Remember that term influencer marketing?
For a refresher, check out our piece on why you can no longer ignore influencer marketing.
To refresh, it’s like your best friend telling you to try out this new pair of Nikes, except your friend is recommending them to 20,000 people on the internet—all of which follow him because he’s the “sneaker savant”.
Now that you know why brands are using influencer marketing to grow their audience, we figured you might want to give this thing a go for your brand.
And while you could spend hours rummaging through Google looking for articles written by mediocre marketers on how to start an influencer marketing campaign, we thought we’d make it easier on you.
Grab your notebook and keep your eyes scrolling down this page because we’re about to reveal the step-by-step process for launching a successful influencer marketing campaign.
Let’s dive in…
Influencer marketing needs to be SMART
Before we can give you the scoop on delivering a dominant influencer marketing campaign, we need to first ask how SMART you are?
No, we’re not asking for your SAT score from high school, we’re talking about the acronym SMART. It stands for…
If you’ve been in the marketing game awhile, you’ve definitely seen this term thrown around by thought leaders on LinkedIn, but few actually know how to apply it to their marketing practices.
When done properly, the SMART acronym is a filtration system for campaign ideas and concepts. Before you start chatting up influencers and inking checks, this acronym can help you and the rest of your team decide if influencer marketing is the next right step for your brand.
Here’s how you can use it to establish a goal for your influencer marketing campaign…
What exactly are you trying to accomplish with this influencer marketing campaign? Are you looking to bring awareness to your brand, drive sales, or create a direct response? This needs to be at the forefront of any campaign you run.
What metrics are you going to use to determine the validity of this campaign? Know what metrics (CPM, views, likes, shares, etc) are going to be the markers of success, so you can be aware if you’re on track toward your goal.
If you’re planning on jumping into influencer marketing and going viral overnight, let us be the first to wish you the best of luck. Make sure that the goal you’ve set for your influencer marketing campaign is within your reach—lofty goals are great, but they can sometimes lead you astray if too set too high.
Is the influencer campaign you want to run relevant to your brand and the rest of the cultural pulse around your niche? Many brands miss the mark by hopping on the influencer marketing bandwagon only to discover that their brand cannot relate to what’s relevant to the creator and their audience.
Can this campaign be completed in a realistic timeline? The last thing anyone wants to do is start a journey and not know the destination. Try to measure exactly how long this influencer campaign will take so you can convey that to your team, partners, and creators.
Now that you’ve upped your smarts, let’s talk about running the most successful influencer marketing campaign this side of the Mississippi.
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7 steps to building a successful influencer marketing campaign
1. Establish a goal, KPIs, and budget.
All successful influencer marketing campaigns start with a goal. This goal varies from brand to brand, industry to industry but at its core, this goal is looking to achieve one of three outcomes—brand awareness, sales, or direct response.
Each one of these outcomes is different, but once you’ve established which one you want to align your efforts with, you now have a clear goal set in front of you.
From there, it’s a matter of developing your KPI (Key Performance Indicators) that will be used as measurement tools for the success of this influencer marketing campaign.
These can include CPM, views, shares, likes, comments, followers, etc. The important part here is to understand what performance indicators are relevant to the platform you decide to use for this influencer marketing campaign.
For example, we here at Ubiquitous help brands partner with influencers to deploy campaigns across the platform TikTok—and while we could use their large follower counts as KPIs, we always focus on CPM (Cost Per Mille) and Views instead, as they are tangible evidence driven by the data inside the TikTok app.
The last thing in this initial step is to establish a budget that you can stick to over the course of the campaign. This is one area where brands can be a little more explorative depending on the resources and funding that you have in your marketing department.
When you start working with influencers, it’s important to explore all realms of the spectrum rather than focus on one. Some influencers cost thousands of dollars a post, while some just want a little product sent to them in exchange for a few videos. Finding a balance between these two is the best recommendation for new brands stepping into the influencer marketing space.
Be willing to set aside a chunk of change (a couple hundred up to a thousand), the same way you would for ad spending on Facebook or Instagram, and dedicate it to running a campaign completely focused on influencer promotion.
Then do yourself a favor and stick to that budget!
2. Build a strategy.
Goals are not attained without some sort of strategy. Just because you signed up for influencer marketing doesn’t mean you’re now stocked up with an influencer marketing strategy that will take you from 10 followers to 10 million.
You need a plan of action, and that starts with the goal you established in step one. Based on the set goal—sales, awareness, or response—you need to identify the steps that will get you there and how to make those steps a reality.
For some, it means partnering with multiple influencers inside of an industry niche to establish credibility with the audience.
For others, it might include collaborating with an influencer to create a series of videos that explains your new product and why it’s the best thing since fast food.
The important thing to note here is that your strategy is different depending upon the outcome you are looking to achieve. Knowing that strategy before approaching influencers is key to aligning your brand with the right creators for the job.
3. Choose influencers that align with your established goals, budget, and messaging.
Here’s where the fun actually starts—finding these influencers!
You might think that 5 minutes on the TikTok for you page might land you the perfect match for the next campaign, but the fact of the matter is that this step requires some research.
Consider the strategy you’ve built out and who would fit in the right spots of that strategic plan.
