Influencer marketing budgets are growing quickly in 2022 and $15 billion is expected to be spent, but many programs are still being launched without being well thought out. To avoid wasting your influencer marketing budgets, I offer these 10 questions to discuss with your influencer marketing manager before you run any campaigns.
1. How are we going to be sure the influencers we select are going to be high quality?
I just had a conversation today with a well-known brand where the influencer agency selected dozens of influencers with fake followers and fake engagement, but it wasn't discovered until the program was well underway. By the time it was fixed, the brand's peak season had mostly passed, so many sales were lost. Fake followers are just one of the criteria to consider and it's going to be very difficult without some sort of tool to help. Here is a full checklist for vetting influencers for your brand.
2. How will we ensure that the content the influencers create is aligned with our key messages and helps build our brands?
Managing a number of influencers is tricky business so the key is a really good briefing that becomes part of the contract. At Carusele, we call it the Welcome Packet and it's part creative brief and part "Dos and Don'ts" for the influencers to follow. Our general guideline is that if the influencer creates content within the guardrails provided, we'll have only minor edits, if any. If they produce content outside of the guidelines, however, it's then fair to ask for new creative that better aligns.
3. Do you know the average amount of compensation an influencer will expect to participate in one of our programs?
One of the challenges right now in influencer marketing is that rates are all over the board, with some influencers charging much too little and some charging much more than they are worth. And brands often have little to compare rate requests to, meaning they end up overpaying. Experience is the best teacher, but if you're not running dozens and dozens of programs each year, we've got a formula for calculating influencer rates for you to review.
4. What platforms should we focus on for our program and what are the pros and cons of EACH?
TikTok is a hot platform, and our sister social media marketing agency has good learnings on it. But Snap is making a comeback. And Pinterest is great for long-term traffic in certain categories. What about blogs? Instagram? YouTube? Twitter? It can all get very confusing very quickly. Start by focusing on the people you're trying to reach and get data on which social networks they are using today. Then factor in what kind of content performs well on each channel. For example, organic TikToks don't allow link clicks (and link in bio does virtually nothing). Instagram only allows links in organic stories but allows them in paid news feed posts. There's a lot to consider here.
5. How will we know which pieces of content are performing best for us?
I've heard of many brands and agencies boosting influencer content equally, where each post or each influencer gets a set amount of "boosting" budget. This is hugely inefficient. We've had an algorithm that ranks performance of each individual piece of influencer content for years now, and performance varies dramatically between pieces of content. Too often brands "pick their favorites" based on what speaks to them, but a good strategy will analyze in real time the content to know two things:
- What pieces should get syndication/media budget?
- What pieces should the brand use in other marketing channels?
Without that data, it's one person's opinion versus another's.
6. How will we know the influencer content reaches the target audience we most care about?
Making sure that influencer content reaches key prospects for your brand starts with influencer selection. For each influencer we review, we can see the demographic makeup of their followers (such as age breakdown, genders, locations, etc.) as well as their key interests. That data, plus a review of relevant content they've produced and how it's performed is a good start. The next step is to ensure you have a detailed syndication strategy so that all of the syndication reaches the right audience and can be optimized throughout the campaign.
7. How will we know which influencers to engage for long-term relationships?
As individual pieces of content perform differently, so do individual influencers. Another algorithm we have ranks the performance of influencers in each flight of a program. While it ladders up the content performance, it also factors in efficiency. In other words, the more an influencer costs, the more they have to produce (based on whatever our key metric is for that program) to stay high up in the ranking. At the end of each flight, this performance allows us to easily see who to engage on an ongoing basis and who to thank and move away from. Consider a similar system.
8. How will we ensure that our influencers comply with FTC regulations?
In October of 2021, the FTC sent warning letters to 700 brands, basically telling the industry that 2022 would be a year of fines and crackdowns. Don't be one of the brands called out. The FTC regulations aren't particularly complicated or onerous, as explained in this free FTC compliance cheat sheet. You just need to build into your process a way to inform your influencers of what they need to do, a way to check that they've done it and a way to follow-up if they do not.
9. What rights to the content are we securing?
Do you want to share the influencer content on your brand social channels? Use it in ads? Put it in a Time Square billboard (as one of our clients did) or as your website homepage image (as another did). For how long would you like these rights? Whatever the answers, make sure that your influencer contract contains the terms clearly spelled out to avoid confusion, or legal battles, later.
10. What's our syndication strategy?
Running influencer programs without a syndication strategy almost never makes sense. By the time you pay an influencer for their name/image/likeness and for the content creation exercise, and then factor in the relatively low percentage of their own followers they can reach, influencers are often compensated between roughly a $15 CPM and a $50 CPM. Syndication can be done for roughly a $2 to $5 CPM (depending on a variety of factors, of course). This is why syndication of (only the best) content makes sense economically. After all, if people can't see the content, they can't be influenced by it. There are several ways to syndicate influencer content, as we've outlined, so pick the best one for you.
At the end of these 10 questions, you'll likely feel very confident in your program (go get em!) or you'll feel like maybe you should get some help. If you're in the latter group, hit the "Contact Us" button at the top of the page and let's have a conversation.