Influencer marketing programs are becoming one of the most powerful ways to reach your audience, increase thought leadership, raise brand awareness and help you develop relationships. Your audience is listening to a group of someones, and those someones are the influencers you should include in your influencer marketing program.
What is influencer marketing? It’s a tailored marketing program that aims to use key leaders to expand the reach of your company or brand’s message to a larger audience. Instead of directly targeting a group of buyers, an influencer program uses influencers to spread your message for your company or brand. Think of influencers as megaphones for your messaging.
Influencer marketing is not a standalone program. The prerequisites are to have a strong social media marketing and content marketing plan in place. Because influencer campaigns typically have a social media component, it’s not advantageous to have one without the other. There’s also a content component to influencer campaigns, as influencers are either creating content for you or vice versa.
Wondering whether or not an influencer marketing program would be a good fit for your company? Here are some common questions we get asked about influencer marketing programs.
What are the benefits of influencer marketing?
Increases brand awareness – Your influencers are advertising your message to new people who are likely outside your current sphere of influence.
Establishes credibility – If you are a newer or unknown company, it takes time to establish yourself as a credible expert in your industry. Influencers shortcut the process.
Betters your SEO – When you get more links to your site, your SEO improves. That helps your target audience find you when they do online searches.
Leverages other marketing programs – Influencers amplify what you’re already doing on social media or in content marketing, allowing you to achieve improved ROI on your efforts.
What is an influencer?
Influencers are defined as influential sites and personalities existing in a specific niche or industry. These influencers could be colleagues, journalists, subject matter experts, speakers or even competitors. When it comes to B2B marketing, influencers are those who could have an effect on the sales cycle but often are not the decision maker or end user.
For example: Tony Robbins would be considered a top tier influencer in the self-help space because he has a powerful online (and offline) following and a recognizable personal brand. For most of us, he would be out of reach, so targeting a mid-level or up-and-coming self-help influencer would give you better ROI from your influencer marketing program.
Which criteria do you use to choose influencers?
Be aware that each industry differs when it comes to meaningful criteria. You should first consider who you are trying to influence and your objectives. Then, figure out who influences that target audience, both online and offline.
Though social influence is important (followers, engagement, Klout score, etc), it is only a starting point. Potential influencers also need to engage with your target audience online. If a potential influencer only broadcasts their content, this person would not be a good influencer. Potential influencers must engage and be open to partnerships with others. Look for those who take an authentic approach to engagement, as they are more likely open to building new relationships with people or companies, like yours.
You’re looking for influence and power—not popularity. The person with the most followers is not always the best at influencing your audience. You must look past the vanity metrics to decipher whether or not an influencer would be a good fit. It takes a good amount of time and a lot of trial-and-error to finalize your list.
What tools do you use to identify influencers?
Using a tool like Buzzsumo is a great place to start if you have no idea where to look for influencers in your industry. Simply type in a string of keywords, and you will get a list of potential influencers to choose from. We like this tool most because it provides a good selection of both top tier and mid-tier influencers to choose from.
You could also do some Google searches for “top lists of X in the industry,” but these influencers are often top tier and not the best initial targets for your first influencer campaign in your influencer marketing program.
How many influencers should be in an influencer marketing program?
Influencer marketing experts will suggest you select as few as 6-8 influencers up to 50-100 influencers for each campaign. My advice would be to identify more influencers than you think you need, especially if you are unsure how many will say “yes.”
How do you nurture relationships with influencers?
Be prepared to nurture relationships with influencers on a case-by-case basis. Expect to use different approaches for each influencer. Here are a few good tips to get started.
- Join their newsletter lists.
- Respond to their emails.
- Share their content on social media channels.
- Give them shout-outs and always tag them.
- Mention them in your blog posts (with a link back to their sites).
- Engage where they engage.
- Meet them in-person.
Once you’ve nurtured the influencer, what’s next?
Figure out what the influencer wants. Then, find a way to fill that need. Never approach an influencer with an ask until you’ve given them at least 5-6x over what you’re asking them to do. For example, don’t ask for a shoutout on Twitter if you have not already tweeted their content multiple times.
Set clear goals with influencers. Once you have nurtured the relationship with the influencer, be up-front with the influencer about what you’d like them to help you achieve.
Determine ways to partner with the influencers. Some ideas: co-creating content, podcast, interviews, amplifying company announcements, joint contests/giveaways, getting product reviews, referrals, online or offline events.
Expect to get about 10% to say yes. Many influencers get numerous requests on a daily or weekly basis from people asking them for something. Your email may not get through or may get lost in the shuffle. Try a few different approaches to communicate with the influencer, but don’t expect everyone to say “yes.”
Don’t expect influencers to be your puppets. They are trying to build their own brand. Support them. Don’t ask them to cram your message down their audience’s throat.
Is it better to run an influencer program in-house or hire someone?
If you are the type who likes to learn-as-you-go with a DIY approach, then run the program yourself. Be sure to conduct enough research. Establish a solid strategy. Allow yourself enough time to actually manage the program. You might discover that it’s a LOT more work than you expected. If you get to that point, it’s time to outsource.
Hiring a capable team to craft your influencer strategy and manage your campaign can be the best option if you want to launch your first campaign effectively and maximize your efforts. Because an expert team has already been through the process, they know exactly which pitfalls to avoid and how to streamline efforts for generating healthy ROI.
Now that you understand the basics of influencer marketing programs, you may be ready to try a pilot program. Before you sign up for Buzzsumo and start googling potential influencers, be sure you understand why you want to run an influencer program and spend time developing your short-term and long-term influencer marketing strategies.
We’re here to help. The Conversion Company can help you decide whether or not an influencer marketing program is a fit for you and your company, along with next steps to get started. If you’d like to discuss with us, go ahead and contact us with your questions.