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7/03/2019

How to develop your online influencer campaign?

Eight steps to ensure the success of your influencer marketing strategy

How can you develop your influencer campaigns?
Eight steps to ensure success
 
 
The success of a campaign often lies in its management. Any mistake in project management can have consequences on the performance of the operation. 

After more than 400 projects undertaken by WOÔ, and different theories developed by researchers in management, project management, and digital strategy, we have developed an 8-step plan in order to ensure success for influencer campaigns.
 
1/ Defining needs
 
The first step is essential for everything that follows. The idea is to determine the purpose of the campaign and and to identify the scope of the influence operation. Sales and marketing plans are the best tools to define these themes. Because of these tools, brands can identify the key moments that will be the subject of an influencer strategy. It is also at this step that there must be a defining of a target(s).
 
2/ Defining goals

According to the sales and marketing plan we must also specify the objectives of the campaign. For the most part, they relate to 3 main objectives:
   - Business objective: generating sales, increasing the average online cart size, and directing customers to the online or physical shops
   - Branding objective: revitalize brand image, move upmarket, and provide a positive brand image
   - Public-awareness objective: launch of new product, loss of notoriety or response to the notoriety of a competitor

Depending on the overall goal of the campaign, one should define objectives for the influencer strategy. For instance, when raising public-awareness, one should be focusing on the reach or the number of impressions, whereas, when it comes to improving brand image, the engagement rate will be a far more relevant indicator. 
 
The understanding of goals is crucial as they define the influencer strategy that will be put in place. 
 
Since the early 1980s, SMART goals have become the norm in sales and marketing when they were introduced in George T Doran’s seminal article on management. The major strength of this acronym (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound) resides in its ability to provide a clear framework to goal setting. Important points to note in this regard are the measurable aspect of the goals (that would allow us either to confirm or to refute the success of the campaign) and time-bound (that would give us a deadline for the influencing action in the future). This temporal perspective also allows us to evaluate the validity of our strategy at different periods and adjust it if necessary. The ambitious and realistic criteria are related to the project resources discussed in the next step. 
 
3/ Allocating resources
 
The influencer strategy adopted should be adequately resourced. These resources can be financial, human, or time-related. They need to be consistent with our objectives, as setting disproportionate goals to our resources can only have a negative impact: restricting performance, or becoming deceptive as a result. Here, the overall budget allocated to the influence strategy comes into play. 
 
These resources can also define the nature of project management. For instance, having extensive human resources but limited financial resources may encourage the internalisation whereas having a large amount of budget but only a small amount of time promotes the externalisation of the influence strategy. 
 
4/ Defining the strategy
 
With the previously defined objectives and the available resources, we will now focus on the practical actions to be carried out. 
 
For instance, in terms of public awareness, it could be useful to work with a combination of macro- and micro-influencers, since they are the influencers on Instagram who have the highest reach (link to the study). To improve your brand image, micro-influencers, nano-influencers and creative influencers are your allies; they have a high rate of engagement and authenticity, which are beneficial for the digital word of mouth, and therefore the image that your business reflects. 
 
-            Casting: after selecting the type of influencer, we then have to choose the most suitable influencers to inspire the influencer strategy. The choice of influencer depends on the following:
   o     The image that the influencer reflects.
   o     The relevance of the influencer’s target audience to the campaign.
   o     The type of content that the influencer can offer.
   o     The influencer’s KPIs: engagement rate, reach, etc. 
   o     The influencer’s interests. 
   o     The influencer’s past collaborations, indeed collaborating with an influencer whose community is familiar with the products from a competitor, is not optimal.
   o     The influencer’s location: especially useful in micro- and nano- influencer campaigns, or in drive-in store issues.
 
