Influencer-generated content (IGC) or user-generated content (UGC) outperforms studio/stock content by a factor of 5 to 1 on conversions. We have witnessed this first hand across multiple clients we work with on the agency side.
If you are an online brand and want to learn how to leverage influencers to create content in your paid advertising, this is the article for you.
I will walk you through:
- The process to discover and onboard good influencers
- The ways you can carry out IGC across your marketing
- A set of long-term strategies you can rollout once, once you have nailed the rest
Let’s get started.
How to Find and Onboard Relevant Influencers
I have broken down the process in four steps to make it easy to understand:
- Create a brief
- Discover relevant influencers
- Pitch and onboard
- Track and optimize
Step 1: Create a brief
The brief is a document you will give to any influencer you work with. It covers guidelines, selling points, and moodboards. Your creator needs to understand what you are seeking.
Defining your ideal client as the starting point
Before diving into any work, define your end customer. If you don’t have a persona built for your brand’s ideal client, make that now.
You must know who your client is. How old are they? Who do they follow on Instagram? Where do they live?
This part of the task is natural for e-commerce brands; you have the data and insider know-how to understand who your customer is. Agencies servicing e-commerce brands should attribute more thought to this part of the process by picking their client’s brains and analytics.
Needless to say, anyone can discover surprising insights by looking at their Instagram Analytics, Google Analytics Audience Metrics, and Facebook Audience Insights.
Knowing your end client makes the rest much smoother.
Writing up your brief
The ideal brief covers aesthetics, format, and messaging. You want to provide your influencer with sales know-how while allowing them to express their creativity.
- Aesthetics : Communicate your visual guidelines with the influencers. Include content from past collaborations that match your brand’s ethos. If you don’t have such content, create a mood board with content you appreciate from other brands on Instagram. Dig into their collaborations and find content you endorse. You can use Pinterest to organize this. Find brands you like on Instagram and search their feed for collaborations.
- Format : Look at your Facebook ads, as well as your competitors’. You want to know which ad format drives results. Carousel, Stories, GIF, etc. Add your format restrictions to the brief.
- Messaging : What is the goal of the content you are creating? Is there a specific Unique-Selling Proposition of your product you want to put forward? Give your influencers an overview of your product and the selling points you want to convey. Remember, you will use these visuals in your paid media - think of them in that context.
Step 2: Discover relevant influencers
After you have created your brief, you want to discover influencers. Use your client persona to take an educated guess at what influencers are relevant to your brand.
I prefer contacting influencers by email than by DM, as the response rate is better. Email also makes it easier to use a CRM tool. Thus, I skip any influencer for which I can’t find an email.
Now. There are multiple ways to find influencers.
If you’re looking to experiment with influencer marketing, inBeat’s free plan should be enough for you (full disclosure: I am one of the co-founders).
If you want to know more about manual discovery, read this article.
I prefer working with micro-influencers (2000 to 10 000 followers on Instagram). The content quality is better, and the price is much lower.
However, if your product has a High Cost of Good Sold, such as a mountain bike, you will seek influencers with a larger audience to justify your upfront cost.
Step 3: Pitch and onboard
Once you have your list of influencers to pitch, select a CRM tool that allows for mass email or setup your DM workflow. I love Mailshake, but there are countless others. Make a pick and roll with it.
Craft your pitch, contact, negotiate, and onboard your new influencers. It is at the onboarding stage that you share your brief from step 1 with them.
I have written a 4000+ word guide on pitching and onboarding influencers, which you can read here.
Step 4: Track your Campaigns
You can track your campaigns manually or use a tool such as inBeat to track your campaigns (this feature is in beta, you can contact me at email@example.com to gain access).
If you track influencers by hand, make it part of your deal with your collaborators to send you a link to the post when it goes live. It will make your job that much easier.
You can hire a virtual assistant to update your campaign metrics two days after a post went live in Google Sheets:
You can also track the cost per engagement and sales for each influencer. To track sales, set up a unique promo code for each collaborator that they can share with their audience.
