Developing a compelling social media strategy is both time-consuming and highly effective. Influencer-generated content is a technique that allows you to save time curating your social presence.
When it comes to authenticity, influencer-generated content has an advantage of over branded content. That’s why many brands are shifting their social media strategy that integrates their influencer marketing with their overall social media strategy.
In this article, we’ll discuss why it makes sense to merge your social media marketing with influencers and how to do it. To access a more in-depth look at how to integrate your influencer marketing into your social media activity, check out our recent webinar/podcast recordings with social media experts:
- Influencer Marketing Podcast Episode 8: #FactCheck Let’s be honest. Social Media is just social…media
- Brands Working Remote Talking Influencers: Ten Tree
Social Media in 2020
Even before COVID-19 left people with little more to do than stay home and use their mobile devices, social media offered consumers a new way to connect with each of their favorite brands.
As social media platforms put analytics to good use, they are enhancing the user experience. In just a few short years, social media went from a scroll, like, and comment environment to a digital ecosystem where users engage, compete, promote social causes, document their life experience, and even date other users.
“Social media users are now spending an average of 2 hours and 24 minutes per day multi networking across an average of 8 social networks and messaging apps.” – Smart Insights
D2C brands are also innovating their social media strategies to achieve more authentic engagement. From live events to influencer marketing campaigns, social media now draws together consumer personal lives and shopping habits.
How Social Media Can Amplify and Grow Brands
Social media humanizes your brand. An active social media presence allows your customers and employees to connect with your brand emotionally.
These days, it’s impossible to have a meaningful digital presence without being active on social media. D2C brands understand that connecting with consumers is not an easy task. But when certain social platforms nurture online communities of people promoting a specific lifestyle, D2C brands have a unique opportunity to capitalize.
“Social media gives you another layer – a peek behind the curtains. That is really beneficial for brands because it brings authenticity to the table. There is a story and a purpose behind the brand.” – Katya Allison, Director of Marketing Content for GRIN, Influencer Marketing Podcast, Episode 8
Brands that use social media masterfully in 2020 are those that recognize that each platform requires a different approach. Just because one social strategy worked with your audience on Instagram doesn’t mean that it will produce the same results on Twitter or Facebook.
The Power of Influencers on Social Media
Rather than try to perform all social media activity yourself, you can lean on the experience and creative genius of influencers. Influencers exist in every social media platform and are authoritative power users.
More importantly, influencers curate intimate online communities of fans surrounding a specific quality of life. These followers aren’t merely hitting the “like” button – they are commenting, sharing, and following through on product recommendations from their favorite influencers.
“The main goal was content, but why not open the door for these influencers to share a new brand with their community? Most of these campaigns ended up having a 4x performance.” – Lindsey Derer from Ten Tree, Brands Working Remote Talking Influencers
Partnering with influencers can do more than amplify your social media efforts. In fact, using the right influencers can help you achieve more through social media than you ever thought possible.
That said, influencer marketing can stand alone as a powerful marketing strategy, as can your social media strategy. But when you merge these efforts, you will enhance your overall ROI. Influencer-generated content can help you achieve a host of marketing KPIs including, but not limited to:
- Increase brand page followers
- Boost sales
- Promote holiday sales and new product launches
- Increase general brand awareness
- Promote branded events
- Boost website SEO
Integrating Influencers into Your Social Media Strategy
If you’re familiar with social media marketing but are new to the idea of influencer marketing, we’re going to walk you through what it looks like to merge your current social media efforts with influencer campaigns.
Identifying Your Objectives
The first step to any sound marketing approach is to establish your goals. These goals should be specific and attainable.
For example, it’s not enough to know that you need content. Rather, you should think clearly about what you want your content to accomplish.
- Do you want your social media efforts to drive sales?
- Are you just hoping to increase brand awareness?
Upon establishing your social media objectives, it will be easier for you to combine your influencer and social media efforts. With clear goals, you can discuss them with your influencers.
But establishing your social media and influencer objectives is not enough. You need to find a way to measure progress. To do this effectively, you’ll need to track content performance.
From your social media objectives, you’ll create key performance indicators that establish what you hope to achieve by way of engagement (likes, comments, shares, etc.) and click-thru rates.
It is ideal that you have a system for tracking influencers and their engagement metrics. GRIN’s automated influencer platform generates this key data for you, to include an up-to-date influencer database and integration tools with the leading social channels (Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, etc.).
If you’re not ready to invest in an influencer relationship management tool just yet, you can track this information manually using spreadsheets. To get started with influencer tracking, check out our guide, “When to Take Your Influencer Marketing from Spreadsheets to Automation.”
Find Influencers that Align with Your Brand
Arguably the most critical part of any influencer campaign is finding the right influencer(s) for your brand.
