11 Tips for Your Next Influencer Campaign

Niraj Sharma |
 08/05/19 |
8 min read

11 Tips for Your Next Influencer Campaign

Influencer campaign marketing is just one tactic in your promotional toolbox, but it’s a super important one to do well. Getting it wrong can have expensive, brand-crushing affects that spread faster than you can say,“she tweeted what?!”

So here are some tips to have in mind ahead of your next influencer campaign so you can have a successful experience, instead of a financial flop or a PR crisis.

Tip #1: Influencer Campaign Goals   

Knowing what your influencer campaign marketing goals are sounds basic, but it’s easy to gloss over. Running fast and loose with “the ask,” or creating goals with too much wiggle room, is a common mistake. Having confidence in the accuracy your social listening tool offers, helps you set solid criteria.

And that criteria should be informed by an extensive search around both brand and category intel that includes:

  • Buzz and sentiment
  • Trends
  • Emotions
  • Likes and dislikes
  • Top authors
  • Top sources

From there, you need to get specific.

Specifically Speaking

Do you want to see an uptick in people talking about your brand in x,y,z context? More purchases of a particular product or service? Or maybe a change in brand perception, as it relates to customer care? Be clear about how that looks. Your internal team requires a clear vision to accurately measure success. And your influencer needs to know too, of course, to head off any disconnect.

And don’t stop at creating specific goals. You need specific influencer campaign “asks” as well. Very specific. For example:

Create X of posts about [a, b, c] product features. Posts must be approved by [Name] before sharing on [these channels] and include these #hashtags. We require a minimum of 30 minutes engagement with your audience after each post goes live. Do not mention competitors in our posts (or at all!).

Do not make it your goal to “go viral.” That’s like trying to reverse engineer a unicorn. Although some ideas do go viral, when brands make this their focus, they get locked on to narrow paths they believe support it (and usually don’t), while ignoring truly transformative options. The tale of the tortoise and the hare is a good one to keep in mind.

Tip #2. Setting a Realistic Budget for Your Influencer Campaign

Create a realistic budget for your influencer campaign. This goes beyond the cost to pay the influencers. You need to set some budget aside to support their efforts with these potential addons:

  • Targeted advertising to expand your influencer’s reach
  • Boosting influencer promotions for maximum impact
  • Hosting online and/or in-person events

For example, maybe you’re an edgy apparel company and connect with some amazing dancers. Providing an extra promotional boost to a video of them dancing in your clothes would be money well spent:

Instagram influencers dancing in sponsored partner's clothes as part of campaign.

So, plan ahead for that as you think through these collaborations and how they’ll look.

Tip #3. Influencer Campaign Time Commitment 

Beyond the time it takes to manage your influencer and the ongoing analysis of his/her efforts, you have to devote time to cleaning up the data you capture.

At NetBase, we call it disambiguation – and we make it really easy to do with a Tuner tab that allows brands to Filter In or Filter Out terms:

Tuner tab that allows brands to Filter In or Filter Out terms

Having “clean” results makes all the difference in your social analytics world.

But that’s not the only thing that takes time. The influencer marketing process itself requires time to take root and grow. This can be surprising to brands as they expect an influencer, any genuine influencer that is, to generate action pretty quickly. But even your best influencers need to build momentum. It’s a delicate balance and any sponsored content will be met with some consumer skepticism and hesitancy.

Your supremely authentic influencer will win them over, no doubt – but you must commit a reasonable amount of time for these tactics to work. Expecting an immediate uptick in whatever goals you set will lead to disappointment. Setting monthly and quarterly goals makes much more sense here, taking special note of upcoming holidays and other events you’ve added in to your plan.

And it’s important to note: Timing promotions around these occasions can work to your advantage or get lost in the noise if you don’t carefully differentiate.

Tip #4. An Influencer (or Two) for Every Segment

Who are you targeting specifically? You have limitless options in the influencer marketing game – ways to connect with these audiences beyond “busy mom” or “millennial.”

As you defined your goals (step #1), you undoubtedly used your Next Generation AI-powered sentiment analysis tool to dig in to the trends and conversations in your category and capture deeper intel about your audience. If not, here’s a bit of what you’re missing:

trending terms and hashtags to identify influencer campaign conversations

This is why psychographic sentiment analysis is such a crucial part of social listening. It helps brands understand who these audiences are underneath the surface, taking brands well beyond curious word clouds, to what lies beneath. Seeing the conversations that resonate to drive consumer behaviors and purchase decisions.

And it offers guidance around the best way to enter, and become part of, their lives by giving insight around which kind of influencer you should approach these segments with. Maybe a cultural influencer would make sense:

Identifying cultural influencers

But don’t assume your audience wouldn’t connect best with a digital influencer either:

Identifying digital influencers

Or even a content/expert influencer:

Identifying context and expert influencers

How are each different? They have specific focus in the named niche. If you want to reach your audience on forums, you need a digital influencer. If you’re a cosmetics brand, you’d likely seek a cultural influencer. And content/expert influencers are great for tech companies.

It’s not set in stone though, as none of this is. It depends on which conversations and terms are trending in a given topic and who is able to participate most meaningfully and authentically in that conversation on behalf of your brand.

Tip #5. Macro or Micro Influencers 

There are a variety of influential folks out there – some more authentic than others, but that has nothing to do with audience size. You’ll find both macro (with follower counts over 10K) and micro (follower counts of 1K+) influencers to be beneficial, depending on how niche your target audience is.

Know that neither is “better” than the other and look closely at engagement instead of follower count. Some influencers – in either category – aren’t actually influential. Or their influence is primarily with other influencers.

