The influencer marketing industry has been growing rapidly during the last few years, as more and more brands find influencers to promote them on social media. This trend is showing no sign of slowing down, and the influencer marketing industry is set to be valued at $15 billion by 2022.
But what do brands need to know about collaborating with influencers? Whether you’re new to the strategy or have run campaigns in the past, these are some quick tips for working with influencers.
Understand what you can offer before you start searching
Influencers don’t work for free, so you’ll need to offer them some type of incentive in exchange for their content creating services. There are two main ways to pay influencers: free products, and fees.
Nano influencers, who have between 1-5K followers and the highest engagement rates in the industry, will often accept collaborations based on free products alone. Just keep in mind that your product needs to be attractive to them, which is why it’s important to find an influencer interested in your brand’s niche.
One tier up, micro influencers (5-50K followers) may ask for a fee of up to a few hundred dollars. And once you move up from that range, influencers will nearly always require a fee for their services, plus whatever product you may send them.
As a brand, you should understand what you can offer in terms of incentive before you start searching for influencers. Therefore, you’ll have a clearer idea of what type of influencer to look for.
Analyze engagement and not just follower count
Follower count is important, as we’ve seen in the above tip. It helps determine an influencer’s price point, as well as their reach. However, it’s not the be-all-end-all of success. Engagement rate is another metric you should consider when choosing influencers to collaborate with.
Engagement rate shows the level of interaction between an influencer and their followers. Influencers who engage their audience receive more likes, comments, shares, etc. It also demonstrates that the audience trusts the influencer and enjoys their content, and you can leverage this to connect your brand with those engaged followers.
You can measure engagement by adding up all the interactions on a post, dividing the sum by the number of followers, and then multiplying that results by 100. This would be the engagement for one post though, so make sure to take an average of a sample of posts.
Caption: An engagement rate analysis from an influencer marketing platform.
Alt: A screenshot from an influencer marketing platform showing an influencer’s engagement rate compared to her peers on the same network.
Bear in mind that engagement rate averages vary by social network and number of followers. Different platforms have different ways to engage with content, which means what’s good on one network might be bad on another, or vice versa. Also, engagement rate tends to drop as follower count climbs. To sum up, you can’t compare the engagement rates of Instagram influencers with Youtube influencers, nor can you compare micro influencers with mega influencers.
Finally, beware extreme engagement. If it’s very low, people simply aren’t interested or the influencer bought fake followers (bots that generally don’t interact with content). If it’s extremely high, the influencer may have bought fake engagement. Engagement varies by social network and follower segment, so always compare influencers to their peers.
Reach out to more influencers than you need
If you’re planning to work with 3 influencers, reach out to 6. Not all influencers will be able to collaborate with you, and some may just not want to. Moreover, when you send your first contact emails, some won’t even get opened. Generally, around 30-40% of your outreach emails will get a reply.
To reach out to a few influencers, you can manage your emails manually. However, if you need to contact many influencers, you should automate your outreach. You’ll save a lot of time, and the automation clients will show you stats about the emails, like which bounces, opens, clicks, and replies.
Know that a contract isn’t always necessary
You may feel that it’s necessary to have a contract for your influencer collaboration. In some cases, that’s true. If you’re working with top influencers, they may require a contract. And if you’re paying substantial fees, you may want to put everything in writing in a more formal way.
However, a contract might not be necessary when collaborating in exchange for free products alone (unless the products are very valuable, like fine jewelry). In fact, when working with nano and micro influencers, contracts can even be conversion killers. These influencers are less experienced at collaborating, and may get scared off by signing a contract.
If you’re not using a contract, you could always lay out all the collaboration terms in an email, so that everything is on the table and no one has any doubts with respect to their end of the bargain.
Give influencers creative freedom when creating content
Once you’ve negotiated the collaborations, give influencers creative freedom to do what they do best: create content!
It’s okay to lay out any publication guidelines you may have. If you want influencers to use specific hashtags or mentions in their content, tell them. Discuss beforehand what you want them to emphasize about your product, as well as the publications deadlines.
But then, let them choose how to share your brand’s message with their followers. They know their audience better than you do, so they’ll understand how to best communicate with them. If you micromanage an influencer’s work, you risk the collaboration coming off as inauthentic. And that can lead to followers getting a bad impression of both your brand and the influencer.
These are just a few quick tips to keep in mind when working with influencers. If you want to learn more about how to manage your campaign from beginning to end, check out this influencer marketing guide.
Have you worked with influencers? What was your experience like? Tell us in the comments below!