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Influencer marketing strategy: a comprehensive guide

Yugal Pandey

July 1, 20228 min read

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In 1983, PepsiCo struck a game-changing $5 million endorsement deal with Michael Jackson, generating $7.7 billion in sales and an increased market share of 18.8%.

This deal with the King of Pop made Pepsi the best-selling soft drink in 1986, besting Coca-Cola (Pepsi’s BIGGEST competitor).

The success of the first campaign compelled Pepsi to revive the deal on a global scale at double the amount-$10 million.

That, right here, is a perfect example of how influencer marketing should be done.

Over the years, the dynamics of influencer marketing changed massively with the introduction of social media. Still, the baseline remained intact — collaborations with people who can influence your target audience’s buying decisions.

Keep reading to find out:

  • What is influencer marketing?

  • What are the different types of influencers?

  • How can influencer marketing help your brand?

  • How to create a successful influencer marketing strategy?

  • Influencer marketing best practices

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is the practice of collaborating with influencers to promote your brand and its products or services. Celebrity endorsement is the oldest form of influencer marketing, but as social media changed the digital landscape, influencer marketing evolved with it.

Influencer marketing grew to $13.3 billion in 2021, with businesses making $5.78 ROI for every $1 spent. By 2025, it is projected to become a $24.1 billion industry.

A bar graph showing the influencer marketing spending in the US from 2.42 billion in 2019 to 4.6 billion USD predicted for 2023.


Now, content creators have their niche audiences, and brands collaborate with them to maximize engagement and conversions.

Types of influencers

There are five major types of influencers:

An image representing the various types of influencers — mega, macro, mid-tier, micro, and nano — with follower count and profile examples.

Note: most publications vary in their usage of the terms and follower counts used in categorizing influencers.

How can influencer marketing help your brand?

There is an influencer for every product, whether it's about endorsing watches, apparel, games, or even kitchen appliances. And brands are splurging on influencer marketing — it's projected to reach $4.6 billion in the U.S. alone by 2023.

But why are businesses so keen on implementing influencer marketing? Let's find out.

1. ‘Influence’ the buying decision of the audience

Influencers have the power to influence their audience’s purchase decision — they can persuade them to buy a product or take action for the following reasons:

  • Influencers know how to communicate with their audience without coming across as salesy or preachy.

  • Consumers trust the influencers they follow and relate to them personally.

2. Help build the credibility of your brand

Influencers don’t just partner with any random brand and promote their products. They’ve worked hard to build a robust online community and wouldn’t jeopardize that trust by promoting products that don’t cater to their audience or are below par in terms of quality.

Experienced influencers carefully select the products they recommend to their audience. Few would even go as far as to try out the products before joining forces with a brand to strengthen the bond with their band of loyal followers.

FACT: not only do 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations, but 40% have also purchased something after seeing it on Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram.

How to create a successful influencer marketing strategy?

As a social media manager, you are responsible for implementing a consistent brand voice and delivering timely updates on product launches and feature releases across social networks. A successful influencer marketing strategy can go a long way in helping you achieve your core objectives.

Here are six things to keep top of mind as you develop your winning strategy from the ground up.

A graphic showing the six steps to creating a successful influencer marketing strategy.

Step 1: Determine your target audience

Do you think reaching out to Michael Jordan to promote a social media management tool would work? It won’t — even though His Airness can promote just about anything!

Such a collaboration wouldn’t deliver quality engagement or conversions because most of Michael Jordan’s followers are into sports and have nothing to do with social media or community management.

So, the first step in influencer marketing (read: all forms of marketing) is knowing your target audience.

If you already have a customer persona, then that’s great. But, if you don’t, here are a few ways to understand customer personas and determine your target audience:

  • Client interviews

  • Surveys

  • Website traffic analysis

  • Market research

  • Competitor analysis

Here’s an example of a customer persona.

An image showing a sample customer persona

Step 2: Set your goals

After you’ve determined who you’re targeting, it’s time to justify why you are targeting them — what’s your objective behind influencer marketing?

Setting your campaign goals is essential because that keeps you focused and ensures efficient utilization of your time, resources, and efforts. Most campaigns have these goals:

  • Improved brand awareness: expand your reach to a broader target audience and potential customers.

  • Improved engagement: encourage your potential customers to engage with your brand.

  • Improved conversions: educate your potential customers about your brand and how your products can help solve their problems.

Bear in mind that these goals aren’t set in stone; thus, some brands have different goals than those you see above.

Step 3: Decide your budget

The success of your influencer marketing campaign(s) hinges on your budget.

  • What type of influencer should you choose?

  • What influencer would be right for you?

  • What kind of content would you create with the influencer?

Once you’ve set your budget, answering all these questions and more becomes easy, helping you plan your influencer marketing campaign much more effectively.

Hiring mega influencers doesn’t guarantee the success of your campaign. It may set you back by millions of dollars for just a handful of posts. So, the wise thing to do would be to collaborate with multiple micro-influencers instead of putting all your chips on ONE mega influencer.

