Finding your way in the brave new world of social media stars is not for the faint of heart. Here's a quick primer:
1. Turn to an influencer agency
Three quarters of marketers say identifying the right influencer is the main challenge to rolling out a successful campaign, according to a survey by Augure. But you don't have to go it alone. Tap talent brokers and agencies, like Talent Resources and IMA, to play matchmaker. When Jeep Wrangler wanted to promote National Dog Day, Talent Resources suggested enlisting actor Josh Duhamel, a known dog lover.
2. Spell out parameters
Influencers want their posts to come off as breezy, off-the-cuff endorsements. But behind the scenes, there are a bunch of details to be worked out: How long must the influencer wait before she posts for one of your competitors? Are there certain days of the week you prefer? What about times of the day? Does the post have to include certain hashtags or custom links? Are there certain analytics that should be reported in a certain timeframe? "All of the influencers we work with agree to six months of exclusivity, so they can't work with anyone else in our competitive landscape," says Ezra Dabah, founder of kid's apparel startup Kidpik. "But the contract specifics have to be tailored. A box-opening video on YouTube is completely different than a photo shoot for Instragram or a video on Muiscal.ly."
3. Play by the rules
The FTC requires it be clear to consumers that money has changed hands for paid social endorsements. What that means on social can be a little fuzzy, but influencers use the #sp, #ad, and #sponsored hashtags and brand label to signal sponsorship.
4. Catch them before they're big
The influencer landscape changes so fast, the mega-stars of tomorrow could be an average customer today, happily tweeting about your products for free. So spread your love around, says Claudia Naim-Burt, director of brand and communications for custom-framing startup Framebridge. "We re-pin and re-gram both influencer content and customer content." Framebridge also includes its social handles--and a request to post--on all of its packaging. Because when it comes to social media, every Like helps.