Influencer marketing strategies, eh? How do you get high-profile social media celebrities to give your brand that vital exposure? We asked Mark Dandy of ISAWITFIRST.com to share some insight on how startups can boost sales by building their own influencer marketing strategy for Instagram.

As an influencer marketing manager, I’m often asked what is the best way to work with influencers. To give you a bit of information about me, I’ve been involved in the influencer space for the last three years. I have worked with influencers and agencies to design large-scale campaigns for the likes of Amazon, Nokia and Superdry, to name a few. 

Influencers as brand advocates

A lot of brands think that influencers are an answer to all of their problems. They have this idea that influencers will immediately grow sales, increase their social media following, raise brand awareness and increase retention rates. Whilst influencers can do all of these things with the right content and strategy, it’s very rare that this works all at once.

I wanted to write this series as a reference point for different objectives. So marketers can understand how each strategy is relevant to their goals and build up from there.

Now, before we get started, I want to point out that although we may look at strategies for sales, follower growth, content and so on, the primary goal in any influencer strategy should always be brand advocacy. Always. 

This means working with influencers with the goal that they will become an advocate for your brand, even when you are not actively working with them. So, if you see your influencer marketing plan as the occasional post that you pay for in order to hit engagement targets, you should seriously reconsider the future impact that this will have on your brand.

Sales

I’m going to go with sales as a first option, seeing as many of you reading this may be startups with limited budgets or new to influencer marketing. As a small business looking to give this a go, you will probably be looking for a return to validate your curiosity.

Firstly, influencers do not guarantee sales. No marketing campaign does, so before expecting an immediate return and a healthy ROI (return on investment), remember that not every campaign is perfect. Not every influencer will sell and not every audience is willing to buy. But here’s a trick of the trade if you are looking to produce a sales campaign: plan it to coincide with the end-of-the-month payday cycle, and either a Thursday or Sunday if you can.

From the hundreds of campaigns that I have conducted, it’s noticeable that Sunday is a great seller. As much as everyone loves browsing Instagram for inspiration, when it comes to buying things most people still love to do this from a desktop/laptop. People somehow feel it’s more secure, and a bigger screen gives you better browsing functionality before making purchases.

When are people most likely to be at home with time to browse? Sunday. Thursday night is more likely if you’re a brand or service with a particular focus on the weekend. While somebody looking for a Friday/Saturday night outfit might need a last-minute something to wear with next day delivery, for instance.

Micro-influencers

When working on a sales campaign, I’d recommend working with around five to 10 micro-influencers to help get yourself started. Micro-influencers are generally recognised as having a following of between 10-100k in reach. I’m sure to be debated on this as people within the industry will have different definitions, but for now let’s stick with this one. 

Why this group then? Well, micro-influencers tend to have a higher engagement rate (average engagements divided by the number of followers) than influencers higher up the scale. This is usually due to larger influencers having multiple interests, as well as followers from a range of different interests. This leads to them not engaging in all of the content when they are only interested in travel.

Micro-influencers, on the other hand, tend to stick to a niche. Therefore, they may create content based around fashion, for example, and have followers that are very interested in their opinion on fashion. They know what they are going to get when they go to that particular influencer.

Using Instagram as a platform

When you work with multiple creators, you get exposure to different audience sets. You also get the benefit of seeing multiple people wearing your brand and portraying it as a popular item. Lastly, you can also repurpose that content for your own Instagram (making sure you tag the content creator in the process).

When building an influencer marketing strategy that is shaped to sell, you need to give the audience an incentive to buy. Usually, an introductory discount is an easy way to do this. This also helps you to track sales. Building a strategy might look a little something like this:

Example of an influencer marketing strategy

(Prices below are for illustrative purposes and not necessarily reflective of the industry).

“We will find 10 fashion influencers with an average reach of 50,000. We will approach each influencer who we feel fits our brand perfectly and who we would like to build long-lasting relationships with. We will work with the influencer to create content that is of high quality and showcases our brand in a positive light. Key highlights will be content taken outdoors or in locations that showcase our brand in a casual and relaxing manner, i.e. meeting friends at a coffee shop.”

Platfom: Instagram

Delivery Method:

  • Instagram posts
  • Instagram stories with swipe-up feature (I would recommend adding a UTM tracking code to this to see how many people visit from each influencer story).

Deliverables:

  • Influencers – 10
  • Estimated reach per influencer – 50k
  • Total estimated reach – 500k
  • Target engagements – 3%
  • Total engagements – 15,000
  • Cost per influencer – £150
  • Total cost – £1500
  • Cost per engagement – 10p

“We will provide each influencer with a unique discount code, which includes a 20% discount (I wouldn’t recommend anything less than 20%, as it’s not big enough to spike interest in a brand the audience is not familiar with). We will then track this discount code using Google Analytics to understand on-site redemptions. This will allow us to see what items are selling the best and provide us with an insight into which influencer is driving the most sales via their code”

Using the above will give you a framework to build on, a way to track site visits (UTM codes) and redemptions (discount codes), and an understanding of the type of creator you might want to work with.  

Best of luck with your campaigns,

Mark Dandy

Twitter: @mrmarkdandy

LinkedIn: Mark Dandy

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