The interest in influencer marketing has been growing steadily over the past few years and more people are seeking to understand more about it now than ever before.
Just take a look at this Google Trends chart:
According to eMarketer, 48 percent of marketers decided to increase their budget for influencer marketing in 2017. And only four percent had plans to decrease their budget.
If you’re thinking of running an influencer marketing campaign, it can be a little daunting:
- How to do I discover the right influencers?
- What’s the best way to reach out to influencers?
- What does success look like?
We’d love to help you answer these questions and more…
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you run a social media influencer marketing campaign.
What are micro-influencers?
In this guide, we’ll focus on only micro-influencers — influencers with a niche engaged following.
A study by Dr. Jonah Berger, author of Contagious, and the Keller Fay Group, defines micro-influencers as:
Individuals who work in their category or are truly knowledgeable, passionate and authentic and are seen as a trusted source when it comes to recommendations for what to buy.
To illustrate how micro-influencer marketing works, here’s an example I found on Instagram where @amandafrederickson collaborated with Thermomix.
As you can see in the video below, Amanda shares an interesting and fun recipe with her audience and makes it using one of Thermomix’s products:
A step-by-step guide to running a micro-influencer marketing campaign
As this is a long and detailed guide, here’s a quick overview of the steps in this guide:
- Plan and strategize
- Find suitable micro-influencers
- Reach out to your target micro-influencers
- Coordinate the campaign
- Measure the results
1. Plan and strategize
Set your goals and metrics
The first step is to set your goals and the metrics you’ll use to measure success.
Your goals will affect which influencers you work with and how you collaborate with them. And your selected metrics will help you assess the success of your campaign at the end of it.
Here are some possible goals and metrics you could consider:
- Brand awareness – Reach of the campaign, growth in social media following, number of social media mentions, etc.
- Increased sales – Growth in sales, amount of sales through a designated coupon code for the influencer, etc.
- Engagement and customer retention – Engagement generated during the campaign, number of repeat customers during the campaign, etc.
- Increased social media following – Growth in social media following
Once you have selected your metrics, record the current stats just before the start of your campaign. You’ll compare them with the stats at the end of your campaign.
Select your social media platform(s)
The next step of your planning phase is to decide where you want to run your social media influencer marketing campaign.
Each platform has its unique style, audience and works well for different objectives.
Here are some things you can think about:
- Target audience: Pick the platform where your audience is. For example, if you want to reach teenagers or young adults, you might want to go with Snapchat.
- Visual or text content: If you want the micro-influencer to post a photo, you might want to go with Instagram or Pinterest. For videos, maybe YouTube or Facebook. For text, maybe LinkedIn.
- Outbound link: It is slightly harder to drive people to an external website from Instagram and Snapchat platform. (A method is through Stories.)
You might also want to check out less-known and less-popular social media platforms as well. For example, musical.ly, a platform for creating and sharing short videos, has become very popular among teens. Other platforms you can check out include Anchor, Medium, and Tumblr.
If you already have a marketing persona, you can use that to guide your decisions. You should look to identify:
- The platforms your audience is already active on
- The type of content they would want to see
- Copy that would attract their attention
2. Find suitable micro-influencers
As this is a key step for running an influencer marketing campaign, this section is a little more detailed than the rest to help you find the best micro-influencers for your campaign.
3 ways to find micro-influencers
There are several ways to find suitable micro-influencers, depending on the amount of time and money you want to spend.
1. Manual research
The most affordable way is to research manually on each social media platform.
The major social media platforms all allow you to search for profiles. The best way to research users is to enter the keyword for your campaign such as “food” or “fitness” and use the filters to narrow down the search results.
Here are some examples:
For Facebook, you might want to only look at “Pages”. You can filter the results by category, if your friends have liked the Page, or if the Page is verified.
For Twitter, you would want to select the “People” tab. You can reduce the results further by selecting “People you follow” and “Near you” if you are looking for a micro-influencer near you.
Here are more tips on using Twitter’s Advanced Search feature.
For Instagram, you can search for “People”, “Tags”, or “Places”. Here’s more information on the five ways to use Instagram Search to find Instagram influencers.
For YouTube, the best method seems to be searching on Google. You can search for “(your keyword) youtube” such as “food youtube”, and Google will bring up YouTube channels related to your keyword.
The next step is to manually look through the profiles and take note of those that might be suitable for your influencer marketing campaign.
