017

What is unique about influencer marketing? ›

Better yet, influencer marketing enables you to reach people you can't attain through traditional advertising. Two-thirds of consumers use ad blockers, but the same people willingly take advice from influencers. 80% of users have purchased something based on an influencer's recommendation.

Is influencer marketing a right strategy for business? ›

Yes, you read it right. In influence marketing, the influencers are your content producers. They will create native ads and promote your brand, product, or services personally, which tends to resonate better with the customers. It ultimately boosts your reach, exposure, and engagement.

What are the benefits of being an influencer? ›

Flexibility. One of the greatest perks of being an influencer is the flexibility that comes with the job. In general, it is not the typical 9-5 as influencers have control over when their working hours are. They rarely have an office where they go to work every day.

What is a key strength of influencer marketing? ›

One key strength of influencer marketing is that it can help to build trust between a brand and its customers. When customers see that a brand is endorsed by someone they respect, they are more likely to believe that the brand is reliable and trustworthy.

How influencers can help your business? ›

Companies can use influencers to build better brand communication to targeted demographics in order to create a community that trusts their product, making them more likely to buy even as prices increase. Everywhere you turn, you notice the price of an item you regularly purchase is now a bit higher.

Why is influencer marketing growing? ›

This growth is attributed to the increasing popularity of short video formats on platforms like TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube, the effect of the global pandemic on consumers, which catalyzed social media consumption, and the optimization of data collection, which marketers used for social media ads.

How does an influencer get paid? ›

The most common way is getting paid by companies, brands, and services. Typically, they need to create content and get paid by the agreed rate. Some do commissions too — just like in affiliate marketing and collaborations. Another way is through product promotion or displaying ads on their content.

Who is the biggest influencer? ›

The Most Popular Influencers on Instagram 2022
  • Lele Pons. 44M followers. ...
  • nusr_et. 35.6M followers. ...
  • Dan Bilzerian. 32.4M followers. ...
  • Amanda Cerny. 24.8M followers. ...
  • Zach King. 24.3M followers. ...
  • Chiara Ferragni. 23.9M followers. ...
  • pewdiepie. 21.7M followers. ...
  • Cameron Dallas. 21.6M followers.

What is another name for influencer? ›

Sometimes, influencers can also be called leaders, bellwethers, motivators, inspirers, trendsetters, fashionistas, or celebrities.

What does an influencer do? ›

What does an influencer do? As a person considered to be influentail, an influencer uses that influence to guide their followers' buying decisions. Most often done via creating media (videos, podcasts, newsletters), influencers promote products that they are paid to promote.

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