This Marketing Method Has the Potential for 20x ROI. Are You Using It the Right Way? Here's how to raise your game with influencer marketing to drive more engagement and even more profitable results.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Brands originally used influencer marketing mainly for brand awareness or to shift their customer's shopping behavior and overall perceptions of the brand (sometimes called brand lift).
Today, we've moved well beyond those more limited early days. With the potential for returns of 20x the initial investment, many brands see the advantages in working with influencers, from niche to celebrity influencers, whose audiences and viewpoints align with their brand values. Brands now work with many different types of influencers in pursuit of several business goals, including:
- Reach new audiences and expand your brand's reach
- Beef up your overall content marketing efforts
- Raise prospects' consideration of your project
- Drive new sales from new customers
- Heighten buyer intention to purchase
- Create long-term brand equity
More fundamental, basic strategies for working with content creators still bring results. If you're not already offering discount codes to content creators and their audiences, that's a great place to start. Add in a detailed review of your product or service by the influencer, launch a contest together and make sure they're using your branded hashtag on all sponsored posts.
Once you've got the basics under control, why not spend some time exploring new ways to improve your influencer marketing plan? The following four tactics will improve the overall success of your influencer campaigns and help get you closer to your goals.
1. Stage a takeover of your social media channels by your influencer
Schedule a day and time for your influencer to take over one of your social media channels. If it's for an hour, a day or even a week, a well-publicized takeover can help raise your profile and bring the influencer's fans to your account. You'll increase brand exposure, reach new prospects and amplify important brand marketing messages. At the same time, your current audience will learn more about the influencer, who can gain more followers. That's the very definition of a win-win.
To ensure a social media takeover runs smoothly, make sure you define the rules ahead of time and set out a process that ensures inappropriate content won't slip past. Give the influencer simple, straightforward guidelines about what kind of subject matter and wording are prohibited. Alternatively, you can ask them to send you their content in advance, then your team can post it for the influencer.
Takeovers designed around specific events or experiences tend to produce the best results for both participants. Tie in an influencer takeover with a product launch, for example, to help introduce the new line to a broader audience and possible customers.
Finally, consider carefully which channel or platform to use for your influencer marketing campaign. There should be a good fit or alignment between your product, your marketing goals, the influencer's content strengths and the channel you use. TikTok and Instagram are often better suited for graphic content that shows off a product's features or design, while Twitter and Facebook are solid choices when you want to encourage audience engagement and interactions.
2. Arrange for unboxing videos for a new or popular product
Reviews and mentions can be highly effective in raising your brand profile and increasing sales. However, if you want to truly reach and persuade more prospects to complete a purchase, go a step further by having the influencer create a compelling unboxing video.
Unboxing videos began to achieve virality around late 2006, so as a genre they've been around for a while. They're still popular, however, and well-crafted ones can generate a ton of buzz for your brand and product.
The key to success with unboxing videos from influencers is to ensure the highest possible quality, both in the video production values and in the substance of the influencer's content. Give them a full breakdown of the product's key features and benefits. Your influencer should also have access to adequate lighting and recording equipment to ensure strong production values.
3. Get creative with payment for influencer marketing
Would the content creator you're working with be amenable to a more creative payment structure? A "pay to play" approach, in which their compensation is tied directly to the number of sign-ups they can drive for your brand, can strongly motivate influencers. This approach can also make it much easier for you to track applicable metrics and calculate an accurate ROI.
Many creators will happily accept such a deal because they could potentially make more from such an arrangement than they would under a straight flat rate. Of course, there's also a risk they'd make less, but if you've chosen your influencer based on a full understanding of their audience structure and reach, you should have a good idea of what they can realistically deliver.
4. Repurpose your influencer's content for your brand
If you've got a partnership with a content creator that's built on proven results and a dependable track record of performance, they should be producing valuable, exciting content that drives key metrics you want to improve. Why not take that content and repurpose it for your brand to publish and promote?
For example, if your influencer's audience is roughly 100,000 and the average post reaches about half that many, you could choose to invest part of your marketing budget in a paid promotion of one of their videos about your brand. Treat it as any other paid ad and track its performance compared to your other paid ad campaigns. You might be pleasantly surprised at how well it drives people to your site or offer.
Alternatively, look at ways you can repackage and share the influencer's content on your own social media channels. Present the creative content they've produced in context with additional marketing information from your team to increase list subscriptions or even completed sales.
How to build a successful influencer partnership
To make the most of your influencer marketing strategies when you work with the right creators, it's important to focus some energy on building a strong, positive relationship with them. Make sure you understand their needs, priorities and goals as well as the demographics and size of their audience. Depending on those parameters, some of the above tactics might make more sense than others. Overall, for the best results, choose the methods that align most closely with the needs of both parties.
Regardless of whatever new strategy you decide to try out, make sure that your team fully understands and is compliant with all the applicable FTC guidelines governing social media influencer marketing. For example, influencers are required to label all sponsored or paid content as such, so that viewers and fans know right away that there's a commercial relationship behind the content. Adding hashtags such as #ad or #sponcon are great, but not if your influencer tacks them on at the very end of dozens of other hashtags. And if your influencer is creating a video for your brand, they'll need to disclose the relationship both verbally and in writing — that is, in the video itself as well as in the written caption that accompanies it.
In addition, because so much digital marketing is global these days, you should be aware of the rules imposed by other countries. It's not generally necessary to hire a team of international lawyers to vet your campaign or your influencer's practices. But disclosure of the relationship that's easy to spot and legibly displayed goes a long way towards establishing compliance and integrity.