What Is Influencer Marketing: A Strategy Guide for 2024

Summary

Influencer marketing has evolved significantly over the past decade. It has expanded beyond celebrities to include social media influencers who foster authentic connections and influence purchase decisions and brand reputation.
Understanding the types of influencers, from mega to nano, is crucial for brands to choose the right partners. The types of influencers you choose to partner with will determine the reach, engagement and ROI you get.
Common influencer marketing mistakes to avoid include failing to define clear goals and expectations, prioritizing follower-count over engagement, neglecting influencer research and sharing unclear briefs.

Influencers are here to stay. According to a Q3 2023 Sprout Pulse Survey, more than 80% of marketers agree that influencers are essential to their overall social media strategy.
But the world of influencer marketing is constantly evolving.
A decade ago, the influencer marketing arena was limited only to celebrities and a few dedicated bloggers, whereas now, social media influencers are abound across all social networks. Their followings may vary in size, but these influencers pack a punch. Their tight-knit communities foster authentic connections and influence purchase behaviors, leading to higher brand engagement and ultimately, sales.
However, working with digital creators and influencers needs a well-planned and strategic approach. And this guide aims to help you navigate it. Read on for tips on how to build an effective influencer marketing strategy, what mistakes to avoid and how to find the right influencers for your brand.

Measure your campaigns against other industry players, set meaningful ROI expectations and craft influencer content audiences want.
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What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is a social media marketing approach that uses endorsements and product mentions from influencers. These individuals have a dedicated social following and are viewed as experts within their niche.
Influencer marketing works because of the high trust social influencers have built with their following over time. Recommendations from these influencers serve as a form of social proof to your brand’s potential customers.
Types of influencers: By size and reach
Partnering with an influencer with millions of followers might sound like a dream come true but they may not be the best fit for your brand.
Some social media influencers have large, broad audiences spanning across several demographics. Others boast smaller but more targeted and engaged communities.
Knowing what each type of influencer can offer you in terms of reach, range, cost and engagement is key to choosing the right ones for your brand.
Let’s take a deeper look at the various types of influencers out there:

Mega or celebrity influencers
These influencers have a massive following of over 1 million and often include famous actors, musicians, athletes and other public figures. Their celebrity status allows them to captivate a diverse audience, making them ideal for large-scale brand awareness campaigns. Think: Cristiano Ronaldo.
Mega influencers can give your brand unparalleled exposure, but partnering with them can be incredibly expensive. Plus, since their audience is often broad, their engagement rates may not be as high as influencers with smaller, more niche followings.
Here are some businesses that might benefit from working with mega influencers:

Large enterprise corporations that have the budget and resources
Brands targeting a broad audience with varying characteristics
Luxury or high-end brands that want to create a sense of exclusivity

Macro-influencers
With a following that typically ranges from 100,000 to 1 million, macro-influencers are established personalities within their respective niches.
These influencers have earned their reputation through consistent content creation and engagement over time, and are now thought leaders in their niche.
Macro-influencers offer a more targeted approach compared to celebrities, as their followers usually share common interests. Collaborating with macro-influencers can provide your brand with substantial reach, but it may still be relatively costly depending on your budget.
Here are some examples of brands that might work with macro-influencers:

Startups seeking rapid exposure, growth and credibility (e.g., Canva)
Nonprofit organizations looking to raise funds and awareness
Hotels and airlines targeting a specific but large audience

Micro-influencers
With 10,000 to 100,000 highly engaged followers, micro-influencers are the rising stars of influencer marketing. These influencers typically have a strong presence on specific platforms, like Instagram, YouTube and TikTok.
Marketers love working with micro-influencers as they captivate a niche, passionate audience with their creative content, relatable recommendations and genuine interactions. They’re also more affordable than larger influencers.
Nano-influencers
Nano-influencers have between 1,000 to 10,000 followers. These influencers often have a strong connection with their audience, thanks to the close-knit community they’ve built and their personable content.
While they offer a smaller reach, nano-influencers can be excellent partners for businesses who want to target specific communities and demographics without breaking the bank. In fact, per the latest Influencer Marketing Hub data, 44% of brands prefer to partner with nano influencers in 2024, compared to 39% in 2023.
 

