Social Media Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing may seem like a modern concept, but the basics of its practice have been used for decades. Celebrity sponsorships were the original influencers: using famous people with engaged followings to promote a brand or product that their brand aligns with. Influencer marketing is essentially a more niche, social-specific version of Nicole Scherzinger washing her hair under a waterfall on TV using Herbal Essences. The social media influencer marketing industry is worth $13.8bn. Influencers have more engaged audiences, portray brand messages more effectively and Instagram influencer marketing usually costs less than hiring celebrities and booking ad spots. As more and more brands turn to influencer marketing, and especially Instagram influencer marketing, as part of their PR plan, it’s important to understand industry etiquette and the Dos and Don’ts of working with influencers to create a successful influencer marketing strategy and influencer campaigns.
What is an influencer?
An influencer is defined as someone who has the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others based on their authority, fame or knowledge. Social media influencers are people who have built a reputation and a following based on their expertise within a specific industry. They post regularly about their chosen topic, be it ‘outfit of the day’ images, video reviews or chatty Stories. The value of their content is derived from their perceived authenticity, which their followers admire. Social media influencers largely live on platforms such as Youtube, Tik Tok or Instagram. The Instagram influencer marketing industry is considered the largest, with millions of influencers active on this platform.
Why do we care about social media influencer marketing?
Brand use influencers to help amplify brand awareness, promote products or introduce themselves into different markets. Social media influencer marketing is another form of Digital PR and should be treated with the same respect as all other marketing functions. It’s important to note that influencers are not merely marketing tools; they are social relationship assets with which brands can collaborate to achieve marketing objectives.
Types of Influencers
Influencers come in all sizes and are usually grouped based on their following size.
Nano influencers are considered the smallest influencer size, with their following typically yielding between 1,000 – 10,000. They have small yet highly engaged communities, with engagement rates usually falling between 5-6%. Nano influencers are great if small businesses are considering using Instagram influencer marketing due to low financial cost and engaged audiences. More social media tips for business can be found on our blog.
Micro-influencers have between 10,000 – 100,000 followers, all of which are still highly engaged (2-3%). Their niche may be slightly broader than nano-influencers, and their content spans a larger range of topics. However, their influence is still considered highly authoritative, and they can be used effectively in influencer marketing strategies as they can influence their following to look into brands or products.
Macro influencers have 100-500k followers. They reach thousands of people every day and can influence a target buyer, making them vital for vast brand awareness. Due to their large following and consequently large day rates, macro-influencers are best suited to moderate to large-sized businesses with large budgets for influencer marketing strategies. Their engagement rates fall slightly lower due to their large following count, usually under 2%.
Mega influencers usually have anything above 500k followers and could include celebrities. Influencers within this bracket demand the highest rate of pay due to their mass reach and exposure opportunities. However, it’s important to remember that sometimes mega influencers are more famous than influential, so partnering with them must be done with great care and consideration. Instagram influencer marketing with this influencer size can be pretty costly; however, their reach and impression metrics are significant and will work well for a brand-awareness influencer campaign.
Now that you’re clued up on the different types of influencers, here are some important tips for creating a successful influencer campaign.
Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media Influencer Marketing
Do: Vet influencers properly
When choosing influencers to work with, you must vet them properly. The influencers you work with ultimately reflect your brand and assist in the company’s overall. It’s vital that you choose influencers that not only reflect these visions but don’t compromise your brand in any way. Before outreaching to influencers, do a bit of background research. Google search their name, look through old posts and consider asking friends or members of the public about said influencer to get an idea of their thoughts, opinions, politics and persona. You don’t want your hard work that has been put into developing your influencer marketing strategy to flop, all because of one bad apple.
Do: Give creative freedom
Authenticity is key – this is something that is often said in the social media influencer marketing industry; however, it gets lost in practice. When setting parameters for content creation, allow the influencer full creative control. Provide guidance, a mood-board or a few talking points, but largely just let them be! By letting the influencer create content that doesn’t comply with strict guidelines or rules and giving them large amounts of creative freedom, their content will be more authentic and genuine to their audience. Appearing genuine and sincere is very important to followers as it makes the AD appear more seamless within the influencers feed. This could result in increased trust and therefore make their audience more likely to look into the brand or product.
Do: Set a crystal clear agreement
Agreeing on KPIs for your influencer marketing strategy before the influencer campaign begins is instrumental to an excellent campaign. Fail to prepare, and prepare to fail. Agreeing on deliverables, content styles, and targets ensures that you are on the same page throughout the campaign, and there are no nasty surprises. Be clear about what you expect from the influencer and what KPIs you will track from them. Influencer campaign KPIs could include:
- Brand awareness: This could include engagement (likes, shares, comments), website traffic or press mentions.
- Direct responses: Purchases or leads coming directly from the influencer. This can be tracked through personalised URLs or promo codes.
