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The Complete A to Z Guide to Influencer Marketing: Definitions, Benchmarks, Strategies

Welcome to The Shelf’s complete guide to influencer marketing. Our marketing team, account managers and sales team worked hard to put together a virtual encyclopedia of influencer marketing. Originally, this sucker was more than 10,000 words of content. But we shortened it. A little. Still, this A to Z guide to influencer marketing covers:

  • Everything a brand needs to know to justify influencer marketing spend
  • Everything the Marketing Manager needs to know to get buy-in from the higher-ups
  • Everything the marketing team needs to know to set up and run a campaign
  • And everything the demand gen/paid team needs to know about optimizing a live campaign to deliver the best results

Nuff chit-chat. Let’s get started.

We dropped even more cool insights into the download.
Click to view this guide as a PDF

What You’ll Find in Our Epic Influencer Marketing Guide

Influencer Marketing Basics

  • What is influencer marketing?
  • The benefits of influencer marketing
  • Why it works so well
  • How it works

Influencer Marketing Strategy

  • Setting Campaign Goals
  • Knowing How to Structure an Influencer Campaign
  • Choosing the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Campaign

How to Work with Influencers

  • The Different Types of Influencers
  • How to Find Influencers for Your Campaign
  • Choosing the Right Influencer Partners
  • Tips for Nailing Influencer Outreach
  • Influencer Outreach Template

Sponsored Content Best Practices

  • Securing Content Rights
  • How to Get the Best Creative Content from Your Influencer Partners
  • 7 Things to Consider When Coming Up with Ideas for Your Influencer Marketing Campaign

Influencer Marketing ROI

  • Campaign Management
  • Which Metrics Should You Track with an Influencer Campaign?
  • Optimizing a Campaign for Better Influencer Marketing ROI
  • What is Whitelisting and How Does it Work?
  • Whitelisting vs Boosting vs Dark Posts

Reusing Influencer-Generated Content

  • Campaign Management
  • Which Metrics Should You Track with an Influencer Campaign?
  • Optimizing a Campaign for Better Influencer Marketing ROI
  • What is Whitelisting and How Does it Work?
  • Whitelisting vs Boosting vs Dark Posts

Influencer Marketing Glossary & Stats

  • Influencer Marketing Definitions
  • Influencer Marketing Statistics


What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing has become an increasingly important part of the digital landscape. But what (EXACTLY) is it? A mommy blogger speaking well of a skin cream that helps reduce the discomfort of her daughter’s eczema? Is it a celebrity endorsement? How do we define it? How does it really affect your marketing campaigns? More, how do brands translate 💗 Instagram Likes 💗 into conversions? We’ll get into all of that in this guide, but first, let’s start at the beginning:

Influencer Marketing is a form of word-of-mouth marketing where brands hire social media creators with influence in specific areas (👈 important) to talk to their own audiences about the various benefits of a brand or product.

That’s because influencers (or creators) are the people others follow and keep up with for advice and inspiration – whether the topic is fashion, beauty, finance, tech, gardening, or even more niche interests like car detailing, agriculture, or spelunking!

The Benefits of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is personal… Where paid ads are often thought of as non-personal marketing, influencer marketing is far more personal, and that personal touch is the driving force behind the effectiveness of influencer campaigns.

Influencer marketing is a more targeted approach… Influencer marketing allows brands to get in front of niched-down segments of their target audience by borrowing the goodwill of the people those audience segments already like, trust, and admire.

Influencer marketing offers strong social proof… Influencers are great at two things: creating compelling content and getting their followers to take an action. Brands that work with influencers are gaining allies who already know how to present ideas, concepts, and visuals to their audience that can get them to respond.

Influencer marketing allows for real-time results… When brands roll out influencer campaigns in stages, they have the opportunity to monitor the campaign performance in real-time to allow the marketing team a chance to optimize campaigns and put more resources behind content that’s performing well. Influencer marketing is also a great way to test messaging before sending ad concepts to print or using them in PPC campaigns.

Influencer marketing is more affordable… Influencer marketing is an all-in-one solution that allows brands to go directly to social media influencers for branded content, eliminating the need for a creative team whose job is to create the assets for specific campaigns.

Influencer marketing works faster… Influencer marketing has proven to be an effective tool for boosting brand lift across multiple channels. It’s also a good way to drive traffic back to their website, talk-up an event, promote a new product, and assemble a catalog of creative, compelling content.

Courtesy of: The Shelf

Why Influencer Marketing Works So Well (even though we know we’re being marketed to)

We are bombarded every single day with branded messages. Ads abound. There’s a popular stat floating around that the average person sees about 5000 ads a day, and even that stat’s about 14 years old. Well, if we’re seeing more than 5000 ads a day, and the average person’s only getting six hours of sleep a night, that means during our 18 waking hours, we see 277 ads every hour on the hour, which is about one ad every 4.5 seconds.

And again, that stat about ads pre-dates Instagram influencers by about 5 years. Keep that in mind.

For every day in 2019, about 13,560 pieces of influencer-created sponsored content went up on Instagram, according to Statista. Between 2017 and 2019, the influencer market more than doubled in size, going from $3B to $6.5B in value.

