Table of contents
  1. 1. What is an influencer marketing strategy?
  2. 2. Steps of a general influencer marketing strategy
  3. 3. Types of influencer marketing strategy

As with other marketing approaches, influencer marketing requires a level of understanding and careful preparation before implementation. With the growing importance of social media, B2B companies cannot ignore influencer marketing and must begin to develop strategies. Depending on your business goals, you may choose to approach influencer marketing either tactically or strategically. If influencer marketing plays a vital role in your marketing mix, having a well-planned strategy from the beginning will allow you to maximize your campaign’s performance and results. 

 

What is an influencer marketing strategy?

At InfluencerDB, we define an influencer marketing strategy as a plan of action designed to achieve marketing goals by collaborating with social influencers. Since influencer marketing can take considerable time and effort, this strategy is usually used to achieve long-term goals. This strategic approach is a part of a holistic marketing strategy integrated with other online marketing practices such as digital PR, social media, SEO or marketing automation. 

As explained in the definition of influencer marketing, this marketing approach should be placed at the top of the inbound marketing funnel to fulfill the needs of brand awareness and interest. Accordingly, the strategy for influencer marketing is also part of a strategy for enhancing brand awareness and triggering customer interest. Additionally, by distributing brand content via social influencers, marketers will have created another way to approach audiences. Influencer marketing strategy, therefore, should be focused on implementing the whole influencer marketing process in the most efficient and effective way possible.  

 

Steps of a general influencer marketing strategy

No matter which approaches to IM strategy you are taking, it’s still a marketing strategy. The marketing components need to be included, marketing objectives must be achieved and general marketing procedure should be adopted. Based on our experience working with leading brands on social media and best-in-class social influencers, InfluencerDB created this framework of an influencer marketing strategy, which is widely recognized and implemented by our partners: 

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Influencer Marketing Strategy Framework © InfluencerDB

1. Objective setting

Every strategy needs a clear set of objectives and influencer marketing strategy is no exception. The initial stage of this strategy is to set objectives for the whole marketing campaign, which will provide guidance for the implementation and assessment process. When determining their objectives, marketers need to accomplish two tasks: checking the feasibility of influencer marketing in their company and selecting proper objectives for their brand. 

Marketers must define both marketing objectives and business objectives. Influencer marketing objectives are related to the goals of creating and distributing content via influencers, such as enhancing brand awareness, increasing interaction on social media channels (likes, comments, follows etc.), and creating relevant and useful content for the audience. Business objectives include lead and sale generation, which represents the effectiveness of this marketing strategy in correlation with business performance. Business objectives are generally bottom-line measurements used to assess the decision to invest in influencer marketing and see if influencer marketing really benefits the company. 

2. Value proposition development

The value proposition, in general, is “a business or marketing statement that a company uses to summarize why a consumer should buy a product or use a service.” (Investopedia). In influencer marketing, marketers most likely use value proposition to communicate and convince influencers, ensuring that influencer marketing can bring value to all parties involved (brands, influencers, and their followers). It is developed based on a strong foundation of competencies, values, and benefits. The internal analysis offers tools to identify core competencies, and the external analysis helps marketers identify customers, differentiate them and figure out what they value most from the company. By matching competency with value, content marketers can develop a value proposition to apply influencer marketing. 

Internal analysis is a generic concept which can be implemented in many ways. Within the scope of influencer marketing, marketers need to identify the core competencies that a company can offer the target customer with their product/ offer. In order to identify their core competencies, the company can start by looking at its peak performance in the market-- for instance, most profitable products, most appreciated services or most well-known characteristics. A portfolio analysis can be useful at this stage. Depending on factors such as budget, size of the company and implementation scale, the company can evaluate and choose suitable data collection methods such as internal surveys, key officer interviews or implementing data mining programs. Another option would be using SWOT analysis, a simple-but-useful technique to understand your internal advantages and disadvantages. 

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A simplified SWOT Analysis model © WordStream

In general influencer marketing strategy, the external analysis has the two main purposes: to identify target customers and main competitors. PESTLE analysis is a powerful analysis model for companies to identify the current external opportunities and threats in their market, including potential customers, main competitors, and market trends. Additionally, marketers can determine whether their competitors are doing influencer marketing or not by using a mention tracking platform for their engaged/ potential influencers. Most influencers will mention their collaborating brand in their promoted content. 

Companies can either choose to team up with a market research agency or conduct the external analysis itself. Again, this is a strategic decision and marketers need to consider the current resources of the company. Furthermore, the external environment, especially customer behavior, usually changes faster than the internal environment. Compared to internal analysis, external analysis requires much more effort and investment from the company. Therefore, companies need to think very carefully before making any investment in external analysis activities to maximize their returns. 

3. Campaign planning

After setting appropriate objectives and determining the value proposition, the next step is to plan content creation and conduct influencer research. 

