Influencer marketing is not a new concept. Public relations professionals, journalists and forward-thinking marketers have been executing some form of influencer marketing for decades.
While that may be the case, times have changed.
The expectation for influencer content marketing has evolved, which means consumers have higher expectations and the influencers themselves are more particular about who they partner with. However, our Influence 2.0 report with Altimeter Group and Traackr found that 57% of marketers say influencer marketing will be integrated in all marketing activities in the next 3 years.
Last week at Social Media Marketing World, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden took the stage to help marketers transition influencer marketing from something they’d like to do, to something they can execute strategically.
Interest in Influencer Marketing is on the Rise
According to Google Trends, the interest in influencer marketing has outpaced email marketing, SEO, social media marketing and content marketing.
What is Influence Really?
Often, influence is confused with simply having a large social following. According to Lee, there are five areas that make up influence:
Not every influencer (even good ones) are going to have all five nailed down. Some may have a combination of passion, persuasion and power, but don’t have the popularity. That’s why it’s essential to include different types of influencers into your content programs such as brandividuals, niche experts, internal experts, up-and-comers, customers and prospects.
How Can Influencer Marketing Help Solve Common Marketing Challenges?
Marketers are experiencing challenges in every stage of the buying funnel all the way from the attract stage to advocacy. Here are some ways influencer marketing can help at the different stages:
- Reach new audiences
- Inspire advocacy
- Retarget influencer followers
- Creators bring talent
- Authenticity and voice of customer
- Influencer and audience channel match
- Influencers are trusted
- Relevance increases action
- Credibility converts
- Community participation
- Showcase employee influencers
- Create info-taining utility
- Showcase customer expertise
- Create incentives for referrals
Why Empathy + Ask + Reward (repeat) = Success
To create a successful influencer marketing program, Lee suggests implementing the following three steps and then repeating to continue developing audience and influencer relationships:
Empathy: Understand customer and influencer goals
Ask: Engage influencers to collaborate
Reward: Show recognition or compensate for influencer contributions
How to Find the Right Influencers to Partner With
An essential key to influencer marketing success is to find the RIGHT influencers to partner with for content co-creation. Here’s how:
Topic: Determine the topic (aligned with audience needs) that you’d like influencers to contribute to.
Research: Based on the defined topic, begin searching for experts who are influential.
Validate & Refine: It’s best to use multiple tools (which pull from different sources) to validate the list you’ve created. Use tools like Onalytica, Traackr and BuzzSumo to research and correlate this information.
A Maturity Model for Influencer Marketing
As with any digital marketing tactic, it’s important to know where you are now in order to understand what it takes to get to the maturity level you’d like to be. Use the sample influencer marketing maturity model below to identify where your brand lands today:
What to Do Next
If you’re ready to begin your influencer marketing journey, or just want to mature your approach, follow the three steps below:
- Get Expert Help: Research the market and identify who your potential influencers are. Then develop a strategy to lead your efforts.
- Invest in Technology: Finding the right technology (or partner that has the technology) is essential to developing and scaling a successful influencer marketing program.
- Activate Influencers: Begin by interviewing your internal experts, clients and existing online community. Then you can identify what works best and scale your efforts.
To see some examples of great influencer marketing in action read: How to Succeed at Great B2B Content Marketing with More Credible Content