Today, nine in ten marketers say they are running or planning to run an influencer marketing campaign in the near future. And the influencer marketing industry could very well grow to nearly $14 billion by the end of 2021. Makes sense, right? Influencers seem to have a finger on the pulse of social communities.

So, how do we get ANYTHING done?!!?

Two ways: Ad blockers and ad blindness.

Tens of millions of people have taken deliberate steps to make sure they’re not exposed to ads by using ad blockers that are so sophisticated, they even help you skip pre-roll YouTube ads altogether. Something like 42 percent of adults who use the Internet globally also use an ad blocker.

So here’s the question: If people hate ads so much, why does influencer marketing even work on smart consumers?

Short answer: It’s the presentation. Influencer marketing doesn’t disrupt an Instagrammer’s experience like a TV ad interrupts an episode of The Bachelor. And believe it or not, one of the [many] reasons people go to social media in the first place is to learn about new trends, products, brands, and movements.

Courtesy of: The Shelf

How Influencer Marketing Works

Influencer marketing integrates pretty seamlessly with your overall digital marketing strategy because it lets brands show up at different touchpoints along the path to purchase. The most effective influencer campaigns work across multiple platforms.

For every channel you add to your digital marketing strategy, you can improve your ROI and effectiveness by up to 35 percent, according to Analytics Partners. And studies have shown that conversions increase by at least 10 percent for brands that use influencer-generated content in the online purchase path.

illustrated GIF showing Influencer Marketing path to purchase - influencer marketing strategy

Take a look at the channels identified in the graphic above. All of those channels – the subway ads, the Pinterest board, the newsletter – are access points for influencers to extol the virtues of your brand, creating a kind of echo chamber all across the web.

In the previous section, we included the stat (in the pink chart) that 81 percent of millennial women say social media is the best way to reach them. That’s a stat to which most digital marketers would easily subscribe. Well, here are a few more of the answers given by millennial women from that same poll:

  • 36 percent say websites they trust are a good way to reach them
  • 35 percent say online articles 
  • 35 percent say email 
  • 17 percent say online video 
Courtesy of: The Shelf


Let’s move on to some tactical elements of an influencer campaign to give you a basic understanding of how the puzzle pieces fit together. This will make it easier to understand how threading an influencer campaign throughout your digital strategy can help you hit all the important KPIs your brand is targeting this year. (And really, after the year we’ve had, don’t we all just kinda need a win right now?)

Setting Your Campaign Goals

We totally get why some marketers and brands are still giving influencer marketing the side-eye. 😒 There’s a lot of talk about things like earned media value, brand-building, long-term value, playing the long game…

That’s all great, but aren’t you more interested in finding out what part of influencer marketing lines up with ACTUAL business goals – the kind of business goals set by REAL companies? So many brands are still under the misguided notion that influencer marketing is just a brand awareness play when that’s not the case at all. For brands, the value of running an influencer campaign goes far beyond just reach and Likes. 

It’s not that you can’t accomplish important business goals with influencer marketing. We’ve run our fair share of campaigns to help clients get more app downloads, boost sales, drive site traffic AND foot traffic. More often than not, there’s a disconnect between what a brand WANTS to accomplish and how it STRUCTURES its influencer campaigns to achieve that end. The former has EVERYTHING to do with the latter.

Influencer campaigns need goals. Your campaign goals set the metrics you use to track the success of your influencer campaign.

Whether the goal is to get a new product in front of buyers, get traffic back to your site, or get a catalog of creative assets you can post across your own branded social platforms, a well-planned influencer marketing strategy can help you accomplish REAL marketing goals and move the needle on larger organizational goals.

Knowing How to Structure an Influencer Campaign

Influencer campaigns can (and should) be custom-built to achieve specific goals. Knowing which outcomes you want to see will determine how your campaign is structured and which influencer marketing strategy you use. There are three primary types of campaigns you can use to reach your influencer marketing goals:

Brand Awareness Campaigns help you get lots of eyes on your brand, product, or event very quickly. These campaigns work best when your goal is to introduce a new product, when you’re rebranding, when you’re trying to present a value prop big enough to interrupt the buyer’s regular pattern (like getting someone to cancel the auto-shipped vitamins they like to switch to your brand of vitamins). 

Content Campaigns are designed to create a catalog of high-value sponsored content that brands can reuse as needed across their own branded channels.

Traffic/Clicks Campaigns work best for increasing site traffic, growing your list, getting sales, and when you’re also running retargeting campaigns (and need prospects to see your brand a few more times to stay top-of-mind). 

Courtesy of: The Shelf

Let’s say you’re a women’s clothing retailer and you’re planning to run a spring influencer campaign. Here’s how each campaign would look with the different types of campaign structures:

Scenario 1 for Traffic/Clicks… You partner with three or four Instagram macro-influencers who have really popular blogs. You do this because you want to drive tons of people to your site to shop your big sale and use the blogger’s discount code to buy a romper you know their audience will love. 

