Influencer marketing is as old as the advertising industry. It is and has always been one of the most effective methods of generating consumer interest in products both consciously and unconsciously, and it often presents the best ROI in terms of money spent versus revenue generated. In terms of social media management and social media marketing, influencers are content producers on social media networks like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram who have large networks of followers in your product/service’s primary demographic market. You provide the influencer with your product or service, and offer some sort of compensation in exchange for an endorsement via their social media channel, and they deliver your marketing campaign to their followers. It’s like a celebrity endorsement minus the celebrity essentially, and influencers often carry more weight and  have greater impact on consumer buying decisions since they are considered more trustworthy and reliable than celebrities by their followers and your target market in general.

How should you decide on a budget for influencer marketing though? What decisions need to be made, and how do you decide who should represent/endorse your product via their social media network to potential customers? These are all excellent questions to ask when starting an influencer campaign, so let’s look at some answers. Here are the best methods for making your top picks for your business’ influencer marketing campaign:

Choosing the Influencer That is Right for Your Campaign

There is no magic formula for this decision so much as you need to be asking the right questions and taking the appropriate factors into account. Start by determining what your goals are for your marketing campaign. What audience are you targeting? Are you looking at a specific demographic or interest group of consumers? More than likely you already know your which audience groups and demographics your product will speak to, so start looking at influencers who have a lot of followers in your specific audience demographic. Do you want to include vloggers and bloggers? Cruise Snapchat and Instagram and see who has the highest follower counts. Finally, decide on specific, measurable goals: are you trying to boost your own followers? Is your campaign about increasing click-through-rates for one specific product or service you offer? Once you have selected your goals and decided what your measures for success will be, it’s time to start researching influencers.

Effective Influencer Research

When it comes to a strong influencer campaign, this is where you should spend most of your time in order to get the right influencer and boost your marketing ROI. There are four primary areas of focus for choosing the right influencer: context, reach audience responsiveness, and past partnerships.

Context

Ask yourself if the influencers in question are going to fit with your brand overall. Investing marketing budget in an influencer whose followers have zero interest in your product or service is a recipe for disaster. Don’t send mixed messages by choosing an influencer from the wrong target market. Young fashionistas on Instagram and YouTube do not make good power tool and industrial services promoters. However, if you offer custom tailoring and fashion selection online, then you have chosen wisely. Making the right contextual product/influencer pairings is absolutely essential to generating strong leads and boosting sales.

Reach

Follower count is not the sole indicator of whether or not your first choices for influencers will be successful. You will sometimes discover that many influencers with thousands upon thousands of followers actually demonstrate little in the way of engagement in terms of likes, shares, and comments. On the other hand, there are often influencers who have under 1,000 followers, but their content is constantly receiving massive numbers of likes, comments and shares. You want to pick the influencer that strikes the best balance in your target market between followers and overall engagement.

Audience Engagement

What is the influencer’s audience response turnaround time when they post fresh content? Are their followers liking, sharing, and commenting right away, or does it take a few hours? That timetable is the chief indicator of how loyal that follower group is, and how seriously they take that influencers endorsements and recommendations. The more enthusiastic a following, the more comments, likes, and shares you will see every time new content is posted. Those are the influencers to watch.

Past Partnerships

Look into brands that your potential influencers have previously collaborated with in the past. Are those brands from the same industry or produce similar products? You want to make sure that you don’t choose an influencer who has previously represented/endorsed/plugged products from a major competitor so that you are not fighting for the same market within the same influencer following. Not only does it often cut into your ROI, but it also can make the influencer appear less credible or authentic to followers, and thus they may not want to partner with your brand.

Campaign Tactics

Once you have an influencer or influencers selected, it is time to pitch specific products and services using proven tactics that suit their platform best. Honest reviews, try-on clothing, giveaways/contests, unboxings, how-tos, and first impressions are all fantastic methods of creating positive impressions of your brand and products with influencers. The important thing is to let your influencers guide you as much as possible in terms of introducing or representing products to their followers. Younger audiences who rely on social media feedback more than advertising to choose products and services know a hard sell when they see one, and for this reason it is crucial to allow your influencers to keep your campaign low-key. Make certain, however, that after influencers have developed a narrative for introducing and demonstrating a product or service that you are very clear about expectations for timelines and deliverables with your influencer so your campaign stays on track.

Investing for The Long Haul

Now that your ideal influencers are in place and ready to work for you, make sure you spend as much time as you can developing strong relationships for the future. In the same way your campaign’s success depends on the relationships between your influencer and their followers, so your future success is dependent on the relationship you develop with the influencer and your brand. To accomplish this, you need two way communication that is both authentic and personal. Do not spam influencers with marketing opportunities. Like any relationship, no one wants to be hit with a mass email message about featuring products or services via their social media channel. Reach out personally, and be sure to show appropriate appreciation. Offering free products, discounts, or boosting their channel/account via your own social media outlets are all excellent ways to demonstrate to your influencers the value that you place on their endorsements and promotion.

Ultimately, developing an influencer campaign comes down to very simple concepts: who is your audience, what influencers show the highest engagement and followers in that audience, and how can you establish strong relationships of trust with your influencers to promote your products and services to their followers? Influencer marketing may appear costly at first glance, but in terms of ROI and cost-per-acquisition there are few better earners available to marketers today. Make sure you know who your target market is, research your influencers carefully and extensively, and look at their context, reach, audience engagement, and who they have worked with in the past. Based on your research and two-way communication with your influencers, you can make informed decisions about the best tactics to reach their followers based on their individual knowledge and experience. Don’t forget to develop and maintain strong rapport with your influencers as well, since they are the new face of your brand to your target market, and you may both decide that future collaboration is in everyone’s mutual best interest if they find they enjoy working with your brand. Make sure your top picks are going to give you the best ROI and lowest cost-per-acquisition possible to maximize your brand’s benefit.

The concept of influencer marketing is not new, but in the digital age on social media, it is a crucial area of concern for any social media manager and social media marketer. If your brand is not taking advantage of this largely untapped market, you need to start doing your homework and get your product on the word-of-mouth, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram grapevine quick, fast, and in a hurry. Los Angeles social media companies in particular are already focused on this rapidly expanding marketing opportunity, and if you do business in the Los Angeles area, you need to grab your share of the influencer marketing bonanza before the top influencers are spoken-for by your competitors. If you or your marketing team are not confident about your brand’s ability to expand into influencer marketing, it is highly recommended that you start talking to an experienced Los Angeles influencer marketing company, social media management or social media marketing agency to make sure that you and your products/services are taking proper advantage of influencer marketing in a purposeful and well-executed manner. Start researching and reaching out now, and watch your cost-per-acquisition and ROI marketing numbers change dramatically for the better. Influencer marketing is both the past and future of advertising and marketing. Is your brand ready?