What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing can be loosely defined as a form of marketing that identifies and targets individuals with influence over potential buyers. In the past, brands may have focused on popular bloggers and celebrities but today there is a new wave of “everyday” consumers that can have just as large an impact.
What is a Brand Influencer?
In his famous book “The Tipping Point” Malcolm Gladwell calls out mavens (as he calls influencers) as people who also have a lot of knowledge about a topic. Influence isn’t just having a lot of followers. It’s also driven by expertise and credibility on subject matter and the relationship between the influencer and his or her followers.
INSTEAD OF SIMPLY LOOKING AT FOLLOWERS, A BETTER EQUATION FOR BRANDS TO CONSIDER IS THE FOLLOWING:
INFLUENCE = AUDIENCE REACH (# OF FOLLOWERS) X BRAND AFFINITY (EXPERTISE AND CREDIBILITY) X STRENGTH OF RELATIONSHIP WITH FOLLOWERS
image source: .businessinsider.com
In a May 2015 study by Schlesinger Associates for Augure, 84 percent of marketers expected to launch at least one campaign involving an influencer in the next 12 months. Respondents who had already done so were pleased with the results: 81 percent said influencer partnerships were an effective tactic.
It’s not easy though. The same study indicated that 75 percent of brands have a hard time identifying the right influencers to partner with. Successful influencer engagement hinges on sourcing and selecting influencers who drive real changes in attitude, behaviour, perception, or adoption patterns. So how do smart marketers figure out where to start? Spend some time nailing down solid answers to these three questions:
image source: moz.com
Influencer marketing is a subset of marketing all its own, you’ll need a few unique components to build an influencer campaign. Here are the steps we teach to help our clients build influencer marketing campaigns:
Planning Your Influencer Marketing Strategy
Influencer Identification & Selection
“Humility, gentleness, and helpfulness go so much further and open doors you cannot imagine. Think from a higher level and try to see beyond today. Some hard work and insight will bring you to paths that will reward you so highly, it’ll make the little inconvenience you incurred so worth it.” – Ann Tran
WHAT ARE THE KEY COMPONENTS OF INFLUENCER MARKETING?
1) PLANNING YOUR INFLUENCER MARKETING STRATEGY
Developing a successful influencer marketing strategy takes planning.
Jeremy Shih, co-founder of Dynamis World, manages influencer marketing campaigns for a variety of celebrity, social influencer and public influencer clientele. “The ideal influencer marketing campaign happens when the solutions of your business product or service directly sync with the fan and follower needs of your enlisted influencer,” he explains.
“If you keep this key principle in mind, then the first step to successful influencer marketing is to determine exactly who commands the attention of the audience you are targeting,” Shih says. Look to your existing customers or your target audience as a starting point: Who do they follow on social media? Who do they engage with regularly? Use these findings to make a list of prospective influencers.
WHAT MAKES AN INFLUENCER?
SocialChain describes an influencer as, “an individual that has a significant audience, who listens and makes decisions based on his/her opinions.” And influencers come in various shapes and sizes:
- Industry experts
What measurements can be applied?
When I’m identifying influencers for a product launch, awareness campaign or other call to action (for engagement at a later stage), I think about:
- The number of followers / fans that person has
- How often do they use their social presences? How many posts per day/week?
- How often do they mention brands? Which brands?
- How likely are they to mention my brand / product?
- How many replies / comments do they receive when reviewing or talking about a brand?
- Are they generally positive, neutral or negative about brands within my industry?
On average, every $1 spent on influencer marketing returns $6.50 in earned media value
2) INFLUENCER IDENTIFICATION & SELECTION
Depending on your companies budgets and resources there are two main ways to identify influencers.
Google – This use to be the main way brands and agencies found influencers to connect with. This method requires individual searches, then scanning webpages for contact info, and then populating spreadsheets to keep track of it all.
Your Networks – This method of connecting with influencers sits in the middle of a database and a marketplace. A network has relationships with the influencers, but will require that you go through them to reach out.
Here are 7 of many tools that can be used for the initial task of finding influencers aligned with specific areas of subject matter expertise. Several go beyond discovery and also support filtering, managing, engaging, monitoring and reporting.
Traackr – A premium category of service that is billed as an influencer marketing and analytics platform, Traackr helps you discover influencers, get social insights and figure out how to best connect. Features include an influencer search engine, profiles, dynamic lists, share of voice reporting, sentiment analysis, trending content and others. PR, Communications and Marketing pros use this service.
Little Bird – Founded by past RWW pioneer, Marshall Kirkpatrick, Little Bird is a paid tool that helps users discover influencers that are validated by their peers on Twitter for a variety of topics as well as emerging topics. It also supports competitive intelligence, content marketing, social sales oriented research across multiple social networks.
followerwonk – With a focus exclusively on Twitter research and analytics, this free tool from the folks at Moz provides a handy search engine for influencer discovery as well as tools for competitive comparisons, tracking and data visualizations. A social authority filter allows sorting of influencers and reports can be saved for future reference.
