Shopify Ecosystem

Improving Influencer Engagement In Your Marketing Strategy

improving-influencer-engagement-in-your-marketing-strategy

High engagements are a sure sign of a captive audience and a healthy social media campaign—two things every brand needs to tell their story effectively and ultimately drive sales. 

Fortunately, there are some solutions for brands who feel they’re just launching their social posts out into the void. 

In this blog, we’ll detail why social media engagement matters, how to improve it, and how to turn single social wins into long-term success. 

Why social media engagement matters

Instagram post and video engagement helps you determine how well connected you are to your audience. While your engagement rate does not guarantee ROI for your brand, it can help you in several ways, including:

  • Measure social media growth over time
  • Improve posting frequency
  • Improve posting quality (using the right kind of posts the best way possible)
  • Forecast web traffic originating from your Instagram account
  • Refine your paid Instagram strategy
  • Identify the right influencers to partner with your brand
Woman with a like button over her head indicating influencer engagement

Why influencers are key to increasing brand engagement

Consumers derive 45% of their brand perception from what a company says and how it says it. That means marketers must pay close attention at all times to how they portray the brand. Messaging needs to convey the brand’s mission and values so that followers can understand and relate to them. 

In today’s creator economy, marketers use social media creators as their brand storytellers to convey these messages successfully. By finding creators that align with their mission and values, brands can use that creator’s engaged following to connect emotionally with a target audience and influence buying decisions.  

But an influencer has to be authentic for their story (and yours) to resonate with audiences. That means the creator you choose to represent you must love your brand, use your products, and genuinely believe in both. 

Table of
Image via Insider Intelligence

Setting up your influencer marketing strategy for optimal engagement

Define your goals

Gone are the days of posting an ad and praying the content gets in front of the right audience. Given the amount of time, effort, and resources you spend on your marketing, you need a well-defined strategy that helps you achieve the desired results. The first step towards this is to define your goals.

Before you embark on your campaign, think about what you want to achieve from it. Do you want to increase sales by a certain percentage? Increase traffic to your website? Or increase visibility and gain more social media followers? Setting clearly defined goals determines your entire marketing strategy and keeps your team on the same page.

Be aware of algorithm and policy changes

Since your audience is on social media, your marketing team needs to be there too. Ensure your team understands the platforms and works out their strategy accordingly.

For example, Facebook changed its algorithm to make content more relevant to users. Fewer brand messages now appear on users’ feeds because Facebook prioritizes content shared by the people they know, like friends, family, and influencers they follow.

Developments like this make influencer marketing more crucial than ever. To engage with audiences more meaningfully, brands have to partner with authentic influencers who can help share content that resonates with target audiences.

Use relevant hashtags

Using relevant hashtags is still one of the most effective ways to increase your reach on Instagram posts. Websites like Hashtagify, RiteTag, and Iconosquare are solid resources to help find which popular hashtags might work best for your brand. 

One common misconception is that more hashtags always means more reach. While Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags on a post, it’s not always wise to max out on every post. 

The optimal number of hashtags to use depends on your following size. Ten or more hashtags works best for users with fewer than 1,000 followers, but the greater the following, the fewer hashtags you should use. 

Make your campaigns locally relevant 

Local businesses should consider collaborating with popular local influencers first and foremost. Even if a nationally recognized celebrity or macro influencer is willing to promote your brand, a smaller local influencer will have more long-term success. Local creators know how to talk to local audiences and appear far more authentic than someone unfamiliar with the area. 

Finding the right influencers to boost engagement

Identify the ‘right’ creators

The first step towards perfecting your influencer engagement strategy is finding the right influencers. These are creators in your niche who share the same values that your brand embodies.

The creators you choose should have a follower base of at least 1,000 people. But more importantly, your creators should have a high engagement rate to help generate conversations about your brand and products and help increase your visibility online. 

Leverage micro influencers

Though micro influencers have fewer followers, they often make better partners than their larger counterparts. 

Some of the most significant benefits to working with micro influencers are:

  • Trust. Audiences trust micro influencers because they are more authentic. About 56% of social media users said they prefer to follow micro influencers over macro and celebrity influencers because they seem more like average people. 
  • Affordability. Data shows that more than 70% of influencers with 1,000 to 10,000 followers charge up to $100 per Instagram post, while influencers with 1 million followers require $1,000 or more. 
  • Availability. The micro influencer market is getting larger as social media platforms continue to expand tools for creators. 

Evaluate your influencers carefully

Be on the lookout for “fake” influencers during the recruitment process. Unfortunately, many creators grow their audience dishonestly by buying likes and followers. Needless to say, partnerships with creators like that only cost you money without offering any real benefit. 

Brands no longer vet influencers based on only their follower counts for this reason. Studies show that successful brands actually attach the most importance to content aesthetic, audience demographics, and engagement rate when working with influencers. You should also sift a creator’s content to make sure they engage positively with their followers in the comments. 

Ensure the opportunity is relevant

Most creators aren’t in it just for the money. They generally care a lot about their personal brand and want to influence their audience positively. That means many of them are particular about which brands they work with and will only post content their followers can relate to.

That said, consider reaching out to creators who are already talking about you. You can use social listening tools like Mention or Agorapulse to discover who has mentioned your brand on the web.

