You know the Instagram influencers or bloggers who always seem to be trying out new products or services? That’s influencer marketing and the category has exploded over the last few years! 💥 Traditional PR, advertising and celebrity endorsements used to be the key ways to get the message out about your business, but as social media and blogging has continued to grow, brands have paid attention to how they can capitalize on that change. For good reason too! In an Internet-driven world, it has become easier than ever to research new products and weigh your options for which brand or products to try. So what better way to get in front of your potential customers than targeting the bloggers and people who follow them on social media? Even better when those influencers try your product, love it and will share their experiences with all of their followers. We call that social media and PR gold in our industry!
So now that you see why it's valuable, what is the key to getting these influencers to check out your business? Well, there's a few things and lucky for you I've seen the industry from both sides. Some of you may already know, but in addition to helping biz owners at Bold & Pop, I've also had my own lifestyle blog for most of the last decade. During which time, I've had the opportunity to partner up with some really amazing brands and you could say I've seen my fair share of campaign pitches. So what is the key to creating a successful influencer marketing campaign? Today I'm breaking down what I've learned from both ends of the fence -- leading campaigns and being apart of them.
Do Your Research and Plan Ahead
Whether you're executing the strategy yourself or you've partnered up with an agency like Bold & Pop, every successful campaign starts with some serious research. That starts with nailing down what you are trying to do with your campaign and who you are trying to reach. On the what end, you're usually looking to:
Increase awareness of your product or service
Collect user-generated content to use in marketing efforts
Increase your social media audiences
Drive sales from reviews of product
Every campaign usually has a mix of the above goals, but GREAT campaigns focus on the research first and foremost. This involves taking the time to research those you want to reach out to. If you're working with an agency, they will likely already have a list of contacts they've worked together prior (one of the key perks to working with an agency), if you're on your own there will just be a little more legwork involved though. Start a list of the different influencers you want to reach out to. You can find them based on people you already follow, through targeted hashtags, or if you really want to put in some time, past campaigns they've worked on. While you're doing this research, be sure to take personalized notes about each account and why you think they would enjoy your product too. This will save you time in the next step.
Once you have a base list for those you want to reach out to, you can begin to work on your pitch. Here's where those personalized notes come into play. While some components of your pitch may remain the same like your product overview, other sections should be completely customized. This is the number one thing that will set your pitch apart from the masses and let me tell you from personal experience, it's really easy to spot those who have looked at my accounts and blog before vs those sending mass pitches. Sending mass pitches out to every lifestyle blogger who you can track down their email address to is not a strategy... Do you need to read every blog post or look through every Instagram photo they've posted? Of course not, but take the time to actually do your research and see if it could be a good fit and then make sure your pitch reflects that. It may take more time upfront, but quality is definitely more important that quantity when it comes to successful influencer marketing campaigns. Especially because there's no point in pitching people that would neverrrr be interested in your product or service... it's a waste of everyone's time. So get strategic and do your research.
Keep Things Simple
Onto the next key factor... keeping it simple! This goes for your pitch as well as your campaign as a whole. Your pitch should be no longer than a few short paragraphs. Anything longer than that you will lose your audience. Plus, if you have to write 10 paragraphs to explain your product and campaign then you need to go back to the drawing board and simply it some more.. and then some more. Your pitch should include these things:
Brief intro on who you are and why you're reaching out
Intro on product/service and campaign overview
Reasons why you think the campaign could be a good fit
Call to action for next steps
The simpler the better! I want to put an emphasis on that last component about ending with a call-to-action too. This simple step can save you at least 1 set of back and forth from interested influencers telling you they're interested and asking for the next steps. Instead, wrap your pitch up with, "If you are interested, I will need x,y, and z and I can send a sample your direction/set up a time for you to try the service." BOOM! Easy peasy for both ends.
Beyond your pitch, make sure your campaign is also simple. As a blogger and influencer, I will say the biggest turn-off for me for campaigns is when they're overly complicated. Guidelines for campaigns can be great, but sometimes when you narrow things down too much you end up just boxing your influencers in. Plus, if you make it super specific, you take out the flexibility for them to be creative and customize their messages to connect with their audiences -- which they do know best afterall. Yes, it really can be as simple as telling your influencers a little about the product, sending it out, and letting them post their honest experience. You don't have to create a whole packet of deadlines for mentions and how they have to post on their Facebook page 3 times within 2 weeks, change their Instagram link for a full week, and run an Instagram contest. Simpler is ALWAYS better in my opinion. This advice doubles down if you are not offering a collaboration fee. You may think you have a really awesome product worthy of doing a review on (and you totally might) but the reality is creating content takes time so the more steps you include generally the less likely people will be to agree to your terms.
Then last, but definitely not least is be sure to follow-up! This is one is a biggy but also comes with a little asterisk. Following up with your influencers is so key 1.) because you want to make sure they received the sample -- we've all fallen victim to packages delivered to the wrong location or ones that said they arrived but get stuck in the mailroom. 2.) you want to make sure you're available to answer any questions should they have any and 3.) it's a nice reminder to your influencer that you're looking forward to seeing what they think. Now the asterisk here is you don't need to follow-up the second the package is delivered... you don't want to be the annoying PR rep that comes across as pushy (they are helping you out afterall) but you do want to stay on top of the mentions actually being posted. I like to give them a few days with the product first and then check-in. The only time I think it's ok to fudge that advice a little is when there is both monetary compensation being given for the campaign or you have a written agreement. Larger collabs are a different ballgame. If you're doing something on the smaller scale though, try to keep that balance of being helpful but not chasing them down.
To be honest, I'm surprised by how many reps don't check in with me about mentions and blog posts. Personally, I like it when brands follow-up with me because it shows that they're invested in making sure I have everything I need and is also a nice reminder to schedule it into my content calendar if I haven't already. A lot of these influencers are working with multiple brands at one time so having a little nudge is a great way to make sure your mention gets bumped up. On the other end of things, as a campaign manager, I'm invested in actually building relationships with the bloggers and influencers we work with. I did spend all that time hand-picking the people I wanted to reach out to on behalf of my clients didn't I?! I always look at influencer marketing on a long-term scale -- even if we're only working on a 3-month campaign. Just like anything in your life, when you connect with awesome people, you generally want to keep going back to them! This is beneficial not only to my current clients but also future clients -- so it's worth taking the extra time. It's that relationship aspect that really sets your agency apart and will help leave a positive impression to the influencer for your brand.
So there you have it! Enact these 3 pieces of advice and I can promise you that you'll have a very successful campaign! If you have more questions about influencer marketing, feel free to leave a comment below or shoot us a message!