There are many benefits to partnering with influencers and in using Influencer Marketing as part of an overall marketing strategy. Such benefits include more brand exposure and awareness, improved search engine ranking through high-quality organic links, increased credibility, better consumer targeting through social media analytics, new leads, and ultimately, grade conversion. But how can we plan and execute a successful influencer marketing campaign? Let's look at a few key steps. First, setting goals. Before engaging with influencers, it is essential to establish goals for your Influencer Marketing strategy. These goals should be tied to the objectives set for your social media marketing strategy and should always tie to the goals of the business. Examples of goals can include brand awareness, reach, brand reputation, perception in the market, increased post engagement, increased website traffic, lead generation, lead conversion, increased sales, and more. It is also important to establish specific key performance indicators for each goal, so that you are able to measure the success of the Influencer Marketing strategy. I'll discuss the KPIs of digital marketing in another lecture. Once the goals in specific KPIs are established, the next step is to determine who you are trying to influence and then the social media channels they interact with. The target market could include a company's customers or prospects who work in a specific job function or industry. You must conduct careful research to determine social media use by the target market. For example, Instagram and YouTube are among the most popular channels for Influencer Marketing. LinkedIn is a good platform for B2B influencers, while Twitter is an effective channel to influence the news media. While Facebook is still dominating the social media space, fewer people from the younger generation are actively using the platform. After determining the right target market and the social media channels to use, the next step is to try to identify and find influencers that this target market will trust. The target audience must trust and respect opinion of the influencer in order for the strategy to be successful. It is important to keep in mind that users from different demographics, cultures, and regions are influenced by very different kinds of influencers on different platforms. For example, research has shown that YouTube stars have more influence over teenagers when compared to mainstream household celebrities like Taylor Swift. Data from Twitter show that people aged 45 and up prefer celebrities as the influencers. Bigger is not always better in Influencer Marketing. You must carefully balance the cost and then benefit of choosing different types of influencers for different goals. Macro influencers have huge followings, but they often work with so many different brands that it is extremely and costly to secure their exclusivity. They may post 20 posts about 20 different things a day, and each may be read by a million followers, but the followers can be very diverse and scattered, which reduces the impact of your influencer campaign. Micro influencers may lack reach and activity, but they can make up for that by having high levels of credibility and engagement. A recent study from Marketly found that as an influencer's number of followers rises, the rate of engagement decreases. Users with less than a thousand followers generally receive likes on their posts 8% of the time, while users with 10 million followers only receive likes 1.6% of the time. The study found that influencers in the 10K-100K followers range offered the best combination of engagement and broad reach, exceeding influencers with higher followers. Business budgets and goals will also play a big role in determining the type of influencer to work with. If the business goal is for a brand message to reach the largest audience possible a big-name celebrity influencer may be the right fit, but these influencers can be very costly. On the other hand, brands that would like a more targeted approach may choose to work with micro influencers who can be more cost effective and achieve similar results once you identify the right influencers for the campaign. But before you reach out to them, it is extremely important to set up monitoring and listening streams so that you can track these influencers positioning and decide how to best engage with them. You want to start engaging and interacting with target influencer on social media to develop a relationship before reaching out to them directly. Share, like, or reply to an article or blog he or she has written. After listening and engaging with the potential influencer, it is now time to reach out to discuss potential partnerships. Influencers derive value from partnering with brands. Companies will need to define specific benefits for working with influencers. Benefits could include financial compensation or free products or services to give away to his or her audience. Once a partnership has been established, it's time to harness the power of the influencer by incorporating influencer marketing into your overall social media strategy. Some of the tactics of influencer communication and engagement include using influencers to promote a brand's content by posting on their own social media accounts, using influencers to share content from a company's social media channel, inviting influencers to be guest bloggers, inviting them to speak at events and then stream these events on social media, and giving influencers free products to try in exchange for a review or a mention on social media. Finally, once the influencer campaign is launched, you must analyze and track the performance with social media analytics. Most social media influencers will provide their partner companies with detailed results for engagements, impressions, followers, and more from their social media accounts. It's important to take close look at the statistics against your goals and specific APIs. You should ask questions like: Was the target audience reached? How many of them were reached? Was there an increase in post engagement? Was there an increase in website traffics, inquiries, or sales? How did the brand's online presence improve compared to competitors? How many positive references and mentions were there on social media and how was your brand perception changed? Influencer marketing has gone from the fringe of digital marketing to front and center as more and more companies recognize its power and potential. At the same time, governments and industries are working in parallel to standardize the practices and address critical, ethical, legal, and professional concerns. Marketers now also have access to many tools that help identify influencers with engaging networks within the defined target market. Tools like Onalytica, Followerwonk, BuzzSumo, Klout, and HootSuite can help companies discover and map the influencers that are most influential, listen to what influencers are saying, interact with and develop relationship with them, and provide detailed reporting and ROI.