Using influencers to market will add greatly to a brand if executed well.

By Lee Esposito


Brands are launching influencer marketing campaigns at breakneck speed because they are a great way to reach a niche audience online. As a quick definition, influencer marketing is when a company partners with a social media content creator to increase brand credibility, awareness and sales.

For example, a social media influencer can be a blogger with large number of followers on multiple platforms or an Instagram photographer with a vast, highly engaged audience.

Sounds simple enough, doesn't it? Partner with a social media user who has a direct, trusting relationship with a target audience you want to reach, and sit back to watch your brand's awareness grow and your search rankings increase. Sadly, as with any marketing activity, what sounds simple is loaded with pitfalls and opportunities for disaster. Here are four to avoid.

Not establishing goals or finding the right influencer:
It's surprising how many marketers will dive into influencer marketing without first defining clear campaign metrics. Will your measurement for success consist of increasing engagement with likes, comments and shares, or increasing website traffic? If your primary goal is driving web traffic, you might want to create a UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) code that is added to an end of a link to help track how well the campaign is driving traffic back to a site.

Influencers should be able to seamlessly incorporate content, videos or images during the campaign into their blogs or feeds. Search Google, Instagram and Twitter using keywords and hashtags. Carefully study their content to make sure you want them promoting your brand, and discuss how they will fit the product into their own lifestyle to make the campaign more authentic and appealing to their audiences.

Not establishing expectations with the influencer:
Often, service agreements with social media influencers will consist of a digital handshake, so it's important to outline in advance how many tweets, videos, images or blog posts will be shared during the campaign.

Make sure to incorporate your influencer campaign into a social media content calendar, especially if you are-as you should be-running multiple overlapping campaigns with different influencers. You'll need to track each post to link back to your marketing metrics and share important campaign deadlines with your influencers.

Not creating a long-term relationship with the influencer:
Too many marketers still consider an influencer campaign as a onetime collateral marketing effort instead of an integral part of their overall digital PR plan. You want to stay on good terms with your influencer once the campaign ends because you'll likely want to partner with them again. Treating them as expendable commodities will waste your hard work to find and educate them on your brand.

Not cross-promoting content on other social media channels:
As with any digital PR effort, your ultimate awareness goal is to increase your search rankings, which means sharing your influencer's content across your brand's social media channels. For example, pinning your influencer's blog post on one of your brand's Pinterest boards will help drive traffic to your website and reposting images on your brand's Instagram feed-be sure to change the link in the bio to the one you're using for the campaign-will again send followers to your website to increase search rankings.

Social media influencer marketing is here to stay, and when executed correctly, will speak directly to the niche audience you want to reach.

Lee Esposito is principal of Lee Esposito Associates, a digital public relations firm. He can be reached at (614) 761-0200 or at lee@newsangle.com. For additional tips on launching influencer marketing campaigns, visit his blog, newsangle.com/influencer-marketing-tips.