Scenario 2 for Influencer Content… You want to swap out your boring-as-hell product pics with influencer selfies or candid-looking shots of customers wearing that romper. You bring on a dozen or so Instagram nano-influencers who can take cute pics of themselves in the romper, and maybe even leave reviews so it looks like regular user-generated content. 

Scenario 3 for Product Awareness… You’re also upselling a snug, new body shaper to pair with the romper and you have a couple of great YouTube macro-influencers in mind who are active on TikTok and Reels. These gals will talk shoppers through the different ways to style the romper with tips on how to match the right body shaper with the right outfit. 

The point is… Once we know what your goals are, we know the best way to structure the campaign to meet those goals by tweaking the way we handle the rest of the campaign elements.

Choosing the Right Social Media Platform(s) for Your Campaign

Which platforms should you choose for your campaign? The answer to this question eludes many marketing teams. So, by default, a lot of marketers just go ahead and run influencer campaigns on Instagram alone. Instagram influencer marketing is definitely important. But each of the other major social media platforms offer advantages that are naturally a good fit for achieving different campaign goals. 

Instagram is the most popular platform for running influencer campaigns by a long-shot, with 79 percent of brands using Instagram for influencer campaigns, compared with Facebook (46 percent), YouTube (36 percent), Twitter (24 percent), and LinkedIn (12 percent), according to Influencer Marketing Hub. 

The factors that determine where your influencer campaigns should run are your product and your audience:

  • Knowing what your audience needs to see and hear in order to understand the value of your product
  • Knowing where your audience spends time online
  • Understanding which platform will give you the best shot at nailing the other two factors

For instance…

Platforms like Pinterest, Facebook, and TikTok are great social media platforms for reaching different types of audiences with different products. They each have their own culture, norms, and way of presenting ideas. But they’re not the only channels for influencer marketing. 

If you’re trying to reach busy professionals, for example, you may need to loop podcasts into the mix. Or add YouTube and Facebook if you’re targeting a more mature demographic since those two platforms are so widely used by older social media users, especially now that churches, community groups, and in-person gatherings have gone virtual.

Courtesy of: The Shelf


On a good day, only about 2 in 5 marketers feel like they know what the heck they’re doing when it comes time to recruit influencers, according to Ste Davies

That’s a BIG DEAL because knowing how to align the RIGHT influencer with the RIGHT concept determines how your influencer campaign will ultimately impact lift across metrics like brand awareness, follower growth, new subscribers, downloads of your awesome thing, intent to purchase, or completed purchases. 

Yet, influencer selection remains one of the primary challenges for most of the marketing teams who sit down to plan an influencer campaign.

So, how can you tell the difference between an influencer who is going to push your brand to the next level vs. one that will just eat up your marketing budget with no return on your investment?

Let’s work out some of the most effective techniques for partnering with creators who will be the best fit for your influencer campaign and help you reach important KPIs.

The Different Types of Influencers

Remember a few years ago when most brands focused their attention (and budgets) on large influencers with huge audiences? The general consensus was the more followers an influencer had, the better their influencer campaigns would perform. But that consensus turned out to be flawed. Actually, it wasn’t true at all. Not even a little.

Thankfully, most of the brands we encounter now know better, even if they don’t exactly know how to do better. Now, clients come to us asking for recommendations on which types of influencers would work best for their campaigns.

There are basically five tiers or types of Instagram influencers to choose from when it comes to social media influencers. Different agencies and brands will have some version of this chart that they’re working from. But based on our extensive research and our own knowledge of the influencer culture, we think this is the most logical and inclusive breakdown.

How to Find Influencers for Your Campaign

Have you ever seen an influencer’s feed and thought he or she would be perfect for your next campaign? Yeah, that’s how a lot of brands handle the process of finding influencers for their campaigns. In reality, influencer selection is a bit more complex than just pinpointing influencers who create visually appealing content, and it takes more than just finding influencers who seem to be members of your target audience.

The pool from which you source influencers also matter. Here are the four most common sources brands use to find influencers:

• Influencer Networks: A roster of an existing influencer network curated by a third party

• Opt-Ins: Influencers who respond to your “casting call”

• Agents: Professionals who represent a group of top influencers (which isn’t the same as repping a large group of influencers)

• Outreach: Conducting cold outreach to influencers you don’t know and who probably don’t know you

Although popular, these methods often end up being too restrictive and time-consuming to execute, and they don’t allow for real-world applications.

What happens if your campaign calls for blue-collar influencers, gardeners, or gamers? Will the agency have the resources and know-how to find the people needed for that campaign? 

Influencer marketing platforms usually give you the best chance of finding a large enough pool of potential candidates for influencer campaigns, especially for brands that are targeting subsegments of your audience. You can sift through creator profiles using filters like age, location, brand affinities, engagement ratios, and even the categories in which influencers wield the most sway to narrow your candidate pool. 

Choosing the Right Influencer Partners

Reaching the right audience hinges on how good you are at choosing the right influencers for your campaign. In order for that influencer selection process to work, it needs to integrate a couple of really important factors.

A lot of marketing teams underestimate the importance of their influencer selection process. Influencer selection directly impacts a brand’s ability to move the needle with a social media campaign, but most brands have no idea how to actually structure the influencer selection process.  

