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.

These days, companies are turning to everyday influencers that deliver authentic content and engage personally with their followers, who are more likely to drive return on investment (ROI) as part of a brand’s digital marketing plan. 

This article will guide you to determine whether influencer marketing is right for your business and how to create an effective influencer marketing strategy.

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is the promotion of a brand’s products or services by a popular user or public figure on media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube. These influencers are trusted or knowledgeable figures in a niche community with a loyal follower base. Followers who identify with or trust their opinion are, as a result, more likely to purchase the brand. Influencers might sell their merchandise directly through their platform or leverage their audience to promote other brands. 

Just as the relationship between consumer and influencer is based on trust and loyalty, a brand interested in exploring influencer marketing should develop relationships with relevant influencers. The most effective influencer marketing strategy is first to identify the right influencers for your brand—those who resonate with your target audience. Given that influencers operate independently and create their own content, you’ll want to be sure they’re integrating your messaging to align with your brand.

Since 2016, the global market for influencer marketing has gone from USD1.7 billion to an estimated USD21.1 billion in 2023 [1]. A recent study showed that 49 per cent of consumers depend on influencer recommendations, and the Indian influencer industry is expected to grow by 25 per cent by 2025 [2]. Working with influencers can be a lucrative opportunity if it is right for your brand.

Is influencer marketing 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

According to Influencer Marketing Hub’s 2023 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) [1]. YouTube was best for males, especially millennials, as they comprise almost a fifth of all YouTube viewers. If your brand’s target demographic falls under one of these categories, you might try experimenting with influencer marketing.

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

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 $ 1,000 USD per 100k followers on Instagram, adjusted according to reach and relevance. For YouTube, $ 100 USD per 1,000 views is standard [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, they have little obligation to post content about your brand. 

How to create your influencer marketing strategy

Once 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. 

Next, what are your key performance indicators? Are you seeking general brand awareness or hoping to increase sales conversions? Driving sales is the third most common goal for influencer campaigns after reaching new target customers and increasing product consideration [5].

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

2. Research the landscape and find your influencers.

Before you start working with influencers, take a moment to research the landscape. Are your competitors working with influencers? If so, who are they working with, and in what capacity? 

Research the landscape of influencers, too. Key criteria to determine if an influencer is a good fit include resonance, relevance, and reach, otherwise known as The 3 Rs, and cost. Spend some time on each platform observing influencers in your field (lifestyle, beauty, food, etc.) 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]:

Type of InfluencerNumber of FollowersInstagramTikTokYouTube
Nano10,000 or less$10-100$5-25$20-200
Macro500,000-1 million$5,000-10,000$1,250-2,500$10,000-20,000
Mega1 million or more$10,000+$2,500+$20,000+

*All currency in USD

These rates will vary widely depending on the industry, influencer, and country the influencer is based in, but this information should give you a ballpark idea of typical costs. You can reach out to potential influencers about pricing before sending serious inquiries.

4. Contact and connect with influencers.

Get organised and 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 might have a manager, so you’ll need to approach them first with a brief pitch. When sending a DM, be sure to personalise it to each influencer and emphasise their potential value to your brand. Here are good and bad examples of messages to send influencers:

  • Good: “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.”

  • Bad: “Hey, we think you’re awesome. Contact us for a special opportunity!”

In your formal pitch, you’ll want to provide information about your brand, why the influencer could be a good fit, what you hope to achieve with the campaign, and potential benefits beyond the payment. Keep it personalised rather than like a generic message that you’ve sent to lots of influencers at the same time.

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. While you can agree on certain types of content and provide a few guidelines, the influencer has creative control over the execution of the video or post. 

Influencer marketing at Coursera

For Coursera, choosing influencers started with selecting a handful of high-performing Coursera courses that had high conversion rates, and then making sure to choose influencers that aligned with the content’s audience. Here are a few examples of influencer marketing:

Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate: Alex the Analyst enlightens followers on his path toward becoming a data analyst on his Youtube channel, which has over 190,000 subscribers.

First Step Korean from Yonsei University on TikTok: KoreanHoon, who has over 2.2 million followers, recommends this course because it is online, self-paced, and has an easy-to-follow curriculum.

First Step Korean on Instagram: Korean Hamin touts the benefits of this course, which offers a certificate of completion that learners can put on their LinkedIn. He engages with his fans by answering questions in the comments.


6. Track the metrics of each campaign.

After launching your influencer campaign, you’ll want to track how it does 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.

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 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 within a six-month period because of an influencer recommendation, despite low trust in influencers amongst 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 in the future.

  • 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.

Get started with Coursera

If you're exploring a career in influencer marketing or want to increase your digital marketing expertise, a great place to start is with a Professional Certificate, such as Google's Digital Marketing & E-Commerce Professional Certificate. Develop the skills and knowledge you need to engage your audience through digital channels and analyse effectiveness through data and analytics. Get job-ready in six months or less.

Article sources


Influencer Marketing Hub. “The State of Influencer Marketing 2023: Benchmark Report,” Accessed June 7, 2023.

Keep reading

Updated on
Written by:

Editorial Team

Coursera’s editorial team is comprised of highly experienced professional editors, writers, and fact...

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.