A Simple Guide to Influencer Marketing in Social Media.

Influencer marketing is a growing part of social media strategy. According to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) 75% of companies have influencer programs and nearly half (43%) are planning to increase their spending next year. Of companies not using it over a quarter (27%) plan to do so. Yet, there are many forms and methods to structuring an influencer program. To be successful brands must ensure they have a solid strategy rooted in business objectives, target market and best practices. Below is a guide to follow in creating or optimizing an influencer marketing program as part of a broader social media strategy.

Guide to Influencer MarketingObjectives and Target Audience: Begin your influencer marketing with business objectives. Are you trying to increase sales or build brand awareness? Do you have a reputation problem and are looking to increase positive sentiment? Are you a B2B brand that wants more leads? Look for the bigger problem or opportunity. Don’t make the mistake of starting with social media objectives that just become an end unto themselves.

Who are you trying to reach? Identify the target market for your product and service. Then turn that market into a target audience or audiences that you want the influencers to reach. You may have one audience active on specific social media platforms. Knowing this will focus your effort on finding influencers popular on those social channels. If multiple target audiences are involved identify every target by objective. Each audience may need to be reached with different platforms, influencers and content. An example is colleges with an annual enrollment objective targeting high school students, parents and alumni. They may also have a second objective of raising funds for a building project targeting alumni, business leaders and state legislators.

Method and Compensation: Influencer marketing can be structured in several ways. Small organizations with a minimal number of influencers or big companies with larger internal resources may want to create and manage their own influencer program. For more help brands can work with influencer platforms or networks that streamline processes and payments and make it easier to find influencers. Fees are charged for the convenience and you may be limited only to influencers in their network. A third option is hiring an Influencer Agency. These agencies provide the most options, customization and access to influencers, but will also cost the most in fees.

Another increasingly popular option for influencer marketing is affiliate programs. Affiliate marketing has been around for many years, but in the past it focused on building websites to draw an audience and send traffic to product links for sales. The retailer rewards the affiliate for each visitor or customer. Today more affiliates are using social media to attract audiences and insert links in social media posts. Instead of paying per post or sending free product, brands pay a commission per sale which could motivate affiliates to send traffic for a longer periods. Options include building and managing a brand affiliate program, working with an affiliate platform and network, or hiring an affiliate agency.

Social Channels: Select the social platforms that make the most sense for brand objectives and target audience. Where is the target audience spending time? What social media networks are they on and where do they look for content in the brand’s industry? Consider options in multiple categories such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn, YouTube, blogs, and podcasts. Also look at niche social platforms such as forums, Medium, Reddit, Quora, or SlideShare. The idea is to match social channel users and social channel content type with target audience and objective.

Type of Influencer: Are you looking for a celebrity (famous in traditional media), a social media star (known for or because of social media ), or a thought leader (known for industry knowledge)? Celebrities can have a lot of advantages including their mass reach and appeal. Yet film, music or sports celebrities can be expensive and people may question the authenticity of their product endorsements. Social media stars may have less followers, but those followers could be more engaged and endorsements could be seen as more believable. Thought leaders are a good choice for certain product or service categories in B2B. A mention or recommendation by an industry leader can carry a lot of weight.

Influencers can also be categorize in terms of follower size. Macro-influencers have 100,000 or more followers. Mid-level-influencers have between 25,000 and 100,000 followers. Micro-influencers can have as little as 50 to 25,000 followers. It may be tempting to only go for the macro-influencers because of their massive reach, but micro-influencers are often more effective. Adweek reports micro-influencer engagement rates can be 60% higher, their buys are 6.7 times more efficient, and they can drive 22 times more conversions. According to the ANA more than half of brands use mid-level (66%) or micro-influencers (59%) while less than half are using macro-influencers (44%). No matter what type of influencer you use a growing concern is influencer fraud. Influencer marketing software companies are working on ways to detect fraud and create industry standards.

Type of Content: Once you have your influencers decide how content will be created and spread. You may think it is best to have the most control, but content created by the brand and merely shared could come across as not genuine. Certain influencers or influencer networks may also have their own standards for what they will or will not do. Consider the pros and cons for each option such as influencer shared brand content, influencer created brand content, or product and service reviews and mentions. Or get creative with options such as influencer brand account takeovers, brand guest content contributions, or collaboration on a contest or giveaway. Another consideration is to repurpose influencer content in other channels and in other forms.

Monitoring and Metrics: Ensure you follow the FTC Endorsement Guidelines. Recently the FTC cracked down by sending out letters to influencers and brands not following the standards and creating deceptive advertising. Brands are responsible for training influencers on these standards and for monitoring their influencers to ensure compliance. Influencers, agencies and brands are all held accountable. Also make sure you have an up-to-date social media, user generated content, and privacy policy. After the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the new European data-protection law (GDPR) many companies are updating their privacy policies to meet new expectations and standards.