Factor #1: You have to analyze both quantitative and qualitative influencer data to find the right creators for your campaign.

Most marketers have a pretty solid grasp of the basic information needed about an influencer to determine if he or she is a good fit for a campaign. That data usually falls into the category of quantitative data:

  • Stats
  • Follower size
  • Engagement rate or view rate
  • # of posts
  • Overall post performance
  • Demographic targeting
  • Location
  • Age
  • Budget + Availability
  • Previous sponsorship performance
  • Fraud detection
Courtesy of: The Shelf

But qualitative insights are also important for choosing the influencer(s) who will be able to get you the outcomes you want to see. These include information on:

  • Quality of content
  • Is it creative? Original?
  • Influencer aesthetic
  • Relatability
  • Does the influencer fit your brand?
  • Are their values/messaging aligned with the brand?
  • Does the influencer’s content fit the campaign’s creative direction?

Factor #2: Influencers must be able to create targeted content.

An influencer should be chosen based on the likelihood she’ll be able to create content for the specific buyer persona/audience segment she’s creating content to reach. In the example below, let’s assume these influencers both talk about fashion & are currently in their 20’s. But they clearly target different demographics, which means they will appeal to different types of brands in the same vertical. 

💡 Finding the right influencer partner requires you to know more about an influencer than just demographic info and follower count. 

Graphic showing differences between two fashion influencers - influencer marketing
Factor #3: Influencers must be influential on the platform(s) where the campaign will run.

The influencer selected also needs to be great at creating content for the specific platform(s) where your target buyer is most likely to spend time. For instance, a food blogger who creates amazing-looking flat lays for Insta may not have the same knack for creating entertaining TikToks, and the entertainment factor is a huge part of TikTok culture. 

Factor #4: Influencers should understand how to create content that supports your messaging.

An influencer should stick to creative concepts that support the messaging needed to push your target buyer deeper into your funnel and/or farther along on the purchase path.

Factor #5: Audience behavior matters.

One thing you’ll want to remember about your influencer selection process is that it’s also important to take a look at the audience behavior. By looking at the behaviors of audience members who are actually liking and commenting on an influencer’s posts, you can refine your targeting even more. Huh?

We have an entire post dedicated to influencer outreach penned by our Director of Account Managers. If you want to know how to approach influencers for collabs, that’s the post you want to read. Even has email templates.

Click the big, pretty button below to read that one.

Related Post
How to Do Blogger Outreach (Includes Templates)


Identifying your campaign goals and understanding who is in your audience determines how we structure campaigns to get specific outcomes

→ which helps you pinpoint the best platforms to use to reach your customers

→ which then dictates the types of influencers we need (and the superpowers they need to have to make your campaign deliver on KPIs).

And of course, all of this shapes the kind of content that influencers will create for your campaign.

There’s a caveat here because a BIG part of what we provide for our clients has to do with the creative concepts our strategy team comes up with to help guide and shape the direction of the influencers’ content. 

Our Account Managers serve as the bridge connecting the brand’s desired KPIs with influencers who are best equipped to deliver. One of the ways we do that is by building out creative concepts BEFORE we even select any influencers. 

Specifically, as it relates to your content strategy, influencer marketing has some pretty compelling benefits: 

Scale content creation by outsourcing it to an army of influencers.

Expand your visibility by aligning influencer selection with keyword research so you have a diverse group of creators building content specifically designed to target different long-tail keywords.

Amplify your messaging by bringing in creators who are also raving fans who can promote content and increase the likelihood of making your content go viral.

Prove your value by leveraging the Domain Authority of your influencer partners and adopting their endorsements as much-needed social proof.

Securing Content Rights

We know it’s not fun and it sounds pretty boring, but you have to have a UGC rights contract in place for any influencer campaign.

We typically negotiate rights for campaign content to be used by the brand as they see fit, across their social media channels. But the larger the influencer, the more likely you are to have resistance from the content’s creator. Sometimes that takes the form of an expiration date for the content, or the creator being able to delete sponsored posts from their feed after a certain amount of time… it can get a little weird and a little complicated.

Still, it’s crucial that you iron out those types of details in a written contract because influencers are well within their rights to ask a brand to take down a post that was part of a sponsored campaign the brand has ALREADY PAID FOR if reuse is not clearly defined within the contract. In an absolute-all-out-worst-case-ever scenario, the influencer could actually sue for copyright infringement.

Clarity and transparency are KEY in negotiating UGC rights, both for brands and Creators. Creators need to know from brands exactly how sponsored content and other UGC will be used and how long it will be used for that purpose.

Take Down and Removal Rights

Include a section in your influencer contract outlining when an influencer can take down sponsored content, and clearly state that you reserve the right to remove any content an influencer produces for your brand.

Influencers can be particular about the content they leave on their feeds. If you’ve ever looked at an influencer’s Instagram, you know that they’re selective about how much-sponsored content they have on their page. And duh! This makes sense. You don’t want to see sponsored post after sponsored post — it will ruin their authenticity with their audience.

