6 Influencer Marketing Best Practices You Can’t Ignore

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Influencer marketing has become an essential part of the marketing mix for brands of all sizes. As consumers, we gravitate toward real people rather than faceless corporations. Influential content creators can help brands cut through the noise and connect with target audiences in an authentic way. But there are influencer marketing best practices that need to be considered.

But how can brands learn and  develop effective influencer marketing campaigns? What are some best practices they should follow? I spoke with Lindsey Gamble, a top LinkedIn voice on influencer marketing, to get his insights on Episode 644 of “The Business Storytelling Show.” He shared some extremely valuable perspectives from both the brand and influencer side, having worked on both sides of the equation in the past.

Here are some key influencer marketing best practices Lindsey outlined that brands should keep in mind:

Know Your Goals and Let That Guide Your Strategy

As he explained, “I really think every brand could engage in influencer marketing. But before a brand does want to work with influencers, they should really understand what their goals and objectives are, because that’s going to be really the most important thing.”

Your goals around awareness, conversions, social proof etc. will inform the types of influencers you activate, platforms you use, and overall creative approach. Clearly defining goals upfront leads to better campaign alignment and measurement later.

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Trust Creators to Lead Creative Strategy

A common mistake brands make is treating influencers like human billboards. But as Lindsey advised, “If you want to just get your message across to millions of people, and say exactly what you want. There’s billboards as commercials. But creators are really unique. And you have to balance out partnering with creators and let them do their thing.”

The reason you’re working with creators in the first place is because they know how to connect with their audience better than you do. Give them creative license while providing high-level messaging guidance. The most effective influencer content feels organic, not overly salesy or disruptive.

Consider “De-influencing” Partnerships

Beyond your typical promotional product sponsorships, Lindsey discussed an interesting trend called “de-influencing” where creators critique products and recommend better alternatives. As he said, “We’ve seen this trend of de-influence. And where creators are actually saying, “Hey, this is a product that isn’t actually good for XYZ, it could be the price, it can because it’s not sustainable. It could be the quality of it. And then at the same time, they share another recommendation for product that is a better alternative or a solution.”

I love this concept because it shows creators looking out for their audience’s best interests. And it’s a rare growth opportunity for brands to improve their products based on constructive external feedback.

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Leverage Your Existing Customers and Community

Searching manually for relevant influencers on social platforms is one tactic. But as Lindsey pointed out, “More now, today, people are doubling as creators, they might have a full time job, they might do something else. But we’re all creating content.”

Tapping into your current customer base and subscribers can surface “homegrown” influencers authentically aligned with your brand. They likely create great content already featuring your products that just needs amplification.

Have Clear Compensation Expectations

As a part-time/side hustle  influencer myself, I couldn’t agree more with Lindsey’s advice around setting clear compensation expectations. When brands reach out asking for free work or excessive deliverables, I now reply with my content creation rate. As Lindsey said, “You have to be sensitive as a brand, about what you’re offering creators and what you’re asking them to do.”

I realize budgets and norms vary widely in this emerging space. And fledgling relationships may start off unpaid. But valuing your and the influencer’s time upfront establishes trust and sets the partnership up for long-term success.

Match Measurement to Goals

He emphasized the critical importance of measurement alignment. As he put it, “Once you do work with creators, you have them generate content and you reporting on that content, make sure that what you’re looking at the results match what you set out to do.”

If your campaign objective is conversions, optimize towards clicks and purchase metrics. If it’s brand awareness, prioritize reach and engagement instead. Analyze performance against your pre-defined goals and continuously improve.

The Rise of the “Creative Economy”

In closing, I’m reminded of something Lindsey said that all brands working with creators should keep top of mind: “Ultimately, as a brand, when you partner with creators and people that share content or have some type of special skill, it’s because you want to do something that you’re not able to do as a brand. And you have to trust the creator to be able to do what they do best.”

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