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One of the things that I consistently see cropping up in online business communities is small business owners asking about how they can use influencer marketing better in their business.

  • Perhaps they’ve sent out a heap of product and seen little return.
  • Maybe they’re sick of wannabe influencers reaching out to try and get freebies.
  • Or they just have no idea what they’re doing but think that influencer marketing is something that they should be doing, because they’ve seen everyone else doing it.

My professional experience includes working on and managing multi-million dollar influencer marketing campaigns for the likes of Sand & Sky, Stand Up To Cancer (Cancer Research UK) and whilst most of Dear Charlie’s clients don’t have zillions to spend on influencers, there are some easy lessons that translate. If you want to find out more about how you can use influencer marketing better in your business just read on.

Three things to remember about influencer marketing:

  1. It’s not free content if you’re supplying a product to the influencer and not paying them. You’ve spent money on the product, shipping and your effort to get that item to them. It’s never ‘free’.
  2. Influencer marketing is often used as a brand awareness booster and this isn’t directly attributed to ROI or sales (because you can’t always track this). Bear in mind that you can’t always say I spent $$ and I got $$ in return – if you have a finance or leadership team to report to, you may need to get good at educating them about the value of brand marketing.
  3. If you’re paying for influencer activity and you’re booking through their agent, make sure you ask about agency fees which will often be charged on top of the cost of the content.

How To Use Influencer Marketing Better In Your Business:

 

Find Fantatical Fans

Firstly work out what your customers are into and why they are following certain influencers. You want to be hyper-targeted here, because you want the influencers that you’re working with to be fanatical about the subject matter your influencers share.

A really good example of an industry where this is really important is fashion and beauty/skincare. Let’s look at make-up for example. Many influencers in this space can amass a vast amount of followers and command huge amounts of money for #ad posts, but how likely are they to drive a future return for your business?

In this example, you want to look for influencers whose followers are fanatical about make-up. One of the ways that you can help to ensure this is by choosing to work with influencers whose content is specifically about make-up. Many influencers in this space try to build ‘lifestyle’ content around themselves by sharing content that isn’t just make-up related. I’m talking pics of them at Burleigh Pavillion having cocktails or the latest cute thing that their dog/friend/baby did. These guys are more likely to have a higher proportion of followers who aren’t just interested in the make-up posts, but maybe they’re just curious about how this person lives their daily lives.

You want to work with the people who have obsessive make-up fans as their followers (the people who are here for make-up content and don’t have time for anything else). Why? Because they’re the most likely to engage and buy.

 

Consider Engagement Rate

I think one of the best attitudes to keep when choosing to work with influencers is one of cynicism. Often things do look better than they first appear. Many influencers have managed to accrue huge amounts of followers, but often many of these followers are not actually engaging with the content that is being posted by the followers. (#RealTalk: sometimes the followers aren’t even real.)

This is important because engagements suggest actively engaged followers. Actively engaged followers click through to your product links and then allow you to either remarket to them, gain new social followers or (even better) sell them something there and then.

When choosing what influencers to work with, take some time to manually work out the average engagement of their most recent posts. Importantly, you also want to consider the engagement on posts that will be similar to the content you want them to produce. If you’re getting video content, look at video content. Remember that pics of babies, engagement announcements and cute doggos often have skewed metrics because people love that stuff. We want their everyday #spon posts and to see how they’re doing.

To work out the engagement rate manually of an account you’re viewing (and not managing), it’s a tiny bit of an estimation with the available metrics we can use.

Take total video views or post likes + comments
Divide that total by total number of followers
Multiply by 100 to get a percentage

You can then do some very rough, back of the envelope maths, to calculate roughly what you’re likely to see in return from your activity using your website conversion rate.

Disclaimer: influencer marketing is often brand marketing, which means that it can’t really ever be attributed directly to sales. It’s brand awareness activity that hopefully drives future conversions. So, unless you’re using affiliate marketing codes or providing tracked links you often can’t track sales from an influencer post. This is just one reason why you should always look at engaging a pro when it comes to spending your money on influencers.

 

Get Legal

Never, ever, ever work with an influencer without having usage agreements in place. Legals will protect you against so many things, but also and arguably most importantly, give you the legal right to use the content created by influencers on your own channels after they publish it.

Without having usage agreements in place you have never formally agreed what you can and can’t do with that material. This could mean that you can’t really use influencer created content:

  • On your own social media
  • In your own marketing (e.g. ads)
  • On your own packaging

As a small business the content created by influencers is often super-valuable for use elsewhere in your business, so make sure you agree the rights to use it how you need from the start.

Other things I would consider including in your usage agreements include:

  • Brand exclusivity. For example: you sell silicone baby products. You agree to work with an influencer. You agree for the next [x] number of months/posts they won’t post about named competitor silicone baby product brands.
  • Content permanence. Influencers will often archive content from their feed. If you’ve paid for a piece of content, you want it to stay up there.
  • Agreed content approval process. You want to be sure they’ve mentioned your products and featured the products in the best possible way (a lot of this also comes down to your brief, which is a whole other blog post).

I recommend (and have used with my clients) the wondeful Brisbane-based Foundd Legal for affordable, customisable legals for small businesses. Check them out here. [This is an aff link, but I have genuinely used and would recommend this business].