There are multiple reasons for wanting to conduct influencer marketing in-house as opposed to through an agency, authenticity and control being the most pertinent.
Deciding to work with influencers directly and on your own terms is liberating, but can also seem daunting to those not used to how the process works. Influencer marketing functions in quite a new and different manner to more traditional marketing efforts, and getting to grips with those is not necessarily going to be smooth sailing. In today’s blog post, we’re going to outline the key stages involved in beginning in-house influencer marketing, as well as our best, tried and tested ideas as to how to make it successful. Here goes!
Step 1: Identify what are you looking to get from influencers
This is arguably the most important stage of them all, as it involves you setting out your expectations and hopes for the project as a whole. Whether you’re looking to improve your brand reputation, further your reach to new audiences, increase sales of a particular product or increase views of a particular website page, knowing exactly what you need to get from influencer marketing is key, as it keeps the whole process on track.
Once you know your overarching goals, a good second step is to break them down into short and long term objectives. For example, if you are looking to boost your brand engagement, a long term goal might be to double your total social followers, whilst a short term goal might be to increase them by a certain number every week. This previous blog post goes into finer detail about how these objectives can be sorted.
Step 2: Look at where influencers can be placed
At CI, we’re nothing if not realistic, and we know that making a start with influencer marketing does not render your current marketing endeavours any less important or active. Therefore, once you understand what you are hoping to get out of working with influencers, it’s very astute to assess into which areas of your current marketing plan they could fit.
A handy way to assess this is to look at both above and below-the-line marketing methods. Things like branding, advertising and PR fall in the ‘above’ bracket, and influencers can help here in a very public sense, whereas social media, inbound marketing, customer retention and SEO can all make use of influencers in a much more behind-the-scenes way. This previous post discusses using influencers in existing marketing endeavours in a lot more detail.
Step 3: Identifying and approaching the influencers
When selecting the influencers you want to work with, one thing is more important than all others – your audience. Whatever your overall objectives and ROIs, they will relate to a key audience that you are looking to engage to make them happen. The influencers you need to work with are those that will allow you to connect with said audience(s). There are copious ways to work out which influencer(s) that might be, but putting the time into research is truly invaluable at this stage.
Approaching influencers is another matter, and one that you might find the most alien. This is where it can seem as though agencies have the upper hand, but in actual fact, surveys are showing that influencers respond more favourably to brands who approach them directly, as this kind of contact breeds authenticity. Pay attention to the medium through which you are contacting influencers however – if they are most active on Instagram for example, perhaps it’s worth considering a private message rather than an email. This blog post can help.
Step 4: Devise a plan with your influencer
Once you’ve made contact with your influencer, it is imperative that you share your objectives and expected ROIs with them, as well as the areas of your current marketing plan that you feel they could fit into. Your influencer will be able to advise on how best to achieve these goals, especially with the specific audience in mind.
Once you’ve decided this, turn it into actionable points and KPIs with measurable timescales that everyone agrees on. Having this will avoid confusion and crossed wires in the future, and will ensure that everyone knows who is responsible, and what is expected by when.
Step 5: Monitor your ROIs
Something that influencer marketing is often dogged by is accusations of it being hard to measure and deem as a success or a failure. If you have followed the previous steps like a good in-house influencer marketer, by now you’ll have your list of ROIs and actionable points, as well as detailed notes as to what you are expecting by when. Keeping track of these should be a lot easier if you have this information, and it is important to remember that you are perfectly within your rights to take action if you feel your influencer is not keeping up their end of the bargain.
Although it is temptingly straightforward to pay an agency to take influencer marketing out of your hands, brands are more and more waking up to the unexpected advantages of taking the process in-house. Influencer-brand relationships are more authentic, trusting and powerful when formed directly – give a try and see for yourself!