Influencer Marketing Strategy

Running Your First Influencer Campaign: Expectations vs Reality

When running your first influencer marketing campaign, setting realistic expectations is crucial. Below we explain what brands need to know to kick things off strong.

Influencer Campaigns expectations vs reality cover photo (compressed)

No matter how much you prepare, tackling your first influencer campaign is daunting.

That’s because there are so many tasks to juggle before you even see your creators’ content.

Finding influencers. Picking products to send. Crafting creative briefs. That’s just for starters!

Trust us: it’s a lot to handle for first-timers.

Thing is, getting results with influencers doesn’t have to involve a bunch of guesswork. The process doesn’t have to be stressful, either. Granted you have the right expectations.

Having run hundreds of campaigns, we know firsthand how the best brands wrangle it all.  Below we break down what a successful influencer marketing campaign entails for first-timers.

How to Set Up an Influencer Marketing Campaign for Success

Before we get into the nitty gritty, remember that “success” is relative. 

Translation? How well your campaign performs depends on your brand’s goals

Setting yourself up for success starts with two questions:

  1. Why do you want to work with influencers in the first place?
  2. What results do you (or your boss) want to see from an influencer campaign?

Maybe you want to earn authentic posts from creators to run as ads. On the flip side, you might be laser-focused on building brand awareness in a crowded market. No wrong answers here!

And if you can answer these questions with confidence, you’re already on the right track.

Acknowledging and Understanding the Steps Involved

First things first: you need to know what you're getting into. 

The concept of influencer marketing is simple enough, right? That is, ship products to creators in exchange for content.

Of course, it’s not exactly that simple. 

Here’s a snapshot of the steps required to run an influencer campaign from start to finish.

Key Influencer Marketing Steps for Brands to Consider 🔑

🔎 Research. Finding influencers relevant to your brand, target audience and product.

✉️ Outreach. Crafting pitches and reaching out to influencers with your offer.

🤝 Negotiation. Signing an influencer agreement to make your partnership official.

📄  Briefing. Drafting an influencer brief providing post requirements and creative direction.

📦 Shipping. Physically sending your products to influencers.

👍 Review. Confirming that your influencer content meets your guidelines prior to posting.

📊 Evaluation. Reporting on your campaign results and performance metrics.

Takeaway? Going from creator outreach to awesome content isn’t a straight line.

The resources required to achieve all of the above depend on your team’s bandwidth. If you’re doing it all yourself, it’s probably going to be a multi-month process from research to results. The outreach, negotiation and shipping phases can be notoriously time-consuming.

Maintaining Realistic Expectations for Influencer Campaigns

So much of succeeding with influencers is about mindset and mentality. 

Many brands enter their first campaigns with sky-high expectations. They start off eager and excited. Then, they’re disappointed when their sales or followers don’t spike overnight.

This sort of “all-or-nothing” mentality isn’t rooted in reality. All marketing campaigns require time and tweaks to optimize. Influencer campaigns are no exception. 

Now, let’s dig into a few myths, misconceptions and reality checks for first-timers to consider.

Going Viral Isn’t Guaranteed

Expectation 🤩

Reality 👩‍🏫

“We see other products going viral in our space but ours hasn’t. Influencer marketing just isn’t working for us.” 

“Going viral isn’t everything. The value of an influencer marketing campaign goes beyond vanity metrics. Ongoing, authentic content has more impact than a single viral post.”

We get it. You see brands crushing it on TikTok or Instagram and wonder “Why not us?”

The truth? There is no secret sauce for going viral via influencer marketing. 

In our experience, it’s often unconventional products that actually drive engagement. Look no further than all of the CPG brands on TikTok for evidence. If it were so easy to go viral, everybody would be doing it.

Consistent engagement means more long-term than a single viral post.

Besides, attention spans are short and content moves quickly on social media. It’s more valuable to have a steady stream of authentic, enthusiastic creators posting about your brand. This highlights why followers don’t make or break success on social media anymore.

Don’t Laser-Focus on Sales or Influencer Revenue

Expectation 🤩

Reality 👩‍🏫

“I’m not seeing clicks or conversions from TikTok or Instagram. I need to see ROI ASAP.”

