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Kirsten Galliott Editor In Chief, Qantas magazine Travel Insider Medium Rare Content

How to refine your influencer marketing strategy

For any brand or publisher to succeed, it’s pretty clear that we need people to find us, talk about us and trust us.

One of the most effective and efficient ways to achieve these goals is through “influencer marketing” – partnering with people who have influence over, and high engagement within, a key target group. It’s often treated as a strategic silver bullet: simply find someone with loads of followers, give them some cash and watch the results roll in.

Influencer marketing isn’t quite so magical. It isn’t even new. Influencer marketing is simply marketing. “Influencers” are publishers and using the audience of another publisher has been going on since the dawn of marketing time. Done poorly, it can be incredibly expensive and fruitless. Done well, it can change your game. 

Here are some simple tips for ensuring your influencer marketing strategy is working as hard as it can:

Size isn't everything

It’s easy to go straight to the top and assume that partnering with someone with the greatest number of followers is the best way forward. However, in terms of effectiveness and value for your dollar this isn’t always the case.

Consider seeking out “micro-influencers”. A particular follower threshold doesn’t make someone a micro-influencer as such. Essentially, these are people who may not have the most followers in their category compared with the top players but instead have targeted and engaged audiences in concentrated local areas or around niche topics. 

Specialist influencer marketing agency HelloSociety (hellosociety.com) reports these figures on the effectiveness of micro-influencers:

And there’s trust in this intimacy, says HelloSociety CEO Kyla Brennan: “When it comes to celebrity accounts, who have maybe millions of followers, nobody actually believes that a celebrity is a real fan of a product they’re trying to sell.”

You have to track

This seems so obvious but it often gets lost in influencer marketing – you must set a clear KPI or goal up-front.

Do you want people to sell something for you? Drive entries to a competition? Increase subscriptions? Or is it simply about reach/brand love?

You must find a way to track this. 

If you’re unable to invest immediately in tracking or social listening tools, there are a few simple things you can try. 

For sales, give your influencers a custom URL with a tracking code to use in their Instagram bio link and any other posts. 

If your goal is sentiment-based, establish a campaign hashtag for the influencers to use and to encourage their followers to use. Monitor the sentiment and quality of all content posted to the hashtag. 

You have to trust

Influencer marketing is about trusting the individual publisher to create content that will resonate best with their own audience.

You can, of course, brief them on your brand and campaign goals but you must relinquish all creative control to the individual to be as personal and real as they want.

As an example, earlier this year Medium Rare ran a competition in conjunction with QantasLink to uncover Australia’s best town. We have massive reach across our Qantas and Qantas magazine owned channels and promoted heavily in this space. In the past, this strategy had been very successful but perhaps the pushes from our branded accounts weren’t resonating with the personal nature of this competition.

The visual stories they created about their own towns were beautiful and authentic – and if we were too restrictive regarding how entrants’ videos should look, it would not have delivered the same results. 

This approach was extremely effective for us and we saw a huge increase in entries that we can time directly with the posting from these accounts.

Influencer video produced for the QantasLink #MyTownSpirit competition – personal and beautiful with creative control sitting with the individual

You have to dig

The biggest question is: how do I find the right influencers to partner with? 

Subscription tools and specialist agencies, such as Tribe (tribegroup.co) and Scrunch (scrunch.com), can help you find the right people to suit your budget and goals. 

If you want to discover the most engaged accounts on your topic without investing in third-party tools, you’ll need to manually *dig*.

This involves going through hashtags to check what accounts are being featured at the top. You can’t do this just for general hashtags – you’ll only find major accounts here. You need to drill down and look at very specific hashtags to find the right mix of people. Start with general (e.g. #travel) then look at niche (e.g. #travelfoodies), idiosyncratic hashtags that have been developed by the community (e.g. #mytinyatlas) and brands (e.g. #qftravelinsider) as well as localised hashtags (e.g. #sydneyfoodies).

Start with the hashtags you know. Instagram will then recommend new ones, so you’ll begin to discover new hashtags and accounts.

This is basic and boring. But it’s also a really important process and a wise investment for your brand. Finding the right mix of people at different levels is key to incorporating influencers into your marketing mix.

Top tips for influencer marketing success 

  • Look for targeted accounts that speak to the right niche/local area for you
  • Build long-term relationships that are mutually beneficial
  • Set KPIs and track your activity to the best of your abilities 
  • Trust your publishing partners 
  • Constantly dig and look for content and accounts that are popular on different types of hashtags (large hashtags but also niche and localised hashtags)