How to Do Influencer Marketing the Right Way

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As a longtime digital marketer, I’ve seen firsthand just how quickly the marketing and advertising landscape has changed over the past two decades. At the beginning of my career, the only “influencers” available for hire were celebrities in radio, print or television commercials — an expense seldom affordable to small businesses and marketing agencies.

Over the last decade, all that has changed. Today, there are an estimated 50 million global influencers for hire. This means two things: that influencer marketing is now more affordable and accessible to more marketers, and that your influencer marketing campaigns need to be top-notch in order to stand out in today’s marketplace oversaturated with influencers.

Whether you’re an influencer yourself or a marketer looking to hire one, this article will help you improve your influencer marketing campaigns in 2023. Here are the top tips that I’ve practiced myself in order to take my influencer marketing returns to greater heights this year, whether it’s Instagram influencers, LinkedIn influencers or YouTubers.

Related: 4 Influencer Marketing Secrets Entrepreneurs Need to Know

Keep it modest, plain and relatable

While it may seem counterintuitive in a world where boldness and extravagance often attract attention, there are several compelling reasons for influencers to embrace a more down-to-earth approach.

  • Relatability and authenticity: A modest appearance and demeanor helps influencers connect with their followers on a deeper level by projecting an image of authenticity and approachability that fosters a sense of trust and credibility.

  • Widening the target audience: By adopting a plain and relatable persona, influencers can appeal to a broader range of people. Not everyone relates to or aspires to a lavish or extravagant lifestyle.

  • Timelessness and endurance: Trends come and go, and what may be fashionable today might fade away tomorrow. In contrast, a modest and relatable appearance and demeanor have a timeless quality that can sustain their relevance and influence in the long run.

To capture these benefits, I suggest seeking out influencers (or becoming one yourself) that exhibit these traits over over-polished and extravagant ones.

Never overpromise

One thing I’m certainly not a fan of is influencers who promise results. Sure, it can be tempting to make grandiose claims or promises in order to attract attention and gain followers, but doing so can have detrimental consequences to one’s credibility and long-term success.

Remember, preserving trust and authenticity is paramount. If you make a promise you can’t keep or allude to results not everyone is guaranteed to attain, then you’re setting yourself to break that all-important trust.

Instead, focus on what you have been able to accomplish and what the audience may be able to get out of the product or service. Use conditional language, and avoid making promises or guarantees. Not only is this often dishonest, but it’s also illegal as well.

Related: How to Create a Successful Influencer Marketing Campaign

Stay on-brand

Brand consistency is important. Personally, I prefer to have a tight-knit relationship with influencers who work either exclusively or primarily with my own brands. This way, the influencer isn’t seen as representing a variety of diverse brands that may not even have consistent identities, messages or values.

This isn’t about exerting control over the contractors you work with. It is, however, about making sure your relationship maintains the trust and authenticity your audience needs.

Think about how your target market might feel if, as a vegan food supplier, your top influencer is seen working with a supermarket that carries meat and animal products. Although seemingly innocuous, it can cause offense and distrust among those whose trust you depend on.

Choose quality over quantity

This ties into my previous recommendation about opting for close-knit relationships with influencers. Personally, I work with only one influencer per vertical. This way, I can foster that all-important trust and familiarity between the audience and the influencer who constitutes the “face” of the brand.

I recommend, in most cases, sticking with one influencer too. If you go on a hiring spree and start investing in multiple influencers, you lose out when it comes to face recognition and rapport-building that is, in my opinion, absolutely essential to a successful influencer marketing campaign.

Set goals and hold yourself to them

Goals work best when they have deadlines and key performance indicators (KPIs). For my campaigns, I like to evaluate their effectiveness in three-month intervals according to the following KPIs that are quantifiable and measurable with web analysis or SEO analytics software:

If goals aren’t being met quarter after quarter, I reevaluate our campaign by making minor tweaks and ad spend changes. If that fails consistently, only then do I consider opting for a new influencer relationship.

Related: How to Get More From Your Influencer Marketing Investment

Let’s face it, many consumers are tired of influencers in today’s world. That’s why it’s your responsibility to focus on influencers who hardly seem like influencers at all — rather, influencers who appear more like honest, trustworthy and values-based spokespeople.

If you can apply the advice above to your next campaign, chances are you’ll see an improvement in your ROI. At least, this is what has worked for me over the past few years. However, everyone’s experience will vary, and not all marketers nor influencers will see success by applying the same formula. Ultimately, everyone’s path to marketing success is unique.

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