How Your Brand Can Use Influencer Marketing

Hélène Heath
September 9, 2018
Last Updated On
November 9, 2022
female models

Does the state of your influencer marketing campaigns keep you up at night because you feel like the landscape is changing? Time to get a good night's sleep.

What is Influencer Marketing?

Simply put, influencer marketing is a strategy based on partnerships between a brand and a social media influencer to promote a product or service. These partnerships can range from a simple mention in the influencer’s typical content to full-blown ad campaigns or commercials. Depending on the type of deal, the size of the influencer’s following, and content engagement, compensation is usually provided in the form of free products or monetary payment.

A social media influencer is defined by the amount of influence they have to affect the purchasing decisions of their audience. The size of their audience can help define the type of influencer that aligns with your brand and campaign goals. Influencers with a large number of followers will reach a wide audience but might be too diverse for your target audience. Influencers with a smaller following may not have a wide reach, but have a more dedicated and engaged community that is primed to purchase. Brands should compare both micro-influencers vs. macro-influencers to better understand what form of influencer marketing is the most effective. 

Influencer marketing continues to be one of the most successful ways to reach your target audience and influence your customers. It should be implemented in your brand's marketing strategy to ensure you can reach your target audience as best as possible. 


Brand Growth with Social Media Influencers

Growing a brand on Instagram is not the game it was two years ago, or even one year ago. Sure, the marketing landscape has changed, as it always does, but some of the biggest transformations actually came courtesy of the social platform itself. Instagram has undergone some major shifts in recent months, leaving most businesses to scramble, reassess, and adapt.

Things began shifting when the algorithm arrived—the domino effect that ensued was rip-roaring. Business accounts became a thing shortly thereafter, then so did native shopping. The Facebook-owned company then recognized its role in the influencer marketing industry and made it official by implementing a conspicuous paid partnership button for bloggers to use. Then in an unprecedented move, one that seems to have been the most pivotal of all, the APIpocalpyse arrived and, let's face it, things haven't been the same since.

You are competing with so many accounts for the attention of your audience that even the hackiest of hacks are often not enough to trump the mean machine. Which is why influencer marketing is more important than ever for your budding or established brand.

How to Create an Influencer Marketing Strategy

That was the short version of Instagram's algorithm era historical recap—all to say that you should always expect the unexpected. We know, this precariousness makes it extra hard to master anything, but becoming a pro at adaptability and attentiveness will give you the upper hand. Understanding the sector's movements and directions will enable you to act fast and intelligently.

Now about the state of influencer marketing, it has also gone through a ton of a change in recent months. The pool has vastly expanded, making it a dense, often polluted territory—there are fame-seekers, social-climbers, large following-fakers, and bot-users. It's exhausting just thinking about it.

So what should brands do? It's time to smarten up. While there are still no real rules to the system, it is maturing, and all parties involved (brand side and influencer side) are increasingly shrewd with their requirements. While influencer marketing was still an elusive game as recently as two years ago, it's now a widespread practice that has taken on multiple forms and that has seen many a weed grow.

Because there are now plenty more fish crowding the sea in all capacities of Instagram, one must tread with absolute precision when dipping in it. If one-off transactional exchanges might have worked in the past, that's no longer the case. There's too much noise to cut through, too many brands competing for reach, and extremely knowledgable, slightly skeptical followers.

Now where does that leave us? What is the state of affairs? There's no denying the power of influencer marketing—people look to these bloggers for inspiration in all matters of stuff, and most millennials are influenced by what they see on Instagram. A lot of times, those interactions will lead to purchases.

But in today's influencer economy, it's not as simple as a transaction, no matter the type of collaboration you're seeking. There are all sorts of factors that can make or break the success of your product placements. For that reason, we evaluated the current state of the practice to understand exactly what brands need to do today to build successful social campaigns why it's important to measure influencer and creator ROI.

1. Evaluate Your Own Channels

What we mean by that is that before you go and hire some great people to spread the good word about your awesome brand, turn the lens on the state of your own channel for a moment of unbiased self-assessment: if people land on your brand's profile page, is it going to be worthy of a follow, or even a further exploration leading to purchase? Be objective and rational.

