Influencer marketing has become one of the most popular marketing trends in 2016, and it’s easy to understand why. As consumers are exposed to more and more online marketing, they are becoming smarter and more keen to point out paid advertising no matter how sneaky marketing professionals think that they are being. Influencer marketing allows us to get our clients’ message out to the right audience through top influencers in the digital space in a way that they are most likely to naturally engage with. Twenty percent of all online time is spent consuming content. So, by getting our message in front of the consumer via an influencer that they trust, they are more likely to react to our content than through a paid ad.

According to Adweek, only 33% of people trust ads but over 50% trust peer recommendations. By including influencer marketing in your overall marketing strategy, you are covering this type of consumer. But how do we go about developing that strategy?

To start, you need to define your influencer goals and objectives. We tend to tell clients to define their strategy based on the metrics that you want to determine at the end of the campaign. Influencer marketing creates brand awareness, so you could decide to showcase a specific collection, attend a store event, or liquidate products.  Once your goals have been defined, you will need to identify influencers.

It’s important to note that the influencer with the largest audience is not necessarily the best fit for your brand.

It’s very beneficial to get to know your influencer as well. When you brainstorm with your influencer, not only do they feel closer to the project but you also get feedback on what they think will resonate best with their audience. Influencer marketing platforms also help to source which influencers best fit with your message by identifying the demographics of your target audience.

Once an influencer confirms that they are interested in a partnership, a contract is drafted outlining deliverables and details around the campaign. Influencers are able to turn around content within a couple of weeks, but the more time that is given to create content the better. Almost all influencers will allow you to review content before posting, but it’s important to not change their message and voice.

Nicki Hayes, VP of Partnership Marketing at Blue Moon, put it best in a webinar when she said that influencer marketing allows us to go beyond “vanity” metrics such as impressions. Depending on the goal of the campaign, we can now measure metrics by influencer or action. A new metric in influencer marketing is the earned media value (EMV). It puts a value on social sharing and can include shares, likes, or comments on different social networks.

You will achieve content marketing success by combining paid, owned, and earned media to maximize the reach of content. Earned media could be in the form of social sharing or mentions, whereas paid media is any form of paid content. Making sure that your owned media, such as a blog or your brand’s social accounts, are up to date will ensure that visitors are heading to the right place and absorbing additional content.

Taking these initial steps will allow you to develop a strong and successful influencer marketing strategy and reach a new audience to promote your brand like never before. As we move into 2017, expect to see more influencer marketing campaigns from top brands.