The biggest mistake brands make when creating an influencer-affiliate program is to treat is as a passive channel. They focus all their efforts on optimising the last bit out of Facebook ads with diminishing returns, while the affiliate program is just a link in the footer which very few people see.
The brands that win, on the other hand, work hard to set up influencers as a controllable and repeatable acquisition channel.
Here are learnings from setting up an influencer program from 0 to 200+ influencers:
1. Find the right influencers
Pick the top 3 niche hashtags in your industry. Eg: If you’re a supplement company, don’t target #fitness or #supplements. Go for #nootropics or #vitaminsupplement or #bcaaenergy. These are more narrow and hence ideal for you. A good ballpark is between 10k-50k posts under that hashtag.
Create a list of content creators under 3-5 hashtags in your niche. You should start with a list of 50-100 creators.
Send them an email sequence with 4-6 emails spread out over 20-30 days. You can find their emails in their bio, on their profile(mobile-only), or on their website.
In the emails, share what's in it for them, your payout structure and the results of other influencers.
Pro tip: If some of your customers are already posting about your brand, add them to your program to get the ball rolling.
3. Conversations and Negotiations.
Don't go with influencers who want to be paid on a per-post basis to start. Find microinfluencers who are ok with affiliate deals (with free product) and work with just them.
This will help you see results and assess a fair price for flat-fee deals in the future.
Decide a posting date or window, and follow up with them if they don't post. Don't rush it though, it's about building a relationship with them and delays are okay, as long as they're not intentional.
4. Shipping product
Once they say yes, you'll need to ship them the product. Do this and track when it reaches them. You can do this easily via tools like Saral.
5. Performance tracking
Use tools like Saral to monitor when they post and tag you and track your ROI. You wanna make sure you're running a profitable influencer program (the best way to ensure this is to only do affiliate deals when you start)
6. Build a Relationship
Keep liking and commenting on their posts which are not about your brand. Support them in other creative ways and treat them like you would a friend. This is the best way to ensure they remain brand loyalists and actually like working with you. Stop looking at influencer marketing as a transaction.
Hope you found this helpful, excited to hear more thoughts and feedback from people who've run influencer programs before in the comments.