Who is my targeted audience for content marketing? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Justin Rezvani, Influencer Marketing Expert, on Quora:

There was a time when digital advertising was primarily owned by Google AdWords. You invested your ad dollars because the platform was built for businesses looking to target certain search keywords in Google. But over the past five years, Facebook has become a power player in the realm of digital advertising, so much so that many companies don't even bother with Google AdWords--they pour the majority of their digital budget into Facebook and Instagram ads.

Especially when it comes to influencer marketing, digital ad spends are a huge component of running a successful campaign, and very rarely would those budgets be poured into something like Google AdWords. Facebook and Instagram have become pay-to-play platforms, which means even if you're working with a high-profile influencer, some sort of ad spend is going to be required in order to get momentum moving in the right direction.

However, there are nuances within these platforms that can really make or break your campaigns, particularly when working with influencers. The reason is because you don't have a whole lot of room for error. Most influencer campaigns are executed in a way that, as much as possible, appear as native creations and not intrusive advertising. This means you can't just keep asking an influencer to post different content over and over again until you "get it right" and find the content piece that resonates the best. No influencer is going to enjoy posting and deleting sub-par content over and over again. If they're going to work with a brand, they want to create a great piece of content and then stand by it. Otherwise they're going to look unprofessional to their audience.

This is an issue I have seen countless times in the past, having run influencer campaigns for a variety of brands and companies. It's such a big pain point that when I started theAmplify, I wanted to come up with a way to test content before it actually went live on an influencer's social page. Truthfully, since my background is in digital marketing with a primary focus on mobile technology, I never understood how best practices in the digital marketing world hadn't made their way into the influencer marketing space. You would never, ever pour huge ad budgets into campaigns without testing them first. So why would you invest heavily into an influencer without doing a bit of due diligence to figure out which content piece is going to resonate the most?

The solution? Use Facebook ads as a testing ground.

We do this for our influencer marketing campaigns at theAmplify, and it has really helped drive serious results for brands. Instead of creating content with an influencer and immediately launching it, we go through a short testing phase where we take a few different content pieces and run them as ads--with very low ad spends. Just a few dollars usually works well to test a few different things:

1. Audience demographics: some audience segments will respond better than others, and no matter how much research you do ahead of time. There is still a huge learning component that comes at the time of actually publishing content.

2. Audience engagement: some content pieces yield more likes than comments, more comments than shares, etc. Doing a round of testing will help you decide which content piece you ultimately want to use, based on which measures you're driving toward.

3. Audience sentiment: there are content pieces that perform well in terms of engagement, but might yield negative sentiment in audience comments. Similarly, there are content pieces that have low engagement but yield extremely positive sentiment from the audience comments. This data should never be ignored, especially for the type of campaign you're looking to run.

This testing portion ends up making such a dramatic difference in the final result of the campaign because many of these data points are (for most agencies) invisible until the end of the campaign.

By then, it's too late.

Instead, think of Facebook and Instagram's ad platforms as opportunities to test influencer's content before they push it out to their massive audiences. Once you have some data showing what's resonating and what's missing the mark, then give the influencer the final go-ahead with the highest performing pieces.

When you approach your strategy this way, the much larger ad spend you put behind that piece of influencer content will go a whole lot further. You've already established (and proven) your target audience. You have data showing that this photo or video with this piece of copy resonates. You have a micro-sample of how that campaign should end up performing in the long run, which mitigates risk on your much larger investment.

For any other digital marketing campaign, A/B testing isn't even a thought--it's a must.

The same needs to happen for your influencer marketing campaign.

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Published on: Sep 20, 2017