How to Develop an Influencer Marketing Strategy

by | Last updated Jan 11, 2023 | Digital Marketing

Read Time: 8 min read

Summary: TL;DR: Before diving into influencer marketing, define your campaign goals, target audience, budget, and type of influencer. Micro-influencers with smaller followings often have higher engagement rates and are cost-effective. Macro-influencers offer wider reach but may lack authenticity. Mega-influencers like the Kardashians have massive reach but come with high costs. Consider different content types like paid ads and promo codes to engage followers. Brands like Red Bull and GoPro sell a lifestyle, not just products. Collaborate with influencers who align with your brand values. Grant influencers creative control to maintain authenticity. Overall, choose influencers wisely to create impactful and authentic content that resonates with your target audience.

Considering that influencer marketing has become a popular trend in the digital marketing world, it might be tempting for brands to dive right in. But before you start adjusting your marketing strategy to incorporate influencers, you should take some time to figure out the best way to go about creating a campaign. Here are some questions you should keep in mind before getting started.

What Are Your Campaign Goals?

The first step in crafting an influencer campaign is to sit down and define your marketing goals. Not only will this help you decide which influencers to work with, but it also allows you to determine the type of content you want influencers to produce and share for your brand.

What should your goals be? Stick to what’s measurable on social media. You need to be able to quantify what you’re spending so that you can actually track what’s happening. If you’re not sure what to keep track of, consider key metrics like:

  • Post engagement (likes, comments, shares, etc.)
  • Website traffic
  • Conversions (product sales, form submissions)
  • Followers (gains and losses)

The whole idea of using an influencer is to grab the attention of new customers. You need to be keep watch over whether or not your campaign is working in real-time so you can adjust accordingly, and not wait until a contract has expired to find out if your investment was worth it or not.

Who Is Your Target Audience?

You can’t choose who you want to speak on your behalf if you don’t already know who you’re speaking to. The better you define your target demographic, the easier it is to find social media influencers who are relevant to that audience.

Not sure how to find your audience? Start by creating audiences in different social media advertising platforms and running regular, non-influencer ads. Using Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, create highly-specific audiences that group followers of your pages by age, gender, and specific interests to start.

After an ad runs, check your analytics to see how ads fared with each audience. You should be able to decipher quickly if ads will work better with men, women, the young, the more established, and which platforms saw the most interaction. Once you have that, you can then take that information to find influencers.

Remember that social media influencers don’t appeal to all audiences. Different people communicate better with certain groups, and you can narrow down choices pretty quickly if you know who you’re trying to reach.

What’s Your Budget?

Influencer marketing budgets greatly differ depending on company size and strategy. 19% of companies planned to spend between $1,000-$10,000 on influencer marketing in 2019, and 18% planned to spend between $100,000-$500,000.

Even though there’s a wide range of dollars being spent on influencer marketing, know that you don’t have to blow up your other budgets to meet these ranges. If you’re just getting started, starting lower with smaller influencers is a more cost-effective approach.

But not all of that budget will be going toward paying influencers. In some instances, paying an influencer isn’t feasible for some brands. If your budget is limited, compensation doesn’t have to be constrained to cash. Exposure and exclusivity can be just as important to influencers as money. Additionally, you can provide influencers with:

  • New product samples to review before they’re released to the public
  • Discounts on products or services
  • Free access to exclusive events or experiences
  • Access to exclusive content and deals
  • Appearances in brand videos and social media posts

What Type of Influencer Will You Work With?

Choosing the right influencers allows you to bypass the skepticism and fatigue associated with traditional advertising by introducing your products and services to consumers through a person they already know and trust.

Social media influencers usually build authority within their particular niches, so their opinions, decisions, and purchases can have an impact on their followers. In fact, 72% of customers trust a business more after it’s recommended by an influencer.

Of course, the size of the influencer’s audience plays a large role in their effectiveness, but bigger doesn’t always mean better. Here’s how to choose between micro and macro influencers…

Micro-Influencers (500-10,000 followers)

While micro influencers don’t have massive followings, they tend to be closely connected with their audiences. Influencers with 1,000 followers have 85% higher engagement than those with 100,000. They come across as authentic, everyday people. And because micro influencers have smaller audiences, there’s a higher probability they’ll interact with each individual follower. These interactions make followers feel they truly “know” the influencer, which creates trust and loyalty. Micro influencers are also less expensive to work with and are more likely to accept non-monetary forms of compensation that can help them grow their audience or authority.

Macro-Influencers (10,001 to 999,999 followers)

What micro influencers have in approachability, macro influencers have in reach and authority. These people are often household names who are accustomed to partnering with brands. It’s often easier to work with one macro influencer than a team of individual micro influencers. However, macro influencers are more expensive to work with, and their messaging tends to lack the authenticity micro influencers carry. And while micro influencers are more likely to respond to individual replies to their content, macro influencers have too wide a reach to respond to most comments, which can create a distance between the influencer and their followers.

