The influencer marketing debate rages on with the latest research from Fresh Relevance revealing that only 22% of UK retail brands are currently using influencers. Yet, the same research also reveals that more than half of those aged between 18 and 34 are more interested in a brand that does.With reports of 5:1 returns on many recent campaigns it’s time for more marketers to step up and embrace influencers as an effective part of their marketing strategy in order to target their audiences. The biggest challenge for many, however, is knowing where to start. Here are the five key areas to focus on when working with an influencer to ensure each campaign starts on the right foot. 

Determine your budget

Payment in kind was all the rage when bloggers and influencers first started to catch the attention of brands. With reported earnings in the tens-of-millions for some of the biggest YouTube stars, however, posts for products is an increasing rarity. Effective micro-influencer campaigns can start from as little as £1,000 to £2,000 allowing brands to reach out to 10 to 20 individuals. A more involved campaign with an established influencer is more likely to be thousands. Identifying a set budget will help determine the scale of the activity.
  1. Do your research

Getting the right partnership is key. You can buy as many eyeballs as you want from a top-tier influencer but if their fans are not your potential fans then you’ve lost the game. Having an understanding of your target audience and their interests can help you identify an influencer that could significantly impact sales if used in the right way, whether it’s a B2B or B2C campaign.There is a huge range of influencers out there, so making the best use of the available insight is essential. Using a combination of eyeballs and technology to help you find the key players for clients will make hiring the right influencer easier.There are simple tools out there that can calculate an influencer’s reach based on some science from the social platforms, multiplied by the influencers’ followings. However, it’s a crude science and is no replacement for a platform. Not only can you do the above to a greater degree of accuracy, but you can also dive deep into their content styles, engagement rates, audience profiles, etc. If you’re looking to spend big in this area then you need the tech to back you up and give you comfort that you’re spending wisely. 
  1. Understand the audience

Spending time on the influencer’s channels allows you to get to know their audience, providing a feel for what works well with them. It will also help you understand the tone of the influencer and whether your product or service will be a natural fit. Overall your aim is to find a highly engaged community rather than the highest number of followers.
  1. Identify the platform

Each social media platform has its own relative merits with YouTube favouring longer form videos, while Instagram has a 60-second limit. Facebook is increasingly looking to challenge YouTube’s dominance, announcing in May that it will now favour videos that are three minutes long, with a greater emphasis on original content. Taking a channel-neutral approach will often provide the best results. By working with a trusted agency partner, brands can quickly and effectively identify which influencers to use across which platforms. In some cases, it may be worth considering a platform that the brand doesn’t have an existing presence on such as Snapchat, for example.    
  1. Are you willing to let go?

To get the best content, responses and therefore results, before each campaign you have to ask yourself “can I give creative control to the influencer(s)?” That doesn’t mean they have the final sign-off on anything and everything, as the brand owner you’ll always have ultimate control but you must give them the creative freedom to come up with their best ideas that will work for their audience and fly for you after all, they know their fans and audience better than you. In order to achieve this, close collaboration is the perfect way to work.Influencer marketing can be an effective way of reaching your target audience and encouraging them to take action when planned properly. For those marketers wanting to do so, there’s an opportunity to demonstrate a real return on investment, which starts when you hire the right influencers.  
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