By now, there’s no question influencer marketing is a key aspect of any retail marketing campaign. The power of working with influencers has been proven too many times to count, but just because it’s a tried-and-true practice doesn’t mean it’s a one-size-fits-all solution. To implement a successful influencer marketing program, it’s crucial to understand the integral components first, and then begin tailoring your program to fit your brand’s specific needs. Here, I’ve outlined the most important factors to consider when planning your influencer marketing strategy and capturing earned media value (EMV).

Understand Your Influencer Community to Conduct Targeted Outreach

You’re in luck — if your brand is established on social media, chances are you already have a solid number of organic influencers. To flesh out an impactful influencer marketing program, start by identifying all your existing, new and potential partners. As outlined in Tribe Dynamics’ 2021 Influencer Marketing Strategy Planning Kit, the most effective way to map out the composition of your community is by segmenting influencers into four groups:

  • Retained Fans: Influencers that have posted about your brand at least once every three months for the past six months.
  • New Fans: Influencers who have posted about your brand in the past three months, but not the three months before that.
  • Lost Fans: Influencers who didn’t post about your brand in the past three months, but did mention it in the previous three months.
  • Potential Fans: Influencers who haven’t posted about your brand in the past six months, but  are likely to appreciate its offerings.

Once you’ve segmented out your influencer community, you can begin developing targeted plans that meet the specific needs of content creators in each category, which brings you into your next phase — relationship building.

Engage With Your Influencer Community to Develop Long-Lasting Relationships

Ultimately, influencers are just people. When a brand treats them with genuine respect and interest it goes a long way. An influencer engagement strategy is an important part of maintaining a healthy, expanding, and effective earned media program. Engagement can range from sharing or reacting to an influencer’s content from an owned brand account, to setting up personalized one-on-one meetings.

When planning an influencer engagement strategy, keep in mind the data you’ve already collected by segmenting your community. Understanding this data will inform your approach to maintaining or developing relationships with content creators. For example, if your brand is engaging a retained fan, you’ll want to structure your outreach around the successful posts they’ve already published.

Expand Your Influencer Network by Activating the Right Partners

Influencers don’t want their time wasted, and neither do you! Having a thoughtful plan to activate the best advocates for your brand is essential to building a sustainable influencer marketing program. To identify the right influencer partner, focus on the behavior of an influencer’s audience, rather than their follower count. Ask questions such as, “Does this content creator have fans who currently or may appreciate my brand?” Ensure the target influencer has a history of high engagement relative to their audience size, as an engaged following can be an indicator of a productive partnership. Activating the right influencers not only leads to more authentic content, but also results in longer-lasting relationships.

At the outset, developing a robust influencer strategy may seem like a daunting task, but it’s essential to any successful marketing campaign. By adhering to these key principles, you can build an influencer marketing program that reaches the right audience and propels your brand to even greater heights.