At this stage, we also need to consider another key point based on our goals and resources: the timeframe of our influence strategy. Are we adopting a long-term relational approach with influencers, such as “red thread”, or are we running an ad hoc operation, with a highpoint in the commercial process, such as “one-shot”?
To date, little research has been done on the differences in performance of these two types of interactions with influencers. However, we can note that the marginal cost of a publication is lower with a “red thread” approach. Also, influencers seem more authentic when they mention the same company several times; this enhances the value of collaboration in their community. In contrast, with the same number of publications, the reach is lower in the long-term because it is the same influencers who publish multiple times for the same company and therefore target the same community. For an equivalent number of impressions, reach is higher in “one-shot” operations. 

5/ Planning the operation

A crucial step in project management is the planning of operations.  
Each project has a start and end date, and here we first define the key steps of our influencer strategy (milestones). 
 
For example, when are we going to get in touch with influencers, when are they going to be required to publish their content, or when will the event to which we will invite them take place? Next, we will create a reversed schedule, taking into account the market fluctuations and inherent uncertainties of any project. It is a vital step because it provides us with a continuous overview of our strategy and the room for error available to us. 
 
The most common error in planning an influencer strategy is to underestimate the impact of discussion with influencers and thus create urgency in the process of collaboration. As a result, it generates stress and damages your brand’s image. Ensuring a margin of flexibility can also useful in managing any unexpected events. Since this is a human relationship, it is necessary to keep in mind that influencers might get sick, might be unable to use Wi-Fi, or might have problems, and so on. It, therefore, represents a risk to the campaign’s success to have a very tight schedule, so having a flexible schedule can be life-saving. 
 
6/ Carrying out the operation
 
Several steps are required to establish an operational process:
   - Writing a brief. It must be as clear and concise as possible; it sets out your expectations: the type of content, the number of publications, the key dates, the inspirations, the background of the company, the features of the products or services offered, linguistic elements; at this stage, it is also worth mentioning the other influencers involved in the campaign. 
   - Getting in touch with the influencer: of course, it is a personal task to explain why you have chosen him/her and to promote the content he/she creates. 
   - Trusting the influencer: For a micro- or nano- influencer campaign, the monitoring  is done after the fact, that is, the influencer creates and publishes his/her content alone without company’s approval. Only after publishing does the company view the content and can evaluate as well. The main advantage of this approach is to ensure the authenticity and spontaneity of the influencer, and the disadvantage is that the company does not have complete control over the publications about itself, but there is almost no risk when casting takes place properly. 
If you collaborate with macro-influencers this problem does not exist, the macro-influencer creates his/her content, then forwards it to the company for approval and, if need be, modifies it depending on the company’s feedback. The selection of an influencer that you value his/her content, personality, and reliability is one of the keys to the operation’s success. 
- Completing the operation with the influencer: expressing your thanks for his/her collaboration, and keeping the influencer informed about the company’s recent developments
 
7/ Verification
 
Throughout the process, we have to verify if everything is going as expected.  Therein lies all the interest of planning and goal setting. We can always predict whether we are behind on time or performance regarding our influence strategy. 
According to our main constraints related to time, budget, or quality, we can adjust the project. 
If time is the major constraint, quality may be reduced or the other way around. 
 
The verification process is of great importance because when warnings occur earlier, the impact of a problem will be less significant. 
 
8/ Evaluating and learning
 
At the end of our influencer operation, we can measure the success of the campaign with the goals defined at the beginning. Here are some useful questions to ask: 
   o     Has anyone outperformed? Has anyone underperformed?
   o     Which influencers have been the most effective in terms of performance (reach, clicks, engagements)?
   o     Which influencers have produced the most qualitative content?
   o     With which influencers has the cooperation gone better?  
   o     Are we pleased with the process?
   o     How could it have been better?
   o     What are the best practices retained?
   o     Are influencers satisfied with the collaboration? Why?
 
This work is the basis for continuous improvement as Deming has widely reported and circulated with the Deming wheel (Plan, Do, Verify, Act/Adjust). By following these various steps, we can only be better along with the online influence operations we carry out. Given the market trend and the evolution of digital practices, we are confident that businesses implementing this type of continuous improvement approach will develop increasingly significant competitive advantages in the coming years.
 
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