1. Decide if influencer marketing is right for your brand

1. Go to your influencer marketing brief. Ask yourself how large your target audience is, and if people are generally talking about your brand category in social media.

Most consumer brand categories enjoy a lot of social media chatter as their audiences are large – for example, shampoo or consumer tech. This means we can likely find credible influencers to work with. With B2B categories, the answer is more often “it depends”. For example, general-purpose CRM platforms are widely discussed, but car dealership ERP might not be. The smaller the social media chatter, the less likely influencer marketing will be of good use to you.

2. Do a scrappy social media audit by searching Twitter for keywords relating to your brand, category, or competitors, sorting the results page by Latest.

Use Twitter Advanced search for this if you want to be more precise with your query. Take your time reading some Tweets.

3. Evaluate the volume of Tweets by checking how many are published in 1 hour, then multiply that by 24h x 30 days x 12 months and you have a guesstimate for a year.

For example, a query for #shampoo, at the time of writing, was calculated at 45K Tweets a year.

4. If one of your campaign objectives is awareness, then DO NOT rely on organic reach of influencers or even a group of influencers.

You are unlikely to achieve any meaningful success with organic outreach. Generally, organic reach in any social media platform is tiny – 1% or so. You might get lucky or be a creative genius whose video goes viral, but most marketers are neither. Make a media plan.

5. Would people talk about your message even without the campaign? If not, then either go back to the brief or re-consider influencer marketing because paid social ads are usually cheaper.

This moment requires a sober mind, empathy and honesty. For example, suppose I market cookies. Our design team changed the font on the package slightly. My CMO has tasked me to come up with a marketing campaign. The purpose is to make sure consumers in supermarkets don’t get confused, and still buy our cookies. Now, you can get really creative about a brief like this, add some humor, add influencers and deliver an award-winning campaign. But that requires a budget. If you are still bootstrapping your marketing and have an awareness objective, re-consider influencer marketing. A boring ad delivered through influencers is still a boring ad. Also, it usually takes several iterations before you get influencers embedded seamlessly into your marketing.

6. Give plenty of creative freedom to influencers or reconsider approaching them to begin with.

One of the top complaints from influencers working with brands is a lack of creative freedom. However, we have to acknowledge that they became influencers because of their creativity. And they did all of that organically. Casey Neistat said Nike was not happy when they saw his “Make it Count” video for advertising Fuelband the first time (31M views and counting). So if you work for a brand that would have pulled the brakes in this situation, then you should consider other ways of marketing.