Those looking to grow their businesses and brands this year should consider the importance of “the influencer.” According to marketing firm fishbat, leveraging relationships with social media influencers – users with significant social (and very often traditional) media followings – to promote your brand’s products and services is a smart social marketing strategy. Getting an influencer’s stamp of approval is an effective way to introduce your brand to new social media users and convert many of them into paying customers.

If you’re curious about what this type of strategy looks like in practice, read on for fishbat’s four tips and best practices for growing your brand with influencer marketing.

More Than a Popularity Contest

It may seem counterintuitive, but the best influencer partnerships for your brand may not be the ones with the highest number of followers. This is not to suggest that raw data such as followers, likes and other engagements shouldn’t factor in your decision to partner with an influencer – of course they do. (And influencer identification platforms like SocMetrics and Appinions make finding that data easier than ever.) But in addition to asking an influencer “how many followers?” consider also asking “how aligned are our followers?”.

The latter question cuts to the core of an effective influencer marketing strategy. A captive audience of thousands of followers loses value if it isn’t representative of your target customer. Before you begin an influencer marketing strategy, it is necessary to have a clear image of who you are trying to reach. Create a profile of your target customer. Think beyond basic demographics such as age, gender and location. What are your target customer’s values? What motivates them? Devise a list of adjectives that best describes them. Use this profile to determine which influencers’ followings are the best fit for your brand.

Tell a Great Story

The most successful influencer marketing campaigns do more than just place products in the hands of willing social media leaders – they tell a great story. An effective influencer campaign will feel organic to social media followers, and when you’ve partnered with best-fit influencers, that story will develop naturally. A robust social media influencer marketing strategy will show that your company partnered with someone who not only tells an engaging story about your brand but also compels their followers to follow through on your call to action.

Keep it Real

Think regarding your brand’s partnerships. You want your brand to be touted by influencers who have an authentic connection to your products and services. It matters that the influencers you choose to partner with are people that are respected and admired. Another factor that can be important is reading their books and blogs and following them on social media. If your brand has a real connection to your influencers, that authenticity will shine through in your campaigns together.

Play by the Rules

The FTC requires that all brands and influencers disclose their relationship if there is a “material connection” that might affect the credibility consumers give their endorsement. There are several ways that the influencers you partner with can disclose your relationship:

The brand connection can be revealed in the post itself, i.e. “I was given this product for free and decided to try it.” Keep in mind, this kind of disclosure would not be sufficient if the influencer was given the product for free and got paid for the post.

The brand relationship can be revealed with an appropriate hashtag such as #ad or #sponsored at the beginning of the post. Bear in mind, the FTC considers this a sufficient disclosure if it is revealed at the beginning of the post – not buried in a sea of hashtags at the end.

You may also consider utilizing the services of a social media compliance platform such as to create coded URLs and badges that link to your brand’s unique FTC disclosures.

Source: fishbat

Published with permission from RISMedia.