Brands, on the other hand, also need the authority to take down or remove content that doesn’t meet the established brand guidelines. You can’t have bad or misaligned content that you paid for hanging out on the internet.


It’s important for brands to get influencers to agree they won’t infringe on any other person’s rights or copyright. Influencers should not incorporate the pictures, content, audio, or video of another creator’s work into any campaign. That’s uber-important.


To ensure you get what you paid for, we always list a set of DOs and DON’Ts because influencers (bless their hearts) will inevitably do weird things. So, you need a record of the hashtags to be used, any people or things that need to be mentioned in sponsored posts and the length of time the post is to stay published to a creator’s site or social channel.

Other Critical Elements

Contracts also include things like confidentiality clauses that require influencers to keep your super duper top secret secrets a secret… and indemnification that keeps you out of court in the event a zombie apocalypse, Yeti appearance or freak accident happens during the creation of the sponsored content.

Contracts are crucial, and the details you include in your contracts can save you time, reputation, and tens of thousands of dollars in litigation. Our iron-clad contracts allow our clients to have stress-free campaigns…but trust us when we say every clause in our contract was the result of a hard-learned lesson.

How to Get the BEST Creative Content from Your Influencer Partners

Okay. Buckle up.

If you want great content from your influencer marketing push, you’re going to need really great strategies (plural) that you can provide the influencers.

Building out the strategies for an influencer campaign involves several important elements: knowing who you want to target, knowing where they hang out online, understanding how they shop, and having a solid grasp of the buyer personas the brand wants to reach with the campaign. Those three elements form the comfy cushion upon which your strategists can unleash their creativity.

Strategists?? Yeah… that’s the thing…

We know a lot don’t have designated creative strategists who come up with cool influencer marketing ideas for a living. Something like a third of the marketers asked still struggle to come up with creative ideas for their influencer campaigns (and you say #basic product post?) If you’re not bringing us on to dream up the concepts (because we actually have strategists), the fix for this is to take a group approach to your campaign and dream up some creative influencer marketing ideas that perfectly align with your voice, style, values, and aesthetic.

Your campaign strategy should have two important elements: a way to get your customers to take the next steps on the path to purchase, and specific, measurable goals to let you know your customers are moving toward a conversion. And since your internal marketing team understands your customers’ path to purchase so well, it’s crucial that they monitor the messaging tied to your influencer campaign.

Take CBD, for instance: In 2019, when CBD was trending everywhere, High Yield Insights released a report which contained a chart of the five buyer personas most likely to purchase cannabidiol (CBD) products.

The personas varied greatly in their demographics and psychographics, which, of course, means marketers have to reach them in different ways and with different messages. Just so you can see what we’re talking about here, we pulled a few characteristics from three of those buyer personas. Which would resonate with a message on pain relief? Skincare? Who would you be able to reach on Instagram? Facebook? TikTok? 


Campaign Management

If we take a high-level view of an influencer campaign, there really are enough bells and whistles and cogs and doodads to keep a significant portion of your marketing team busy. 

Contrary to popular belief, running an influencer campaign isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it type of thing. Because…

Even if you give influencers 100% creative control and plan to approve anything and everything they send you, you’ll still need a few people handling the logistics of managing a campaign and making sure the campaign content compels your audience to take the actions you want them to take.

Many of the problems that brands have with their campaigns can be traced back to the team (or lack of a team) running that campaign. In order for your influencer campaign to perform optimally, you need team members who will be taking ownership of some really important tasks such as:

  • Finding influencers
  • Heading off influencer fraud
  • Sending products out to influencers
  • Maintaining brand safety
  • Coming up with creative concepts and strategies
  • Maintaining the timeline
  • Setting up tracking pixels (for affiliate links)
  • Ensuring influencers adhere to FTC regulations
  • Adapting strategies to algorithm changes
  • Integrating new features on social if they’ll help your campaign
  • Optimizing campaigns
illustration of the logistics of an influencer marketing campaign

Which is the topic of this section – how to get better and better results from the influencer campaigns you run.

Which Metrics Should You Track with an Influencer Campaign?

Without fail, that’s the question brands (and especially CMOs and VPs) want to know before, during, and after their influencer campaign. Which metrics will move the needle for our brand?

You and I both know that influencer marketing was darn near overrun by fraud a few years ago when brands were hellbent on only partnering with influencers who had the most followers and engagement, both metrics that can easily be gamed.

The hitlist of metrics you want to watch during an influencer campaign include these:

Post Engagements – The number of likes, comments, and shares on a post

Engagement Rate – Post engagements / total number of followers * 100 

Story Views – The number of times a user has viewed an Instagram story

Story View Rate – Story views / total number of followers * 100 

Post Video Views – The number of times a user has viewed an Instagram video post

Replies, Shares, Profile Taps, Link Clicks – The various actions a user can take on Instagram stories

Post Impressions – The total number of people your content is visible to

Post Reach – The total number of unique people who see your content

Clicks – The number of actions taken on a post in the form of a click to a designated URL. Clicks are counted through link in bio, swipe up, post links, etc.

