Any theory looks good on paper until it’s time to follow the instructions and all sorts of unforeseen hurdles appear. Let’s jump right into an integral influencer marketing plan with all its pitfalls and hands-on methods to get around them.
But first, it’s important to visualize a campaign of this sort as a three-part project:
- Pre-campaign (Set Goals, Marketing Brief, Outreach, Product Delivery, Influencers’ Brief);
- The actual campaign (Content Creation, Visual Commerce);
- Post-campaign (Relationship Nurturing and Analytics).
1. Set Goals
Every move, decision, and breath marketers are going to take along their journey into the influencers’ world will revolve around their chosen goals. Therefore, it’s crucial to the entire operation to choose at least three goals out of the following:
- Social Profile Growth – The right choice when the company plans a sudden surge in followers;
- Website Traffic – Intense activity on social media can redirect new leads to your official website;
- Brand Awareness – Creativity, authenticity, and an out-of-the-box approach pique leads’ curiosity to further research a new potential favorite brand;
- Content Curation – A solid influencer marketing plan can easily end with a series of creatives that bring value to a business social profile. UGC that results after a campaign can show social users what’s different about a brand while marketers have their editorial calendar filled for months ahead;
- Sales – By tapping into influencers’ power of persuasion, brands can get more people to add their products to cart;
- Product Launch – Consumers can get familiar faster to a new product by hearing about the avant-garde features from people they trust, namely influencers.
Worst Case Scenario
The worst it can happen is to forget why you started the entire project in the first place. By collaborating with different types of creators, marketers can lose themselves in details and neglect their main goals.
For example, let’s say that a team of marketers have just reached the end of their campaign. They enjoy positive reactions from their followers thanks to some spectacular imagery their partners put together. However, none of them directly incites followers to head over the official website which happened to be the end goal.
At every step down the influencer marketing plan, ask yourself if the actions you’re about to take serve your goals. Strike out any creative directions, keywords, and instructions that don’t get you closer to the results you desire.
2. Marketing Brief
Now that you have a vision of what the outcome of your campaign has to accomplish, it’s time to draw a detailed brief for the marketing team. Pick the types of influencers that fit your profile, a timetable when each task should run its course, and a budget.
On top of that, a complete marketing brief usually decides on the types of campaigns the plan must include and see them to fruition. So far, there are several formats that managed to inspire audiences on social media:
- Giveaways – Sponsor a fun contest on an influencer’s profile to intrigue consumers unaware of your brand;
- Sponsored Content – Work with content creators on an Instagram post, blog article or any other piece where your brand is the center of attention;
- Social Media Mentions – Incentivize social media celebrities to speak briefly about your brand the next time they’ll be opening a niche topic with their audience;
- Account Takeovers – Grant influencers access to your account where they can create as many posts and Stories they’d like about their view on your industry and products;
- Personalized Discount Codes – Create unique discount codes for each influencer you partner and keep them exclusively for their community;
- Brand Ambassadors – One brand mention on an influencer’s profile increases the reach for the business. However, constant brand mentions from loyal consumers who manage large social communities can better sustain any eCommerce evolution.
Additionally, build an integral frame for how the campaign should roll out at each step with the necessary details:
- Stages in chronological order;
- Types of partners (nano, micro or macro-influencers);
- The List (filled with usernames of compatible influencers).
Worst Case Scenario
We all know how easily projects fall apart when core players are not kept in the loop. Any brief is nothing without a smart internal distribution.
Make sure all concerned parties (managers, marketing specialists, designers, etc.) have seen and even studied the marketing brief. Get your teams in sync and encourage cross-departmental communication. To leave no room for errors, set a meeting discussing the tasks each member has to carry out.
Next up in your influencer marketing plan is the first contact with influencers. Preferably, your invitation to a partnership should reach influencers at least one month before the campaign launch. This way, you’ll have plenty of time to adjust the list of influencers according to their availability.
Craft The Message
Of course, there are endless templates to reach out to content creators. However, what ProductLead found extremely effective follows this structure:
- A friendly opening: There must be a motive why you’ve decided to choose them as partners so don’t forget to mention it as an ice breaker;
- Brand presentation: Since influencers’ most treasured possession is their online image, they are careful when they’re picking their sponsors. Therefore, your message can’t be without a short brand presentation where you list your company’s accomplishments;
- A hint at the campaign: Describe what the campaign is going to be about in a few words;
- Call to action: Ask for their email address or phone number in case they are interested;
- Hashtags: Here’s an inside tip – end your message with a few branded hashtags where account owners can go to learn about the brand’s past social media activities.
