Influencer marketing had a great year in 2017, with 84% of brands saying they planned to launch an influencer-led campaign during the year. All signs point to an even bigger year in 2018. But a new year brings more challenges in a steadily growing and competitive field.
More brands incorporating influencer marketing into their strategies risks the market becoming over-saturated. A few simple steps will help your brand some possible pitfalls in 2018 and beyond.
Be authentic 100% of the time
This is perhaps obvious by now but it is still worth repeating. Honest reactions and recommendations from social media creators are at the heart of the success of influencer marketing. When creating a campaign, you should always start your planning from a place of authenticity.
Authentic recommendations aren't the only things to consider. Brands should always be looking to create authentic responses from the target audience - this means true engagement. What will get them to comment or share a post, rather than just liking and scrolling past? Generating audience engagement an objective to set when working with influencers.
Set clear objectives for 2018
Campaigns need to achieve certain objectives for a brand, whether it is brand recognition, increasing sales, or something even more specific. Setting an objective for the year gives you a goal to refer to while setting up the specifics of a campaign. It is a touch-point for your team to move towards as the year progresses. Think of this as the business version of a New Year's resolution.
Feel free to adjust your objective(s) as the year goes on, but reset your campaigns and campaign goals accordingly.
Build long-term relationships
Did you have a successful influencer campaign in 2017? Want to repeat your success this year, then why not reach out to the same influencers? Building and maintaining long-term partnerships with your most successful influencers helps to create the sense of authenticity we talked about earlier. By creating long-term relationships, you show your audience that you are loyal to the creators you work with. It also helps to solidify your messaging within audience groups.
An added benefit is skipping the process of establishing ground rules for your brand's image and expectations all over again. If you have already successfully collaborated with an influencer, they know what is expected of them (although it never hurts to touch base about that again).
Choose collaboration partners wisely
Let's stay on the topic of influencer relationships for a little longer. In 2018, be a little more picky about who you choose to partner with. An influencer that has done many (many) brand collabs will be less effective going forward. Once again we are back to the concept of authenticity. If it feels like an influencer is constantly promoting products, then the audience will notice. This makes them less valuable to your brand, because their recommendations are less valuable to the audience.
2018 is the year to be extra smart and vigilant about the people you ally your brand with. Customers are savvy and will not hesitate to move on if they feel their favorite creator is nothing but a branding mill. When approaching someone who has done marketing before, be aware of how recent the previous campaign was and assess how that may impact your collaboration.
Prioritize influencer marketing
Influencer marketing works when done right. I think we've made that point by now. It works so there's no excuse for treating it as a side project or a pet initiative. Therefore our final tip is this - indicating influencer marketing is a core point of your 2018 strategy goes a long way to making your team more effective at it. Making influencer campaigns a priority reflects in the kind of collaborations and content your team generates side-by-side with influencers.
If you don't have the proper time or resources to dedicate to influencer strategy then wait until you do. A half-done, partially-thought through strategy has potential to hurt your brand rather than help it.