Social media has had a significant impact on influencer marketing. Initially, it was a way to find people and engage, but, over time, social media has become a powerful opportunity for brands and marketers to gain new and valuable insights.
As more brands tap into the full potential of social media, it is crucial to understand how to make influencer marketing work for you. Follow this five-step plan:
1. Predefine Success For Your Brand
How do you define social success for your brand? If you don’t know the answer, then it’s time to start thinking about the question. Reach and engagement are two different entities. Reach gets your message in front of eyes, while engagement is a two-way interaction between your audience and your brand.
Not all influencers are created equal. Some influencers have massive networks with a broad reach, while others have smaller networks but more influence in a specific niche. Both types are extremely valuable. Instead of being lured exclusively by “A-list” influencers, consider balancing your influencer marketing efforts by engaging with a mix of broad-reaching influencers, as well as individuals with a smaller, niche following.
2. Identify The Right Influencers
When implementing an influencer marketing strategy, it’s important to identify the right influencer—not just any influencer. Start by looking at the person’s audience and how it aligns with your own. Is his tone appropriate for your brand? If you’re a family-friendly brand, then it probably doesn’t make sense to align yourself with an influencer who uses profane language or has a reputation for being offensive or controversial.
Pop sensation Lady Gaga’s influencer strategy has made her one of the most followed women on Twitter—with a near-cult following of loyal fans. She has identified her top 100 influencers and focuses her attention on engaging with them, letting the influence trickle down from there. What works for the singer can also work for other large brands. Look for your top tier of influencers, and make engaging with them a regular practice. Don’t just turn to them when you need them to do so something for you.
3. Look For Conversational Correlations
Despite what we’d like to believe, your brand probably isn’t the only thing influencers are interested in or have going on in their worlds. Your influencers and audience have a range of outside interests. Understanding these likes and interests can prove very valuable to your brand. By broadening the big picture, you begin to see what other topics are of interest to your audience. The information you gather empowers you to determine the best ways to align with those interests and organically inject your brand into parallel conversations.
Take a barbecue grill company, for example. The obvious choice would be to look at conversations among men who enjoy grilling. What the data might reveal, however, is that a large portion of the target demographic is also talking about wine. As a marketer, this tells me I need to be looking at adjacencies. If my audience consists of foodies interested in wine, then it doesn’t make sense to continue focusing my marketing efforts at hardware stores.
The insights made available by mining smart data provide information I wouldn’t have obtained without doing tons of research over many months. Instead of requiring countless hours and dollars invested in research and focus groups, smart data provides valuable, actionable insights I can use to tailor my marketing messages and to make my efforts more meaningful, impactful, and effective.
4. Let The Data Guide You
A dog food company in Toronto recently leveraged influencers to drive awareness and participation in a dog festival. The brand used Twitter to pinpoint Twitter-based dog owners, trainers, and walkers with more than 1,000 followers. By using software that allowed it to drill into Twitter bios, the brand was able to first target a demographic frequently talking about dogs, then extract a geographically relevant group of influencers in and around the Toronto area.
In this instance, it wouldn’t have made much sense to target dog lovers in Austin, Texas, or Sacramento, Calif. To drive offline participation, the audience need was very targeted and specific. By using a singular tool that can combine the power of geotargeting with Twitter data, you can successfully find and engage with the right people.
5. Leverage Creative Content Opportunities
Co-creating content with influencers is a great way to deepen relationships—and both sides have something to gain from it. Earlier this year, for example, Marketwired partnered with TheCommunityManager.com to create a co-branded e-book in celebration of “Community Manager Appreciation Day.” It included insights and advice from seasoned community managers on topics such as the future of community management and the role it plays in marketing. In addition to garnering nearly 25,000 views on SlideShare, the e-book also resulted in a spike in Web traffic for Marketwired and established TheCommunityManager.com as the go-to site for community management resources and information.
Influencer marketing doesn’t have to be limited to “let us tell you about X, now go talk about us.” Don’t be afraid to try new tactics when engaging with influencers. Host a Twitter chat and invite influencers to be part of the guest panel. Invite them to a community Google+ Hangout or to participate in a webinar. The possibilities are many, especially when you start thinking beyond the blog.
With the development of new tools, it is now possible to sift through massive amounts of social data to get at smart data—insights and perspectives that matter. By tapping into the power of influencers and using the right tools, you can learn more about different audiences you may have otherwise overlooked.
Influencer marketing is powerful. How are you harnessing that power to make it work for you?