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Cracking the Code: How Brands Can Leverage Influencer Marketing

You’ve probably seen brands explode online thanks to influencers, and you’re wondering how you can do the same. The idea of your company going viral is exciting – and guess what? It’s totally doable these days. But there’s more to influencer marketing than most brands are even aware of. Social media has become a powerful tool for connecting with a massive audience, and having influencers talk about your brand is the ultimate way to spread the word.

Whether you’ve given it a shot or not, one thing’s clear – successfully navigating the influencer marketing landscape is trickier than it appears. That’s exactly why I reached out to Samantha Zink, the all-things influencer expert and owner of Zink Talent. She’s here to guide us through the ins and outs of influencer marketing. Samantha has been a mastermind in orchestrating deals and partnerships between brands and influencers since 2017, and her insights are bound to be a game-changer. 

The Realities of Influencer Marketing for Brands

Let’s get real for a second, especially if you’re a small brand venturing into the world of influencer marketing. Brace yourself – a single influencer campaign doesn’t guarantee a flood of sales. Providing a reality check for brands entering this arena, Samantha Zink emphasizes the importance of having realistic expectations. She cautions against the assumption that every collaboration will lead to immediate sales. This is a pitfall that many brands, especially those with limited budgets, tend to stumble into, as they hope for substantial sales that might not always materialize. Samantha’s practical advice is crystal clear: only delve into influencer partnerships when there’s room in the budget for experimentation. 

Essentials Before Diving In

For brands, influencer marketing is simply a tool to achieve broader objectives – things like gaining more clients or boosting product sales. But before you dive in, there are a couple of essentials that need to be sorted for the whole process to run smoothly.

Here’s a checklist of what Samantha Zink advises you should have ready: 

  • Functional Website – Create a user-friendly website to provide a seamless browsing experience and better inform people of your brand. 
  • Established Social Media Accounts – Have a company Instagram or TikTok account that showcases the aesthetics and identity of your brand. 
  • Anticipated Demand – Make sure you have enough inventory of your products or listings of your service to meet the potential increased demand that comes from social media attention. 
  • Good Customer Service – Happy customers should always be a priority, so make sure you have enough resources or team members to help with any inquiries or issues that may come up. 
  • Clear Brand Messaging – Clearly define your brand’s messaging and mission statement from the beginning, since your brand image is not something you should leave open to interpretation. 

Gifting Campaigns: Navigating the Saturated Space

With countless influencers out there, how can you pick the right ones for your brand? Give gifting campaigns a shot. They’re a great way to test compatibility and start building relationships. Gifting campaigns involve brands sending their products to influencers for free. The influencers then try out the products and share their genuine experiences with their followers. It’s a way for brands to build authentic relationships with influencers, who can potentially become brand advocates. While gifting doesn’t involve direct payment, it can lead to organic endorsements and exposure, benefiting both parties. It’s a cost-effective strategy to create buzz and showcase products through trusted influencer voices. Many influencers, regardless of the size of their audience, will accept gifting from brands, so it never hurts to reach out and try.

Samantha Zink also introduces the concept of ambassador programs, which are cooperative arrangements between brands and influencers. In these programs, influencers receive a product, and whenever they drive sales or promote the product, they earn a percentage of the sales as commission. This approach creates a win-win situation: influencers get a share of the sales they generate, while brands benefit from increased exposure and sales without a fixed upfront payment. It’s a performance-based model that aligns the interests of both parties and can foster long-term partnerships. Be aware that ambassador programs are often turned down by managers, so they are most possible when the collaboration is facilitated by the influencer themselves.

Budgeting Advice

When it comes to budgeting for influencer marketing, there’s no universal approach that fits all. Some brands might not need to invest much in influencers, while others have shelled out significant sums to boost their online presence. The positive side? There’s no fixed minimum requirement. Your budget is ultimately determined by the available resources and play money at hand. According to Samantha, if you’re not ready to spend larger amounts on an influencer collaboration, there are third-party platforms, like Aspire, that can facilitate collaborations for just a few hundred dollars. A common issue she has observed is brands spending most of their marketing budget on influencer campaigns in hopes of direct sales, without recognizing that the primary aim is to foster brand awareness, a vital consideration for emerging brands. 

Crafting Campaign Strategies

Crafting effective campaign strategies is where Samantha Zink’s expertise really shines. With a wealth of experience managing hundreds of campaigns, she’s got some insider insight to spill. First of all, she notes video content is the best form of content for brands to focus on producing, particularly for non-fashion products, as it offers a more engaging way to showcase offerings. She emphasizes the growing prominence of TikTok and encourages brands to explore this platform, if they aren’t already.

Samantha believes in diversification and advocates for collaborations with multiple influencers across different demographics and regions, opposed to working with fewer mega-influencers. Brands can create a ‘social media bomb’ by having a wide variety of influencers posting on the same day, which will have the campaign showing all over Instagram and Tiktok creating a lot of buzz. It’s a great way to get people talking about your brand out of curiosity for its sudden online popularity. 

She also introduces the concept of non-dedicated posts, a strategic approach to cost-saving while still capitalizing on influencer exposure. Non-dedicated posts are a smart approach in influencer marketing, since instead of focusing solely on a brand, these posts subtly weave the brand into the influencer’s content. This way, brands get exposure without the full spotlight, saving costs while benefiting from influencer reach. It’s a balanced way to maximize impact and efficiency in collaborations.

Be Consistent and Build Strong Relationships

No matter what style of campaign you decide, the best way to approach influencer marketing is by maintaining a steady consistency with it. Opt for long-term relationships with influencers, rather than isolated one-time collaborations to foster a more organic and authentic brand connection. This approach promises a higher return on investment in comparison to a scenario where an influencer sporadically features your brand, appearing overly promotional. Instead of fixating on the number of campaigns, the emphasis should be on cultivating continuous influencer marketing throughout the year. This involves establishing enduring partnerships while remaining open to new collaborations, ensuring a balanced and sustained influencer presence that resonates effectively with your audience.

By harnessing the authenticity and reach of influencers, businesses can establish genuine connections with their target audiences, fostering brand loyalty and awareness. Strategic collaboration, budget-conscious choices, and a commitment to long-term relationships stand as the pillars for brands to navigate this dynamic landscape successfully, ultimately reaping the rewards of enhanced visibility, credibility, and ROI.


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