Influencer Marketing: A Guide to Developing Your Strategy

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Develop a strategy to leverage the growing trend of influencer marketing for your brand or business.

[Featured image] A food influencer holds a cake and smiles in front of a video camera.

Chances are, if you’ve been active on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, or even Facebook or Twitter in recent years, then you have encountered influencers. Maybe you’ve seen a fitness vlogger selling workout clothing or a beauty blogger recommending a new night cream. Influencers use their own authority or insights on a specific subject to convince a target audience to purchase a product or service.

Though the term is relatively new, the concept of an “influencer” is not a new phenomenon. People have long been swayed to buy things because famous people talked about or used them. But as the everyday use of digital platforms has risen, brands have leveraged endorsements that integrate seamlessly into our news feeds.

In this article, we'll discuss what influencer marketing is, whether it's right for your business, and how to develop an effective influencer marketing strategy that aligns with your marketing goals.

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is when a business collaborates with influencers to promote their brand across social networks such as Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube. It's a form of social media marketing and may be a piece of a business's broad digital marketing plan.

Influencer marketing can be an effective way to reach your target audience. To their followers, influencers are generally seen as knowledgable and trustworthy figures, so they are likely to trust their brand judgment and product recommendations. Working with influencers can enable you to benefit from the goodwill they've built with their followers.

Is influencer marketing right for your brand?

Since 2016, the global market for influencer marketing has gone from $1.7 billion USD to an estimated $16.4 billion USD in 2022 [1]. Marketers are also expected to increase their influencer marketing spending by 68 per cent in 2022 [2]. Working with influencers can be a lucrative opportunity if it is right for your brand. 

To determine whether influencer marketing is right for your brand, you’ll want to consider a few things:

  • Whether it aligns with your target demographic and the platforms they use

  • Whether your brand falls under the common types of influencer products or services

  • Whether you can afford influencer marketing and how much to budget for it

Influencer marketing target audiences

According to Influencer Marketing Hub’s 2022 benchmark report, Instagram ranks best with female users between the ages of 25 and 34 (Millennials), while TikTok resonates most with females 24 and under (Gen Z). YouTube was best for males, especially millennials, as they comprise almost a fifth of all YouTube viewers [1]. If your brand’s target demographic falls under one of these categories, then you might try experimenting with influencer marketing.

Common types of influencer products and services

Besides demographic and platform alignment, you’ll also need to consider whether your brand falls under the common niche categories for influencers. Some popular niches in influencer marketing include:

  • Lifestyle

  • Fashion

  • Beauty

  • Celebrities and entertainment

  • Sports

Cost of influencer marketing

Finally, can you afford it? If you are a small business owner, you’ll want to know how much it costs to hire influencers. On average, industry experts suggest 300 USD to 1,000 USD per 100k followers on Instagram, adjusted according to reach and relevance [3]. For TikTok, expect to pay 5 USD to 25 USD per post for nano-influencers and 2,500 USD and up for mega-influencers (more on the distinction later) [4].

Sending free products is fair compensation if the product or service is valued at or more than the influencer’s typical rate, as long as it’s agreed upon. Otherwise, there’s little obligation for them to post content about your brand. 

How to create an influencer marketing strategy

Now that you’ve determined that influencer marketing is right for your brand, you’re ready for the fun part. Here’s how to develop an effective influencer marketing strategy. 

1. Define your goals and target market.

Much like any marketing strategy, your first step is to outline your goals. Who do you want to reach by adopting influencer marketing? One of the main objectives for brands hiring influencers is to reach new target customers. Expanding your social media marketing strategy to include influencers can broaden your reach considerably. 

Set specific, measurable goals that you can track through reporting on the systems or platforms you choose to utilize. You may decide to set different goals for each of your products according to customer segmentation and business needs. You’ll need to allot a budget and timeline to experiment with your first campaign.

