Opinion makers: 10 rules for successful influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is currently on everyone’s lips. But what do you have to consider when advertising with opinion leaders? Anke Herbener, CEO of DigitasLBi AG in Germany and Switzerland, has put together the ten most important rules for the colleagues at HORIZONT Online.

1. Define the target group and compare it with the influencer community

Before companies invest in influencer marketing, as with any marketing campaign, the target group must be precisely defined. It is worth thinking outside the box, because companies may find some new target groups that have not been addressed in the previous discussion. Addressing these leads using influencers can prove to be particularly worthwhile.

2. Plan dedicated budgets for fees and external campaign costs

It is well known that nothing is free in the world of marketing, so that influencer campaigns can only develop a verifiable advertising effect for brands with monetary expenditure. If you don’t pay, you won’t win. Influencers are becoming more professional just like the marketing industry. Therefore, communication and marketing decision-makers should make sure that they reserve their own budget for this specialist discipline.

3. Define goals and determine results for the influencer campaign

Together with the influencers they address, companies should define individual phases of cooperation. The results to be achieved must be clearly named and it must be made clear which content the influencer should develop. The definition of goals ensures that there is no unnecessary effort and that the campaign result is actually right for both sides in the end.

4. Identify influencers and check for compatibility with your own brand

Digital opinion leaders really have to fit in with their own brand. After all, they appear as brand ambassadors and advocates for a product world. The targeted research for the right influencer therefore requires time and a sure instinct, because only if the influencer and product are a good match will YouTube videos, Instagram photos, Facebook posts and blog articles convert into leads by the respective fans.

5. Align the selection of influencers according to key figures and engagement of their fans

Companies have to validate their campaigns and should determine the corresponding key figures using various online tools and monitoring services. In the end, it is not just the reach that should be decisive for choosing the right influencer. This depends on networking with your own fan base and community as well as interacting with other influencers. Companies should therefore consider all influencing factors for evaluating the advertising impact of individual influencers in order to lead campaigns to success.

6. Include agencies and networks as partners in the campaign

Influencers want to be seen by companies as equal partners. They are not supplicants and often reach a larger audience than some prime-time spots. Many influencers are therefore represented by agencies and networks that offer artist management and PR advice as well as ad bookings and the entire media business for influencers. Companies should trust in this expertise of creative and digital service providers because they have already successfully implemented campaigns with influencers.

7. Validate the interaction of the target group with the content of the influencer

Make sure you understand how followers and fans actually deal with the content of the influencers. Also check in which way, but also in which tonality influencers express themselves on the advertised content. So do not operate influencer marketing via pricing models that only target the bare numbers of networks and channels. Rather, pay attention to actual engagements and ideally incorporate this data into your final evaluation.

8. Protect the credibility of influencers and companies

As a rule, articles, pictures and videos from influencers appear more authentic than a staged brand world with staged recordings. Companies should be careful right from the start not to weaken the authenticity of the influencer with unsuitable products and advertising materials. Brands should allow influencers a certain amount of freedom in how they communicate content and brand messages to their fans – with the influencers’ own videos and selfies.

9. Maintain legal security in influencer marketing

Before companies work with influencers, they should ensure legal security for their brand and for the influencer. Surreptitious advertising must be avoided, even if it is all too tempting. Companies must ensure that advertising content is clearly identified within the influencer’s posts. Because the legal limits for advertising do not stop at influencer marketing.

10. Evaluate influencer campaigns and measure their success

Companies should examine the references to the advertised campaign page using analytics tools. The careful analysis of an influencer campaign is a prerequisite for whether the collaboration can be rated as a success. Companies should always use the evaluation of their campaigns to learn from possible mistakes and to use the findings for future measures and influencer campaigns based on them.


Influencer marketing works with an intelligent strategy that is influenced by numerous factors from public relations, marketing and the media business. Rely on long-range and attention-grabbing concepts and activate your network to identify the right influencers. Influencers should not appear for a campaign solely because of their reach and awareness, because sometimes a large number of smaller opinion makers generate significantly more advertising effects than the one-time number with the digital superstar.

The entire world of influencer marketing is developing into a new ecosystem from which the marketing and advertising industry as well as the entire economy can benefit. Anyone who steps in now and communicates with influencers will be able to stake out the claims in good time and put the brand on the road to success.

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