How to Develop an Influencer Program Around Your Brand

Influencer marketing is changing the way that companies reach their target markets. It’s no longer enough to just pay for ad placement on Facebook and call it a day. The average marketing department now allocates up to $100,000 just for influencer marketing, and 92% of marketers thought that their influencer program had paid off. 

The influencer marketing statistics from 2018 were pretty convincing, and the trend isn’t going away any time soon. Expect to see even more companies taking advantage of this new marketing method moving forward. 

If you’re not already thinking about how to build an influencer program around your brand, you should be. You don’t have to drop a hundred grand, but you do need to take advantage of this innovative way to make sure that your business is getting in front of your target audience. 

How to Develop an Influencer Program Around Your Brand

What is Influencer Marketing?

First, let’s talk about what influencer marketing even is. What does this type of marketing strategy look like?

In a nutshell, influencer marketing is when companies pay online personalities who already have influence in a certain sphere to promote their products or business. Depending on the populations you’re trying to reach, the online influencer in question can have anywhere from tens of thousands to millions of followers. 

The higher the follower count, the more expensive their promotion will be, and it does get expensive.

“Makeup gurus” of the YouTube world, for example, have the power to make or break a new beauty product. You can expect to pay as much as $30,000 for them to positively mention your product, more if they dedicate an entire video to talking about your business. 

Influencers in spheres like fitness, fashion, and tech come with similar price tags. 

So why are companies coming to these people in droves?

In short, because it works. Their audiences trust them.

Influencer marketing is like having someone recommend your product to one million of their best friends. Recommendations from people we know tend to carry more weight since we trust that they want the best for us and wouldn’t recommend a product that’s bad or that we wouldn’t like.

People feel like they know online influencers. They feel more connected to the people they follow on Instagram, or watch on YouTube, than they do to a celebrity endorsing a shampoo on TV. 

Depending on the niche that they’ve carved out for themselves, some online influencers also hold sway over target markets that are difficult to reach. 

All of that translates to a lucrative opportunity for both businesses and the influencers themselves, and so the influencer program was born. 

How to Start Your Own Influencer Program

So how do you get started with your own influencer program? It’s a relatively simple process, but there are still some rules and guidelines that you should keep in mind before you start searching for that perfect person. 

Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way in no time. 

Know the FTC Guidelines

If you’ve been following influencer marketing for a while, then you probably know that advertisements weren’t always as transparent as they could be. In many cases, the influencers never actually disclosed that they were being sponsored, or that they had a partnership with the business. 

Of course, this led to some questionable ethics. Audiences need to know when they’re being sold something, even if it’s coming from someone they consider a friend of sorts. 

The FTC has finally taken notice, so 2018 saw the first real enforcement of guidelines when it comes to influencer marketing. As a good rule of thumb, always make sure that the influencers you work with make it clear that they’re working with you. Hiding it could get you in legal trouble. 

Disclosing the sponsorship doesn’t have to be obnoxious, it can be as something as inserting #ad at the end of their posts. If that seems too awkward, try creating a “Partner” hashtag to use that seems friendlier.

If you’re using Instagram as your main platform, they’ve made it easy for everyone involved by adding an option to label the post as a branded partnership just above the photo. Just make sure that the influencer is disclosing the partnership every time they post about your brand. Revealing the partnership on posts one and two, but not three and four, is still frowned upon.

Understand the Social Media Platforms

Before you start searching for the perfect influencers, you should know what the various social media platforms have to offer.

Most companies choose Instagram as their platform of choice, which is clear in the Instagram addition of a branded content label. This is a fantastic choice if you’re looking to reach young people and members of Gen Z, who use Instagram more than any other social media platform.

The vast majority of influencers are also likely to name Instagram as their chosen platform. However, that doesn’t mean that you should ignore every other option in favor of the platform, especially if you’re aiming for an older demographic. 

Looking to reach older millennials or Gen Xers? Facebook is probably your best bet. Lots of influencers are also active on Instagram’s parent company, so you can still sponsor posts that look and sound natural.   

YouTube is also a huge arena for influencer marketing, especially for those in the beauty industry. Videos like makeup tutorials or product reviews are huge, drawing millions of views for the biggest channels. This creates a fantastic opportunity for businesses to potentially leave a positive first impression on millions of people at once. 

For many businesses, it’s well worth the money. 

Find the Right People

Once you’ve chosen your social media platform, it’s time to find the right influencers for your brand. This is a huge part of having a successful influencer program, so it’s important that you spend the time finding someone who fits with your company’s image. 

It’s going to take a lot of time, but it’s well worth it. 

If you’ve already been following the influencers in your sphere for a while, make a note of the people whose message and content you genuinely respect. If the content is appealing to you as a marketer or brand manager, there’s a decent chance that the influencer’s audience will receive your products well.

As you evaluate their content, take a look at their engagement as well. How many views do they get on a YouTube video compared to the number of subscribers they have? What about likes on an Instagram photo? 

