Managing Influencer Marketing on Instagram

Picture of Aliza ShermanAliza Sherman is a web pioneer, author, and international speaker. Sherman is the author of 8 books about the Internet including The Everything Blogging Book, Streetwise Ecommerce, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crowdsourcing and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.

Managing Influencer Marketing on Instagram

Influencer Marketing is trending again as a tactic for attracting attention to your brand and generating sales. But what exactly is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer Marketing can be part of social media marketing and involves aligning with or hiring people or organizations with high profiles and engaged audiences on popular social networks endorsements who have “influence” over their followers.

The current wisdom is that an “Influencer” does not have to be a celebrity with a million plus followers. Niche influencers with more modest followings could actually have a higher engagement rate and be more effective at soliciting actions from their followers.

Social media “Influencers” frequently charge for posting to their networks and tapping into their followings, but this is not always the case. Some Influencers accept in-kind payments such as free product, travel and accommodations or other perks.

Any kind of payment to an online influencer must be disclosed as dictated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Make sure any influencer you work with is FTC-complaint by checking that they publicly acknowledge which posts are paid and what free items they’ve received.

Here are some steps to take as you embark on an Influencer Marketing campaign.

1. Determine beforehand what a successful Influencer program looks like for you.

Are you looking for more traffic to your website? Sign ups for your email newsletter? Or are you looking for actual sales? Be realistic about what an influencer can do for you. A popular and influential social media personality can provide exposure, credibility and good will for your brand but purchasing one post from an influencer doesn’t necessarily translate into sales.

Come up with a realistic goal such as driving more traffic to your website, then make sure the landing page for your influencer campaign has a Call to Action that is easy for a first-time visitor to act on.

Note that many influencers use Instagram as their network of choice, and Instagram prevents you from adding clickable links into posts. Pay attention to how an influencer proposes translating likes or comments on an Instagram post into something tangible and of value to your company.

2. Choose Influencers for the fit, not just the numbers.

As mentioned, don’t be dazzled by the number of followers. Pay more attention to how engaged the person’s following is in terms of likes and comments. The more important piece will be something you cannot see publicly and that is conversions. How often does an influencer’s posts turn into tangible actions or sales? This is something you’ll have to ask the individual you approach.

But before you do that, make sure they post about topics relevant to your brand – and also peruse their social media feeds to make sure they are on-brand for you personality-wise and content-wise. Watch out for controversial posts, anything political that might create discord, or even explicit or risqué content that may not be appropriate for your image or audience.

3. Spend some time doing your homework.

You may like an influence on a particular social network and they seem to you’re your criteria, however, you need to take a little more time to review what they are posting to Stories. The Stories format on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat disappear after 24 hours so you might check their account today, and everything checks out. But how can you know that posts from a few days ago were fine if there is no longer an archive? Your best bet is to monitor a prospective influencer’s account over the course of several weeks to make sure that their ephemeral content is also aligned with your brand – and with what they are posting more permanently.

4. Make sure you measure results all along the way.

When you develop a campaign with an influencer, build in multiple ways to measure from your end and theirs. Include trackable links where links can be used so you have a third party measurement or an additional way to count click-throughs that are generated from the influencer posts.

5. Re-evaluate often.

Don’t wait until the end of your campaign to see if it’s working. If it is a single post, you can start measuring right away but you should still allow enough time for more people to see and interact with the post – at least a few days or a week. But if you are engaging in a longer-term campaign with an influencer, set up checks all along the way so you can refine the campaign or even switch gears if it is falling flat.

Most reputable influencers want their clients to be satisfied with the results and are willing to modify a campaign if they aren’t seeing the success they usually enjoy.

Overall, a social media influencer should be a professional willing to work with you for mutual success. If they can’t or won’t answer your valid questions and address any issues along the way, you should move on to work with someone who will.