If you have reached this point, you went did your share of heavy lifting. You can now think of how to use your content across your marketing mix.
In the following section, I will show you what we have learned from implementing IGC within a paid media strategy.
The focus will be on Facebook ads, as it is core to many e-commerce brands. Needless to say, you can deploy your content across any channel you consider worthy.
Tips for Implementing Your Content Across your Paid Advertising
You are receiving multiple content pieces from your creators. You now want to repurpose these visuals to drive results.
By applying the following tips to your content creation, you can reduce your cost per conversion 5x.
Tip 1: Optimize your Content for Conversion
Different platforms and placements hold specific optimization tricks.
If you display your content in a carousel ad, design it to be carousel-friendly.
If you want to format a video as a Story ad, redesign it with a clear CTA to swipe-up.
Always tweak your visual to make it feel native to the channel you’re using. Use Facebook ads Library to see how competitors are displaying their ads across different channels. Read this in-depth guide on how to spy on your competitors if you want to know more.
Tip 2: Display Your Social Proofing
When doing paid advertising with Influencer-Generated Content, try to include an influencer’s or a customer’s statement in the description. Social proofing is vital to conversion, especially when expressed by relatable people.
Tip 3: Follow the Optimal Ad Structure
From my experience, here is the optimal ad format:
- Video or GIF format
- Short tagline from an influencer or a customer
Test these ads with as many variations as you wish. Different audiences respond to different creatives and taglines.
Tip 4: Ask Your Creators for Their Audience Insights
You should always ask for an influencer’s Instagram Analytics, as it will make your targeting more granular. Here is what I mean:
With these metrics, you could create a geo-specific female audience with an age range of 18-24.
- Use the data you have at hand to try different tactics.
- Test these tips, adapt them to your needs, and track your results carefully.
- Next, I will explain how you can use micro-influencers in a long-term strategy.
You now have a working influencer content and distribution strategy. It is time to consider long-term implementations for your brand.
Hire Your Influencers
Hiring your influencers to be long-term ambassadors is a great way to generate IGC regularly. These ambassadors will also build more trust for your brand, considering the ongoing access you get to their audiences.
Make it fun for your creators to be part of your ambassador program.
Pay a fixed sum each month, share exclusive offers, make them part of your product decisions, and give the brand swag they need to rock across their social media. Proper equipment will incentivize your network to share their belonging to your brand.
Share Their Audience
If your influencers have a business page on Instagram, which they probably do, they can share their audience through the Facebook Audience Manager.
Ask them to create an audience of people who have interacted with their page in the last 365 days and share it with you. Here is what it looks like:
- Multiple brand touchpoints with your influencer’s audience
- Strong social proofing by being in the hands of a recognizable face
- Give Facebook’s distribution algorithm a head-start and multiply the number of winning campaigns you run
This strategy requires extra work, but the payback can be disproportionate.
Crowdsource Their Insights
This is my personal favorite.
Influencers are creators. They have an innate creativity, which you can leverage. You should always ask your influencers for feedback and ideas regarding your product. If pondering on this topic interests you, read this article.
To make the process seamless, create a Typeform (or any other form tool, it doesn’t matter much) with questions about their experience, thoughts, and insights about your brand. Send it to them once you have completed your first collaboration.
Work with as many influencers as you can.
Onboard the ones that are good and responsive as long-term ambassadors.
Create hundreds of paid media variations, if you can, and distribute them across your marketing channels.
I have talked mostly about Facebook ads in this article, but all of your channels can enjoy an Influencer-Generated Content lift.
Make the content accessible to your designers, marketers, and management so they can build on top of it.
If you gather intel from your influencers, make sure to share it with your team through a Google Sheet or any easy to access document.
Influencer-Generated content impacts any metric where relatability is relevant: CR, CTR, CPA, ROAS, etc.
I would love to know how you use influencer marketing across your marketing. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.