The landscape of digital marketing has transformed over the last several years to now include influencer targeting. With 92 percent of customers taking word-of-mouth recommendations over any other form of advertising, having the support of an industry influencer behind your marketing campaign will increase your brand’s visibility across a wider online network.
According to Burson Marsteller, 54 percent of the US population admits that their purchasing decisions are swayed by industry influencers. Unlike previous generations, customer decision making begins online, resulting in a company’s reputation to determine customer confidence and respect.
By connecting with influencers, you’ll not only reach a wider potential customer base, but promote your company’s credibility to encourage purchasing decisions as influencers drive customer action, not just brand awareness.
Why Do I Need an Influencer Strategy?
According to Social Media Today, 74 percent of global marketers use influencer marketing to promote products with the aid of influential relationships. By targeting brand-relevant influencers, such as celebrities, industry experts, and powerful customers, you’ll promote action in a contextual alignment to expand your marketing outreach.
However, the effectiveness of your strategy is determined by the relationships you build. Mid-level influencers often don’t have enough followers to really harness the power of strong recommendations. But, by connecting with top industry influencers, you’ll gain the loyalty of their audience as they value their recommendations.
To develop a successful strategy, you’ll first need to identify influencers based on your key topics, then rank the prospects according to their level of relevance. After you’ve established an informal connection, start preparing yourself for your initial contact to discover opportunities to collaborate.
The core to your strategy depends of the relationships you build with the influencers you’ve targeted. Actively seek relevant influencers with a wide community at their finger tips, such as those who are active and engaging to relay the topics through social media outlets and blog articles.
According to author of “Influence Marketing, Sam Fieorella, “Influence is swaying the beliefs, behaviors, or actions,” not having 50,000 Twitter followers. Therefore, don’t base a potential influencer on the number of social media followers they’ve built. Instead, measure their true value with tools like Twitalyzer’s Analytics.
In addition, there are many ways you can identify the exposure of your prospects.
Social Media Monitoring– With social media monitoring, you’re able to align your brand with relevant influencers who are “loud” on social media. Research social media accounts with hashtags to identify active talkers in your specific niche. Plus, you’ll discover the content that’s appealing to the audience you’re targeting.
Google Alerts– Set Google Alerts to deliver notifications for specific keywords to discover who is actively writing about topics related to your industry. Not to mention, you can set the alerts to discover who is currently talking about your company to identify advocates.
Social Mentions– Monitor social mentions manually or with the help of social media analytic tools to discover who is being mentioned the most in a specific industry. By analyzing social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, you can leverage the information in your favor to narrow down active influencers with a large engagement.
Blog Outreach– According to KISSMetrics, 86 percent of influencers operate a blog, which often means they are on social media platforms. Search for blogs related to your industry and evaluate their social media presence to determine their level of power.
Through your research, you’ll discover potential influencers who are involved in current industry events and cross-connected to various subjects to establish a list to categorize your prospects. Then, monitor the influencers to become familiar with them and wait for an opportunity to reach out to further the relationship.
While you work to climb to the top of the influencer pyramid, build your reputation by connecting to opinion leaders and further your marketing reach with influential customers. This will help build your reputation and credibility to encourage influencers to connect with you first.
Strive to create quality branded content to boost your reputation, which includes increasing the value of your articles and videos with precise data specific to your niche. Use case studies, white papers, and infographics to distinguish yourself as an expert. Create questionnaires to encourage interaction among influencers and customers, while you gain valuable information to fine tune your marketing approach. To further establish awareness, attend product launches, industry events, and informal events to begin networking with the right people.
Your influencer strategy will require a consistent investment of your time to identify, contact, and measure your prospects. You won’t build deep connections overnight before they accept your invitation into your circle. And, bombarding them with requests isn’t going to cut it. The relationship needs to be nurtured by enriching their content and participating in discussions.
Your initial contact with an influencer should be a welcoming message to let them know that you’re now following them. Then, continue to engage on social media, blogs, and other outlets to foster the relationship to become well recognized.
Then, when you see your opportunity, create a personalized outreach and address them as an expert to establish honesty. Tell the influencer exactly how you found them, whether through a blog post or tweet. Discuss a specific project you would like to collaborate on to align them with your strategy. Make sure you write in the form of a request, not a demand, to build a positive relationship.
Implementing Your Influencer Strategy
After you’ve built the relationship and generated an interest, begin the co-creation process with the influencer. You’ll want to facilitate all of their needs with both of your expectations known from the beginning. This includes creating a well defined editorial style, content campaign, and distribution tools.
When working with an influencer:
- Outline content goals
- Work to define relevant topics
- Set participation expectations
- Communicate a timeline
- Establish a distribution campaign
By staying organized, you’ll ensure a smooth process to push the content seamlessly. Then, work to create a launch, holding a company event to cross promote the influencers to encourage additional influencer participation. Work to endorse community involvement through free trials and product testing.
Monitoring the Performance
After you’ve launched the collaboration, research and monitor the performance to evaluate the outcome. Although you want the content to do well, remember that the content is only the short-term goal. Your main goal is to build a strong, thriving relationship that will continue to be beneficial well into the future.
Don’t think of it as a one time deal because it’s not a one night stand. The relationship will require maintenance to remain mutually beneficial. If you’ve done everything correctly, the relationships you’ve built will continue to pay off time and time again.