How to maximize your influencer campaigns
Choose influencers that post original content with average frequency. Brief them to not be overly positive in their posts, clearly mention your product, and link to it.
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How do you get the biggest bang for your buck with your influencer marketing budget?
This study analyzed 5,835 influencer marketing posts sponsored by 861 different brands to find out.
It looked at how many reposts each post got on Weibo, a social media platform similar to Twitter.
Most of these findings are learnings about audience psychology that we can apply to other platforms (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn), although there will be some differences.
Let’s look at the characteristics of effective influencer marketing posts.
Use the right influencers and content briefs to maximize your influencer marketing reach
Channels: Influencer marketing | Social media
For: B2C. Can be tested for B2B
Research date: July 2022
Follow this checklist to maximize the engagement of your influencer marketing posts.
Work with influencers that:
Post frequently but not extremely often (compared to other influencers).
Post original content, rather than reposts of other people’s content.
Have a high follower count (Note: this optimizes for post engagement. To optimize for sales, stick to smaller influencers).
The influencer’s sponsored posts should:
Be positive, but not perfectly so. They should include something slightly negative to feel genuine.
Clearly mention your brand, and ideally include links to what you are promoting.
Promote your existing products. Don’t use them to announce new product launches.
The characteristics above maximized the engagement of sponsored posts - counted as reposts in the first 24 hours - for 2,412 online influencers.
By following all the above, companies would increase engagement with their sponsored influencer marketing posts by 16.6% on average.
🧠 Why it works
Posting frequency. When influencers post regularly, we perceive the content as fresh and up-to-date, and come to feel that we know them intimately. But if they post too often they dilute our attention and become distracting to the point that we filter them out.
Influencer originality. We pay more attention to influencers that produce content in their own words and style because it makes them stand out. This also makes them feel more knowledgeable and authentic.
Important: this can backfire if your goal isn’t engagement, since friend-like influencers (not opinion-leaders) are more effective at driving sales.
Post positivity. When sponsored posts are extremely positive, we question how authentic they are and can feel manipulated.
Sponsored brand mention. We perceive a post that clearly mentions the brand and links to the products as more informative so we are more likely to engage with it.
New product launches. New products are exciting but they are also risky, since we know that most new products fail - so we are less likely to reshare them.
Pricing is probably the most profitable marketing lever.
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This study analyzed the posts of influencers on Weibo, a Chinese text-focused social media platform similar to Twitter. Many or all of these principles are likely to extend to other platforms, but this was not tested.
More visual platforms (Instagram, TikTok) probably have their own or additional content characteristics. For example, people are more likely to share Facebook video ads if they have a social-related purpose.
There are other characteristics that this study did not analyze but may be impactful. For example, posting consistency or influencer personality (e.g. funny, formal).
🏢 Companies using this
Most of the 861 brands analyzed in the study had room for improving their budget effectiveness by applying these recommendations. The average company had a large potential for improvement.
⚡ Steps to implement
Choose the influencers you work with carefully. Their audience doesn’t have to be perfectly aligned to your type of product, but they should still be a strong fit.
Clarify in your briefs to influencers that they should follow these recommendations (not overly positive, clearly mention your product and how to find it).
Remember, the key decision when distributing your budget is not how many posts you generate, but how effective those posts are - even if they are fewer.
🔍 Study type
Market observation (of 5,835 sponsored posts by 2,412 influencers for 1,256 campaigns of 861 brands on Weibo in October 2018)
Influencer Marketing Effectiveness. Journal of Marketing (July 2022).
Fine Leung. Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Flora Gu. Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Yiwei Li. Lingnan University
Jonathan Zhang. Colorado State University
Robert Palmatier. University of Washington
Remember: This is a new scientific discovery. In the future it will probably be better understood and could even be proven wrong (that’s how science works). It may also not be generalizable to your situation. If it’s a risky change, always test it on a small scale before rolling it out widely.
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