That's according to PR and marketing experts Adam Freedman and Mary Proulx, who were speaking on the opening day of the Naturally Good Expo in Sydney.
They revealed how micro-influencer marketing is on rise across the region, with eight out of 10 consumers stating they pay attention to their recommendations, and 94% claiming they trust them.
"However, the challenge is to take a buzz-centric marketing term and turn it into something more meaningful to create a successful strategy," said Freedman.
The duo, from the Red Agency, highlighted three fundamentals that brands should consider when crafting an influencer marketing campaign.
1) Define the output up front
According to Freedman and Proulx, there are three types of influencers, each with different pros and cons. They highlighted 'creators', namely individuals who strike a good balance between creating quality content and building up their brand.
"They may not have biggest reach, but they have very high relevance with their audience," said Proulx.
Then there are 'distributors', the social media 'stars' who can disseminate information to their vast numbers of followers, although they largely lack content creation skills.
Finally, there are the 'narrators', the bigger personalities whose appeal has spread into the mainstream media.
They said the decision over which of these to engage had to be driven by identifying the target audience and analysing which fit best with a brand's broader strategy.
2) Influence the influencer
Freedman and Proulx argued that brand and influence relationships have to be based on partnerships that extend beyond being a dollar transaction, or cash for comments and content.
"It has to be a two-way conversation, and not the case of a brand telling someone what to do," said Freedman.
They added that for a successful influencer marketing campaign, brands also had to provide exclusive access to experts and experiences only they could offer
"Experiences are super important here," said Freedman, who cited a campaign for the launch of Heineken House, a bar at Sydney International airport.
The agency invited a select group of social media influencers on an international trip with Heineken, but they had no idea where they were going.
They were then flown to Queenstown in New Zealand, where they took part in range of activities, including a jet boat ride from the airport to the main town, jumps on the Shotover Canyon Swing (the world's highest free fall), and quad biking.
In addition to receiving extensive coverage from the influencers and across the mainstream media, Freedman said such marketing techniques were also successful because advertising regulations across a number of sectors, from alcohol to supplements, can make it very difficult to tell brand stories through traditional formats.
3) Understanding ROI
Forget return on investment — brands need to be much more savvy at understanding the returns of the influencer.
According to Proulx, more than half the brands using influencer marketing confess they struggle to measure effectiveness.
She said that metrics were available to measure not only audience penetration, but also brand sentiment in response to an influencer's work.
In addition, the effective use of promotional and tracking codes, plus traffic data and cost-per-click measurements, can help quantify the investment.
"You also have to consider the cost of content creation: what production value the influencer brings versus the cost of outsourcing it to someone else," said Proulx.
They concluded that while influencer marketing is becoming increasingly popular, such campaigns had to be built on purpose, authenticity and credibility.
"Partnerships can quickly turn into sinking ships if they are not built on purpose," said Freedman.