Opinion: 5 ways to hone your influencer marketing strategy

Opinion: 5 ways to hone your influencer marketing strategy

Will Cooke, executive director, strategy and innovation at Golin, presents his five top tips to hone your influencer marketing strategy. 

Work backwards, and start with why


Successful marketing comes from real understanding of business priorities, brand ambition and audience needs. It seems simple, but start with why are we doing this?

Be clear on the business objective or customer pain point you want to influence, it enables you to be more inventive with your campaigns, build more valuable relationships and ultimately demonstrate greater value.

Influencer marketing can drive multiple stages of the customer journey, but there is not one approach that can solve all your problems. Once you have your ‘why’, make sure everyone knows what you need to achieve to be successful, while steering clear of meaningless metrics.

Who do you want to influence?


Consumers engage with people who represent their interests, so brands must find influencers who have the most credible connection to those interests, not just those with the biggest followers.

People know when influencer marketing is not genuine and when it’s transactional, so invest time in defining what relevance means to the brand, business and audience then find the influencers who share your purpose.

Golin sees influencer marketing as an art and science, which involves balancing qualitative analysis (brand fit, aesthetic) with quantitative tools to look beyond follower numbers and identify relevant influencers – improving ROI in the process.

Creativity is your greatest weapon


Audiences may have accepted #ad in the newsfeed but it doesn’t mean they are happy about it. A brief of ‘work with influencers’ will lead to brand blandness and newsfeed blindness. Audience attention is earned (and ROI improved) with genuine collaboration and remarkable creativity.

Find the shared insight, brand truth or emotional connection and explore it in ways that benefit everyone. We should aspire to create culture, rather than simply campaign collateral, so think about which other channels content can work in now, next week and even next year.

Relationships. It’s not so complicated


Influencer marketing may feel like it has exploded out of nowhere, but hasn’t it always been about making friends and influencing people? This power of influence on social platforms has moved away from the tyranny and waste of always-on social, while #authenticity has become a devalued commodity to be bought and sold.

Now we need to embrace ‘always in’ culture. Brands need to think long term and create genuine equity by embedding themselves in culture, developing mutually beneficial relationships and growing advocates by celebrating their community.

Measurement is not a retrospective activity


Instil measurement throughout the campaign by setting defined goals. Start with clear objectives that link back to your original business objective, for example build brand love or drive product purchase.

You must then take a wider view of measurement across the customer journey. Don’t be a slave to reach, set a range of more relevant and richer KPIs that will allow you to understand the outputs, behavioural change outcomes and ultimately business value impact.

Remember, don’t see influencer marketing in isolation, the approach may lead to a website visit, consideration in-store or word of mouth recommendation – all of which can be measured.


Cooke’s tips are derived from Golin’s Influencer Consumer Attitudes Report 2018, which can be found here.

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