Send It Through
There are two ways to go about it and they all depend on the campaign complexity. As long as instructions are straightforward, a simple Direct Message is enough on the platform they’re most active on.
However, in case the campaign is a multi-step project extended over several weeks, it’s advisable to reach them by email. This way, influencers can keep the project outline at hand for future reference.
Worst Case Scenario
Usually, almost 50% of contacted accounts accept to become part of your influencer marketing plan (given that The List underwent thorough research). However, each case is unique and the numbers will fluctuate.
Reply to those who took the time to refuse your offer (usually this happens on account of rewards and deadlines). Reassuring them that you are open to future campaigns despite present circumstances ends the conversation in a professional manner.
At this early point in pre-campaign preparations, a follow-up won’t increase confirmation numbers much. Instead, the most efficient way to reach your target number of partners is to resume research. Find additional accounts that fit the marketing brief and contact them right away.
4. Product Delivery (Optional)
Numerous social media campaigns nowadays revolve around gifts to influencers. The strategy is pretty straightforward. Ask them in your DM if they’re on board with receiving a product or sample for free in exchange for an honest review or how-to video. Once they agree to it, this optional step is a go.
Doing so will release some of the strain on your budget. At the same time, influencers are better equipped to present your brand to their audience and receive free content for their personal page. Here’s how to go about it:
- Make a spreadsheet with their physical addresses;
- Ask them their favorite size or shade if the product needs fitting;
- Personalize parcels (the more inspirational the concept, the better chances influencers will share the joy of opening the package in front of the camera);
- Include a printed brief so they have instructions at hand;
- This is a great opportunity to show your appreciation for their work with a ‘Thank You!” note.
Worst Case Scenario
Product distribution actually means an extra logistics task. With an offline operation that scrupulous, it’s difficult to oversee every aspect of it. Some gifts will be returned, others will arrive in a bad state, and all other aspects you’ve never would have thought of can make a dent in your influencer marketing plan.
The only way to carry out the gifting operation successfully is to appoint a team member specifically for this task. By making it a priority, there will be fewer loose ends to ruin the experience.
5. Influencer Brief
The first contact was made, all partners received their goodie bags, by now they are well acquainted with the brand and are ready to get to work. This is the perfect moment to instruct them on what is going to happen in the upcoming weeks.
A golden rule in the influencer marketing industry is that marketers should leave no detail open to interpretation. All influencers, no matter the size, activity or niche, need a crystal clear brief. Tell them exactly what the expectations are. Let’s see a quick rundown on what elements an influencer brief should contain:
- Purpose: Explain what they need to achieve through their content;
- Title: Mention the campaign title that has to speak for itself about the theme;
- Hashtags: Add the list of hashtags, branded or general, that they have to insert in their posts;
- Core values: Usually, marketers don’t intervene in the creative process. However, they can guide influencers on how they should represent the brand through shared values (for instance, a dreamy, static visual doesn’t reflect the adrenaline-pumping image of a sports company);
- Deadline: It can take two hours or a year to fabricate virality. However, time is the most important resource for a marketing team. It is up to marketers to set a date for the live campaign;
- Benefits: What’s in it for them? The greater the expectations, the better their benefits should look to strike the right balance.
Worst Case Scenario
How many partners, clients, friends or colleagues do you know that read and understand a 300-word email? Chances are few of them are going to read your email word by word. Naturally, an avalanche of questions will ensue. Bits of the answers will be already in the brief while others will be some details you never thought of yourself.
Expect the unexpected. However, first, make sure the influencer brief is easy to go over with the help of bullet points, bold and italics styles, numbered lists, etc.
Furthermore, make yourself available to them. End each email with an invitation to reach out anytime they think they lose track of your influencer marketing plan. It’s easier to answer tons of questions instead of rectifying mistakes while the campaign is live due to simple misunderstandings.
6. Content Creation
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Finally, the most exciting part of them all is here! It is time for influencers to unleash their creativity and write your brand’s story as they see it.
Marketers can either offer influencers free rein or require an extra step of curation before they publish their work. The former might feel uncomfortable letting go of control, yet partners will enjoy the collaboration more leading to remarkable content.
Worst Case Scenario
This step is as frail as the previous one, the briefing the influencers part. The day of the campaign launching needs marketers’ additional vigilance.
