Influencer Marketing 101: A Blueprint for Running a Successful Campaign Reach your ideal customers, increase brand awareness and drive sales by collaborating with influencers.

By Christina-Lauren Pollack

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Influencer marketing is a type of social media marketing that allows you to leverage the power of influencers. Through influencer marketing, small businesses can reach an audience they might not have been able to find otherwise and have their message shared with people who are more likely to buy their product or service.

This is what influencer marketing entails, how to hire legit influencers for your campaigns and smarter ways to create successful campaigns.

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is a strategy that enables your company to tap into influencers' online networks for promotions by offering them items that they would want in exchange (or by paying them) to spread your message to their followers.

Influencers are hired to create original content (images, videos, blog posts, etc.) that highlight a brand's products or services in a positive light.

Whether you're launching a new product or just looking to promote your existing line, influencer marketing has proven to be a very effective way for companies to increase brand awareness and drive sales.

Why is influencer marketing beneficial for businesses?

According to Influencer Marketing Hub, for every $1 that brands spend on influencers, they are getting an ROI of $5.78. That's one of the reasons why influencer marketing is considered so beneficial for businesses.

According to Statista, "Influencer marketing is on the rise, which is made apparent by the recently released figures indicating that value of this specific market more than doubled between 2019 and 2021, growing from 6.5 billion to 13.8 billion U.S. dollars in the three years alone."

Related: It's Time to Redefine the Influencer

An insider's tips for successful influencer marketing campaigns

As a lifestyle blogger and social media influencer for the past decade, I've worked with hundreds of top brands and retailers on campaigns. From collaborations with chains like Safeway and Ulta Beauty to working with major brands like Olay, Reebok and Dove, I've done more influencer marketing campaigns than I can count. Whether I'm crafting sponsored blog posts, hosting an event in a retail store, creating YouTube videos or doing Instagram promotions, the types of campaigns I've done have varied greatly.

But if there's one thing I've learned through all this experience, it's that the companies who seek to establish long-term partnerships with high-performing influencers tend to be the most successful. For example, I've been hired by Walmart on repeated occasions — from health and beauty to food and wine promotions, they've worked with me on a variety of influencer marketing campaigns.

It also helps to hire influencers with proven track records and stellar recommendations. As you're researching influencers, find out who they've worked with before, evaluate their previous content and even ask for case studies if they're available. The more information that you can gather, the easier it will be to determine if a particular influencer is worth investing in.

In addition, don't expect a one-time post to yield outstanding results. You'd be wiser to work with an influencer on a series of campaigns if you hope you get the most success. It's best to test the efficacy of an influencer before committing to repeat campaigns with them. In essence, assess how well they perform the first time by analyzing the outcome. That will help you decide if they are worth re-hiring for future campaigns.

Here are 5 key tips to think about:

  • Did the influencer's original content align with your brand guidelines?
  • Did they publish content on the agreed-upon date?
  • What was the engagement outcome (likes, comments, shares, views)?
  • Did they drive website traffic, app downloads, or generate sales (I recommend using a trackable link or affiliate program for this)?
  • Did their audience resonate well with the content?

It's a lot like the rule of thumb in traditional advertising, which says that it takes at least three times for a person to see an ad before they consider making a purchase. So, you can apply this thinking to influencer marketing as well. It makes sense: The more often that an influencer promotes a particular brand or product, the more trust that is engendered in their audience.

Related: Is Influencer Marketing Really Going to Die in the Next Few Years?

How to find and hire influencers

If your company is just getting started with influencer marketing, I'd recommend working with an established influencer network.

Similar to how modeling agencies work, influencer networks have a database of legitimate influencers and access to key data on their niche, location, audience demographics, engagement ratings and more. They can help you run your entire influencer marketing campaign — from recruitment of the influencers who are best-suited for the job to overseeing content creation, communicating with the influencers, analyzing data from the campaign to even handling payments and 1099 forms.

Each network operates a little differently. Some provide flat-fee compensation to influencers, whereas others pay on a CPC (cost-per-click) basis (which incentivizes the influencer to work harder to drive traffic). So depending on your budget and objective, it's worth researching each of the networks to find the best fit for your business. The best part is that influencer networks truly take the hassle out of the process. For this reason alone, it's worth considering using an influencer network to assist you with your influencer marketing campaigns.

If you're considering utilizing influencers in your online marketing strategy, figure out what your goals and objectives are, establish your budget and timeframe and then think about who you're trying to reach. This will help you figure out the best plan of action for which types of influencers you want to work with.

Related: This Restaurant Owner Went Viral for His Response to An Influencer Who Wanted to Eat for Free

Christina-Lauren Pollack

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Entrepreneur, Executive, Influencer & Business Branding Coach

Christina-Lauren Pollack is an entrepreneur, manufacturing executive, pro lifestyle blogger and influencer, e-commerce expert and branding course creator. She loves educating entrepreneurs about digital branding and marketing ideas and empowering them with inspiring advice about entrepreneurship.

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