Are people commenting on their content and asking for advice? Do they seem engaged? On the other hand, do they seem to have an audience who is very passive?

Be wary of influencers who have large follower counts but very low engagement numbers. Best case scenario, their audience is viewing their content and not engaging with it. Worst case scenario, the influencer has purchased fake followers in order to inflate their numbers and make them look more popular.

When it comes down to it, you want someone who will represent your brand well, connects with their audience, and whose influence extends to their audience purchasing products or services that they recommend.

Have A Specific Product

Speaking of products and services, when it comes to influencer marketing, you need to have something specific in mind. Unlike other types of marketing, it’s not enough to just get your name out there.

Influencers won’t be promoting just your business as it doesn’t seem as organic. Think of it this way. When you recommend something to your friends, it’s usually because they’ve asked you for advice for a certain product they need or task they need accomplished.

They aren’t looking for just a random business name, they want to know that they can get exactly what they need.

It’s more natural for influencers to promote a specific product or service, because that’s how we speak to our friends.

Instead of opening their videos with, “Hey guys, I’m partnering with Main Street Cosmetics and here’s a review!” They can say, “One of the products I really love to use in my hair is this shampoo from Main Street Cosmetics, it makes my hair feel amazing.”

See the difference?

Figure out what it is that you want to market with this influencer, and make sure that it’s clear in the terms you set.

Manage Your Relationships

Once you’ve found your influencers, decided on the product you want to market, and set the terms of your agreement, you’re still not done. You need to be sure you manage your relationships as you go.

There are various platforms that can help you manage your workflow, which is especially helpful if your business is working with more than one influencer. You’ll want to have something set up that allows you to measure performance and helps to make sure that you’re getting your money’s worth for the campaign.

You can manage your relationship directly with the person through email or direct messages, but as influencer marketing takes off, it’s a better idea to select a dedicated platform to handle each partnership.

Measure Your ROI

Speaking of, you should periodically measure your return on investment to double check that this is a relationship you want to continue. How much did the influencer’s fee actually buy you? Did you get the engagement that you wanted from their audience?

Just being mentioned by an influencer is valuable on its own, but that doesn’t mean you should see the number of likes on a photo and rejoice. You should track the revenue that the influencer’s endorsement brings your business.

For example, if you’ve set up an affiliate link for them, you can see how many people clicked their affiliate link, followed by how many of those people converted and actually purchased something from your business.

If awareness is your goal, try using something like a brand hashtag. That lets you easily track how many people are using the hashtag, where it’s trending, and how many people have viewed the influencer’s original post.

Know Your Competitors

Odds are you’re not the only business in your field who has decided to venture into the world of influencer marketing. Keep track of who else has started working with influencers to promote their business. That information is going to be invaluable to you down the line.

You probably at least took note of this as you were selecting an influencer. You don’t want to spend a lot of energy trying to convince someone to work with you who is already advertising products for your competitor.

However, knowing your competitors also helps you to understand the current landscape. Know where the conversation is crowded, and where there might be a lull where you can “speak up.”

Instead of fighting for space, choose an area where you’d be one of the only voices.

Create Good Content

Last, but certainly not least, it’s important to create quality content. Boring ads where someone just holds up your product and smiles aren’t going to cut it anymore, not when there’s so much other content to consume.

Instead, the ads that you create with the influencers should be created with the principles of content marketing in mind. Depending on your target audience, that could mean creating something that entertains them, helps them learn something new, or makes them feel something.

Creating great content will not only fit in better with the influencer’s feed, but it will also be more memorable with the very audience you’re trying to reach.

Start Your Program Today

Influencer marketing might seem simple, but there’s a lot happening behind the scenes. With this guide, you’ll be able to get your own influencer program up and running in no time. 

Not sure if you’re prepared to take that step yet? Get a second opinion by scheduling an evaluation of your current marketing efforts. Our team will help you increase your traffic and maximize the revenue from your marketing strategies. 

Ready to dive in? Schedule your digital marketing review today.

Owner and Chief Marketing Officer, Jason Hall, and his team specialize in creating brand awareness / traffic and lead generation / marketing funnel and conversion optimization, while utilizing the appropriate marketing channels available within your industry. With diverse clients throughout the world, Jason's team is well connected within many industries to assist with your marketing strategies. With no long term contracts and various levels of service, Jason's team will increase the quality of your online traffic, leads, and sales.


About the author...

Located in the heart of the Emerald Coast - Destin, FL, founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Jason Hall, and his team specialize in creating brand awareness / traffic and lead generation / marketing funnel and conversion optimization / and PR campaigns, while utilizing the appropriate marketing channels available within your industry.

With diverse clients throughout the world, Jason's team is well connected within many industries to assist with your marketing strategies. With no long term contracts and various levels of service, Jason's team will increase the quality of your online traffic, leads, and sales.

Jason Hall

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