What is influencer marketing? The search term: “Influencer Marketing” has skyrocketed in the last five years.

Influencer Marketing surged between 2015 and 2018. It was originally practiced by independent e-commerce brands, it has now emerged as a marketing staple for brands big and small.

Influencers exist on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Social influencers can be couples, families, women, men and even pets. This article on social influencer marketing will be focused on how to work with micro to medium sized influencers. But, keep in mind that large influencers and celebrities share similar struggles when communicating with their audiences. The most notable is that their audiences are ‘brand fatigued’, ie. their followers have seen far too many brands working with that influencer or celebrity.

For you, LemonStand store owners, you have a two main key advantages with this critical marketing channel.

  1. You already have an online store set up; and
  2. You are already investing the majority of your marketing into digital channels.

This article is meant to give you an overview of how to work with influencers.

1. Finding the Right Influencers

Your Purpose: Finding the right influencers who will speak to your customers to vouch for your brand and gain their trust.

Most brands tend to spend too much time in this first stage. Identifying an influencer and then prospecting them to collaborate with your brand are two completely different activities. When finding the right influencers, you want to focus on going wide vs. narrow.

Shortlist anywhere from 50-100 influencers on the social media channels that your store is also on. Instagram and YouTube are the most popular channels used for influencer marketing because they are highly visual, discoverable and offer the most curation.

Feel free to copy and paste this easy checklist from MuseFind. You can build on top of this but also use this as a guide to creating your first list.

Basic Micro/Medium-Influencer Checklist from MuseFind

  • Influencer has between 1,000-70,000 followers.
  • Influencer is not following more than 30% of their total number of followers (ex. Instagram influencer with 10,000 followers does not follow more than 3,000 accounts on Instagram).
  • Influencer has a minimum engagement rate of 1-5% (calculate the # of Likes/Comments or Views divided by the # of their followers).
  • Influencer is still active: they are posting everyday or every other day.
  • Influencer matches my brand category (ex. Mommy influencer for a baby/toddler clothing brand).
  • Influencer is on the same social media platform as my store’s social media platform account.
  • I have a shortlist of at least 50 of these influencers.

 

There is much to be said about the value of human vetting of influencers. Often, we expect there to be a magical bullet or matching service. Although these do exist, they can be costly or inaccurate. There are free search discoveries of influencers, however many of them are built on older data due to the overhaul of privacy changes; primarily Instagram’s API slash in April 2018.

That means relying entirely on an influencer directory would not always be worth it as the data could become stale due to the technological limitations. You’re better off hand-vetting these search results or searching on your own.

2. Outreach

Purpose – This is your first pitch to the influencers you’ve shortlisted. You must convey a warm introduction of your brand and the campaign you had in mind.

The influencer outreach cycle is similar to sales prospecting–often when you are reaching out to a customer, you have to reach a wide breadth of these customers than to obsess over a few. Having this mentality increases your odds of onboarding influencers for a campaign with your brand.

Make sure you know clearly what product or service you are providing, the “ask” or “theme” of the campaign and what the expected reply date and completion date is.

Giving influencers specifics and structure is doing your brand and campaign a favor; leaving too many options on the table or a ‘blank canvas’ approach could end up in a disappointing result.

In your influencer outreach, you can copy and paste this template:

 

Micro-Influencer Outreach Template by MuseFind

 

Hi {{influencer name}}, We’re fans of your work!

I’m reaching out for a collaboration with us, {{brand_name}}.

We’d love to include you to our upcoming, invite-only campaign: {{campaign_title}} on {{social_platform}}.

About Us: {{brand_description}}

We are offering: {{offer_details}}
Offer Link: {{link to your store or specific product/collection}}
To select your offer: {{offer_selection_instructions}}

Please reply to this email within {{time frame}}

Campaign Terms & Conditions

We will send you the above {{product, app or code}}

Post Requirements

We’d love it if your content helps to tell the story of how you enjoy our product. Content is expected to be high quality with adequate lighting, and with the offering in clear view.

Please include the following in your post:

  • Specific Post Requests: {{specific_post_requests}}
  • Required Hashtags: {{required_tags}}
  • Please tag {{YOUR brand’s name on social}} in BOTH your post and caption

Timeline

Content is to be uploaded to your social media platform within 1 week after receiving it from us. Please let us know if you may need more time! The selected content is expected to be kept on your {{social_platform}} indefinitely after posting.

Compensation {{Choose ONE of the two options}}

(Option 1) Please share with us your rates for collaboration or, inquire about compensation prior to campaign agreement.

(Option 2) This is a product only collaboration. We are offering a product that is valued at {{retail value of the product, coupon code or app}}

Content Usage

If your content is featured on the social media platforms of {{brand_name}}, you will be credited for your work. For any other content usage arrangements, please inquire directly with us, {{brand_name}}.

Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon!

{{brand_name}}

 

Keep track of how many emails and messages you send to influencers. A follow-up email is usually good to send if an influencer has not replied to you after 48-72 hours after your initial outreach.