There are many reasons for this, namely, since nano-influencers work on a small scale, they dedicate more time and effort to individual partnerships. This means more tailored content for your brand and personal relationships within niche communities. They are perfect for businesses such as:

Local businesses targeting specific communities, cities or regions
Small businesses with limited budgets that want to run cost-effective campaigns
Artisan, home-based or speciality food businesses reaching a niche audience interested in their one-of-a-kind products

Why use influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing can be an incredibly powerful marketing tool for you, and brands are already using it to their advantage, as these influencer marketing examples show.
According to The 2024 Influencer Marketing Report, almost half of all consumers (49%) make purchases at least once a month because of influencer posts; and almost all consumers (86%) make a purchase inspired by an influencer at least once a year. Not surprisingly, the influencer marketing industry is expected to grow to $24 billion in 2024 as indicated by the Influencer Marketing Hub’s latest research.
Here are more reasons why you should add influencers to your marketing mix.
Increased brand awareness
Collaborating with an influencer draws a wider audience to your brand. By featuring your brand in their content, influencers introduce it to new audiences who may not have been familiar with it. Also, the trust influencers hold with their followers enhances your brand’s reputation and credibility and boosts market awareness.
Precise audience targeting
Influencer marketing helps brands with precise audience targeting by connecting brands to influencers whose followers align with the brand’s target demographic. This ensures their message reaches the right audience and is delivered from a perspective that resonates with the audience, making the campaign more effective.
Higher conversions
Social proof is a powerful factor in the likelihood of making a purchase after seeing an influencer campaign, because it helps sway undecided consumers in your favor. Similarly, influencers often share interactive content such as giveaways, challenges and live sessions that drive engagement and prompt actions like making purchases or signing up for deals. They also share exclusive discount codes or special offers making it easy to track conversions directly linked to their promotion.
Building trust and authenticity with your audience
Influencers build trust with their followers by sharing personal experiences and opinions that resonate with their audience, making them more relatable. They further increase their credibility by being open about brand partnerships and only promoting products they genuinely support.
Plus, their seemingly unscripted content contrasts with traditional advertisements, making it sound authentic and spontaneous, which fosters personal connection with followers. This trust is further reinforced by how they respond to comments, making their audiences feel valued and heard, thus strengthening the bond. All this combined, helps influencers drive higher conversion rates for brands.
How to create an influencer marketing strategy in 5 steps
While Instagram influencer marketing is a well-known strategy, other platforms like TikTok, YouTube and Snapchat resonate increasingly well with different demographics.
Like any marketing tactic, an influencer program takes thoughtful planning. Here are key factors to consider while developing your influencer marketing strategy.
1. Find influencers and understand their payment structure
Finding the right influencer for your brand is the first step to building a successful influencer marketing strategy. You must invest time in market research to understand your audience’s preferences and choose the right platform to engage them with an influencer collaboration.
This is especially important because each network caters to a specific audience. For example, beauty and fashion brands shine on Instagram and YouTube, while the video game industry dominates Twitch.
Here are some factors to consider when searching for influencers:

Does the influencer already post about similar topics related to your service?
Are they legit? Scroll through their feed and click through on posts. A poor engagement ratio to follower count and spam-like comments are signs of a fake account or fake followers.
Have they worked with similar brands before? Depending on what type of influencer you’re looking for, a seasoned one will be able to show you a press kit that contains a portfolio of their work.

Social listening can assist you in identifying where people are discussing your industry and brand, and to find influential voices within your industry on each platform.

Similarly, focus on the type of influencers you want, and plan for their pricing. Whether it’s celebrities with massive followings or micro-influencers with less than 2,000 followers, do your due diligence because that will determine your budget.
Compensation varies based on platform, influencer types and types of influencer collaborations, so think about the expected ROI of your social influencer marketing campaign. How will you measure the impact of influencer posts on your overall marketing goals? For instance, compare how you would budget for a video production firm creating an ad versus an influencer creating a video. Resources like this Instagram influencer rate map can help you estimate influencer costs based on audience size and industry.
2. Set a budget and management strategy
The next step is to create an influencer marketing budget.
Use an influencer marketing budgeting template to manage your expenses and strategically allocate resources to high-value partnerships. Be sure to account for the time needed to plan, execute and review your influencer program because, unlike automated ad strategies, influencers often juggle multiple partnerships, requiring a more hands-on approach from you.
If your budget allows, consider establishing an ambassador program to diversify and enrich your content. Similar to Fujifilm, which uses ambassadors for new product launches and to highlight new product features.
Whether you engage an influencer marketing agency or not, investing in an all-in-one influencer marketing software is a good idea, helping you sift through suitable influencers, manage pricing negotiations and review and approve content.
3. Decide on campaign goals and messaging
To ensure your influencer strategy succeeds, focus on your campaign’s goals and needs. Determine whether you want to reach a new demographic, introduce a new product or highlight your brand values through influencers. Also, explore influencer trends to see what’s resonating in your industry.
Your message is as crucial as your goal. And since influencers target specific audiences, refining your campaign messaging is important for effective content.
Influencer content is typically more conversational and personal, which helps differentiate it from brand-driven or sales-oriented posts. But while it’s important to preserve an influencer’s creativity and uniqueness, ensure their content aligns with your brand values.
4. Establish influencer outreach: How to contact influencers
Your outreach will depend on the type of influencer you’ve chosen. For example, celebrities and macro influencers often work through agencies, so you might have to connect with an agency to reach them. Some may also list their contact information for business inquiries in their bio and have a website that denotes brand partnerships.