While planning the content, it’s important to identify a brand message that suits not only the target audience but also the influencers. Additionally, the content creation process needs to be constantly reviewed and adapted due to changing customer behavior and upcoming trends. Marketers can make this easier by creating content in collaboration with their influencers. Influencers have a keen sense of what their audiences want, so when they have a hand in content creation, it feels more authentic and engaging to their followers. Collaboration also helps build the relationship between the influencer and the brand and generally makes for more creative content.   

At this stage, marketers should also start searching for influencers. Influencer identification and analysis fits in this stage because influencers play an important role in content planning. Identifying influencers early helps ensure sure the chosen influencers fit with the current situation of the company and can fulfill the overall marketing objectives. 

In this step, an influencer marketing platform can support marketers and brand managers in most of the tasks. 

search for influencer gif

4. Campaign execution

Marketers claim that influencer marketing is a part of content marketing because the main tasks of both approaches are identical: creating and distributing content. The difference is that in content marketing, marketers can select various channels to distribute their content, while in influencer marketing, the only channel is via influencers. 

The editorial calendar is a powerful tool for every marketer during the content creating phase. This calendar represents the whole content creation process or influencer marketing campaign, including start date, end date, tasks, phases, budget, and requirements. Marketers use this template to keep track of their project and make modifications whenever necessary. Since content on social media usually has a very short lifespan, marketers also need to check and refine the schedule frequently to adapt to new trends and avoid posting outdated content.

Marketers also need to manage their influencers throughout the content distribution process. Influencer campaign management (ICM) ensures the efficiency and thoroughness of all operational activities within the campaign. InfluencerDB explains the concept, framework, current challenges and case studies of ICM in this wiki article

5. Result measurement

Like other marketing approaches, influencer marketing requires measurements that reflect the effectiveness of the strategy, and, more importantly, serve as proof of success to convince investors. This is one of the biggest challenges in influencer marketing because the development and implementation of influencer marketing strategy are still in the trial-and-error stage, especially for B2B companies. Therefore, marketers always have to modify their set of metrics to both capture marketing performance and identify chances for innovation.

When setting up KPIs for influencer marketing campaigns, marketers tend to use the pyramid model approach, identifying the overall objectives first and then dividing those targets into smaller KPIs. However, because influencer marketing is still fairly new, B2B brands are often hesitant to invest before they see results. That makes the traditional approach infeasible, so influencer marketing managers tend to use a bottom-up approach to set KPIs, starting from the specific tasks of each individual stage. Then, they combine these KPIs into organizational targets and then into overall business objectives.  The following graph illustrates the KPI pyramid model as well as both of the approaches:

Pyramid-approaches-KPI-Setting-InfluencerDB

KPI pyramid and approaches © InfluencerDB

Measuring the success of an influencer marketing campaign in reaching marketing objectives is fairly straightforward. Social media metrics such as likes, shares, and comments are available on most major social media platforms. It is considerably more difficult to determine whether a campaign has met its business objectives because brand awareness and buying intentions are harder to measure. The InfluencerDB platform was created for just this reason-- it uses data science to help marketers with these tough problems.

 

Types of influencer marketing strategy

With a strategic approach to influencers, companies use a combination of short-term, tactical measures, and long-term measures focused on relationships. A proper selection among influencer advertising, influencer relations or mixed strategy can help brands accomplish immediately as well as long-range objectives.

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Types of influencer marketing strategy © InfluencerDB

1. Influencer advertising

Influencer advertising includes short-term measures like single campaigns, which generate effective reach, brand attention, and sales. Influencers are mainly used as media platforms in this approach, to help raise awareness of a brand at an early stage.

Marketers aim to automate these processes to a large extent while minimizing stray losses and preventing ad fraud as far as possible. Although this is an influencer advertising campaign in the traditional sense, a cooperation like this can be the cornerstone for a longer term relationship.

2. Influencer relations

Influencer relations falls at the opposite end of the spectrum and is a long-term approach to utilizing influencers. In this approach, influencers are treated as partners, clients, and fans of a brand rather than simply as media platforms. To build strong relationships with influencers, marketers need to approach them on a human level instead of thinking of them as billboards.

KPIs play a subordinate role in influencer relations, although metrics like reach still come into play. The focus, however, is put on soft factors like quality, image, authenticity, credibility, and engagement. In contrast to influencer advertising, influencer relations are based on a qualitative approach. In some cases, however, the relationship between an influencer and a brand starts off as based on influencer advertising and develops from there over time.

3. Mixed strategy

This influencer marketing strategy combines aspects of both influencer advertising and influencer relations, resulting in a more holistic approach. An essential factor of this mixed strategy is the embedding of the influencer content into other parts of the company’s marketing, like digital content marketing campaigns. The tasks of a marketer integrating influencer marketing into the overall marketing mix of a company are many, including:

  • Coordinating influencer advertising
  • Optimizing influencer identification
  • Negotiating contracts
  • Choosing an influencer marketing agency

After fulfilling their short-term needs, brands have an opportunity to focus on establishing long-term connections, enabled by friendly communication with influencers, which will result in honest, valuable, and productive relationships.