In today’s climate, everyone is trying to do more with less. With slashed budgets and limited resources, influencer marketing often gets categorized as a “nice to have” and not a “need to have.”  But that’s only because most brands are not using influencers to their fullest potential. 

When thought through strategically, influencer marketing can help multiple departments achieve their core objectives.

To achieve this potential – even with limited resources – here’s how you can make your campaigns work harder and deliver extra value across your department and organization. 

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Still-frame of the video recording from the event "How to work with influencers on a budget in 2021" featuring travel influencer expert Netanya Trimboli and Wanderful Founder & CEO Beth Santos

Influencer Campaign Development

To tap the full potential of each campaign, influencer marketing should be an integrated part of your overall marketing strategy and not separated as a tangential marketing tactic. This mindset takes influencer marketing from a cost center to a cost-efficient amplification channel for marketing activities already in your pipeline.

Here’s how to incorporate this strategy into your own efforts…

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Image by Pexels from Pixabay

1. Identify Your Objective

First, it’s important to know what you’re trying to achieve by partnering with an influencer. 

While general brand awareness campaigns have their place, it can be hard to make the case for their value, because this type of impact is hard to measure. Instead, build off an existing marketing or PR campaign with a clear objective.

For example, maybe you’re running a winter promotion and want to increase sales. Or maybe you have a new product offering that needs more exposure. Being specific will help you narrow in on what you’re trying to achieve and allow you to recognize success when you see it. 

Building off an existing campaign also helps keep your department priorities on track and prevent influencer marketing from being siloed. Rather, the coordinated strategy will amplify your whole team’s efforts.

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2. Treat Influencers Like Consultants

Too often, influencer marketing is treated like a transaction: here’s $500 in exchange for a blog post and two social media posts.  

Influencers are creative by nature and probably have tons of tried and true experiences to pull from to help you get the most out of your campaign. But many times, they won’t offer their opinion unless they’re asked. 

The best thing you can do is pick up the phone and have a meaningful dialogue back and forth. 

Ask for their ideas on how you can achieve your objective. Ask about what their audience responds well to. Have a brainstorming session on creative ways to break through the noise. 

In addition to new ideas emerging, this also makes the influencer have a more vested stake in your business.  It’s now their own idea on the table, so they are going to work harder to ensure it’s successful.

Related: Influencer Marketing Pricing: 4 Methods for Influencers to Consider

3. Influencer Marketing is Content Marketing

Next, think beyond the influencer’s own channel. What additional assets could they create for your channels? 

Most likely, you have a website or blog, social media channels, newsletter, stakeholder communication, etc. So you have ongoing needs for fresh content, both written and visual. 

Many influencers actually prefer to be called content creators because, at their core, that’s what they do. And if you also see them that way, a whole new sea of opportunity opens up. 

Let’s say you work for a hotel company and have a chat with the content marketing team. 

You find out they want to hype up recent bathroom renovations in the annual report and on social media, and a closeup of the faucet would be really great to include, but a photographer would cost a fortune. 

Around this time, an influencer reaches out who wants to collaborate. 

Paying them $500 to do a blog post for a general brand awareness campaign might seem out of your reach or even unnecessary. 

But if they could include a few hi-res photos of that faucet, plus mention how nice the bathrooms are on social media, plus allow you to use a quote about their experience in your marketing efforts…now $500 sounds like a bargain! Especially because it’s split across multiple budgets. 

And, for the influencer, these are easy add-ons that only cost them a few extra minutes of their time. 

Read next: 9 Hidden Marketing Assets Influencers Can Use to Add Value

When evaluating a collaboration, think of all your channels that you need to create content for. Ask yourself, which of these channels can this influencer also assist with? 

And it may not even be your content marketing team you need to talk to. 

It may be that your sustainability committee is working on an application for a prestigious award and would love photography of the new washing machines, but have no way of getting that. 

Keep the lines of communication open across your organization and you’ll keep unlocking new potential.

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Image by Jess Foami from Pixabay

4. Be Painfully Specific

One reason brands have gotten burned in the past is because brands and influencers have completely different assumptions. 

Take a look at the following chart and see how an influencer and a brand may interpret the same line item differently.

Contract VerbiageInfluencer AssumesBrand Assumes
Blog post about XYZ Brand2 sentences is fineThe whole article is about me
Facebook postI’ll write about my overall experience and hashtag the brand and use whatever my favorite picture from the trip isThe picture will be of my brand and the caption will be all about me
Instagram postI’ll do a few storiesI’m expecting a Feed post
Tag XYZ BrandShould I tag the corporate brand or the individual establishment? I’ll just pick!Tag the one I want!

You can see how the lack of detail leaves room for interpretation. That ultimately results in the brand not having their expectations met. 

To avoid these pitfalls, go into great detail in your contracts, even including what you would otherwise believe to “go without saying.” 

Be sure to also include any main message points that are important to your brand. Even if your brand has a defining characteristic, never assume your influencer will write about that unless you explicitly tell them.

When you’re watching every dollar, it’s vital you’re positioning your expectations to be met, if not exceeded.

Related: 10 Common Mistakes Influencers Make That You Can Easily Avoid

Post-Campaign Wrap-Up: Internal PR

Influencer marketing may be an enigma to your colleagues who are not directly involved. Despite this, they may have a hand in whether or not you have the financial support to pursue future collaborations. 

So it’s important to be able to articulate a campaign’s success in a fashion that resonates with your internal stakeholders.

To prove just how successful your campaign was, compile a report or presentation that shares the following:

  • The objective. This lets your company know your campaign was strategically aligned with what the rest of the organization is working on.
  • About the influencer. Emphasize their audience demographics and psychographics, to once again show how this campaign is strategically aligned with organizational priorities.
  • Metric summary. Include impressions, reach, and engagements to show the scope of the campaign (be sure to let the influencer know in advance that you expect these metrics). 
  • Context. Those metric numbers might not mean anything to someone outside your department, so compare them to other campaigns, typical social media posts, etc., to prove what a standout campaign this was.
  • Added value. If the influencer provided additional photography, rights to content, a testimonial, or anything else of value, be sure to include that as well. If applicable, include the estimated dollar value of what they provided.
  • Your own metrics. If the campaign positively impacted your number of followers or the reach or engagements on your own channels, include that as well.
  • Snapshots. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, check out the influencer’s social media handles and grab snapshots of their top posts and of them interacting with your product or service. Show how they are a genuine consumer and brand advocate.

Compile this information into a polished report. Your boss or other internal stakeholders will understand why influencer marketing is important to your overall strategy. And that helps you unlock additional budget dollars for future campaigns.

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Image by Ernesto Eslava from Pixabay

Making Influencer Marketing Work for Your Budget

Think through influencer campaigns strategically. They can be a cost-effective approach to address the needs of multiple stakeholders within your department and your organization as a whole. 

But, in order for campaigns to reach their full potential, influencer strategy must be integrated into your overall marketing and communications strategic plan. They can’t be executed in isolation. 

Remember: brands must be active participants in designing the campaign, engaging in clear and precise communication with the influencer, and consulting with internal teams to identify opportunities for added value. 

And, when presented effectively to your stakeholders, everyone will start to understand why influencer marketing is a “need to have”!

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