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Something’s wrong with this picture: 75% of marketers currently employ influencer marketing activities, spending billions every year on the channel, yet only 36% consider them effective. 

Are influencers the problem? Sometimes. But more often it’s a strategy flaw. While there are certainly some too-good-to-be-true influencers out there, there are also many who produce great content and have strong and authentic relationships with their audiences that can be a gold-mine for brands. The key is in how you engage those partners. 

Here are some smart strategies to pursue and mistakes to avoid if you want to build a high-performance influencer program for the long haul.

DON’T . . . pay for posts without measurement

It’s estimated that 37% of marketers struggle to set goals and understand results related to their influencer marketing programs. As follower counts and other vanity metrics become less credible, so does paying for posts, especially if you have no way of measuring performance. Treating influencer marketing purely as an unexamined branding exercise will not help you optimize value to your business.

DO . . . nurture long-term advocacy 

Influencer marketing works best when you recruit genuine brand advocates and can measure results against your business goals. Long-term ambassadorships allow you to better understand an influencer’s value over time and align incentives with desired business outcomes. For example, rather than just a per-post fixed fee, you could set up a 3% participation bonus to guarantee that an influencer will receive partial credit for the success of their content even if they don’t win the last click. This will encourage influencers to cater their content to your business goals, improving ROI for you and rewards for your partner.

DON’T . . . waste time on unnecessary admin

The average marketer spends around 16 hours each week on manual tasks such as finding influencers, negotiating terms, approving content, and cutting checks manually. Not only is that time better spent on business growth, it’s also busywork that leads to risky shortcuts such as copy-and-paste syndrome. (That’s when marketers send the same content suggestions to every influencer, and it ends up posted verbatim. Embarrassing!)

DO . . . automate wherever possible

With partnership automation tools, you can track and manage hundreds of partners and dozens of routine tasks, including:

  • Finding and recruiting new influencers for your brand
  • Grouping prospective influencers for efficient outreach 
  • Setting payment terms and contracting
  • Emailing new offers
  • Onboarding influencers
  • Re-engaging latent influencers
  • Monitoring influencer posts for brand and regulatory compliance
  • Approving content
  • Measuring performance
  • Payment processing

DON’T . . . overload on macro influencers

Some brands focus only on big-bang influencers to save time and perceived hassle. But that can be a costly mistake. It’s risky putting all your eggs in a few baskets (especially when people doubt the authenticity of those baskets . . .  have I lost the metaphor?), and influencers with 1,500-50K followers can drive proportionally more revenue than bigger names.

DO . . . diversify your partners

A 2019 report found that influencer partners with 50-250K followers delivered 30% better ROI than those with 250K-1M and 20% more than those with 1M+ followers. Given that macro influencers can increase engagement by 180%, and micro influencers convert 60% more than macro influencers, a mix of partners is ideal.

DON’T . . . keep your influencers in silos

Treating influencers like one-trick ponies can be a huge mistake, either when you focus too much on social engagement or too much on direct sales. The best influencers are at heart content creators, and the more ways you can leverage that content, the better.

DO . . . leverage influencer output across channels

Any material produced by your influencers (assuming you have ownership) is potential fodder for other marketing efforts. 86% of consumers say that authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support, and consumers are 3x more likely to say that user-generated content (like that created by influencers) is authentic compared to content created by a brand.

Encourage your influencers to cross boundaries and produce content that might also be suitable for:

  • Ad creative
  • Demand generation
  • Blog content
  • Press release imagery
  • Event collateral
  • Email marketing

For more best practices for optimizing your influencer programs, read our eBook, Your Influencer Program Is Broken, or reach out to a growth technologist now at sales@impact.com.

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