Unique UTM links – These codes added to the end of a URL track clicks and performance of marketing activities

Tracking Pixels – Used for blog content, these snippets of code allow you to gather information about visitors on a website (how they browse, what type of ads they click on, etc.)

Brand Sentiment – How relevant was the branded content to the influencer’s audience and did the branded content actually resonate with the audience (ie: commenting on the outfit vs. the brand sponsorship or messaging)

And the preferred metrics for this list can shake out a number of different ways depending on your campaign goals.

Optimizing Influencer Campaigns for Better ROI

One of the great things about running an influencer campaign is that you’re able to tweak live campaigns as they’re running and keep an eye on the metrics listed above in [relatively] real time. That means you can make changes to the content, messaging, visuals of your campaign and even your overall influencer marketing strategy as already-live posts deliver the insights you need to keep your campaign performing well.

Optimization allows you to use influencer-generated sponsored content to target the exact audiences that are most relevant to you, directly from the influencer’s account. This supercharges social proof because endorsements come directly from the influencers’ accounts, not the brand’s account. 

Create an optimization framework that you can use as a roadmap to continually improve on the results of a LIVE campaign and deliver data that can have profound effects across ALL of your marketing channels. 

The 6 Variables Incorporated in Optimization

#1 CTA

What is a CTA? Call to Action- A button or request for users to do something, to take some type of action.

Why a CTA is important: Establishes connections, results in a conversion, expands customer reach, motivates your audience. 

CTAs are only as good as the concepts with which they are combined.

  • Giveaways
  • Promos
  • Philanthropy
  • Store newsletter signups
  • Store rewards program (encouraging participation)


What are campaign concepts: Brand-safe creative ideas that make people want to engage with your campaign content. 

Why concepts are important: They are crafted to help the brand accomplish specific marketing goals.

  • Artistic Concepts
  • Informational
  • Reward Based
  • Quizzes 
  • Digital “Parties”
  • Community Content
  • Real / Relatable
  • Aspirational

#3 Post Type

What are post types: Post types refer to the combination of media formats + platform features.

Why post types are important: Posts are the expression of the creative concepts fueling a campaign. Concepts should be matched with the post type that most effectively compels the target audience to take action.

  • IG Photos
  • IG Videos
  • IG Stories
  • IG Reels
  • Youtube Videos
  • YouTube Stories
  • YouTube Shorts
  • Facebook Live
  • Facebook Watch
  • Pinterest Pins
  • Pinterest Stories
  • TikTok Videos


What are verticals: Verticals are segments of your target audience identified by their commonalities.

Why verticals are important: Identifying and optimizing content for different verticals helps to really nail campaign targeting, causing your messaging to be more effective.

  • Fashionistas
  • Gen Z social
  • Shoppers
  • Moms with a plan
  • Adventurers


What are influencers: Social media users whose followers look to them for advice and guidance on specific subjects. 

Why influencers are important: Knowing which influencers have the greatest impact radius will help you fine-tune your messaging and optimize the content that performs best.

  • Micro (IG)
  • Mid (IG)
  • Macro (IG)
  • Large Vloggers


What is distribution? Distribution entails getting greater reach for the top-performing content in your campaign. 

Why distribution is important: Knowing which pieces of content are working for your campaign lets you put more resources behind that content to reach more people for better ROI.

  • Organic reach
  • Boosting
  • Dark-boosting
  • Amplification
  • Facebook Groups
  • Newsletters


The sponsored content influencers generate for your campaign can be repurposed and reused across different channels. Doing so extends the life and value of your campaign content and enables your influencer campaign to deliver returns for years to come.

Screenshot of IG post from Amy Roiland x Zenni Optical collab.

As little as 16 percent of brands have a strategy for incorporating user-generated content (UGC) even though a quarter of search results for large brands are linked to UGC and other content not created by the brand itself. 

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

Before you reuse any influencer content, make sure you have permission to do so. 

Plan ahead. Draft a plan for how you’ll incorporate influencer content into your social content calendar.

Mix in influencer content with your traditional branded content. Remember: Balance is key.

Yes, you still have to tailor the content to the channel. No copying-and-pasting, y’all. Reformat assets to platform specs, and craft unique captions/post text.

Try out different methods of reusing, and multiple formats. Alternate between resharing, reposting, and repurposing (defined on the following slides).

Not all influencer content will be great for your pages. Reuse only high-quality content that is representative of your brand and/or compliments your existing brand aesthetic.

You have options. You’ll usually have more content from each influencer than just what gets posted to their feed. So, you can use similar content for retargeting or different posts altogether for different parts of your funnel. Compare the above Instagram post from Amy Roiland ☝🏼 to this screenshot 👇🏼 of Zenni Optical’s website homepage.

screenshot of Zenni Optical website homepage featuring influencer content

Reshare, Repost, and Repupose Influencer Content


Quite simply, when your page SHARES the influencer’s original post from their page to yours.

Note: this is frequently referred to as “sharing” a post, and sometimes – to make things equally confusing – reposting a post. Typically we don’t need to make such clear distinctions between re-share and repost, but for the purpose of creating a clear, precise article with explanations for you, we’re gonna harp on this for about 20 more seconds.

