When you open Instagram every day, you’re immediately exposed to aesthetically-pleasing images that show beautiful lifestyles featuring cult-favorite brands.
While most of these images are crafted by authentic and honest content creators, social media influencer marketing can easily enter a dark world where users can abuse the system.
With 65% of marketing, PR and communication professionals saying that they have participated in fashion and retail influencer marketing in 2016, the fashion industry has become quite knowledgeable about the landscape of influencer marketing. But with the rise of social media users and the increase in social noise, finding a suitable and honest influencer to represent your brand and garner real engagement has become much more difficult.
By a simple web search of “Instagram Followers,” an endless list of platforms which boast capabilities of growing your social media followers with real people and real engagement appear. Whether these apps are operated by bots solely or with real people managing your account, it’s hard to believe that users will receive real and loyal engagement, or followers, when they pay as little as $1.79 a day.
When more than 570 million marketing dollars was spent on influencer marketing last year, any chunk of it going towards fraudulent influencers or fake engagement becomes substantial, making it critical for brands to look beyond the number of followers and consider the authenticity of the influencer’s engagement and whether fans are contributing to the conversation.
For that reason, we’ve put together four tips for your next influencer marketing campaign to make sure your budget is spent wisely. Always be mindful that you get what you pay for!
Identify Whether the Social Media Influencer Is Authentic
When you’re exploring your options and doing research on prospective influencers, take a look at their previous work. Did they create original content? Did they take the time to engage with their followers? Have they worked with brands repeatedly? These are all great indicators of whether or not the influencer can help build great campaigns.
Selecting influencers solely based on their audience volume is a risky choice. A more accurate criteria would be to consider their “echo” or ability to reach your desired audience through their posts. The influencer you partner with should also have an affinity for your brand and have a strong voice in conversations related to relevant topics. A semantic search tool capable of merging these criteria into an algorithm can help you enormously for the first quantitative identification phase.
Another great way to determine the authenticity of an influencer is by looking at whether or not they disclose sponsored content. Consumers value transparency and can easily catch-on to phony content, making it important for your brand not to be associated with those who aren’t transparent or honest. With the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) putting guidelines into effect, honest content creators most likely will adhere to regulations, and it’s important for brands to clearly understand these regulations as well so that any fines or negative press can be avoided.
Consider Working with Micro-influencers vs Macro-influencers
According to Digiday, influencer marketing campaigns can range from a couple of hundred to millions of dollars, making it key for brands to carefully craft an influencer marketing campaign that effectively meets campaign goals. Whether you’re looking to raise awareness or to boost sales, getting real sets of eyes on your brand is the first step.
While you may not have enough budget to hire a mega-influencer for your next project, emerging influencers have the a similar ability to help you reach new audiences, especially more niche ones. Working with emerging or micro-influencers allows your team to hire different personalities for one campaign, giving you the spotlight to various audiences. Versus Versace had the opportunity to work with 8 young creatives who hold strong influence in their subcultural communities, making the campaign unique, generating lots of attention from major publications and street-style enthusiasts.
Build Long-lasting Influencer Relationships
Lastly, build long-lasting relationships with social media influencers that you work well with. When Tommy Hilfiger and Gigi Hadid joined forces in 2016, the engagement the collaboration created went off the charts. The two forces had strong synergies, making the collection dynamic yet authentic, which is why the collaboration continued on in 2017 for another year. By working with the same influencers over several campaigns, you’re able to keep driving momentum and leave a lasting impression on audiences to then start nurturing brand loyalty.
Measure, Measure and Measure the Results of Your Social Media Influencers
It’s important to closely monitor the results of each of the campaigns you set up with influencers. Monitoring key terms in your campaign (campaign name and hashtags) can help you understand the overall impact of your actions, but it’s also very important to take certain details into account, such as tracking links. You could miss out on valuable information when your influencers post onto their Instagram Stories, Facebook, blogs or other accounts if you aren’t using tracking tools. Each of those links they share to your site must have a unique code; that way you can measure traffic to your site on Google Analytics. Campaign URL Builder websites make it easy to perform this kind of tracking.
By gathering this information and comparing it to the revenue or conversions generated through your e-commerce or web, you will be able to better calculate the ROI of your influencer marketing campaigns.
To ease the identification and monitoring process of your next social media influencer campaign, there are monitoring platforms dedicated to the fashion, luxury, and beauty industries which can help you track all campaign efforts. Whether it’s print, digital, or social, measuring your coverage each step of the way can help you determine whether your influencer marketing dollars are spent wisely and make smarter decisions to enhance future campaigns.