Almost three billion of the world’s population are reachable by influencer marketing through various social channels, given massive monthly active users on Facebook and Instagram. The majority of brands (91 percent) use two or more social media channels. Furthermore, 81 percent of small and medium-sized businesses turn to social media to help fuel growth. This has contributed to the decline of traditional advertising and sparked an ongoing debate concerning the effectiveness of influencer marketing.

Here are some top considerations for an effective influencer program:

1. Pledge Your Commitment

A long-term strategy, including legal consultation, contract negotiations, social media monitoring and product seeding should be in place to ensure that influencers are constantly updated and aligned with the brand’s mission, values and operations. This is to ensure that contracted influencers are acting in the brand’s interest and have the best knowledge to respond to their followers accordingly.

2. Relationship-building is Everything

A successful influencer program should result in organic brand advocacy, where the influencer becomes an evangelist for the brand and defends the brand in times of need. To foster such relationships, an influencer program should include regular gatherings, behind-the-scenes tours, celebrations of festivities and milestones, invitation to industry events and exclusive product launches.

3. Identify Genuine Thought Leaders

Thought leaders display passion for their industry and have developed enough credibility in their market to provide valuable opinions and experience. They invest time and effort into becoming experts and co-create quality content for their followers, who look to them for the latest updates. Beyond creating content, they can work with brands to conceptualise campaigns, support social causes and help expand a brand’s offering. Great examples of Singaporean thought leaders would be content creator, Jemimah Wei, who wrote and produced Laneige My BB Love campaign or yoga instructor, Liv Lo, who recently set up her very own fitness portal.

4. Understand Your Audience’s Content Preferences

It is crucial for brands to understand their target audiences before jumping onto the influencer-bandwagon. While men are more likely to use social media sites like Reddit, Google+ and LinkedIn, the number of women on Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook far outnumber men. In terms of content, research has shown that women prefer lifestyle-oriented content while men prefer goal-oriented content that highlights product benefits.

5. Stay Safe, Be Prepared

Brands should have guidelines prepared, to minimise risk, in cases where an influencer acts against a brand’s values or is featured negatively. Brands should be equipped with readily-available statements and protocols, to respond appropriately and be prepared for potential threats.