Finally, monitor key metrics per influencer and social channel to measure success. Be sure to identify KPIs that connect back to each business objective. This not only helps prove success but also allows you to optimize the program over time by social channel, influencer and type of content. Setting up key metrics and monitoring in the beginning will simplify social media metrics and help prove ROI .

As other forms of traditional, digital and social media marketing become more challenging many marketers are adding influencer marketing to their IMC mix. Consider these guidelines when structuring or restructuring your influencer efforts. For the bigger picture in social media strategy, more tools, templates and guides, plus a framework for creating and executing a complete social media plan consider the 2nd Edition of Social Media Strategy: Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations in the Consumer Revolution. bit.ly/QSocialBook

Celebrity Bowl: More Marketers Than Ever Turn To Celebrity For Super Bowl Ads, But That’s Not The Whole Story.

Last year (2015) was the year of serious ads that some dubbed “Dadvertising” for the number of spots honoring dads. As I have scanned the latest news in the past week about the Super Bowl of Advertising and read and watched the spots that are out from marketers across a wide variety of industries I have noticed a bigger trend this year. It looks to be the year of celebrity appearances in Super Bowl ads. It’s the “Celebrity Bowl.”

Ad Age reports there were 19 celebrities in Super Bowl spots in 2013, 26 in 2014, 28 in 2015 and 2016 we are already at 33 celebrities with more sure to come as more spots are revealed. Even one of the user-generated spots from Doritos this year has a celebrity thrown in it. And some advertisers are using several celebrities in single spots. The BMW Mini Super Bowl ad above features six celebrities including Serena Williams, Harvey Keitel, T-Pain, Tony Hawk, and Randy Johnson.

Why are so many Super Bowl advertisers turning to celebrities? Is this a winning tactic? Celebrities can attract an initial level of attention and may bring their own social media followers with them. Even with last year’s Super Bowl being the most-watched broadcast in television history (over 114 million viewers), paying $5 million for 30 seconds is only a wise investment if the Super Bowl ad can deliver social media buzz, media coverage and be remembered over time.

The competition to attract these views is getting fierce. YouTube says that last year, people watched 1,600 years of Super Bowl ads on YouTube and nearly 40% of that viewing time happened before the game. Google reports a 5X growth in worldwide search for the Super Bowl on YouTube in the month of January. How can marketers capture some of these views? They need more than a celebrity or two, to stand out in the ad polls and generate lasting buzz. They need to build a story around the celeb.

Story could especially be needed this year with the high amount of celebrity clutter. Out of the current known advertisers 18/38 are said to be using celebrities. Does using a celebrity stand out if nearly half of the marketers are using them as well?

Last year the top 10 spots in USA Today Ad Meter had no celebrities in them. They were just good stories. Over the years you will notice Super Bowl spots with celebrities in them at the top and the bottom of the polls. The ones that we like such as Coca-Cola’s Mean Joe Green spot told a good story with celeb. Budweiser has made their own celebrities out of the Clydesdales.

My research with Michael Coolsen found that the more complete story a Super Bowl commercial tells (in Five Acts) the higher the commercial performed in Super Bowl Ad Ratings Polls. We found that other factors like sex appeal, humor, emotion, animals or celebrity didn’t matter. They appeared at the top and bottom of the polls with no discernible pattern.

What is the secret ingredient to helping ensure a Super Bowl commercial is liked and talked about? Remember studying five-act Shakespearian Plays in high school? There was a reason Shakespeare was so popular and why he used to tell a story in five acts. It is a powerful formula that has drawn people’s attention for hundreds of years.

Freytag's Pyramid

The ads that tell a more complete story using the dramatic structure of Freytag’s Pyramid are the most likable in Super Bowl ad ratings polls. Shakespeare mastered this five part structure including an exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and final outcome. Last year’s “Lost Puppy” had all five acts and not only performed well in the advertising polls like USA Today Ad Meter, but won in social media buzz as well.

According to video analytics firm Unruly, Budweiser had the most-shared ad on Facebook, Twitter and blogs for the 2015 game. Bud also had the most Twitter mentions during the Super Bowl broadcast according to social media data firm Brandwatch.

The other winners? Research from AdKnowledge shows the brands above that won in terms of YouTube views and sentiment. These brands were also at the top of the ad polls and did not simply feature celebrities – they told good stories.

In this year’s “Celebrity Bowl” Super Bowl Advertisers who want to rise above the clutter, should tap into the celebrity of Shakespeare.