You’ve heard the buzz around influencer marketing. Now you want to know: 

Should I get onboard? Will influencer marketing actually work — or is it a shipwreck waiting to happen? 

Here’s the truth: 

There are countless horror stories about marketing wasted on fraudulent, difficult-to-work with social media “influencers.” After all, anyone can buy followers online and claim fame

That said, when you set smart objectives and partner with the right individuals, influencer marketing does work. 

In fact, 89% of marketers report the ROI of influencer marketing to be comparable to or higher than other marketing channels; The Influencer MarketingHub says for every $1 spent on influencer marketing, brands get back around $6. 

The secret to influencer marketing ROI is to set your campaign up for success long before sending a DM to your favourite social media tastemaker. So, let’s explore how to do exactly that.

Read on to discover how to navigate the turbulent world of influencer marketing so you can start generating real, measurable results on your next campaign.

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing isn’t new. Long before TikTok and Instagram, brands relied on celebrity endorsements to drive sales. Take Josiah Wedgwood, a British potter from the 1760s. Queen Charlotte was so taken by his work that she decreed him “Her Majesty’s Potter.” 

Wedgwood realised early on that the Queen was the ultimate influencer. He used this to his advantage to market his work as “Queensware” — the world’s first luxury brand. Wedgwood’s marketing campaign worked; he ultimately became the 4th richest man in England. 

Today, you don’t have to be the Queen of England to call yourself an influencer. Any content creator with a dedicated following can endorse or mention your product. Think of it like word-of-mouth marketing, but at scale. 

The influencer gets paid to create and share content related to your product. In return, you get access to the influencer’s hard-earned audience — loyal followers who trust and value recommendations from their beloved content connoisseurs. 

Now, when most businesses think of influencer marketing, they imagine a scenario like this: A macro influencer gives a shout-out to your product. You sit back and watch the sales start pouring in. 

While this isn’t outside the realm of possibility, there’s a bit more that goes into running a successful influencer marketing campaign. Here’s what you need to know.

The 5 steps to a successful influencer marketing strategy

Let’s examine how to create an influencer marketing strategy that works:

1. Identify clear objectives

Like any growth marketing campaign, get specific with your objectives and desired outcomes. Brand awareness is great, but can you tie it to a measurable metric like new social media followers or email subscribers

If you’re unsure how to set smart goals that drive results, start with my article: How To Grow Your Business With Metrics That Matter. You’ll discover which optics you need to arrive at your dream destination. 

Don’t forget to share your target goals with the influencer. This will influence the type of content they produce and how you both measure the success of the collaboration. 

2. Determine your budget

Prices for influencer campaigns vary wildly depending on the industry, audience size, and deliverables. You can expect to pay anywhere between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars per post. 

If you’re working within a tight budget, don’t underestimate the value of micro-influencers. These social media influencers might have a smaller audience, but if that audience is highly engaged with the content, then you can still generate fantastic brand and sales growth.

3. Approach the right influencers

Now, this is where most companies get influencer marketing wrong…

Just because someone has 100k followers on TikTok does not mean that they are the right fit for your collaboration. 

Two things are more important than follower size:

  1. Audience demographic: Who are their followers, and do their demographics and motivations overlap with that of your buyer personas
  2. Audience engagement rate: Does the audience actively engage with their content? If not, this is a red flag that the influencer doesn’t have quite as much influence as their follower count suggests. 

Be candid with influencers from the get-go and ask for this information. You can request a case study from a past collaboration, too. If you’re unsure how to find influencers, there are influencer databases and influencer marketplaces that connect companies to the right social media authorities. 

4. Clarify deliverables

What exactly are you paying the influencer for? A single YouTube video? A blog post with social media promotion on certain platforms? A series of Instagram stories with a branded hashtag? 

Many companies end up disappointed when they budget valuable marketing spend for an influencer campaign and end up with a tiny shout-out in a 2000-word article. Avoid this with clarity and communication, two pillars of any B2B influencer marketing strategy. 

5. Measure results

Measuring results should be relatively straightforward — If you follow Step 1 and set precise objectives and KPIs. Review your results, then analyse the data to inform future campaigns. Refine and scale from there!

You’ll need support and data from the influencer to measure success accurately. So, ensure the influencer understands what kind of reporting you need before starting any promotion. 

Extra tips for driving influencer marketing results

Give influencers creative control

Yes, you have specific objectives and campaign goals. However, that doesn’t mean you need to micro-manage content production. Influencers know their audience best, so trust their expertise.

Consider long-term relationships

One-off campaigns typically produce short-term results; consider an ongoing relationship if you have the budget. The influencer will cultivate a deeper understanding of your brand style and voice. Plus, long-term collaborations appear more trustworthy to followers than promotional one-offs. 

Follow FTC regulations

The FTC clearly states that influencers must reveal their relationships with brands within their posts so that followers know if a promotion is advertorial or organic. Never pressure or encourage an influencer to act in discord.

To sum it up

Social media platforms might come and go, but the philosophy behind influencer marketing is here to stay. However, before diving into your first influencer marketing campaign, get clear on your desired outcomes and growth marketing metrics. Then, get all parties together to chart a transparent, collaborative course towards success — the tips outlined here will help.