The data you’ve uncovered in Tip #4 should inform your choices here, much more so than follower count.

And as you progress with your influencer partnership, you’ll want to know:

  • How are my partners talking about my brand?
  • Is the partner-produced content well-received among followers that impact my brand?
  • Who else is talking about my brand that could be considered an influencer among their social followers?
  • The type of content an influencer is creating and how it impacts my brand, competitors and category.

Overview snapshot of how influencers are talking about your campaign

Tip #6. Past Influencer Campaign Performance 

How have your past influencer campaigns gone? Even if they’ve been wildly successful and you’re thrilled with your influential partner’s performance, hindsight helps.

Some questions to consider:

  • What were our goals before and did we have the right influencer(s) for the job?
  • How did we measure success? Were our goals flexible and destined for success regardless – or did we set stretch goals that really pushed the limits of our social listening/influencer marketing capabilies?
  • Did we make note of our influencer’s influential friends? Vetting these folks around their followings could provide new opportunities/access to new, related segments you’ve yet to consider.

And if your past influencer campaigns have been a bust, sorting out why before starting again is important. Questions there include:

  • Did we properly vet our influencer’s engagement before partnering with them?
  • Were our goals – and the “ask” – clearly communicated?
  • Did we allocate appropriate time and budget toward this process (creating targeted ads to support the effort, promoting posts to provide an extra boost at key times).

Understanding when your target audience was most active – and where, is also important to revisit. Although things can change in an instant online, a general idea of past performance can help you pivot faster in the future. And this is where real-time, accurate insight is game changer.

Analyzing conversation by day and hour 

Tip #7. Influencer Campaign Benchmarking Data 

Connecting back to your goals, what are you measuring to show success? Are you tracking conversation share around a specific topic? And maybe you’re interested in overall brand passion, in comparison to competitors?

Analyzing competitor conversation with Brand Passion Index comparing brands

You can glean a lot from a variety of competitor comparisons over time to see where you’re lagging in different subcategories of the conversation, and where your focus should be moving forward.

Timeline comparison to measure influencer campaign effectiveness

You can also see what’s working well geographically:

Geographical snapshot to help analyze influencer campaign activity

And if other influencers, beyond those you’re collaborating with, have picked up on the conversation organically. This can help inform future influencer partnerships.

Because you’ll want a variety of influencers – and not just the macro and micro kind. You’ll also want some champions in the mix. And these folks are hard to find.

Tip #8. Influencers vs Champions

Similar to the macro and micro influencer discussion, we have influencers vs champions.

Whereas influencers have a widespread appeal, likely due to some celebrity status – even just one they created for themselves in their niche, champions are the purest form of online persuasion.

They aren’t influencers by trade, they’re niche experts that love whatever niche they’re known in, and the influence has blossomed from this love. And they’re sought out by regular folks for insight ahead of purchase decisions because they’re that knowledgeable.

You won’t find them by regular interactions, expect perhaps by chance. They’ll be active on Reddit and other forums, sharing insight and likely debating features or concepts.

Champions can create – or kill – a product launch.

Identifying and partnering with one of these folks can be a game changer for any brand. There are niche experts on every topic online; people who drive markets. And they’re largely invisible to brands because typical influencers are the loudest voices. This is why the ability to explore brand and category insight at a granular level is so important.

For example, the potential brand champion, Dustin Anderson, in screenshot below has only 4,580 followers, but generated 295 engagements. The much larger Popsugar, offering 113,757 followers only generated 38 engagements. That’s important to watch closely.

Brand champion vs influencer engagement rates to measure true influence

Brands are increasingly aware of these champions though, which is great for those in the know. And a dangerous oversight for those who aren’t, as champions aren’t nearly as easy to find (and convince to engage with a brand) as traditional influencers are.

Get on that path if you haven’t already! And don’t worry – you can monitor these champions very closely to make sure the partnership is working. We see to that . . .

Tip #9. Metrics to Monitor Your Influencer Campaign

You can have the best benchmarking goals in mind, but if you lack an effective means of monitoring your influencers, you’re throwing money away. You may be interested in any of the following:

  • Brand mention counts
  • Net sentiment score, in context of a certain topic or about your brand overall (a measure of online love, ranging from -100 to 100)
  • Top themes that emerge and your share of voice in each
  • Emotions, attributes and behaviors you want to see your target audience sharing in relation to your brand
  • Top domains where conversations are happening (to help you better direct advertising dollars)
  • Conversation trends that may not be part of your overarching goals right now, but should figure prominently in ongoing/future planning

And in NetBase, you can capture that intel as you identify, segment and monitor influencers based on any number of meaningful criteria:

Metrics, demographics and sources you can use as criteria for influencer campaign considerations

Tip #10. Communicating Success of Influencer Campaign

Sharing what you’ve accomplished deserves finesse. The best influencer report will be real-time data available via dashboards.

You can quickly see what is being said about your brand in an overarching snapshot:

Overarchinig campaign conversation snapshot around your brand

And can dig in, with channel-specific check-ins that compare your influencers against each other:

Channel-specific influencer campaign analysis

Tip #11. Plan for a Repeat Performance

You’ve already spent time exploring past performance (tip #6) and have become a metric monitoring pro so you may feel ready to go! Not so fast. Online is an ever-changing animal and it requires consistent, real-time monitoring.

Your influencer marketing campaigns – and any marketing campaign for that matter – requires re-evaluation before, during and after each effort. And we’re here to help you make that happen! Reach out for a demo and we’re happy to show you everything social listening can do for your brand.

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