Buzzsumo – A free tool that is pretty much still in beta mode, Buzzsumo promotes itself as a research tool for content marketing and SEO by providing insights into the most popular content and the influencers sharing it. Search by topic or a specific website to find the most popular content sorted by total social shares. Search the influencer option and results from Twitter data are displayed. All results can be filtered for refinement and exported as a CSV or XLS for further analysis.
Keyhole – With a freemium model, this hashtag tracking tool helps surface content and influencers, especially related to events that are using a hashtag. Views include conversations and top content as well as drill downs for influencers. Results can be copied to your clipboard. There are also a Newsroom Intelligence and Audience Intelligence paid tools that do not have a free trial.
Kred – A product of PeopleBrowsr, Kred is a paid influencer measurement tool that promises to help marketers identify, prioritize, and engage influencers. Offers a Rewards service that will connect marketers with influencers as well as audience engagement analysis, influencer leaderboards and email marketing. KredStory is a consumer application for curating and sharing on social networks and analysis of your own social media activities that also offers each user a Kred score.
Klout – Probably one of the most well known influencer discovery and engagement tools, Klout is a paid service that analyzes individual social network content to arrive at a Klout score. Early in 2014, Klout changed it’s interface to be more of a content curation and sharing platform that consumers can use. Klout for Business provides a service to research, segment and manage influencer lists, engage influencers with a Perks program, and amplify brand messages with native ads.
Influencers come in all shapes and sizes and with varying levels of influence. You shoudl bucket them into categories because each bucket serves a different purpose and is motivated differently.
3) BUILD RELATIONSHIPS
Just like any “normal” human being you don’t like random strangers coming up to you and asking… “Can you spare some change”
This is the same crap most people do when utilizing influencer marketing. And guess what? It doesn’t work. No one, I repeat, no one likes this approach.
Instead, you need to think long term game plan.
Your number one question should be:
HOW CAN I PROVIDE VALUE TO THEM FIRST!
The process is really quite straightforward.
Start interacting with them. Treat it like you are developing a new friendship. When it comes to business, focus on providing value to them. If they have a question, seek to answer it. Don’t spend any time telling them what value you bring, just deliver it to them.The major elements are:
On an ongoing basis, show that you will be active in sharing their stuff to your audience. Even if your audience is much smaller, the give and take attitude will be noticed.
Actively help out others. When you focus all of your attention on one person to the exclusion of others it starts to feel a bit freaky. Give value to others on a regular basis. Publish great stuff. Share other people’s good stuff. Tip: if you discover great content from a little known author, the influencer you are trying to build your relationship with will be more interested than ever!
The following diagram tries to illustrate which types of relationship building methods are the most personal, and therefore carry the most value:
Business expert and Influencer Matthew Woodward said
“As an established business blogger I spend a lot of time dealing with both outreach requests and conducting my own outreach. It is really easy to get it wrong and if you are not careful you will be wasting your budget & time while doing lasting damage to your brand.
As I sit on both sides of the fence I’m going to give you a few tips to ensure that you don’t blow your first and only impression with key influencer’s.
The most important tip above any other is to make sure that your outreach is relevant. Take time to research your target influencers interests. Read their about page and last few posts to find out who they are and what they like–take time to leave a comment on an article as a real person while you are researching. At the same time engage them on social media by sharing an article and providing an opinion or thought on something they have recently posted. Try to engage in a conversation at this point–once you have done that, the hooks are firmly in.
Once you have built that initial conversation pitch free it is time to turn to email. Spend time to tailor the opening paragraph of your email based on what you have learnt about them during your research & also don’t forget to mention your conversation with them on whichever social channel it took place on.”
MAINTAIN RELATIONSHIPS WITH INFLUENCERS
You may think the hardest part is over, now that you found your influencers and have engaged with them. In fact, maintaining the relationship is the hardest step.
One way to do this is creating separate Twitter lists for your influencers. Twitter lists are a great way of keeping track of your social media influencers and what they talk about. If you find yourself with a few free minutes during your work day, use that time to go through your Twitter list and send a friendly Tweet to a few social media influencers.
You can also use nimble : Relationship CRM
CONCLUSION: FOOD FOR THOUGHT.
I really hope you start to take ACTION today instead of tomorrow. Listen, marketing is not hard. It’s all about day-to-day actions with a sprinkle of humility and building relationships.
So go out-there and start building bonds.
I will leave you with this. Just think about it
This study from Burst Media on Earned Media Value. Particularly the part where they dissected earned media value by industry and showed how much travel and food brands are earning for their money spent on paid media.