But the chances of an influencer posting about you are slim if you are new to the market. If that’s the case, you need to make sure that you reach out to creators from your niche and industry only. That will ensure the opportunity is relevant for the influencer and can deliver value to their audience.

How to best work with influencers for social engagement success

Be warm and personal

A warm, personal approach increases the likelihood of a positive response when reaching out to potential creators.

Start by following them on social media, then like and comment on a couple of their posts. Once you have put yourself on their radar, you can consider drafting an email introducing a potential collaboration. Be sure to mention specific posts you’ve enjoyed from them, introduce yourself, and tell them why you’re reaching out. 

Whatever you do, don’t pitch a collaboration right off the bat. Use the first email as an opportunity to gauge their interest in a partnership and set up a time to talk details. Then you can highlight the value a partnership can provide them. You might even cite examples of your past collaborations and other influencers’ thoughts about working with you.

Communicate your goals clearly 

Always communicate your campaign goals to each creator you work with. 

Keep our influencers firmly in the loop and let them know what you hope to achieve from the campaign and what you need them to deliver. 

You also need to set up a publishing schedule. Find out the best time to publish your posts. For Facebook, Saturday and Sunday mornings are generally best for launching a campaign.

If you have a creator that continuously exceeds expectations, work with them to create a long-term partnership. 

Provide creative freedom

Influencers are inherently creative, so give them their freedom and don’t make the mistake of weighing them down with overly restrictive content guidelines.

When working with influencers, share your goals and overall vision but leave the rest to them. You can, of course, ask for a final review before the content is published (to make sure it suits your requirements).

If you really want to work on the content, you can talk to them and pass your ideas on. But leave the final decisions to them. Remember, creators know their audience and which buttons to push to get them excited about a product or service. 

Offer fair compensation

Brands have to compensate their creators fairly to get the best results from their influencer marketing campaigns. Creators invest a lot of time and energy into producing compelling content and engaging their audience, so it’s only fair to compensate them for their deliverables. 

Work out a compensation model that’s agreeable to both parties. Have legal contracts in place. The agreement must contain the compensation, deliverables, republishing, and other usage rights.

Think long-term

One of your main goals should always be to build solid and lasting relationships with your creators. Working with influencers you trust will help you get the most out of your campaigns and help you avoid the transactional approach of one-off partnerships. When you have one influencer you enjoy working with, consider building a creator community around them with other similar influencers. 

Tracking, measuring, and optimizing your engagement rate

Tracking and measuring engagement rate

Instagram Insights mixed with a bit of spreadsheet knowledge is the best way for beginners to track and measure engagement. 

To use Instagram Insights, you’ll need to convert your IG account into a professional account (Creator or Business). It’s free and only takes a few clicks. 

Depending on how many social media accounts and influencers you manage, it might be a better use of resources to invest in an automation platform. These tools can consolidate your metrics and calculate engagement automatically across all verticals.

When searching for the best social media automation tools, we recommend G2.com, a customer review platform for leading software solutions. Each of the brands listed on the following G2 pages can help you calculate social media engagement and streamline your social media strategy.

How to calculate engagement rate on Instagram 

Comparing Follower Count to Total Interactions

The most common way to manually track your Instagram engagement rate is to compare your post interactions against your follower count.

Engagement rate = total # of post engagements / # of followers

Comparing Reach to Views

Instagram Insights will show you your total reach, as well as post and profile views. 

It’s important to note that many of your posts may appear on Instagram Discovery. As such, there could be thousands of non-followers viewing and interacting with your posts. 

Your total reach includes anyone who saw that you posted. Views indicate that a user took the time to look at your post more closely (such as watching your IG Reel or Story). Calculating your engagement rate from this point of view looks like this:

Engagement rate = views / reach

Comparing Views to Interactions

You may want to track engagement a bit more closely beyond a view. To do this, compare your engagements (interactions) to the total number of views.

Engagement rate = interactions / views

Comparing Vanity Metrics to Meaningful Engagements

Vanity metrics are likes and follower counts. These engagements take very little commitment or thought—hence the name. However, vanity metrics aren’t worthless. These numbers can give you a baseline of follower sentiment and size. 

Nevertheless, your “money” engagements will be those demonstrating that a fan took their interaction to the next level by making a comment, sharing your post, remixing a Reel, tagging your brand, and more.

To track how your vanity metrics contribute to your “money” engagements, use one of the following formulas below:

Engagement rate = # of comments, shares, etc. / total post likes 

-or-

Engagement rate = total account comments, shares, etc. / total followers 

How to improve your Instagram engagement rate

Improving Influencer Engagement in Your Marketing Strategy 3

Conclusion

Engagement is a metric that all brands should strive for when launching an influencer marketing campaign. Active engagement is a sure sign of a captive audience, which is what every brand needs to increase excitement around a product or service and ultimately drive sales. 

Creators come with a built-in audience of engaged fans. The best brand-creator partnerships are born from a shared mission and values. Add on a high creator engagement rate, and you’ll always have a group of eager consumers who are ready to hear about your brand’s latest drop. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Special thanks to our friends at Grin.co for their insights on this topic.

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