With New Year’s fast approaching, your marketing team has probably already started setting goals for 2021. And as social media increasingly shapes consumer decisions in the stay-at-home economy, we’re guessing that building and sustaining an effective influencer program is likely at the top of the ticket. But how do you know that your efforts to connect with and inspire content creators are really paying off? And, more importantly, how can you make sure that the influencers who endorse you t
oday will continue to champion you throughout the coming year? The influencer marketing space is complex and dynamic, and there’s no cheat sheet for launching Instagram’s next cult brand. However, by understanding the composition of your fan community, and keeping tabs on metrics like relationship retention and fit, you can cultivate a family of passionate, loyal advocates who will drive consistent and impactful conversation. Here are some key strategies that beauty, fashion, wellness, and lifestyle brands can use to stand out online in 2021 and beyond. Group influencers by their Posting activity to optimise your outreach Not all influencers are created equal – at least, for your brand! While every relationship is valuable, offering each member of your brand’s network the same attention can wind up being a waste of time (not to mention exhausting). Instead, savvy brands can make the most of limited resources by organising their influencer communities into four groups based on the recency and consistency of their posting, and then tailoring their outreach accordingly. Retained fans have posted about your brand at least once every three months, for the past six months. These are your most loyal and impactful supporters, and the most likely to continue advocating for you in the future. New fans have posted about your brand in the past three months, but not the three months before that. They may have recently discovered or rediscovered your brand, and it’s crucial that you sustain their enthusiasm to prompt continued content creation. Lost fans did not post about your brand in the past three months, but did so in the three months before that. These influencers have expressed an affinity for your products, but may have recently lost interest. Marketers should swiftly re-engage this cohort or risk curtailing the lifetime value of relationships they’ve already invested in. Potential fans have not posted about you in the past six months, but are likely to appreciate what you offer. They may mention brands similar to yours, or create content that aligns with your brand’s messaging. Because these influencers may be entirely unaware of your brand, it will take some extra work to welcome them into your community. Once you’ve broken down your influencer network into smaller, more manageable groups, you can create targeted outreach strategies for each cohort. Because retained fans are the most valuable members of your community, devote the majority of your resources to sustaining these relationships rather than exclusively discovering and recruiting new and potential fans. It’s important to understand that these groups are highly dynamic. Think of influencers as leads in a marketing funnel, who need to be nurtured from one group to the next as they develop stronger and stronger connections to your brand. Effective nurturing will look different for each group. Retained fans might eagerly accept a virtual or in-person event invitation, but a personalised product send is a more appropriate way to pique the interest of a new fan. Forge long-term relationships for a lasting impact When it comes to assessing the overall strength of your influencer marketing program, you can look at any number of statistics, from the number of influencers talking about you, to the volume of content created about you, to your brand’s earned media value, or EMV (Tribe Dynamics’ proprietary metric for quantifying the estimated value of digital earned media). But the most reliable indicator of your program’s health is relationship retention: that is, the proportion of influencers who posted about you in the last three months, who also posted about you in the three months prior. The greater your relationship retention, the more loyal and genuinely invested your influencer advocates are, so it’s no surprise that strong relationship retention is correlated with sustained growth in EMV. Relationship retention doesn’t happen by accident. Consistent posting comes from consistent outreach, and making an ongoing effort to re-engage content creators – particularly valuable retained fans – so they don’t lose interest is key to keeping influencers active and invested. Marketers can also drive retention by ensuring that their relationships with fans are collaborative and mutually empowering, rather than purely transactional. Like you, influencers are professionals, and they’re as eager to build their personal brands and grow their audiences as you are to expand your brand’s digital footprint. By furnishing content creators with opportunities to advance their careers, from simply re-posting content to collaborating on a new product or collection, you can lay the foundation for a lasting partnership rooted in genuine appreciation and trust. Kate Hudson’s athleisure brand Fabletics, for example, has assembled a devoted and impactful fan base thanks largely to its impressive suite of collaborations, which include limited-edition collections with Gen Z dancer and social media phenomenon Maddie Ziegler (@maddieziegler) and singer Kelly Rowland (@kellyrowland). But the label doesn’t just celebrate stars: Fabletics also boasts a prolific community of both smaller-scale and established influencer partners, whom it regularly furnishes with content creation opportunities. It’s no surprise, then, that the brand’s $37.4 million EMV in Q3 represented a 183 per cent year-over-year surge – and that over 40 per cent ($15.2 millin EMV) of Fabletics’ total was driven via mentions of #FableticsAmbassador. Notably, all but four of the brand’s top 50 Q3 EMV-drivers had mentioned the brand the previous quarter. Let data decide if an influencer is a good fit Many marketers opt to work with influencers based solely on follower count, or whether they are the embodiment of a desired aesthetic. While the look and feel of an influencer’s content certainly plays a role in how well they align with your brand’s identity, the most reliable way to determine whether or not a blogger will prove a valuable partner is by letting their audience speak: that is, examining how their followers respond to mentions of your brand. At Tribe Dynamics, we calculate an influencer’s “fit” by comparing the engagement that their posts about a given brand receive, relative to posts that don’t mention that brand. If their branded content garners equal, or higher engagement than that influencer’s other content, the influencer is a good fit. If engagement with branded content is substantially lower, we recommend that a brand seek out a different partner. Taking this data-driven approach to assessing fit is helpful on a few different levels. First, thinking about fit this way allows brands to ensure that their message resonates not only with influencers themselves, but also with their followers, the consumers you’re aiming to win over in the first place (after all, that’s the whole point of influencer marketing.). Second, because content creators are motivated by audience engagement, influencers who enjoy enthusiastic responses when they post about you will be more likely to post about you moving forward, and become retained fans. In fact, brands with strong fit also tend to retain a greater proportion of their influencers than brands with weaker fit. Fourth Ray Beauty, ColourPop’s 2018-launched clean skincare spinoff, is especially savvy when it comes to choosing on-brand influencers. One of Fourth Ray Beauty’s first champions, for instance, was YouTube sensation Kathleen Fuentes, a longtime ColourPop fan with a penchant for both skincare and sustainable beauty products. In Q3, the rising brand powered $15.8 million EMV from 1.0k influencers as one of the three highest-earning skincare brands in the U.S., while its EMV-per-ambassador average of $15.1k outperformed every other top 10 brand in the vertical. As you navigate the competitive, rapidly evolving influencer economy, and adapt your program to emergent social media platforms like TikTok, fostering lasting, collaborative relationships with content creators across your community will no doubt remain the cornerstone of an impactful influencer marketing strategy. Keep the following takeaways in mind, and you’re well-equipped to lead the pack in 2021. Tailor your influencer outreach based on posting activity Segment out your influencer community based on the recency and consistency of content creators’ posts about your brand, and give your most consistent advocates the most TLC. Retained relationships create long-term value Increase the proportion of influencers who keep posting about you quarter after quarter through ongoing outreach and collaboration in order to set yourself up for lasting success. Work with influencers whose audiences are listening To gauge whether or not an influencer is a good fit for your brand, look at whether their posts about your brand receive the same or more engagement as posts that don’t mention your brand. You want their followers to love you as much as they do.