There can be that influencers forget to add all the required hashtags, miss out a brand mentioning, give no clear signs that their new post is sponsored. Other mishaps ProductLead confronted concern Instagram Stories. Valuable material slipped through our colleagues’ fingers after 24 hours of not knowing about their existence.
Any hurdles at this step vary in intensity depending on the type of relationships marketers create with their partners. Transparency and communication are key when campaigns depend on partners and not on tools or platforms.
7. Content Optimization
Now that the campaign you’ve all been working for is on everybody’s screens, there’s no time to waste. Marketers have to act quickly while their content is hot!
While influencers are powerful at inspiring people to take action, nobody beats marketers at content amplification. Therefore, as soon as the post gets published, marketing teams can work their magic and polish it up:
- Paid media: Facebook and Instagram let businesses pay to get their posts seen by users outside their communities – use this option to increase reach on the spot;
- Fast reaction time: Social networks love when publishers are being… well, social with their community. Engaging with commenters in real-time helps the post’s chances of achieving a record reach;
- Share, repost, regram: Underline influencer’s quality work by making it official – repost their work on the business profile.
Worst Case Scenario
Any influencer marketing plan can fall for a mainstream assumption: what happens on social media stays on social media. Thanks to the latest technology, that’s not true anymore.
Truth is social media content has become a valuable asset. Usually, a user’s photo with a product expresses a genuine connection with the brand. Publishing these showings of customer-product trust on an eCommerce website increases consumers’ confidence in products by 71%.
UGC repurposing means making the most of influencer- and user-generated content. When social media collides with eStores in full swing, that’s when the asset reaches true potential.
ProductLead’s Visual Commerce embeds a shoppable gallery inside any eCommerce store with highly responsive features. On top of that, marketers don’t have to work extra to populate this collection. The gallery displays new social content on website with shoppable pins automatically.
Thanks to another ProductLead platform feature, marketers can also morph highly engaging UGC into ads or banners as well. Creatives Automation mixes UGC, CTAs, copy, and other elements of online advertising to create imposing ads, Instagram Stories or web widgets.
8. Relationship Nurturing
The hardest chapter within any influencer marketing plan is not the campaign itself. It’s building strong partnerships that absorbs most of the resources.
Truth is finding new influencers and getting them in the loop is more time-consuming than building relationships in the first place. Not only that, but marketers can lay the groundwork for a long-term brand revamp on social media when they work with reliable influencers.
Worst Case Scenario
Influencers and marketers speak different languages. While some are concerned with their community and artistic refinement, the others communicate mostly through numbers (likes, shares, engagement rate, shares, reach, etc.).
Therefore, miscommunication can wound a perfectly healthy partnership. When marketers pay the least attention, their months’ worth of work might go to waste.
It’s of the essence for marketers to maintain their focus even after the campaign is settled. Because that’s what influencer marketing really is about.
Online marketing is shapeshifting into a word-of-mouth channel where consumers trust other consumers. And it all starts with the way marketers organize their campaigns which now involve partnerships with content creators.
In other words, don’t leave DMs hanging once the campaign is over. Send influencers feedback, show them where they have room for improvement. Maybe you’ll replicate the same successful results together within future campaigns.
While marketers are working on their soft skills with their social media partners, the campaign will start registering valuable data insights.
These clusters of data (ROI, Reach, Engagement Rate, etc.) will tell you how close to your goals the campaign was. At the same time, they will show you what parts of the campaign went well and which ones need upgrades.
Worst Case Scenario
The worst thing that can happen at this stage is to disregard the power of big data altogether. Any marketing branch so far collects, registers, and interprets data to design and be in control of a brand’s evolution. The same goes for influencer marketing.
ProductLead leveraged the latest marktech breakthroughs to build a solution for influencer marketing tracking. Insights Analytics delivers recurrent reports packed with meaningful and actionable data.
Find out the best hours to post, how your content and community perform, receive UGC insights (impressions, reach, profile views, website clicks) without putting in any work, and identify the best influencers for your brand. It’s that easy to improve social media strategies with the right tools.
Congratulations on Your New Influencer Marketing Plan Certification!
All these 9 steps put together draw a fail-proof social media strategy. We’ve also included the worst things that could ruin your social media goals and their appropriate solutions to save you from them. What’s the first step you’re going to take today to activate your own version of influencer marketing plan?