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6 Must-Do's When Creating an Influencer Marketing Campaign Don't hire an influencer for your social media marketing until you've considered these six things.

By Jonathan Long

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Influencer marketing is rapidly growing in popularity and demand -- there isn't a more powerful marketing channel for driving brand awareness. Brands are quickly understanding that a successful campaign can't just be thrown together -- there are many components that must work together for it to deliver a return.

I speak to brands daily through my influencer marketing agency, and many are under the impression that you simply find an influencer with a large following, negotiate a payment amount, have them post a picture and then watch the sales roll in.

It's not that easy -- not even close. Here are six must-do's when creating an influencer marketing campaign.

1. Identify influencers that your target audience trusts.

One of the most appealing qualities of influencer marketing is the level of trust established at the beginning. When an influencer posts about a product or company, his or her audience is more likely to put down their barriers if they're introduced via a more traditional form of online advertising, like a banner ad.

Social recommendations drive sales online. In fact, 89 percent trust social recommendations more than the claims made by the brands themselves. When you connect with perfectly-paired influencers, the results can be amazing.

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2. Think relevance and engagement, not follower count.

CMOs constantly tell me tell me that they tried influencer marketing and it just didn't work. 99 percent of the time, it failed because the company went straight for follower count, ignoring the influencer's audience. You need to work with influencers who have a highly engaged following who connect with whatever you are promoting.

"We have such a targeted customer that relevance and engagement are the only two metrics we are concerned with when identifying influencers. Sure, there could be an influencer with millions of followers, but what are the odds that they are interested in what we offer? A much smaller, yet highly targeted and engaged following has much more appeal and value," explains Sheldon Chapman, Head of Marketing at Pepperstone.

3. Let go and give influencers complete creative control.

While you know your product or service inside and out, you don't know how an influencer's audience reacts to or engages with his or her content. That's why you need to be willing to take a step back and let the influencer have full creative control of how they present your offer.

I have seen far too many brands send an influencer content that screams "advertisement," which is why it doesn't convert. Nobody understands an audience more than the person who owns the account. While you can have the final say in what is posted, allow the influencer to come up with the concept.

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4. Seek out feedback from brands that have used potential influencers in the past.

If you are considering an influencer who has posted for companies in the past, don't be afraid to reach out to those brands and ask for feedback regarding their experience. Questions like:

  1. Was the influencer easy to work with?
  2. Was the communication smooth?
  3. Was the response and engagement on par with their expectations?

If my agency is approaching a new influencer for a potential client campaign, we will always look for previous sponsored posts and do a little due diligence before contacting them. This can also help you go into the negotiation process knowing what they have charged in the past. The more information you can round up, the better prepared you will be.

"Our campaigns are extremely niche-focused, so when we identify micro-influencers with real estate focused accounts we always look for evidence of previous paid posts. Speaking to companies that have previously worked with an influencer can allow you to gauge the probability of success," suggests Paul Costoglou, CEO of Commercial View.

5. Focus on building relationships, not single-post deals.

You should approach every influencer with a long-term relationship in mind, for several reasons. If an influencer proves to be a great fit for your brand you might want to entertain a more frequent posting schedule. The longer you commit, the lower the price per post.

If you build a meaningful and genuine relationship with an influencer, he or she can also help introduce you to additional influencers in their niche. Influencers typically run in a tight-knit group. The successful ones who treat this as a business typically have lots of connections, which can help your influencer campaign tremendously.

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6. Understand that influencers you use become an extension of your brand.

"You really need to be critical when selecting influencers, understanding that they instantly become an extension of your brand. Large followings and high engagement rates aside, if they are posting questionable content on their account it can have a negative impact on your company," says Patrick McKamey, Founder of the Law Office of Patrick R. McKamey, P.A.

Before you decide to hire an influencer, take a deep look at his or her past content. It might take some time to look over the past few months of posts, but it can also save you headaches down the road. The last thing you want to do is hire an influencer and then experience backlash due to past offensive posts or content posted in poor taste. You wouldn't hire an employee that would be a bad look for your brand -- the same approach should apply to influencers as well.

Jonathan Long

Founder, Uber Brands

Jonathan Long is the founder of Uber Brands, a brand-development agency focusing on ecommerce.

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