It’s an industry that is growing exponentially – influencer marketing. When brands want to advertise, rather than just place ads in what may or may not be strategic places, they find popular websites and blogs, form relationships, and then pay those “influencers” to promote their products or services.

The key is to find sites, blogs, and people who are trusted and whose products and/or services are not competitive but related, at least indirectly. Thus, if you sell outside paint, stain, etc., you might want to set up a relationship with a landscaper, a pool company, or even a garden supply business. Why? Because your audience will be somewhat the same, and you will reach more potential customers.

Is Influencer Marketing Only for the Big Boys?

The short answer is no. But, of course, those big boys can afford to pay plenty and can then contract with influencers that have a huge reach.

Smaller businesses, though, can find influencers that are at a peer level and that can be beneficial in spreading their brands to a wider audience. And the cost will be comparatively less too.

When You Find Those Influencers…

Once you have found a solid influencer, it is time to put together a contract, usually called a “brief.” This document will spell out how much you will pay, the length of the campaign, and a number of other things. The point is, the brief should leave no misunderstanding about exactly what the campaign includes and the sponsored content that will be crafted by the influencer.

What the Brief Should Include

Here are seven elements of an influencer brief that must always be included:

1. Which Social Media Platforms will the Influencer Use?

Because many influencers have multiple accounts on each platform, the specific accounts to be used should be spelled out. This will prevent any confusion or misunderstanding down the road.

2. The Type of Sponsored Content to be Produced

The specific types of content to be published on each social media account should be clearly described. The influencer needs details. For example, how many Instagram posts should be published, what types of visuals those posts should include, and the dates these should be published.

And how is the influencer to direct readers/viewers back to you? Your social media account? Your website?

3. State Your Campaign Goals

What is the purpose and the goals of your campaign? An influencer must know these things in order to create the right content for you. You may be trying only to reach a larger audience with awareness of your brand; you may have a new product or service to launch.

If you are not clear about your goals, the influencer will not know how to structure content, and those goals will never be met. The influencer is just guessing.

4. What are the Messaging Details You Want?

You have points you want to make in your campaign. It may be the value that a product or service can bring to consumers; it may be the fact that your product is produced from all recycled goods; it may be that your service makes their lives easier in some way.

The point is this: You have messaging points you want to make through your campaign. Your influencer must understand these before one piece is written and published.

The brand should limit the messaging points to be made. If you have your goals clearly defined in your own mind, then you should be able to identify the messaging points you want to make. Limit them to 4-5 per campaign, probably two on a platform like Instagram.

5. Identify the CTA’s to be Used

Influencers are not mind readers. You have specific things you want your target audience to do as a result of this campaign – use a discount code you are providing, access your site to download an e-book and provide their email address to get it; participate in a contest or giveaway, etc.

You can certainly have multiple CTA’s – just be certain your influencer knows what they are, so that s/he can create content around them. And the details are important. If you are running a contest or giveaway, be certain the influencer knows the rules and guidelines.

6. Provide the Tracking Link(s) the Influencer Should Use

You cannot know if an influencer marketing campaign is successful without link tracking. You need to be able to track the number of clicks you get that are associated with the campaign. But you must provide these links to the influencer, obviously, or no tracking can occur. The links are directly related to the CTA’s that you have identified.

7. FTC Guidelines Cannot Be Ignored

Be certain your influencer (and you) understand the newest FTC guidelines about sponsored content. And spell these out in your brief, so that all legal requirements are met.

The brief should include both a reminder of the FTC guidelines as well as the specific language the influencer must use. In general, when the influencer is receiving any type of compensation for the content (a payment or even a free product or service), the content must be disclosed as “sponsored” or “paid partnership with,” etc. This is not optional.

Beyond the Brief…

You have two choices. You can create your own content and even use freelancers or content copywriting services such as those from Trust My Paper. In this case, you will publish that content on your own platforms (blog, website, social media accounts). Or you can find influencers who have an established and growing audience that will now become aware of your brand.

Influencer marketing campaigns are powerful. And preparing the brief is critical – it tells that influencer what you want to achieve.

But it cannot be too confining. After all, the point of using an influencer is that his/her content has garnered a large audience. You have to give that influencer enough creative freedom in content creation. He understands his audience and what engages and compels them. Give him enough “license” to do that.