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If you’ve ever wondered whether you could use your existing digital and social skills professionally, you’re asking the right questions. Questions an influencer marketing manager might ask.
Just think of those big-name game developers who started out crafting simple software in their bedroom as a kid. Or, at a more mundane level, more than a few people became interested in user app testing because they had so much experience using apps themselves that they put those skills to use professionally.
Of course, any professional role will need some specialist knowledge; there’s no getting around that. But suppose you have even a little experience on the marketing side. In that case, you’re a social media animal, considering your next move—why not think about influencer marketing management?
What is an influencer marketing manager?
As the role of influencers in marketing has increased over the past decade, so has the need for specialists to manage them on behalf of brands. Of course, the idea behind influencer marketing is not new. Brand ambassador marketing has been around in one form or another since at least the 19th century, when established companies began to send samples of their products for free to influential people, hoping they’d recommend them.
Influencer marketing (IM) is just the modern incarnation of this. Today’s influencer marketing manager looks to find the perfect influencers to enhance their clients’ brands. In many ways, it’s a traditional marketing role but with a 21st-century twist.
Typical responsibilities of the job include:
- Searching for suitable influencers
- Developing campaigns
- Pitching to influencers
- Managing the brand-influencer relationship
- Developing content and maintaining an effective content calendar in conjunction with the client and the influencer
- Liaising with senior management
- Attending industry events
- Researching audiences and keeping an eye on competitors
- Reviewing analytics
The beauty of the role is that every day is different—although things can get pretty hectic. Remaining constantly available across multiple phone lines, and social media accounts isn’t for everyone. So let’s look at the skills that make an effective IM manager.
Via Brooke Lark on Unsplash
Knowing the target audience
Fundamental to any successful marketing strategy is a deep understanding of the people the brand wants to reach. In the case of IM, this is doubly important because the choice of influencer will depend entirely on the audience they attract within their niche. Failure to grasp the nature of the target audience in detail may result in selecting the wrong influencer altogether.
The IM manager may use several different techniques to achieve this. They may start with a target consumer profile or bio or run through some case studies. Time spent at this stage to fully understand the ideal customer is precious and can prevent problems later on.
It’s crucial to remember that influencers understand their audiences better than IM managers do. No amount of research will transcend that, so effective IM managers don’t aim for audience control. Instead, they focus on understanding the brand’s audience and goals first and then look for influencers whose audiences potentially overlap as much as possible.
Keeping up to date with IM trends
Everyone knows that the influencer space is constantly evolving. Staying on top of rapid trend cycles is paramount.
It’s not just about finding the creators who are breaking through—that’s a given. It’s making sure to be ahead of the game regarding industry research. New insights on improving lead generation or conversion rates evolve regularly. Any IM manager worth the name will be aware of this, and watch developments closely.
Excellent IM management takes more than simply being an avid user of Instagram. Initially, they may need to branch out into areas they’re not so familiar with. YouTube experts might find top influencer podcasts provide the best prospects for a particular client, though it requires research outside their familiar platform.
Via Pew Research
Influencer marketing involves detailed information about the demographics of each platform, channel, and account. To get the targeting right, the IM manager must have access to the latest research and know how to use it to benefit their clients.
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Selecting the right partner
This choice directly impacts the eventual success or failure of the relationship. There are many considerations to be taken into account before the IM manager dusts down their best Instagram etiquette and makes their first approach. Finding the best fit is critical, so it’s about selecting someone who aligns with the brand in three fundamental areas: reach and engagement, authenticity, and voice.
Reach and engagement
How many followers do the influencers have? And how important is that number? When many people hear the word “influencer,” they probably think of Dwayne Johnson or Selena Gomez—massive stars who are accomplished in their fields and have hundreds of millions of followers online.