A quick tip is to keep an eye out for relevant keywords in the username or handle. Often, micro-influencers would include their niche in their username or handle such as @kellybakes.
The downside to this approach is that it can be quite time-consuming. But here’s a tip I learned from Shane Barker, a digital marketing consultant that specializes in influencer marketing:
2. Look through your follower list
Sometimes, the micro-influencer you’re looking for might already be following your brand on social media.
You could manually go through your follower list or use a tool like Social Rank to help you.
Once you connect your Twitter or Instagram account to Social Rank, you can filter by keywords in bio. For example, here are my followers who have “food” in their Twitter bio:
You can also look for clues on their profile, such as their handle, username, bio, or posts, to see if they belong to the niche you want to reach.
Apart from speeding up the search process, another advantage of this approach is that the micro-influencer might already be a fan of your brand and would more likely agree to a collaboration.
3. Use an influencer marketing platform or hire an agency
This approach might cost a little but can save you some time and could bring you better results.
In general, most platforms are self-serve, while most agencies would have someone to help you with the search and collaboration.
These platforms and agencies often keep a record of the past collaborations and reviews of the influencers, which can help you make better decisions.
Here are some of the influencer marketing platforms you could try:
- Influence.co (provides free influencer search)
- Klear (provides limited free influencer search)
- Famebit (by YouTube)
As for influencer marketing agencies, here are the eight that Influencer Marketing Hub recommends.
If you run a local business, you might also want to search on Google for agencies that are based in your area. They might have the best relationships with the influencers in your area.
6 things to consider when choosing a micro-influencer
To help you choose the most suitable micro-influencer for your campaign, here are some criteria you can consider:
1. Is their content in line with your brand or campaign message?
I believe this is the most important consideration since the micro-influencers would be promoting your brand. Just like brand ambassadors, the way the micro-influencers portray themselves will say something about your brand.
2. How many followers do they have?
The best follower size depends on the budget you have for the campaign. Influencers with more followers tend to ask for higher compensation.
From their analysis of more than 800,000 Instagram users with at least 1,000 followers, Markerly recommends working with influencers in the 10,000 to 100,000 follower range. They believe those influencers “offer the best combination of engagement and broad reach, with like and comment rates that exceed influencers with higher followers”.
3. Do you think they are influential in your niche?
You can find clues on their profile. Do they post about your niche regularly? Do their followers like what they post? Do their followers praise their recommendations?
4. How engaged are the followers?
To check how engaged their followers are, you can scroll through their recent posts and look at the comments on each post.
5. Do they post regularly?
Similarly, you can look at the recent posts and see when they were posted. You would want someone who posts and interacts with their followers regularly.
6. Have they done collaborations with other companies before?
While this isn’t always necessary, it can be easier to work with experienced micro-influencers. They can likely create better content, too. Also, it might be nice to check if they have partnered with any of your competitors before.
3. Reach out to your target micro-influencers
Once you’ve found some potential micro-influencers, next you need to reach out to them.
Here are three main ways of you can get in touch with influencers:
The most traditional method is to email anyone you’re looking to work with.
Most of the time, if they link to their website from their social media profile, you can check if they have their email address on their website. Some will also list their email address in their profile description.
Even if you are using an influencer marketing platform or hired an agency, you’ll likely still need to send an offer email.
Here’s what I might send as an outreach email:
Subject: Interested in a paid partnership?
I came across your account while researching for influencers for a marketing campaign. I love your posts and engagement with your followers!
[If you want, you can briefly mention a particular post that you love and why.]
I work at Really Good Food and would love to discuss working with you for an up-coming campaign. I’m curious whether you may have any information on rates?
What do you think? No worries if you aren’t interested! ?
There are many ways to write an outreach email, and there are many templates around. Here’s what I tried to aim for with my email:
- Honesty: I mentioned that I just found their account, check it out, and love it. If I had been following them for a while, then I would mention that.
- Offer: I briefly stated the offer so that the micro-influencers can make an initial assessment of the collaboration.
- Compensation: While some micro-influencers are open to promote your product in exchange for a free product, it’s great to show you’re open to paying for posts and enquire about the rates they charge.
- Exit: Personally, I like to leave an easier “out” so that the micro-influencers wouldn’t feel bad saying no. This can help to maintain a good relationship in case they are interested in collaborating in the future.
