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Influencer marketing is a phrase that’s front and center wherever you look today. But it’s actually different from traditional marketing. It’s when brands work with influencers (people who have big and/or desirable followings on social media) to grow awareness and sales of their products and services through exposure and engagement.

You can work with a number of different influencers to reach the markets that are important to you. When influencer marketing works best, followers trust the influencers’ positive promotion of a brand, and find it authentic and valuable. This translates to sales and leads for the brand, which benefits from the association with the influencer.

It’s natural to want to jump right into influencer marketing, given the current buzz about it, but you should approach it carefully after you’ve thoroughly researched who your target audience is and which influencers are most relevant to it. Make sure they’re a good fit for your products, services, and brand values.

Common First-Timer Influencer Marketing Mistakes

  • Don’t make the mistake of just focusing on the number of followers an influencer has. Make sure an influencer’s engagement rates with followers are high, too. If followers aren’t interacting with an influencer (doing things like commenting on, liking, or sharing their posts), they’re less like to be engaged with them and what they may be promoting.
  • Working with the wrong influencers reflects a lack of research on the part of the brand. Do your homework to find an influencer who is relevant to your brand and has a solid reputation as an expert your target audience will trust. Also make sure they’re following FTC transparency rules about influencer marketing.
  • Not having goals gives you nothing to aim for or measure against. Be sure to establish goals and track your results. Think long term and be consistent, but don’t expect immediate, blockbuster results.
  • Not being clear about your expectations with an influencer can be a recipe for disaster. Make sure the influencer understands what you want from the campaign. For example, if there are particular hashtags you want them to promote or a certain number of posts you expect from them on a particular schedule, make sure they know well in advance. It’s a good idea to make sure the deliverables that you want from an influencer work in sync with their creative style to get the most out of the campaign.

Examples of Great Influencer Marketing

If you’re aiming to upgrade your influencer marketing, check out these excellent examples of influencer marketing optimization. Remember, influencers don’t have to be celebrities. In fact, influencer marketing often works better when they aren’t.

  • Fashion influencer Danielle Bernstein, who has a blog called We Wore What, collaborated with Fiji Water on their Bodyworewhat campaign, which features Bernstein in workout videos with Eric Johnson, her trainer. The campaign’s message focused on the importance of keeping fit and staying hydrated while working out, and introduced Bernstein’s followers to Fiji Water.
  • Pedigree Dog Food worked with influencers (including mommy and fashion blogger and influencer Kristyn Cole, who has more than 91,000 followers) to garner more than 43 million impressions for their “Buy a Bag, Give a Bowl” campaign.
  • Celebrity influencer Khloe Kardashian, who has 74 million Instagram followers, partnered with Amazon to help promote their maternity products and services after Kardashian announced her pregnancy. The campaign even offered glimpses into Kardashian’s baby shower. Kardashian’s Amazon-sponsored posts encouraging followers to check out her Amazon baby registry delivered an engagement rate of 7.6 percent and more than 5.5 million likes.

Don’t be intimidated — great influencer marketing optimization is well within your reach, with the right research, strategy, campaign, and influencer!