Things to ask yourself include: are you using Instagram's native filters versus a great editing app? Are your creative posts intermittently interrupted with unsavoury promotional photo montages announcing sales? Do you have too many product images from your e-comm pages? Are you using the optimum image size on your feed? Is your aesthetic questionable (be honest and then fix it)? Is there visual cohesion? Is there a disconnect between your brand values and the creative you've been publishing (perhaps you need a rebranding)?

This is an important exercise because if your profile (aka the nouveau homepage) is unappealing, it doesn't matter how many influencers you pay or how much they post about you—you won't see results.

2. Define Some Realistic Goals

We've talked ad nauseam about establishing goals when doing anything relating to social marketing, but this time we're adding a caveat: understand what is realistic when it comes to A) your brand, and B) who you're hiring. If your number one priority is to see a spike in sales, then align with someone who has positioned themselves that way and trained their audience to shop what they feature.

If you're a new brand, perhaps building a foundation in the marketplace by running an awareness campaign would serve you more than attempting to drive sales first and foremost. Establish guidelines based on your goals and tailor the partnerships to the influencer's strength. Being fair to your business and to the people you're working with will help manage expectations.

Quantifying the results of you influencer partnerships is a tricky affair because there are so many intangible benefits that eventually lead to those concrete conversions. This is especially true if you're a lesser known brand, where a direct sales spike is not a sensible collaboration goal. Make sure the KPIs you choose to monitor are congruous with your expectations.

3. Lay Out Clear Deliverables

There's a lot of disappointment to be had with influencer marketing, both from unprofessionalism on the Instagrammer's part and from brands making false assumptions. If you're paying someone to post something on your behalf and you're seeking specificity, outline some content creation guidelines if applicable, along with every deliverable they must meet. Partnerships are always more successful when all parties involved are aligned and aware of the scope of work.

That said, remember that you're working with a person and not just making a transactional media buy for a magazine or a billboard. You chose those influencers because you like their voice and aesthetic, and you're looking to reach their audience, who they know best. Your product placement will be so much more effective when you let them showcase it through their own lens—it's what their followers want to see and what will make them convert. Some degree of creative freedom is paramount for the paid content to resonate.


4.Repeat After Us: Relationships, Relationships, Relationships

This point is of utmost importance. Finding great people is not as easy as it once was (refer to the above saturation conversation), and neither is that elusive authenticity factor. Yup, that word again. Since more phonies than ever are calling themselves influencers, creating close connections with your partners is more significant than it ever was to ensure you're in the ring with the right people.

To solidify ties with your influencer community, start by finding Instagrammers that are already engaged with your brand and tagging it organically in their posts. Using fans with influence is a fail-proof tactic that safeguards the authenticity of your endorsements. Those partnerships will ooze sincerity and will be much more effective because of it.

Even so, it might take a few times for a brand or specific item you're having your partners promote to resonate with viewers, which explains why one-off posts don't work. Seeing as Instagrammers tend to be in discovery mode when they scroll, it may take a few times for the promotion to have a real impact. If you build a great relationship with those you hire, that authenticity will come through in your product placements and will make them more effective.

The less transactional, the better, which is part of why micro influencers have had such a strong appeal. Their engagement tends to be really high because their posts genuinely showcase them just living their regular lives and documenting it in the process. On the flip side, audiences are more likely to question the credibility of power influencers because they're more tied to sponsorships to earn their living.

No matter which direction you choose to go in when tapping influencers, remember that being thoughtful goes a long way. Understanding brand fit and creating strong connections should be prioritized, and with so many collaborations gone wrong, a little human touch can make all the difference.

5. Utilize Stories and Reels

Because they are more raw, less edited, off the cuff, and often allow for a better display of one's personality, users tend to be really engaged on Instagram Stories and Reels. A lot of brands use these tools as an added bonus when placing a product on an influencer's feed, since they can get way more personal to advocate for a brand.

Stories Interactions happen in the dark and are therefore deemed less valuable than a permanent post that's artfully directed and likely captioned a little clinically with a bunch of required hashtags that followers are not really interacting with. Audiences are keen to consume these beautiful photos, but the interaction is often very quick and less conducive to them forming an opinion on a brand or an item.