Of course, as every marketer knows, going big isn’t always the right thing to do. There’s real value in hitting a niche and hitting it well. In general, influencers can be divided into four categories by active follower count:
- nano (1,000–10,000 followers)
- micro (10,000–100,000)
- macro (100,000–1 million)
- celebrity (over 1 million)
While it’s certainly possible to work with celebrity influencers, it tends to go well only if the brand’s target audience is relatively broad. And let’s face it—those influencers don’t come cheap either. Smaller-scale creators tend to have more genuine engagement with their followers, which helps reach a particular target market for a reasonable price.
Via George Pagan III on Unsplash
Caveat emptor. In everyday life, when you’re in the market to start a phone plan or buy a new product, you do careful research before committing. You don’t just believe whatever the advertisements tell you. The same is true of finding the ideal influencer for a brand.
Creators know there’s money to be made in the influencer game, and some aren’t above faking it to get attention. A focus on vanity metrics such as likes alone is, therefore, a bad idea. The signs that an account genuinely engages with its followers are much more important: e.g., comments and shared content metrics.
The chosen influencer’s content must align with the client’s needs in terms of tone and brand story. There’s no point in striking a deal with a macro-influencer with excellent engagement metrics if their content is fundamentally in conflict with the client’s brand story. A K barbecue influencer probably wouldn’t work to help launch a new vegetarian product.
Delivering a successful pitch
Whether the IM manager focuses on TikTok influencer marketing, YouTube creators, or podcasting solopreneurs, they only get one chance to make a good first impression. It’s vital to first interact with the influencer’s content before making that initial approach.
And when they do, it should present a solid idea of the goals for this relationship. What are the KPIs that will determine success in the campaign? Is the client looking for an increase in click-throughs and conversions on their website? Follower count growth? Make sure the numbers are clear.
Equally, the influencer should be left with no doubt about what they will be getting in return. There’s room for negotiation, but agreements like this might typically involve receiving free items, cash payments, or even commission on client sales.
Via Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash
Effective relationship management
There are two sides to relationship management. First, there’s the technical side. This includes making sure to have all the legal boxes ticked. Using as many resources as possible to help keep track of everything is not a bad idea. Good, simple contract management software, for example, will go a long way toward keeping everything in good shape.
But there’s also the human side. After all, influencers are in the business of showcasing their vulnerabilities as part of their content. It’s a massive part of what makes them so engaging to their followers. People relate to them. A core part of working with creatives like this is recognizing and respecting that relationship.
Putting a brand in front of numerous influencers could be a double-edged sword. Some influencers are fond of publishing negative reviews to look fair and authentic. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the content and reviews published by the influencers, so if anything goes wrong, an IM manager would be able to settle the issue in time. A review management software tool can help track reviews appearing on social media and other platforms.
The bottom line: it’s the IM manager’s job to please the client. If things aren’t working out, it’s sometimes better to end the relationship rather than force it to limp forward. That’s a tricky part of the job—but it comes with the territory.
As with any marketing campaign, it’s vital to assess how well the campaign is doing so that you can make tweaks to improve performance.
The IM manager is the liaison between the influencer and the broader marketing department. It’s their role to select the correct analytics, aligning them with the brand objectives. Clearly set out metrics will prove the influencer’s worth to the campaign and help prolong what will hopefully continue to be a flourishing relationship.
Could influencer marketing management be for you?
So you’ve got your best business mobile phone plan in place, you’re an expert in social media, and you’re looking for a new professional challenge. Maybe it’s time to get into IM management?
It’s a gratifying line of work. There’s nothing quite like seeing a creative campaign you’ve nurtured achieve impressive results for a client.
And who knows? You might even get to meet Selena Gomez!
Author bio: Richard Conn – Senior Director, Demand Generation, 8×8
Richard Conn is the Senior Director for Demand Generation at 8×8, a leading communication platform with integrated contact center, voice, video, and chat functionality offering cloud call center solutions. Richard is an analytical & results-driven digital marketing leader with a track record of achieving major ROI improvements in fast-paced, competitive B2B environments. He has also written for other domains such as Agile Business Consortium and Invoca. Check out his LinkedIn.