Are you going to make this campaign about driving brand awareness through humor? Maybe you want to increase sales using influencer testimonials? Whatever it is that you want to accomplish, make sure that the people you are searching for are aligned with that goal.
Oftentimes these ideal influencers are hiding in the crevasses of social media where the rest of their target audience or demographic likes to hang out.
Places like TikTok, Pinterest, and even Discord are becoming more and more relevant for finding niche influencers, as brands realize that paid ads on Facebook and Instagram are dying rapidly.
Not to mention, working with these nano and micro-influencers out of the gate will save you some serious cash—most of them just want to try your product!
What you need to remember in this process is that more is better—aim to find somewhere between 5-10 influencers for your first test campaign, that way you can see what works best with your audience and what doesn’t, so you can double down on the good and drop the bad.
4. Conduct outreach with a creative brief.
The next step is arguably the most important one when we talk about starting your influencer marketing campaign, and here’s why…
Influencers have tons of different brands reaching out to them every day. From single-post deals all the way to full-fledged global campaigns, they are constantly bombarded with opportunities to make money for their creative capabilities. The only problem…brands try to control them.
Instead of letting brands hold the reins, we like to take a different approach that puts the creator first, and that starts with a creative brief.
We could spend a whole article just talking about creative briefs and how to write one (coming soon) but let’s get right to the meat and potatoes of it.
When conducting outreach to influencers, a creative brief is the one document they need to understand the complete scope of what you want from them. Inside of this creative brief are your campaign goals, strategies, requirements, and your offer—it’s simple, straightforward, and right to the point.
Because influencers don’t have time to sift through a 10-page pitch document! They want to know what you are looking to do, ways you can bring them into the fold, and how they are going to benefit from this partnership, that’s it.
From there, start by checking out the social media profiles (TikTok, FB, IG, Twitter) of the influencers you want to work with. Usually, if the influencer is smaller, you can find their email information on the social media contacts page or link in bio. If they are a larger influencer, they might be represented by an agency or need to be formally contacted via email or phone.
In the case of digital exchanges, always be ready to send over your creative brief at any moment so you can arm the influencer with exactly what they need to get started.
5. Determine a testing period
Before you send your influencers out into the wild to create content for your brand, you need to set a testing period.
These testing periods are used as opportunities to allow the influencers to create under the guidelines you’ve set, knowing that there’s room for improvement and adjustment.
Just like the Facebook ads traditional marketers like to run, you cannot find success overnight with a single ad campaign. You need to run multiple ad sets inside that campaign in order to see what is actually working and what is falling on its face.
The beauty of working with influencers on platforms like TikTok is that the testing period is significantly shorter than that of Facebook and Instagram ads.
Unlike the aforementioned platforms, TikTok is all about rapid content, thus, brands only need to test an influencer campaign for 7 days to see the results. After that week, you should have a clear impression of whether the partnership is going to benefit your brand or not.
From there, you can determine which of the influencers at your disposal is the best fit moving forward for future campaigns.
6. Receive influencer content and post to your channels.
This next step is pretty straightforward. Once you are armed with the influencer's content–whether it be on your social media channel or theirs—it’s time to start sharing it with the world!
As a TikTok-focused company, we’ve seen a very unique trend over the last two years where brands have flipped the script and started focusing on TikTok first and other channels second. As such, they are taking the content produced for TikTok, via influencers, and redistributing it across all of their social channels including Facebook and Instagram.
Just open up your Instagram for you page right now and I promise you’ll see a few repurposed TikTok videos floating around.
And that’s the beauty of working with an influencer! Just because they made content for one channel, doesn’t mean it has to stay there—you can take that content and re-share it anywhere you’d like!
7. Review content performance and optimize.
The last and final step to crushing your first influencer marketing campaign is to review the campaign performance.
Once you’ve run your initial test period of 7 days, it’s now time to sit back and look at how you performed across all your influencer channels. Go back to your original goals, KPIs, and budget and ask yourself, “did this campaign get me one step closer to the goal”
If the answer is yes, look at the reasons for the success. Was it a particular influencer’s style that drove popularity? Was it a specific type of video that hooked the audience’s attention? Whatever the methodology was, make note of it so you can rinse and repeat that process again.
If the answer is no, dive into the reasons why this campaign missed the mark. Maybe the influencer you partnered with wasn’t exactly aligned with the audience you wanted to reach. Maybe you pushed your campaign through too many channels and needed to limit it to less. Once you’ve identified where the miss was, you can eliminate that process from your practice and hone in on what works.
Think you’re ready to kick off an influencer marketing campaign?
The ingredients are right there for the taking, all you need to do is follow the recipe.
The first step is to run into that war room in your office and round up all the marketing people for a super-secret social media meeting.
Then, show them this insanely helpful influencer marketing article you just read and watch their jaws drop to the floor.
From there, follow these exact steps one at a time and watch as influencers begin to flock to your brand.
And if all of this seems a little too hectic for you, we here at Ubiquitous like to help brands work with influencers to create the best TikTok campaigns you will find on the world wide web.
If that’s something that gets your marketing mojo going, tap below to chat with our team and see how Ubiquitous can help launch your first influencer marketing campaign.