Here are some more tips from Shane Barker:
First, make your subject line straightforward and interesting. Think of it as a landing page headline or a marketing email subject line, where you’re marketing your partnership to influencers.
Next, because it’s likely that the influencers don’t know you, start off by introducing yourself and your company/brand. Then tell them why you’re reaching out and what your goals are. Follow this with an explanation of why you consider them a good match for your campaign. Give them a reason to work with you by telling them about the incentives and the benefits involved.
Finally, don’t assume they’ll work with you. Be sure to frame your sentences in such a way that you’re offering a proposal, which they have the freedom to reject.
But since you are reaching out to a social media influencer, here are some other (potentially more effective) ways to reach them:
2. Direct messages (DMs)
I have a hunch most people check their DMs more than their emails. This makes it a great channel for outreach.
For Facebook, some Facebook Pages allow you to message them.
For Twitter, some influencers will allow anyone to DM them. If you see the “Message” button under their bio, it means that you can DM them even if they don’t follow you.
For Instagram, here’s a secret that Gary Vaynerchuk shared recently: You can DM anybody on Instagram at the moment! Gary shows how it’s done with this GIF:
While it might be easier to reach influencers through DMs than emails, Gary Vaynerchuk emphasized the importance of crafting personalized messages and bringing them value (not spamming them):
The key to any tactic — and this is THE tactic — is to provide more value to the other person, especially when they’re the one with the leverage. Formulate your proposition and prepare to do what is so crucially important in today’s digital world. Send the DM.
Remember: your value proposition is how you can help solve the problem they are currently experiencing or haven’t thought of yet.
Since it’s a DM, I would try to keep the message shorter than I would for an email:
Hello, Jane! I saw that you have collaborated with a few restaurants in our area. Would you be interested in a sponsored post for Really Good Food? No worries if not! ?
The final method is a little indirect but can be just as effective — using comments to start a conversation.
For example, here’s a comment I might post:
That burger looks so good, Jane! Would you be interested in a similar collaboration? Happy to chat more if you are. ?
If the micro-influencer is interested, you can then move the conversation into DMs or email.
4. Coordinate the campaign
Here’s the fun part: getting your campaign rolling.
Now you have your list of influencers who are interested in the campaign, it’s time to fine-tune your partnerships.
We each influencer, you should discuss:
1. Your goals
Letting them know your goals can make it easier for them to craft their posts.
It’s often best to let the micro-influencers decide what they want to post as they know their niche and followers best. But as you know your brand and campaign goals better than them, you could let them know your guidelines.
Is there anything you wish they would include? Is there anything they should avoid mentioning?
Tip: You can look for inspiration by searching for hashtags like #sponsored, #ad, #sponsoredby, and #sponsoredpost.
This could be in the form of cash, a free product, or discounts for their followers.
(If you are offering a discount or free samples for their followers, be sure to create a specific discount code or landing page for each influencer. That’s to help you with tracking the effectiveness of your campaign.)
There are several FTC rules to comply with while working with social media influencers. Here’s an article that shares a bit more on this topic.
5. Other details
You can also coordinate the date and time of the post if the timing is important for your campaign.
5. Measure the results
Once the campaign is over (great work!), you would want to measure your success.
Here’s where your goals and selected metrics from Step 1 come into play.
Take a look at the goals you set before you started the campaign. And then review performance overall and also how each influencer affected your results.
- How have your metrics changed?
- Which micro-influencer drove the most sales?
- Is there anything you would do differently next time?
Finally, remember to thank the micro-influencers for the collaboration. It could be nice to share your campaign results with them as well. If it has been a success for both parties, they might be keen to do more collaborations in the future.
Here’s an example of what I might send as a thank-you email:
Thank you so much for the collaboration! That’s an amazing photo and caption!
I thought you might like to know that in the past week, 25 people came to Really Good Food with your referral code. That’s incredible!
Do you have any suggestions on how we can improve our collaboration process? No worries if not.
Thank you again, Jane. I would love to stay in touch if you are keen for more collaborations in the future.
What is your favorite micro-influencer marketing campaign?
And that’s it!
If your campaign has been a success, you could continue with more influencer marketing campaigns.
Otherwise, you might get feedback from the micro-influencers on how to improve your campaigns.
I believe you might have come across some micro-influencer marketing posts while you scroll through your timelines. Do you have a favorite one? Share it here and we can all learn together!
Image credit: Unsplash