Defining Elements:

→ You do not upload a new asset to your post before RE-SHARING it

→ The post on your page appears as a SHARE rather than a photo or video.

→ RE-SHARES can only occur on the same platform that the original post was published to.

Examples of Ways to Reshare Influencer Content

  • Reshare an influencer’s live FB video broadcast onto your brand’s page 
  • Re-share influencer giveaway posts published on their Instagram feed to your IG story to notify your existing followers of the giveaway and tell them how they can enter
  • Help amplify an influencer’s video published to Facebook Watch by sharing it to your page with a meaningful caption
  • Embed influencer social posts of any type in your brand’s blog posts
  • When an influencer tweets a link to their sponsored blog post, “favorite” the tweet and then retweet it with a comment
  • Create a playlist on your brand’s YouTube account that is only for influencer YouTube videos. Add their videos (uploaded to their YouTube channel) to the playlist 


👶 Beginner – Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.


A new post published to your page that looks as though it was “reposted” from an influencer’s page.

Create a REPOST by uploading the influencer’s asset to your post and pair it with quoted text from their original post caption. 

Defining Elements:

→ The post appears as though you REPOSTED an influencer’s original post and added a sentence or two to the caption before doing so

→ REPOSTS are confined to the channel the original post was published to.

When a brand takes the influencer’s assets, optimizes them for the channel, and then posts them directly to your page(s) with an original caption.

Examples of Ways to Repost Influencer Content

  • Quote an influencers’ product review (or something they’ve said about your products in one of their post captions) in a tweet and tag them for credit/as the source 
  • Repost an influencer’s Instagram feed giveaway post to your page with a caption outside the quoted text telling your followers how to enter the giveaway on the influencer’s page
  • Have influencers submit additional assets + captions for an Instagram or Story takeover on your brand page, and post them to your page on their behalf on the day of the takeover (have them cross-promote the takeover on your page so their followers know to go check out the content!) 
  • When an influencer posts to their Story and links to a sponsored blog post, do the same on your page (upload the asset and link to the blog post in the swipe up) rather than re-sharing their original story to yours (see Grove Collaborative repost example)


😎 Intermediate …But still pretty easy. 


When a brand takes the influencer’s assets, optimizes them for the channel, and then posts them directly to your page(s) with an original caption.

Defining Elements

REPURPOSED POSTS can occur on any platform, regardless of where the original post was published to. 

REPURPOSED POSTS include totally original captions (written by you) and multi-asset posts can feature assets from multiple influencers (if app.).

→ Creativity is key! 

Examples of Ways to Repurpose Influencer Content

  • Use influencer assets in ads that promote a new product launch or on product detail pages
  • Feature influencer photos as “proof points” in abandoned cart reminders (“We noticed you still have X in your cart! So and so loves their X – here’s what they said about it…”)
  • Chop up influencers’ videos and string together into one that tells a story about your brand from your influencers’ perspective, and post it to Facebook Watch or YouTube
  • Get your influencers to create product demo videos they don’t post to their pages that you can feature on product detail pages on your website
  • Include influencer assets in e-books or another type of downloadable/gated content 
  • Create quote graphics using part or all of an influencer’s caption/comment about your product(s) and post it to your social pages


💪 Advanced-ish – Requires some thought & planning.

We created an entire guide just on repurposing influencer-generated content. Click the pretty button below to read up on best practices.

Related Post
Reusing Influencer-Generated Content (How To + Best Practices)


Influencer Marketing Definitions

Reach – Influencers’ follower count at the time of posting

Unique Reach – Campaign-wide metric that means the sum of all influencers’ follower counts across platforms

Total Potential Reach – Influencers’ follower count x Total number of posts

Impressions – Total number of times the content is viewed on Instagram. This can come from the influencer’s profile, scrolling on Instagram, searching hashtags, etc. (IG does not identify how many seconds qualifies)

Authenticated Total Impressions – Sum of all story views (called impressions) across all story frames 

Engagements – Number of interactions on post (i.e. comments, likes, link clicks, shares, replies, profile visits, sticker taps)

Total Engagements – Likes + comments: sum across all posts (Stories: Link clicks, shares, replies, profile visits, sticker taps: sum across all frames)

Engagement Rate (ER) – Authenticated total engagements divided by total potential reach 

IGC – Also called influencer-generated content, it’s the total unique images and/or story frames created for a campaign. Also referred to often as User-Generated Content, or UGC.