Mega-Influencers (1 Million+ Followers)

There’s one more influencer type out there, but for some businesses it might not be feasible to work with them. Mega-influencers are the biggest of the big when it comes to influencer marketing. Think the Kardashians.

To get one of them signed on to promote your product through a traditional influencer campaign, you’d need a big budget. If you have the money to work with mega-influencers, it could be worth it. Just remember that while you may get massive reach through these influencers, you may not be reaching the customers you want.

What Will Your Have Influencers Share?

The type of content you want an influencer to create or share will be largely based on their preferred medium. Bloggers will write reviews, Instagram influencers will share photos and stories, and YouTubers will post videos.

But think about what you want them to say and how that message will be delivered. Will you ask influencers to post on their personal accounts? Or do you want them to create content that your brand will share? Here are a few examples to some of the approaches utilized today…


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Should I go to college to become a photographer?” People ask me this all the time. While I can’t say for sure what the right path is for every person, I do know that you need to keep learning. One of my favorite ways to do that is with @audible_ca. I spend a lot of time walking to my studio, driving to shoots, or just exploring my neighborhood looking for things to shoot. One of my favorite ways to make the most of that time is to listen to audio books on business management and productivity. That way even if I get lost down some new alley or path, I still feel like I got something done. Learn more about getting started with Audible – your first audiobook is free. #YouGottaHearThis #Audibleanywhere #ad

A post shared by Jesse Driftwood (@jessedriftwood) on

Photographer Jesse Driftwood partnered with Audible a few years ago and through paid ads, weaved using the audiobook service into his daily life. Driftwood tagged Audible in captions to be clear and upfront about the promotion, but followers weren’t bothered because the content was consistent with what the originally followed him for.

More recently, Instagram has actually made it easier for influencers to post paid advertisements without confusing followers who might wonder “Is this an ad?” by adding a “Sponsored” label on posts like Driftwood’s. This has been a welcome sight for brands and consumers, as it’s a straightforward approach regarding what’s an ad and what’s not.

Promo Codes


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A post shared by Madara Lieciniece (@callmemaddieofficial) on

Getting people to purchase items can be difficult, but when you give consumers a discount opportunity for just being a follower, you might just make a sale. Swedish watchmaker brand Daniel Wellington does this well, with influencers subtly sharing images of them wearing watches.

To benefit both the influencer and their brand, Daniel Wellington creates promo codes specific to the micro influencers so their followers can then use the codes to purchase an item. This not only provides the influencers’ audiences with additional value, but can also make a campaign’s metrics easier to track.

Will You Promote a Specific Lifestyle?

Many brands have moved from directly selling products or services to now selling a particular lifestyle. This makes it easier for them to reach their customers and connect with them on a more personal level.

A great example—Red Bull is one of dozens of energy drinks on the market, yet it’s created a unique niche by positioning itself as the beverage for adrenaline junkies and extreme sport athletes. But Red Bull’s Instagram account isn’t just filled with cans of Red Bull or photos of the logo. It’s a continuous stream of people snowboarding, weightlifters in the gym, skateboarders at the X Games, and more. With sponsored athletes and user-generated content, they’ve crafted a lifestyle around their products that’s resulted in curating a dedicated following.

Red Bull isn’t the only brand that does this. GoPro utilizes similar techniques, as does outdoor co-op REI. Learn from what these brands have done to determine what your brand’s lifestyle will be, then start looking for influencers who embrace that lifestyle. By working with influencers who closely match your brand’s values and the lifestyle you’re looking to promote, you’re more likely to have an impact on your target audience.

Who Will Get Creative Control of Posts?

Established brands have developed a specific look, feel, and voice that consumers recognize when seeing advertisements and social media copy. When brand content doesn’t match what an audience is used to, it can be jarring and feel disingenuous. That’s why it’s important to determine whether you or the influencer will have creative control of what gets posted.

When working with an influencer, you never want to make it feel as though they have no say. They also have an image and a brand they’ve cultivated over time that they want to maintain (just like your brand). So while you may have a specific vision for how a campaign will go, your best solution may be to meet in the middle to ensure posts feel authentic for both parties.

With content, be sure to offer examples of how your brand talks about or displays certain products so influencers aren’t going in blind. Provide your brand guide to offer guidance on how you typically craft messaging, and share photos you’ve used before. In some instances, influencers may even ask you to provide content for them.

Nearly 80% of marketers have no issues granting social media influencers creative control. Just keep the dialogue alive and raise concerns if an influencer’s content is straying from your brand’s established voice. But if you put in the legwork to find the right people, the content should be authentic.

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