Your desired influencer should be relevant to your industry, maintain a social following that aligns with yours, and curate strong engagement with their followers. Be sure to look beyond follower counts and post likes:
- Do their followers provide meaningful, positive comments?
- Do followers share their posts?
- Do their posts produce ongoing user-generated content?
Connect with Influencers that Share Your Desired Audience
As you become more familiar with those influencers that match what you’re looking for, it’s important that you pay close attention to how they operate. It may even make sense to follow them and share a comment or two to establish a connection.
When you’re ready to recruit these influencers, you can start reaching out to them directly. Using direct messaging or email, let the influencer know who you are and what you’re looking for.
The most successful influencer relationships are those that are collaborative and long-term. Influencers are seasoned professionals with a wealth of knowledge about your shared audience. Their creative drive can transform your social media presence and endear more consumers to your brand.
Use Influencers for Inspiration
As you start planning your first influencer campaign, tell your influencer(s) what you like about their content. Allow the influencer to help you think outside the box.
Partnering with influencers means letting them use their creativity to put your products/services into action. The end result will demonstrate to audiences how your products/services can solve a problem or meet consumer needs.
As you scale your influencer program, don’t be afraid to borrow influencer content techniques for your own branded content.
Build Influencer Campaigns
Once you reach a campaign agreement with your influencer, you’ll need a few things to help you manage the campaign. The first task to complete is a campaign brief.
In this campaign brief, you’ll lay out the specifics of the campaign:
- What kind of posts the influencer will produce (tone, style, colors, etc.)
- The overall objective of the campaign (sales, brand awareness, etc.)
- How many times the influencer will post
- The time frame wherein posts will take place
- Any relevant links, tags, and hashtags you’ll need to track post-performance
One important consideration for your campaign is how you will attribute results to your influencer(s). Most experienced influencer marketers track attribution using discount codes or affiliate links (or both).
Either way, your campaign prep is the final step to ensure that you and your influencer are on the same page. Once you and the influencer feel confident that you both understand one another’s expectations, it’s time to launch your campaign.
Give Your Influencer Control
After stating your objectives and expectations, it’s time to let your influencer do their magic. While it’s important that you give your influencer guidance, micromanaging them will have a negative impact on your campaign results.
Lindsey Derer is both the social media and influencer marketing manager for Ten Tree Apparel. In a recent Brands Working Remote Talking Influencers webinar, Lindsey opened up about how she learned to incorporate influencers in her social media strategy.
“With the onset of this pandemic, a challenge that we had to tackle was a lack of [social media] content. We have an incredibly amazing, talented team that makes bone-chilling videos and beautiful imagery, but we weren’t able to do that safely anymore. We had to get creative and find a new way to sell our product.” – Lindsey Derer from Ten Tree, Brands Working Remote Talking About Influencers
Turning her attention to influencers, she decided to expand her social media strategy by setting up influencer campaigns.
“So I created a bunch of UGC-focused campaigns in GRIN with the main goal of just getting content. It was super exciting to give creative brains over to all these different [influencers] and let them portray Ten Tree in a way that they felt made sense.” – Lindsey Derer from Ten Tree, Brands Working Remote Talking About Influencers
Engage with Your Influencer-generated Content
As you begin to see traction from your influencer posts, don’t be afraid to share those posts, and provide meaningful engagement. Your existing social media audience will find the influencer’s content refreshing.
You can also like and comment on your influencers’ posts. These techniques can amplify influence post engagement and further enhance overall results. More importantly, your influencers will love the public encouragement by you offering “props” in your post comments/shares.
Own Your Influencer-generated Content
With each new influencer campaign, you’ll feel more confident about taking ownership of the content that your influencer’s produce. It’s important that you create agreements with influencers that allow you to repurpose content.
Additionally, you don’t have to view your influencer activity as a separate component to your social media marketing strategy. By integrating influencer content with your own content, you will achieve a better organic social media presence and expand your audience.
For example, Frenchie Bulldog established a goal of a minimum of six organic posts per day. Since the global pandemic negatively impacted the team from achieving the volume of organic posts they needed, they turned to influencers for help.
Now, Frenchie Bulldog has their influencers produce its daily content on social media. Not only did influencers help the marketing team meet their objectives, but the quality of audience engagement also increased since the influencer-generated content felt more genuine to consumers.
In Conclusion: Partner with Influencers to Ramp Up Your Social Media
For some brands, influencer marketing actually established those brands’ owned social channels. Influencers will draw substantial attention to your social media presence. Even budding social media accounts grow quickly with the help of influencer campaigns.
Above all, you should track results for all your social media efforts. By tracking and tweaking your social media approach, you’ll learn which techniques produce the best outcomes.