Avg. Platform Engagement Rate – Average engagement rate from ALL the influencer’s posts in last 60 days minus the last 15 days (the last 15 days are subtracted as new posts are still gathering engagement)

Campaign Platform’s Engagement Rate – The overall engagement rate for the campaign as a whole (total engagements from all campaigns posts divided by the total potential reach of the entire campaign)

Impressions/Reach Rate (IG Story Stats)Auth. total impressions divided by total potential reach

Engagements Rate (IG Story Stats)Total engagement  ÷ auth. total impressions

Authenticated Total Impressions / Impressions – Sum of all story views across all frames 

Total Aggregate Follower Counts / Total Potential Reach – Influencers’ follower count x total number of posts

Whitelisting – Using obtained permissions from influencers to run paid ads through their identity. (See the example in the whitelisting section)

CPC – Cost per Click: Your total digital spend, divided by your total number of clicks 

CPE – Cost per Engagement: Your total digital spend, divided by the number of paid engagements

CPM – Cost per 1,000 Impressions: Your total digital spend, divided by your total paid impressions, then multiplied by 1,000

Sticker Taps (on Stories) – A sticker is a design element that can be added to images or videos on Instagram to give context to posts. Stickers are usually things like related hashtags, @mentions, locations. They can also be more interactive things like quizzes, donations, polls, and emojis. So, sticker taps are responsive taps to the stickers on a post to show interest in the content. Total clicks on Influencers’ “story stickers” is an important indicator of campaign success.

Swipe-Up – A swipe-up happens when a social media user slides their finger from the bottom of a Stories post to the top to find out more information, go to a sales page, or engage with social media content in another way. Swipe Up to Buy or just Swipe Up is commonly used in Stories as a  call-to-action

Link Clicks (on Stories) – Total times someone swipes up on an influencer’s swipe up link

Profile Visits (on Stories) – Total clicks to an influencer’s profile from story slide

Replies (on Stories) – Total replies to an influencer’s Instagram story using direct messaging

Shares to Stories – Instagram can share in-feed posts of other users by posting it to their own Stories for 24 hours. 

Views – A view is a predetermined number of seconds a user allows a video to play. This magic number differs from platform to platform.

Clicks to Branded Pages – On Instagram, clicks to branded pages happen when users either click the branded link in an influencer’s bio or swipe-up to go to the landing, sales, or product page of a promoted offer.

Influencer Marketing Stats and Benchmarks


  • 70% of consumers would rather learn about a company from a blog post than an advertisement (Source)
  • 72% of blog readers would rather watch the recap video than read the blog
  • Internet users in the US spend 3X more time on blogs than they do on email.(Source)
  • 59% of people will share an article without reading it first, or ever. (Source)


  • 238 million people use Snapchat each day. (Source)
  • Over 70% of Instagram and Snapchat users watch Stories on both platforms daily. (Source)
  • On average, people spend 49.5 minutes per day on Snapchat and send 34.1 messages a day. (Source)
  • The average Snapchat user opens the app more than 30 times a day (Source)
  • 82% of Snapchatters are 34 years old or younger. (Source)



  • 23% of those on Facebook daily have purchased something from an influencer/blogger recommendation. (Source)
  • 73% of U.S. Facebook users check the platform daily, and 93% use it weekly. (Source)
  • Facebook is the third most-visited website after Google and YouTube. (Source)
  • Facebook users spend 34 minutes a day on the platform, on average. (Source)


  • 1 in 4 Gen Z and Millennials actively seek stories of products and services they are considering buying.(Source)
  • 80% of all daily active Instagram users are watching Stories just as often as they’re checking their feed. (Source)
  • 30% of users say they’ve bought a product they discovered on Instagram. (Source)
  • Instagram users spent an average of 30 minutes per day on the platform in 2020. (Source)


  • 29% of those on Twitter daily have purchased something from an influencer or blogger recommendation. (Source)
  • 87% of Twitter users also use Facebook, and 84% also use Instagram. (Source)
  • For brands, Twitter videos can mean a 34% increase in purchase intent by 34%, a 14% boost in positive brand sentiment. (Source)


  • Video content is 50X more likely to drive organic search traffic than plain text. (Source)
  • 26% of those on Youtube daily have purchased something from an influencer or blogger recommendation. (Source)
  • 90% of global shoppers say they discover new brands and products on YouTube.
  • 70% of consumers in the US, Mexico and Colombia have purchased a product after seeing it on YouTube. (Source)


  • In less than 18 months, the number of US adult TikTok users grew 5.5 times. (Source)
  • Half of TikTok’s global audience is under the age of 34 with 26% between 18 and 24. (Source)
  • TikTok users spend an average of 52 minutes per day on the app. (Source)
  • 49% of US teens have used TikTok, compared to 9% of Americans overall. (Source)
  • Half of TikTok users say they’ve shared someone else’s TikTok on another social network. (Source)

Let This Be a Starting Point

Interested in more influencer marketing stats? Check out 111 Influencer Marketing Stats. It’s frequently updated and a great source of insights and info that will give you a great overview of the influencer marketing space. Plus, this post is loaded with links to good sources to provide you with a more in-depth understanding of the concepts covered in this influencer marekting guide.

Or if you’d rather talk to a human, we have a couple here who are pretty awesome.

Digital marketing strategies fit together like puzzle pieces.

Your influencer campaign should be one of those pieces.

The Shelf is an influencer marketing agency that creates full-funnel influencer campaigns to help brands leverage touchpoints at every stage of the purchase process.

We partner brands with Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube storytellers for campaigns customized to boost the ROI of your overarching paid digital marketing strategy.

Not sure how to integrate influencers into your larger digital strategy? We have people who can walk you through that process... and give you some great ideas along the way. Click to schedule a strategy call.

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