Influencer outreach can be in a variety of ways from manually sending emails, to more automated approached. With MuseFind, we’ve built a scalable process where you can outreach to influencers via a process that’ll auto-fill those variables in the outreach email and sort the influencers so you know how many have replied and are moving into the next phases of the campaign.

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3a. Managing (Negotiation)

Purpose – Negotiating with an influencer doesn’t have to be frustrating or hard. It’s about achieving a win-win. The key is to focus on efficiency, setting deadlines and casting a wide net.

There are apps that ‘calculate’ influencer fees, I am not going to vouch for any because these platforms do not take into consideration other factors like: the retail value of your product, the brand value of your store, seasonality, verticals, and overall supply and demand of certain types of influencers.

Your goal when negotiating with influencers is to be clear, objective and as efficient as possible. That is why casting a wide net when pitching influencers leaves you in a position of power to negotiate freely vs a small, niche net.

Have a product that has a retail value of $50+? Work with micro-influencers for product only or pitch a product only collaboration with med (medium)-sized influencers but expect to enter into an agreement of both product and a sponsorship fee.

Want to pitch an affiliate sales program? Tough, unless you have a long established track record of other influencers vouching your service and product, influencers are less inclined to work for just sales generated from a campaign. You can try an affiliate campaign after you’ve worked with the same influencer more than once or twice.

Starting a campaign during a busy holiday season? Expect a higher chance of “not available” or more influencers asking for monetary compensation.

Have a legacy brand or a brand with a ton of previous influencer advocacy? That’s power. Share the long term vision of your brand. Influencers and brands can work together as partners to bring each other into notoriety.

When do you say enough’s enough? On average, each brand and influencer on the MuseFind platform exchange 1-3 emails before reaching an agreement or simply walking away for another opportunity. If your initial outreach email is clear (see point 2), you will be able to reach a win-win agreement.

 

3b. Managing (Product Selection, Shipping)

Purpose – This stage is only applicable if you are directly shipping a product to influencers. Skip this stage if you are a mobile app, a service or just providing a coupon code.

Tracking codes make a difference. Knowing when and where your product is helps to dissipate any uncertainties when influencers are collaborating with your brand.

 

3c. Managing (Content Creation)

Purpose – Ensure that the content being created by the influencer reflects the initial campaign ask in your first influencer outreach email. To maintain a healthy relationship between you and the influencers you’re working with, setting out expectations and guidelines will lead to a successful influencer marketing campaign.

Influencers are the experts at telling the right kind of story to their audience. Trust their creative instincts and designs. When it comes to seeing the content and copy before going live, you can ask them to email drafts to you, or check out our content approval portal that we created at MuseFind for this exact step:

Know your content rights and repurposing etiquette. For example, here’s Instagram’s terms and policies. Mention that you’re #regramming an image or post from an influencer and tagging them on a photo or video is considerate.

Do you like the photos so much and want high-res versions? Make sure you include a terms and conditions on the contract that you and the influencer both agree to.

4. Analytics: Influencer ROI, What to Look For

Influencer marketing ROI and analytics may seem misty and vague, this is only if you don’t know what to look for.

Influencer marketing and analytics can be peeled in layers, like an onion. As a note, it is never a good investment to solely invest into influencer marketing as the only digital marketing channel. It should complement other digital marketing funnels, for example, the content created by influencers can be used in marketing newsletters.

First layer: How many total followers did all the influencers have?

Second layer: What is the total engagement % (add number of Likes + comments and divide by the number from the First Layer)?

Third layer: Which influencers had the highest engagement? Rank them by top 5 or 10.

Fourth layer: What is the sentiment of the comments? Is it positive, negative or neutral?

Fifth layer: Which influencers brought the most traffic from Instagram/YouTube (whichever social channel you ran your campaign with your influencers on?)

Sixth layer: Were any coupon codes used? Did any customers attempt to enter in a coupon code that you gave to an influencer? Create custom coupon codes for each influencer.

Remember, circle the influencers who are highest performing in sales + engagement (don’t discount them if they don’t produce sales on the first collaboration! If they show high engagement rates, that is promising).

Repeat and work with this group on the next campaign.

Lastly…

5. Be Proactive

Use and reuse the influencer’s content for your own social media platform. Show that influencers have trusted your brand enough to put their face, name and their social media real estate on the line to work with you! Feature them as your ambassadors, give them VIP access to collections, first-looks, events and more.

In Conclusion

Influencer marketing remains a highly effective, virtual ‘scaling word of mouth’ marketing channel. There are definitely skeptics around it, but the more that we can demystify the process and create transparency, the more you understand how to determine which influencers are the most effective and how to work with them in a scalable, smart way.

The end goal for your store is to create an army of brand ambassadors. An example is Daniel Wellington, an independent watch brand has over 100,000 active influencers vouching the DW name.

The fruits of influencer marketing also yield many dimensions: content for newsletters, A/B testing with new demographics, creating beautiful images for paid ads (think Facebook ads, Google ads etc).