For example, Summer Rayne Oakes has a multi-channel presence, which is a perk for her brand partners.
For micro-influencers, you could reach out directly in a private message via their social platform.
5. Review and refine your strategy
It’s important to refine and review your strategy so you’ll be more successful with each campaign going forward. Having predetermined milestones where you’ll measure progress can prove very helpful in this.
While these tips serve as a guide to help you craft a well-planned strategy, it’s crucial to be aware of common mistakes to avoid in influencer marketing. We’ll dive into those, next.
Influencer marketing mistakes to avoid
Influencer marketing can be highly rewarding — if done right. Sidestep these potential pitfalls to ensure smooth influencer collaborations and successful campaign outcomes.
Failing to define clear goals and KPIs
First things first, know why you’re doing this in the first place. Partnering with an influencer is a big deal — you need to be clear about the purpose and goals of your campaign.
Here are a few ways setting goals in advance can help you:

Choose the right influencers: Defining goals helps you identify the specific characteristics and qualities you need in an influencer to achieve those outcomes. For example, if your goal is to increase brand awareness, you can find influencers who have a strong presence and reach within your niche.
Define and measure success: What does success mean to you? Is it the number of impressions, post engagement or the amount of traffic coming to your website? Define which KPIs and metrics to track both during and after the campaign to assess how well your influencer campaign is performing.
Keep everyone on track: Setting clear goals ensures that both the brand and the influencer are working towards a common purpose. This facilitates effective communication and constructive feedback, saving everyone’s valuable time.
Hold influencers accountable: Establishing clear expectations and performance benchmarks makes influencers feel responsible. They know the results they need to provide and will focus on creating content that aligns with those goals.

Prioritizing follower count over engagement
A large following doesn’t always mean high engagement. It’s entirely possible an influencer has millions of passive followers but very low engagement.
Instead, partner with influencers with an engaged and loyal audience. A handful of people who trust the influencer are more valuable to your brand than thousands of indifferent followers unlikely to convert.
Look at the influencer’s engagement metrics, comments and interactions, as well as past results for other brands to gauge their level of influence and likeability.
Neglecting to research the influencer
Choosing the wrong influencers, including fake influencers, can cost your business valuable time and money. But this hasn’t deterred marketers, with 60% of marketers intending to increase their influencer marketing budget over 2024, the Influencer Marketing Hub states.
An easy fix is to properly research the influencer of your choice, before signing a partnership. Vet influencers and evaluate their influencer media kit to ensure they share your vision and complement your brand’s personality.
Here are some key areas to look into when researching influencers for your brand:

Audience demographics: Study the influencer’s followers to ensure your campaign reaches the right audience. Analyze factors like age, gender, location and interests (e.g., Millennials who identify as women) to determine if they are likely to become your customers.
Interactions, voice and content: Look at the influencer’s engagement rate, the tone of voice they use and the type of content they create. For example, if your brand has a playful, casual image, partnering with an influencer known for their formal, business-oriented content might not be the best fit.
Authenticity and influence: Forced partnerships can appear insincere and hurt both your campaign and brand image. Collaborate with influencers who genuinely love your brand and products. Their followers trust them for a reason and you don’t want your brand to get in the way of their (and your) credibility.
Experience with branded content: Has the influencer worked with other brands in the past? Have they ever worked with your competitors? Carefully scrutinize their content to spot any red flags and gauge the value they can provide.

