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How to Use an Influencer to Boost Your Brand

How to Use an Influencer to Boost Your Brand

Even at seven o’clock in the morning, Tod Maffin’s upbeat and enlightening presentations on digital technology and marketing bring audiences to their feet. Recognized as a thought leader in online business innovation and strategy, he sheds light on trends and technological advancements, specializing in campaigns for specific sectors, from human resources to social media to real estate to education. His comprehensive understanding of high-velocity change and competition, hyper-innovation, and the accelerating pace of the world offers an insider’s viewpoint of what lurks around the corner—whether it’s six months, a year, or 10 years away. Below, Tod explains how to make the most of “influencers” on social media (and to check out some of our very own influencers, click here!):

Social media these days is cluttered. Running ads works well for some groups, but for others, being able to reach into and “borrow” the audience of an influencer can produce huge dividends. Here are some things we’ve learned on how to plan, launch and measure a successful influencer campaign.

1. Create a shortlist

First step: Identify some influencers on the channels where your audience is already. One good way is to use a tool like to track a hashtag and find people with large audiences who are already talking about the kind of business you do. (Audiense and FollowerWonk may also be helpful.) And remember: Big numbers aren’t everything; don’t discount influencers with a smaller niche following if that’s the niche you’re trying to target. When we developed an influencer campaign for Venue, a condo project, we actually went with smaller followings because the influencers had a much stronger engagement level among their community.

2. Ask questions

Don’t do it all by e-mail. Jump on the phone and ask your shortlisted influencers about their online presence, previous campaigns and how they think they can further your goals. For example, ask bloggers about how much daily site traffic they get, what types of people visit, etc. Many influencers fall into the millennial age bracket (which could be a very good thing for your campaign) and this sometimes brings less business experience. Plan to explain the process to them from your end – when they’ll get paid, what you expect in terms of good grammar, etc.

3. Plan for flexibility

While you’ll be putting your brand message out there, don’t forget you’re doing it on someone else’s channel. If you have a rigid set of guidelines and clear-cut ideas for every single element of a partnership, you might turn an influencer off. Most will have some ideas about how to maximize your campaign and how they can make it relevant to their audience, as well as how they can personalize it and tailor it so that their audience responds favourably. After all, they know their community best. Leave room so they can have some input into the process and how they think it could work best, and let them brainstorm with you on concepts and content creation. The more they feel they are part of the process, the stronger your results will be.

4. It’s all about the contract

Once you’ve settled on your influencer(s), insist on working under a formal contract. For some, this will be a new process and you’ll have to create one. Others may have their own. Either way, make sure it spells out how many words a blog post will be, how many images will be included, roughly what you expect the images to be (either you’ll supply or they’ll take them), and a detailed timeline – when the posts go live, when supporting tweets go out, etc. We’ve found that paying 25 per cent on signing and 75 per cent on completion is acceptable to most influencers, though some we have only paid once the project is done. Trust your gut. Going rates these days range roughly from $50 to $200 per Instagram post to $500 to $1,000 per blog post.

5. Track everything

You won’t know how much your campaign worked unless you track it. You should insist that blog posts, tweets and Facebook posts contain UTM tracking parameters, so you can see directly in Google Analytics how much of your site traffic came from your influencers. When we developed theVenue influencer campaign, we were able to report to the client not only how much traffic each of the three influencers generated, but which ones generated the most real leads. If your influencer refuses to put UTM codes in (which would be unusual), take a pass on them.

Influencer campaigns can be very successful when set up right, helping you reach into an audience you wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Scope out the right people, focus more on how engaged their community is over raw numbers and be sure to spell out things clearly in a contract ahead of time. You’ll be a pro in no time!

Tod Maffin/Globe and Mail/May, 2016