If you aren’t convinced, here are some additional reasons why smaller influencers offer more bang for your buck:

  • They know the pulse of their audience.

  • Their target demographic is very niche.

  • They can extend your reach to relevant audiences.

  • They enjoy a loyal following that engages consistently with their posts.

  • They view their followers as their equals and thus better connect with them than celebrity influencers.

Step 4: Find relevant influencers

The influencers you end up working with can impact your conversions and engagement. But finding the right influencers to collaborate with is easier said than done.

Here are a few ways to find the right match:

A graphic representing three ways of finding relevant influencers for your marketing campaigns- Google Search, Social Media Search, and Brand Advocates

1. Google search

On Google, search for “top fashion influencers,” and you’ll find a complete list of fashion influencers.

A screenshot of a Google search engine results page showing the top search result for the search term -top fashion influencers-.

Change the industry and add a social media platform based on your niche. For example, to discover sports influencers on YouTube, you’ll search for “top sports influencers on YouTube,” and the result would look like this:

A screenshot of a Google search engine results page showing the results for -top sports influencers on YouTube-.

2. Social media search

You can search for potential influencers using your competitors’ hashtags. This will also help you know whether your competitors are running any influencer marketing campaigns.

Generally, brands ask influencers to use branded hashtags in their posts, so that’s an excellent place to begin your search and find more branded hashtags.

A screenshot of an Instagram post of Bennjamin Tan-s paid partnership with Daniel Wellington. Bennjamin used branded hashtags -DanielWellington, -DWSingapore, -DWinSG.

3. Brand advocates

Collaborate with customers who love your brand, defend it, and promote it through word-of-mouth marketing. If you’re lucky, you might unearth some hidden gems who would go all out to promote your brand to their audiences.

Use social listening to discover quality mentions from a pool of irrelevant mentions. Moreover, since these people already love your brand, they would be responsive, want to collaborate with you, and may reach out to your brand themselves.

Step 5: Reach out to influencers

After singling out the influencers you’d like to work with, it’s time to reach out to them.

You can start by following them on social media platforms and sending them direct messages (DM). Following an influencer will also give you an idea about:

  • The type of content they post.

  • The engagement they receive.

  • The other brands they’ve collaborated with.

This works best when you want to collaborate with micro or nano influencers.

When it comes to mega influencers, you’ll have to reach them via email, and most influencers do add their email address to their profile.

A screenshot of an influencer-s (Marques Brownlee-s - MKBHD) Instagram profile page.

Source: Instagram

Step 6: Monitor, measure, and improve

Measuring the success of your influencer marketing campaign isn’t easy without Key Performance Indicators (KPI).

Here are some of the primary KPIs that you should be tracking during your campaign:

  • Check the follower count

  • Engagement metrics (likes, comments, shares, etc.)

  • Website traffic

  • Conversions (through promo codes, discount codes, etc.)

Set some predetermined dates to monitor and measure the success of your campaign — weekly or fortnightly analysis. If you notice a surge in these KPIs, your campaign is performing well. However, if you find no change or a sudden fall, you need to go back to the drawing board.

Influencer marketing best practices

A graphic representing the three best practices of creating a successful influencer marketing strategy which are 1. Hosting contests, 2. Educating your audience, and 3. Influencer rewards.

1. Host contests and giveaways

Hosting contests and giveaways by partnering with influencers helps you generate higher engagement, conversions, and UGC.

You can set up eligibility criteria for your influencer's followers to participate in contests and giveaways. Here are a few ideas:

  • Like and comment on the post.

  • Share the post on your IG Story using the brand hashtag.

  • Post a review of your brand or product.

This way, you can create plenty of user-generated content (UGC) that you can continue posting on your brand page for weeks.

2. Educate and engage your audience

Experienced influencers post regularly, understand the pulse of their audience, and know exactly how to incorporate your brand story into their narrative so that it doesn’t come across as a sales pitch.

The right influencers respect the collaboration, so they create valuable content for their target audience that benefits the brand, too. Tutorials, guides, fun/quirky content, and the like. Their efforts help in educating their audience about your brand and products.

You can further promote this high-quality content to engage your audience. That’s way more than what an influencer can accomplish.

3. Reward your influencers

Think beyond collaborations.

Give influencers more reasons to talk about your brand and even turn them into lifelong advocates.

Reward influencers with exclusive discounts, free products, etc., to support their efforts. Doing so might generate free word-of-mouth marketing.

Additionally, regularly rewarding your influencers strengthens your relationship with them to an extent where even the thought of collaborating with your competitors might seem downright unappealing.

Running a successful influencer marketing campaign is about having a vision and finding the right influencers to fulfill that vision. And I hope you can achieve just that — whether you have years of experience under your belt or are just learning the tricks of the trade. But, remember to keep experimenting with the strategies mentioned above to ensure the long-term success of your influencer marketing campaign(s).

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