Writing poorly constructed briefs
Crafting well-structured briefs is key to maximizing your influencer marketing campaigns. A good social media campaign brief equips influencers with the details and resources they need to represent your brand effectively, without being overly restrictive.
Here’s a quick rundown on what to include in your brief:

What is the main goal of your campaign? What are you hoping to achieve?
What is your company’s background? What is your brand and what product/s are you selling?
What are your product’s key benefits, features and differentiators?
Who is your target audience? Include an audience persona if you have one.
What does your budget look like for this campaign?
Do you have a timeline in mind?
Do you want the influencer to use your brand assets? Provide them with your logo, colors and fonts if necessary.

Don’t forget to inform influencers of any words or ideas to avoid in their content. For example, if you’re an eco-friendly brand, let the influencer know that sustainability is a core value and they should avoid using plastic and other such products in their content.
Restricting the influencer’s creative freedom
While comprehensive briefs are important, there’s such a thing as too much information.
Avoid going overboard with your guidelines. You don’t need to dictate the influencer’s exact words or actions. Doing so can stifle the influencer’s creative freedom, resulting in content that looks scripted and inauthentic.
Some brands also make the mistake of micro-managing every aspect of the content creation process. For example, you don’t need to vet multiple drafts just before they go live.
Remember, influencers are the experts in creating content their audience loves and trusts. Your brand just needs to support them with resources they need to create great content for effective influencer marketing.
Not setting expectations upfront
Establishing clear expectations beforehand enables a smooth, productive collaboration. The result? A successful campaign aligned with your goals.
Make sure you agree on the following items in advance:

Timeline and deliverables: Clearly outline the campaign timeline, including start and end dates, as well as any deadlines for content submission and publication. Also, specify the required deliverables, such as the number of posts, stories or videos the influencer needs to create.
Payment and terms: Agree on the payment structure, whether it’s a one-time fee, ongoing retainer or performance-based compensation. Discuss the payment schedule and any additional terms, such as bonuses for exceptional performance or penalties for missed deadlines.

Focusing on the wrong metrics
Influencer marketing can offer more benefits to your business than merely boosting sales. Fixating only on conversions and revenue data can mislead brands into thinking their campaigns are not working.
Here are some other metrics to consider when measuring the impact of your campaigns:

Engagement metrics: Evaluate likes, comments, and shares to understand content resonance and audience interaction.
Brand awareness metrics: Measure views, clicks and website traffic to gauge campaign reach and audience interest.
Follower growth: Track new followers to determine influencer impact on brand visibility and audience expansion.
Inbound leads: Track the number of inquiries and messages your brand gets to analyze the campaign’s impact on inbound lead generation.

How to track influencer marketing campaigns
There are a few ways of measuring the success of your campaign.
If you want to keep a pulse on the content your influencers are creating and interacting with, you can create a specific branded hashtag, like #SproutPartner. The Sprout Social Smart Inbox makes it easy to see what’s being talked about with specific hashtags, or to watch for mentions of specific keywords.

Use Sprout’s reporting feature to tag and track campaign-related posts. You can also compare how each post is performing and view metrics such as post engagements, clicks and impressions.

Similarly, if you’re aiming for more sales, giving out affiliate codes or tracking links will help you measure the revenue generated from influencers.
Create a successful influencer marketing strategy for your brand
It’s clear—influencers are the new wave in marketing. However, the influencer marketing world is constantly evolving, and in five years may be drastically different from today.
While working with influencers has unique considerations, setting up a campaign is the same as most marketing campaigns: research, set a budget, determine goals, find your influencers, and review and revise. Once you’ve got a hold of the rhythm, creating different influencer marketing campaigns to meet your brand’s various needs will become second nature.
If you need more resources for your team on running influencer campaigns, check out our ultimate guide for running successful social media campaigns.
 

Influencer Marketing FAQs

What are the 3 R’s of influencer marketing?

The three R’s in influencer marketing strategy are relevance, reach and resonance.

Reach alludes to the number of followers the influencer has and the people they can potentially reach with their content.
Relevance is how well the influencer’s content aligns with your brand voice, target audience and marketing goals.
Resonance is the level of meaningful interactions and connections the influencer’s content creates with their followers, which translates to greater audience loyalty.

What is the best strategy for influencer marketing?

An influencer marketing strategy needs meticulous planning. Here are five things you need to keep in mind to ace it.

Find influencers and understand their payment structure
Set a budget and management strategy
Decide on campaign goals and messaging
Establish influencer outreach process
Review and refine your strategy

What do social media influencers do?

Social media influencers collaborate with brands to promote products or services to their followers through sponsored posts, product reviews and endorsements. In doing so, they help shape consumer opinions and purchasing decisions.

https://sproutsocial.com/insights/influencer-marketing/

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