According to eMarketer, influencer marketing spending will surpass $3 billion this year and potentially $4 billion next year. For this reason alone, you should start thinking about integrating influencer programs into the larger strategy.

Influencer marketing is no longer a nice to have, it’s no longer a check mark on a PowerPoint presentation. It is an integral piece of surround sounding your target audience with meaningful, relevant, and influential third-party individuals.

And this is not just for those consumer brands with cool products. B2B companies and healthcare brands are now realizing the benefits of influencer marketing and how it can affect the bottom line.

Before you start Googling “hire influencers”, here are a couple things to think about:

Securing Budget

The $3 billion datapoint above is real money. This means that brands need to think about budgeting for a couple of things. It’s not just the money that you will pay influencers, but if you work with an agency, you’ll have to make sure that you secure budget and retainer with them to do the actual work. Or, if you don’t have agency support you will have to invest in software that will help you identify and manage influencers. 

There is no secret formula on how much budget you need to maintain for an influencer program. I would recommend 25% of your overall marketing budget. That means, if your budget for the quarter is $100,000, you should put a $25,000 of it away specifically for influencers.

Find the right software 

The influencer marketing software space is crowded. There are probably between 25 and 35 companies that offer some form of influencer identification and campaign management. 

For the most part, all the software applications do the same thing. They look at influencers engagement rate, reach an impression data and they provide marketers with opportunities to search based on topic or specific social media channel. For example, I might look for an influencer on tick tock that has a minimum of a 5% engagement rate.

For consumer brands, there is a larger selection of influencer marketing tools available. There are also influencer networks that allow brands to identify and hire influencers and do all the money exchange in the platform. It’s almost like eBay. 

On the B2B side, there are less software options. Part of the reason why is that there are less B2B and tech influencers then there are those on the consumer side.

Align influencer messaging 

The best practice for hiring influencers is giving them direction on the style, tone and messaging of the content that they are posting within their social media channels. This doesn’t mean that you tell influencers what exactly to say. This approach is very inauthentic. And, several influencers won’t want to work with you if you dictate what they say and what they post.

A best practice in this scenario is to spend some time reviewing your brand message and pillars and talk about ways for them to create content that will be relevant to their audiences, aligned to their own tone of voice, but relevant to your business in some fashion. This is probably the hardest piece of activating influencer programs because it takes the most time.

Always-on influencer programs

Many companies today turn on and off their influencer programs like they do with a light switch. In some cases, for brands with low budgets, this might be the only option available. But brands in 2022 and beyond should think about setting aside budget dollars to ensure that influencer programs are always on. This just means that there is some type of engagement with influencers or content collaboration that is ongoing. Even if there is no campaign, content collaboration with influencers is a great way to make sure that you have diverse content being published in the marketplace and that is not always about you.