For Instagram influencer marketing campaigns, consider also setting parameters such as CTR, brand profile clicks or ad impressions. Tracking the success of a direct response campaign is easier when calculating ROI than a brand awareness campaign. It’s important to decide on your goals so you can understand how well the campaign has performed.
Do: Consider image usage rights
Your influencer has created some amazing content with which their audience has engaged, and you see leads. Amazing! You might think of using their images in paid media campaigns due to their success; however, there are a few loopholes to jump through before you can advertise using their content. It’s standard practice for influencers to want an image usage fee if you are using their content in paid media campaigns. Per image, this is usually £100 a month. If you are considering using their imagery moving forwards, we suggest writing this into a contract. Include a clause that states you can use their content for up to X amount of time in paid media campaigns to avoid a hefty invoice a year down the line.
Do: Pay them properly
Pay you influencers! We repeat, pay your influencers! Asking anyone to produce work for you for free is bad practice and, frankly, bad manners. The social media influencer marketing industry is bold and very powerful. Influencers tap into an audience that generates the largest ROI, with a return of $18 for every $1 spent. It is the most authentic social media marketing method, and honestly, cheaper than traditional media. We’ve put together this handy guide for how much influencers charge based on their follower count:
|Account Size||Price per post|
It’s important to remember that this is just a ball-park figure. Some influencers may charge more or less depending on their industry niche, engagement rate, specific influencer campaign or the type of content you are asking them to produce. For videos or reels, influencers may charge anywhere from 50-100% more of their feed post price, whereas for stories, they may charge significantly less due to their temporary nature.
Do: Comply by the ASA
The ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) is responsible for keeping tabs on the social media influencer marketing industry to ensure everything is sound regarding disclosing Ads and Ad-affiliated content. The ASA is especially hot with the Instagram influencer marketing industry, as many influencers don’t comply with the ASA rules. It’s important that you agree with your influencer that they must comply with ASA regulations, or else both parties could be fined. The ASA states that any content that the influencer has been paid for (financial payment to talk about a product or brand) must be listed with AD / Advertisement or #ad / #advertisement to be compliant. This must be within the caption, ideally at the beginning – as a rule of thumb, if a follower has to engage with the content to understand that it’s an AD, it’s not compliant. The same applies to any AD affiliated content. It must be made clear that it is an AD if the content: shows an influencers own brand, uses an affiliate link, is on a paid stay, is showing a PR product. Simply using the ‘Paid Partnership’ geotag tool is not enough. Don’t get caught out!
Do: Give ample time
If you tried to organise a full photoshoot, including models, photographers, hairstylists, makeup artists and retouchers within a week or two, you’d most likely be met with laughter. The same applies to influencers. When asking influencers to create content, they are performing all of these roles themselves! Therefore, giving adequate time is paramount for them to create engaging, high-quality content. We recommend four weeks as a minimum turnaround time, however, the longer is always better!
Don’t: Go in without a clear plan
Without an influencer marketing strategy in place, things can get muddled, motives can be lost in translation, and KPIs can get confusing. Having a plan will make sure you are both on the same page, and you can refer back to your initial contract or roadmap at any point. Identify campaign objectives, budget and deliverables so that you always have an agreement to fall back on.
Don’t: Choose influencers based on vanity metrics
If you choose the influencer with the most followers, then you’ll see the most returns, right? Wrong! We urge you to forgo vanity metrics such as followers and instead focus on more meaningful figures such as engagement rate, the success of previous paid partnerships and audience. An influencer with a smaller but more engaged following will result in a more successful influencer campaign than an influencer with a large following but a disengaged audience.
Don’t: Choose quantity over quality
As we stated earlier, who you choose to promote your products should be a direct extension of your brand and branding vision. Their tone of voice should reflect the brands, and their following should align with your ideal target audience. Due to this, choosing to partner with numerous influencers could dilute your branding and appear generic or fake. This especially rings true when using only one platform for your influencer campaign, as Instagram influencer marketing can appear saturated if you use too many collaborators. We recommend working with only a handful of influencers over a long-term basis to solidify your branding and create a strong personality.
Don’t: Micro-manage content creation
As marketers, handing over freedom may be difficult because you want to perfectly control every aspect of your brand. However, it’s actually more effective to give the influencer increased creative freedom. Without giving the influencer creative freedom, their content may appear forced or fake, resulting in decreased engagement and lower-quality content than expected. You want the influencer to feel comfortable and appear genuine when promoting your product or brand. Provide mood-boards or talking points, but reign in the micro-managing!
Influencers can help your brand be seen by many people; however, it’s important that you choose carefully and follow social media influencer marketing etiquette for your influencer campaign to be successful. With these tips under your best, you should be able to amplify your marketing efforts effectively. Select your goals, identify the correct influencers, give creative freedom, then see the results flow in. For businesses just getting started with using social media, read our guide listing the 20 best social media marketing tips.