Next, consider how you will measure success. At this point, you may want to determine some key performance indicators so that you can easily determine whether your strategy helps you achieve your goals. Depending on your goals, you may decide to track metrics such as engagement rates, new followers, or sales data.

Watch this video from Meta on establishing SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) for social media marketing strategy:

2. Research the landscape and find your influencers.

The most effective influencer marketing strategy is to identify the right influencers for your brand—those who resonate with your target audience. Research the landscape of influencers. Key criteria to use to determine if an influencer is a good fit include resonance, relevance, and reach (the 3 R’s, as Hootsuite calls it). Spend some time on each platform observing influencers in your field and how they promote similar brands. 

  • Resonance: The level of engagement they can create

  • Relevance: How well their content aligns with your brand messaging

  • Reach: The number of people you can potentially reach with an influencer’s following

  • Types of influencers and costs, determined by follower count and platform [4]:

Additionally, before you start working with influencers, take a moment to research the competitive landscape. Are your competitors working with influencers? If so, with whom and in what capacity? 

4. Contact and connect with influencers.

Just as the relationship between consumer and influencer is based on trust and loyalty, a brand interested in exploring influencer marketing should develop positive relationships with influencers.

Create a shortlist of influencers that align with your brand and allotted budget. Follow and observe their content for a few days, interacting organically with likes or comments when appropriate. Then, when you’re ready to request a partnership, send a direct message, or an email if their address is listed in their bio. Some influencers have managers or work with influencer marketing agencies, so you’ll need to approach them first with a brief pitch.

When reaching out, be sure to personalize it to each influencer and emphasize their potential value to your brand. In your pitch, you’ll want to provide information about your brand, why the influencer could be a good fit, what you’re hoping to achieve with the campaign, and potential benefits beyond the payment.

Here's an example:

“Hi [insert name], I really loved your video on [topic] and how it helps/inspires your audience to [insert activity or purchase]. We would love to partner with you to [idea here] and [drive sales/create brand awareness/etc.]. If you’re interested, let me know and we can set up a time to chat.”

5. Collaborate and create content.

Once you’ve established a deal, the influencer will create their own content around your product or service. They might explain its benefits or how to use it.

Because influencers operate independently and create their own content, you’ll want to be sure they’re integrating your messaging in a way that aligns with your brand. While you can agree on certain types of content and provide a few guidelines, the influencer typically has creative control over the execution of the video or post, unless otherwise outlined in your deal. (Who has creative control is one differentiator between influencer marketing and traditional advertising.)

6. Track the metrics of each campaign.

After launching your influencer campaign, you’ll want to track how they do over time. If you choose to use several different platforms, you can compare how well each campaign does on each platform. Experimentation is key in the early stages of influencer marketing.

Whenever possible, instruct influencers to include affiliate links (using urchin tracking modules, or UTM, codes) that enable you to track how many clicks and sales are being generated. This enables your team to know how much return on investment (ROI) each influencer delivers. 

The campaign should be measured by more than just engagement on the post. Tons of likes and comments do not necessarily translate into sales conversions, but they can be considered as strengthening brand awareness. 

Fun fact: The power of influence

According to Civil Science, 14 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds (Gen Z) and 11 per cent of millennials bought something in the last six months because of an influencer recommendation, despite low trust in influencers among the general population [6].

The mere exposure effect may play a role since people spend so much time scrolling through social media; seeing a product advertised seven times can create familiarity and trust in a brand.


7. Refine and revise your strategy as needed.

Close monitoring of your influencer marketing campaigns will provide insights to help you make decisions going forward. 

  • Did a particular product perform better with one influencer over another?

  • If the influencer has multiple platforms, which one converted more sales?

  • How much engagement and conversions did you receive?

These are questions you can use to refine your strategy and make influencer marketing a successful part of your marketing plan.

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Article sources


Influencer Marketing Hub. “The State of Influencer Marketing 2022: Benchmark Report,” Accessed May 7, 2024.

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