Instagram Stories truly facilitate deeper connections because the influencer can talk through why they like something. It allows for a certain closeness and intimacy that followers revel in. Take it from Katie Sturino, she knows what she's talking about.

There is so much value in those legitimate conversations happening on Instagram Stories. They lend additional credibility to your product placements, raising chances of your brand receiving more engagement. Food for thought.


Should Your Brand Use Social Media Influencers?

If you're still evaluating whether or not you should be using influencer marketing, or if you're questioning its value, there are two important things to remember. One, that it's extremely powerful if your approach is on point.

And two, when it comes down to it, influencer marketing costs way less than traditional advertising. Ask yourself how much of your budget you would have to dedicate to producing an ad and pay media outlets to place it. When your brand is being organically showcased by a trusted source, the chances of being embraced are high. Influencer marketing is also more economic than regular advertising because it provides your business with beautiful, on-brand content for its own channels. The collateral that you didn't have to pay to produce yourself.

With influencer marketing's drastic evolution in the past few months, brands are in a spot where they've got to adapt their strategies. The good news is that while there are still no common standards for the practice, it's now been around long enough for all players to have a good understanding of what makes for successful results. So long as they keep up with its development, and even participate in forging its future direction.

Dash Hudson’s Influencer Marketing Tools

Having the proper tools is key to ensuring your influencer marketing strategy performs. Using marketing tools can make the process much easier. Because of this, we evaluated some of the best tools your brand can use to benefit from when it comes to social media influencer marketing. 

Influencer Marketing Measurement

Dash Hudson’s influencer marketing measurement tool allows you to track and measure the ROI of your influencer programs by showing you what influencer content drives the most engagements and growth. You will discover the impact of your influencer marketing campaigns on your brand's earned media value (EMV) by understanding which influencers are performing the best and which need to improve. You can also work with your influencers to determine what promotional content they are posting is performing the best and learn what your audience likes to see.

Influencer and Creator ROI

With Dash Hudson’s influencer and creator ROI tools, your brands can source and measure the impact of your fans and influencers. You can now manage your brand's influencer and creator programs to make measuring your user-generated content (UGC) simple. Track the performance of your UGC, measure which of your influencers are adding the most value to your brand, and any spots of your influencer marketing strategy that are lacking.

Relationships

Dash Hudson has the tools to help you stay on top of your influencer's performance with relationships. With this tool, your brand can now make strategic decisions and reports to ensure your influencers are performing adequately. Use the relationships tool to predict influencer content that performs best for your brand's audience. Discover the impact of your influencers on your brands and determine where your influencers can improve. Drive audience growth using our metrics that will push your brand to hit your goal.

FAQs

How many followers do you need to become an influencer?

One of the most exciting things about influencers and influencer marketing is that it doesn’t really matter how many followers you have. Of course, it’s important to have somewhat of an established following, but that doesn’t need to be a large amount. Oftentimes, influencers with smaller follower amounts end up with a higher ROI because of the loyal fan base they have acquired. 

One of the most exciting things about influencers and influencer marketing is that it doesn’t really matter how many followers you have. Of course, it’s important to have somewhat of an established following, but that doesn’t need to be a large amount. Oftentimes, influencers with smaller follower amounts end up with a higher ROI because of the loyal fan base they have acquired. 

Who are the top influencers?

Not surprisingly, most of the top influencers on Instagram include celebrities and athletes. Here are the top 10: 

Cristiano Ronaldo

Kylie Jenner

Lionel Messi

Selena Gomez

Dwayne Johnson

Ariana Grande

Kim Kardashian

Beyoncé

Khloé Kardashian

Justin Bieber

How much do you get paid as an influencer?

This is entirely dependent on what an influencer charges, or what your brand is willing to pay. Some smaller influencers may be willing to post for a smaller amount, while larger influencers may have a flat rate that could increase depending on what your brand is requiring them to post.

What is an example of influencer marketing?

A great example of influencer marketing is TikTok sensation, Charli D’amelio’s collaboration with Dunkin’ Donuts. Charli D’amelio is one of the most followed TikTokers on the platform and has now started becoming one of Dunkin’ Donuts promotional influencers. With her own signature drink named ‘The Charli’ and her constant posts drinking and eating Dunkin’ Donuts, she is a great influencer for the brand to collaborate with. 


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