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Influencer Marketing 101: A Guide to Influencer Marketing

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Influencer marketing goes beyond traditional advertising since consumers can learn about a brand from an influencer they trust on a casual app like Instagram and Tik Tok, says Later.

So, how do you pull one off? Don’t worry – Emerge has you covered. Emerge interviewed two marketing experts and two influencers and rounded up a master list of how to create an effective influencer marketing campaign!

The Influence Agency’s Kitty Lana Carr and Viral Nation’s Travis Hawley both agree that the purpose of influencer marketing is to create brand awareness, but also agree that influencer marketing can also lead to sales for a brand. 

Tip #1: Do your homework

Before diving into an influencer marketing campaign, do your research as there are a few things you need to know and take into consideration. 

Stay informed

Understand how the influencer industry is growing and keep up with emerging social media platforms; take TikTok for example. The viral app, formerly known as Musical.ly, blew up in late 2019 and currently has hundreds of millions of users. The app is known for its meme and musical content – and now sponsored content. elf Cosmetics’ #eyeslipsface sponsored contest received almost 5 billion views and the accompanying sound has 1.7 million videos.

@jessicaalba

##eyeslipsface my errryday look ##honestbeauty ##cleanbeauty

♬ eyes. lips. face. (feat. Holla FyeSixWun) – iLL Wayno

Carr says that brands are trying to learn how they can fit in the space, however, it may not be the right fit for every brand due to the younger demographic skew.

Also, stay up to date on guidelines for ad disclosure to avoid penalties.

What are the threats? 

Can threats to the market become a roadblock for creating a campaign? One threat is the somewhat new and not improved Instagram algorithm. To many users’ dismay, Instagram announced an update of its algorithm from chronological order to now “show the moments we believe you will care about the most,” in 2016.

According to @ownitbabe’s Rini Frey, she hasn’t seen a decrease in the ads she gets because of lesser engagement but seeing the decrease in engagement gets in your head. She adds that even though engagement has dropped, she thinks the algorithm has helped consumers see the posts they want to see and effectively reach her core audience.

In terms of a solution, Hawley says to find a balance between quality and quantity to get the best organic reach to your followers. Carr says that playing with the algorithm is a matter of trial and error, remaining patient, and checking your analytics to see what time of the day your posts perform well.

For more threats, see what our experts had to say here.

Do your research

Carr says that influencers can talk about many things, but brands need to be aware of how influencers would speak about a product or service. You should try to imagine how your brand would appear on an influencers feed. Look into the feeds of influencers, see how they promote other brands and if you like the way they create sponsored content. Pay attention to the comments on their posts and what they are up to in their stories. It may seem tedious, but if you’re a company that prides itself on healthy living and you reach out to an influencer who engages in smoking cigarettes, that may be a recipe for disaster and your brand image could be tarnished. 

If you can’t do the research yourself, hire an agency that can do it for you and can select the right influencers. Carr also credits working with an influencer marketing agency as they have access to thousands of celebrities and influencers.

Tip #2: No money, mo’ problems

Don’t be that brand that asks the influencer, especially micro-influencers, to create content for free in exchange for “exposure.” Creating content is hard work and the last thing you want to do is undervalue an influencer. Even though you may not have the budget, Frey thinks that it’s important to start building that relationship with influencers.

Tip #3: “Hey Siri, define success”

Hawley notes that it’s important to know your goals and what success looks like in order to create an influencer marketing campaign.

“Do you want to get brand awareness? Do you want to create engagement around your brand or your product? Do you want to sell something ultimately?” says Hawley. “There’s a million different forms of success, so we need to know what that is first, so we can design a campaign for success and know how to measure it.”

For example, @melhwang says if your goal is to make sales and sell products, brands should partner with an influencer who commonly reviews products and is someone that the audience trusts for product recommendations.

Tip #4: Define your target audience

Who do you want to be amazed by this product? Determine your target audience and make it specific. You want to reach post-secondary students aged 18 to 25 who commute to school and have a cat at home? Perfect. 

Now you can identify which influencers can reach that audience. Identify the type of influencer they are. Hawley says influencers need to remain authentic and need to fall under one of two types of content: authority and/or entertainment. An influencer with authority has to have utility and be able to teach their audience valuable and unique things. An entertainment influencer must be able to entertain and evoke emotions from their audience.

Also, do you want someone who can reach hundreds of thousands of consumers or someone with a smaller, more dedicated community?

Carr says micro-influencers have tight-knit audiences and the influencer engages with their audience and knows them. Whereas macro-influencers are more seen as role models that are great to partner with if you want that huge reach. People categorize micro and macro influencers differently. The way that we categorize Influencers is, micro-influencers have greater than 10 thousand followers and less than 50 thousand followers. Whereas, macro-influencers have more than 50 thousand followers. Any influencer with less than 10 thousand followers is considered a nano-influencer.


“If you work with influencers who don’t really, for the majority of the audience, reach who you ultimately need to reach, then it’s a waste of money and it’s probably not going to be authentic or well-received,” says Hawley.

Remember that it’s not just about followers. Don’t go for the influencer with a million followers who only does tech reviews about a skincare product; that’s just not the right fit. Go for influencers who enjoy your brand and can translate that to their audience.

Referenced Links:

Later – The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Influencer Marketing 

The Influence Agency’s website

Viral Nation’s website

elf Cosmetics’ #eyeslipsface TikTok sound

2016 Instagram algorithm update

Own it Babe’s Instagram: @ownitbabe

Mel Hwang’s Instagram @melhwang

  1. Influencer – Experts views on threats