As influencer marketing has become an essential aspect of most companies’ marketing programs, it’s natural that many are considering building out a specific team dedicated to influencer collaborations. In fact, 73 percent of brands report having some sort of in-house team, and 90 percent of brands report that their influencer marketing workload has grown over the last year.
Typically, the brands that decide to bring their influencer program in-house already have a solid strategy and really want to build more direct relationships with the influencers they work with regularly. They see influencers to be so core to their marketing plan that they want to begin to build their own proprietary strategies. By creating an in-house team, they’re able to directly manage ongoing relationships and daily influencer marketing activities. Brands can also find added benefits by leveraging an external agency in conjunction with their in-house team. The partnership can enable a continual funnel of knowledge and creativity from both internal and external sources, particularly if the agency has deep connections with target influencers and experience developing creative strategy with those influencers.
When it comes to building a team in-house, it’s important to consider these essential factors to ensure the continued success of your influencer marketing program.
It starts with people. Who are your candidates? Who will they report to: content or communications? Are they focused more on performance or growth?
Influencers can touch all of these areas. Though traditionally it has been considered an extension of PR initiatives, today influencers also can deliver robust content libraries that can be repurposed for a brand’s social account and build the community around a brand, and performance/growth teams are also finding greater efficiencies in putting paid spend behind influencer content. Influencer content performs three to five times better than brand content when it’s boosted in a native social environment.
Knowing this, it’s best to have your influencer team report to your vp of marketing or consumer engagement and be the go-to for all teams when they touch upon influencers. The influencer team can manage relationships, vetting and process efficiencies for the entire company.
When bringing them in-house, you’ll save on service fees, but it’s essential to invest in the right tools to support your team. Hiring an intern to manually record influencer metrics is not going to cut it and can hinder building a proper strategy. Looking at tools to help quickly evaluate, vet, recruit and pay influencers and offer proper workflow, reporting and analytics to help measure and understand the impact of each program will be critical to success.
Your team’s focus should be on content strategy, relationships, testing and iteration, so give them the support they need to build programs that have strong ROI without spending all of their time and brain space recording results by hand.
The money and the metrics
We know from experience that influencer budgets as a percent of overall marketing spend can vary quite widely. Some brands allocate a good portion of their budget influencer, while others can only swing 2 percent. But in order to justify growing your budget year over year, you must set clear goals and KPIs to measure influencer marketing’s success as a channel.
This means knowing what you’re looking to get out of your influencer strategy. Do you want to drive qualified traffic to your site, create a repository of content you can easily repurpose for organic social and owned channels or build brand awareness and buzz? Knowing goals outright will direct you toward different influencer archetypes, target different platforms and incorporate varied elements of paid amplification.
Building and testing your influencer funnel
Arguably the most important thing to consider when building your in-house team is testing. Just like with any other marketing channel, it’s key to test, optimize and test again. Beyond determining your winning influencers, it’s also about developing the winning narrative, content format and social platforms that work for your brand and target audience. When you find a strategy that outputs positive results that match your goals, double down on spend for that specific strategy but continue to place small bets in testing new strategies. This can happen through strategic partnering with relevant agencies.
Building a team with a new specialty in-house takes a ton of resources, but if you do it right from the start, you’ll have the opportunity to develop an influencer marketing strategy that is efficient and effective, allowing you to let it grow as your brand does.