“Influencer ROI is about more than just clicks and conversions. Positive results and business impact are both  measurable.”

Food for thought: 51% of marketers claim that influencers aid with customer acquisition. 

Because in such a crowded marketing landscape, social proof is make-or-break for brands. 

Working with creators cements your product’s legitimacy and likewise highlights that you have satisfied customers. Real and authentic content is essential for winning over potential customers on the fence about your products.  Influencers offer an avenue to build trust that’s tough to put a price tag on.

Instagram Influencer Campaign Manager Spreadsheet

Besides, the business impact of influencer partnerships is well-documented. Influencer content is proven to boost conversions on product pages, not to mention provide the basis for high-performing ads. Micro-influencers in particular boast higher engagement rates than macro-influencers and celebrities.

The problem? The modern customer journey often doesn’t reflect the performance of any given influencer. It’s not a straight line from a creator’s post to checkout. Not by a long shot. 

Privacy updates and platform changes are making tracking influencer sales more complicated. This explains why awareness campaigns are where brands start when working with influencers.

BuyersJourney-Short (compressed)

We’re always upfront with brands: don’t approach campaigns with sales as your sole goal. 

Instead, view sales as a welcome byproduct or a campaign rather than the focus. Focus on campaign goals like user-generated content or brand awareness which are easier to measure. 

Campaign Momentum Takes Time

Expectation 🤩

Reality 👩‍🏫

“We tried working with creators for a few weeks and nothing happened.”

“Influencer marketing is a long-term play — not a stop-and-go strategy.”

Getting an influencer campaign off the ground doesn’t happen overnight. 

And hey, that’s totally fine!

Because brands that benefit most from influencer marketing are playing the long game

The more time and resources you put behind your campaigns, the better your results. Think of your influencer marketing campaigns as ongoing lead-generation channels like SEO, blogging or email marketing. 

Brands that earn hundreds (or thousands!) of posts are clearly invested in their creators. In our experience, positive results are scalable once brands commit to their campaigns. That’s why all of the legwork involved is worth it.

Where Brands Fail With Their First Influencer Campaigns

Again, we’ve seen it all when it comes to brand working with creators.

As more and more companies invest in influencers, it’s crucial to understand what not to do. 

There are a few common threads between brands that never get their campaigns off the ground. Keep the pitfalls below in mind for the sake of fine-tuning your own campaigns:

  • Their marketing funnel is full of holes. Ask yourself: what happens after creators get more eyeballs on your brand? A poorly optimized website or checkout experience won’t do your campaign any favors. Prior to kickoff, put your marketing performance elsewhere under the microscope. This includes your UX, on-site copy and analytics.

  • Their influencer marketing strategy is short-sighted. Self-sabotage is all too common when brands pull the plug on their campaigns early. Sure, influencer marketing is uniquely authentic and creative. That said, it’s not totally different from the likes of SEO or ads. Remember: no marketing tactic can guarantee instant results. Building long-term loyalty and engagement requires patience and persistence. 

  • They’re not working with the right creators. Brands are spoiled for choice when it comes to finding content creators. Thing is, not every type of influencer is going to be the right fit for your brand. In short, find people that match your brand’s voice and values. Not to mention creators with engaged audiences. That’s why so many brands are turning to micro-influencers boasting both authentic content and high engagement rates. 

webinar best-kept secrets of high performing influencer campaigns

How to Build an Influencer Campaign That Produces Results

Working with influencers can drive engagement and introduce your brand to new audiences.

But brands should 100% know what that means before they’re knee-deep in a campaign.

That said, the legwork is so valuable for brands that commit to the process. There’s a reason why 89% of marketers are keeping or upping their investment in influencer content this year.

And if the process still sounds too daunting, consider how a platform like Statusphere can help.

Our turn-key micro-influencer marketing platform matches brands with hand-picked creators from our network. We offer a measurable channel for brands to earn authentic influencer content at scale. Our platform handles everything from matchmaking and fulfillment to performance tracking and more.

Want to learn more about how it all works? Get in touch with one of our consumer-to-consumer marketing specialists to see how we can scale your next influencer marketing campaign.

This article was first published in September 2017. It was last updated March 3, 2023.

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