Circle of Influence: The Keys to Success in Influencer Marketing

By Mariana Torres-Lastra , Media Center of Excellence, IRI

Have you heard about the new marketing tactic where you co-create content with celebrities who are ill? It’s called influenza marketing and it’s going viral!

Ok, ok, all puns aside, influencer marketing really has been undergoing rapid adoption by leading marketers.   

It has evolved from purely focusing on brand alignment to targeting the right audience, using the right strategy and, now, ensuring that it delivers provable ROI. Custom audience segmentation and measurement methodologies can now provide deterministic audiences and offline attribution. 

So what’s an influencer? It’s any person who has the potential to convince us to buy a product or try a service. It’s the neighbor who has encouraged people on their block to try composting. It’s the personal trainer that you follow on Twitter who, after she extolled the benefits of a new protein powder, you immediately ordered it online.

The current four main types of influencers are:

Nano-Influencers: Somebody with fewer than 1,000 followers who has an immense influence with a comparatively narrow market. Example: a person with the most credibility in a particular neighborhood.

Micro-Influencers: Someone who has between 1,000 and 100,000 followers on social media.

Macro-Influencers: Influencers with between 100,000 and 1 million followers.

Mega-Influencers: Social superstars with more than 1 million followers. These are often celebrities because of the fame they gained in the “real world.”

As marketers continue to test new ways of breaking through the clutter, including the 5,000+ messages most of us end up having to filter through each day to get to the messages that are relevant to us, influencer marketing is becoming another important part of the marketing mix.

Of course, while influencer marketing can generate explosive buzz, a poorly executed campaign can waste significant time and money. How can you avoid the most common missteps in your first or next influencer campaign?

First, and this is no surprise, identifying the right high-value influencers is crucial to success. To help spread the word about its new value propositions, sizing and packaging, Campbell’s V8 Vegetable and Fruit Juices looked for influencers who could spark excitement among their target markets. The vetting process was intensive, according to Campbell’s, but essential: a successful influencer campaign hinges on finding exactly the right people to share the right content at the right time.

A recent article from Forbes showed how 5 Hour Energy used Instagram influencers to boost in-store sales from a new ad campaign. The three influencers they ended up selecting helped generate almost 23 million impressions, $1.2 million in sales and return on advertising spend that was six times higher than typical food campaigns on social media.

Keeping your brand safe and bot-free, and leveraging artificial intelligence for selecting the right influencers, is also extremely important. You need to thoroughly vet your selected influencers for their alignment with your brand and its values – don’t select solely based on their number of followers. Thorough background checks and other due diligence is necessary. And, beware of bots. With their prevalence across social media, you want to be sure your agency has a good way to identify bot fraud across audiences and engagement.

Effective influencer marketing also requires a data-driven approach to measuring ROI. To know if the campaign was a success, you must be able to link campaign KPIs to business outcomes, then create a measurement stack that integrates both sales lift and brand lift. Ultimately, you need to be able to understand who saw the ad and then went to a store and bought that product.

Leveraging the right firms and technologies in relevant ways to enable your influencer programs can not only positively impact your results but drive your business beyond just the length of a single influencer campaign.

Want to learn more about best practices in influencer marketing and measurement to set up your program for success? Contact me at