As the internet has matured, it has become clear to brands that they need to be part of the online conversation. Everybody understands the need to target consumers on social media. But there is little point in having a digital presence if nobody knows your brand or recommends your brand. Influencers help, but you need to build a genuine influencer strategy.
Consumers can be cynical. They don’t trust branded ads. They trust people. Brands can no longer rely on a traditional campaign to provide effective communication with their target market.
They do trust influencers, however. If you create a strong influencer strategy, built upon positive relationships with influencers or influencer marketing agencies, you should, in turn, be able to increase consumer trust in your product.
According to a recent Influencer Marketing survey, 67% of marketers intend to increase their influencer marketing budget over the next year. They clearly see how important an influencer strategy can be for the success of your business.
What About Creating Useful Content?
As a brand, you should create content to inform, educate, and maybe even entertain your target market. You want these people to come to your site because of the quality and usefulness of your content.
It is important to remember that you are creating the content for the benefit of your potential customers – not you! While sales copy definitely has its place on your site, the bulk of the content you create should not be so sales-focused. People do not come to your site so that you can make extra sales. They come because they perceive that your content meets one of their needs.
Of course, once they know about your content, and value the quality of your offerings, they are likely to come to you should they also find they have a need for a product like yours.
Jay Baer refers to this quality content as being “Youtility”, which he defines as being “ marketing so useful, people would pay for it.
Not every brand creates their own content, though. To some extent, this depends on your industry sector. If you are in the gaming sector, for instance, you may simply be happy to work with influencers who create their own content, but provides you with positive name-checks. This would be particularly relevant if you managed to broker an arrangement with an influencer who runs a popular gaming YouTube channel. If he tells his audience how much he likes your product (a gaming accessory perhaps) that is probably all you need. It won’t be long before his followers are pestering mom and dad to buy them your accessory too.
Why Use Influencer Marketing?
Unless you can build up a strong online presence yourself, as some companies like Red Bull clearly manage, you will struggle to amplify your content – no matter how good it is. If you have only a few hundred followers on Facebook, for instance, you will gain very few social visitors to your website. You may hope that people will share your post, but you are still severely limited by your low personal following. And paying for Facebook adverts only does so much for your brand.
Influencers, on the other hand, have huge followings. And if you create an influencer strategy to target your influencers correctly, you can convert a good amount of them.
To quote Microsoft’s Senior Communications Manager, Amanda Duncan, “When you find amazing people doing great work, you partner with them to do great work together. Influencer marketing is more than a tweet or blog headline or article, it’s real relationships.”
Of course, that targeting is very important. Despite some common misconceptions, you do not need to work with well-known and probably highly expensive celebrities. You really just want to work with bloggers, vloggers, and people respected on social media for their knowledge about a niche. Your niche – the vertical where your product best fits. In addition, some social media influencers are simply valuable because of their status or admiration from others.
A company with a social following as large as Red Bull may have little need to engage influencers for their marketing. However, companies like Red Bull do in fact have an influencer strategy in place to reinforce their social media dominance.
Influencers can help form the opinions of their followers. If they like your product and tell their fans how much they like it, their fans will also want to try your product out.
The Need for a Proper Influencer Strategy
We recently published 50 Influencer Marketing Stats and Facts. One of the key findings we included from an Influencer Marketing survey was that businesses receive on average $US7.65 for each $US1 they spend on influencer marketing. Undoubtedly, a very healthy ROI.
Firms who follow a proper, planned influencer strategy are far more likely to taste success than businesses who take a pepperpot approach to their influencer marketing. Indeed, some successful brands reported earning up to $US18+ for every $US1 spent.
It’s not enough to simply “do” influencer marketing. Your company or your influencer agency needs to formulate an influencer marketing strategy for a campaign that actually does what you need it to do.
Steps in a Successful Influencer Strategy
1. Identify Your Goals
Set important goals that you want to achieve.
How can you know if you have succeeded if you don’t know what you want to succeed at?
We may have piqued your interest in influencer marketing in this or a previous article, extolling its virtues. But influencer marketing cannot possibly meet your needs unless you determine your firm’s specific goals. What do you want to accomplish? What do you need to accomplish this?
Your entire influencer strategy needs to be designed around how to best meet your goals.
Of course, once you have successfully undertaken your first influencer marketing campaign, it is likely that you will set up others. Each campaign will probably focus on a different goal. The typical types of goals you include in your influencer strategy often relate to:
- Improve brand image
- Influencer association
- Increased brand awareness
- Increased audience social media engagement
- Leads created
- Boost in sales / Improved conversions
- SEO improvements
- Crisis management
- Understanding target audience
Once you have your goals you need to determine what KPIs to follow. How do you intend to measure the success of your campaign? How will you know whether your campaign is meeting your goals, or whether you need to tweak it?
2. Determine Your Ideal Influencer
Once you know what you would like your influencers to achieve you can determine the image of your ideal influencer. For this to be successful you first need to know who your ideal customer is.
You may have already built customer personas. If so, re-examine them. If you know who your ideal customer is, then the ideal influencer will be somebody who easily reaches out to that ideal customer.
Utilizing specialist vloggers, bloggers, micro-influencers, and Chromo-Influencers who operate popular social media accounts in your industry should be the cornerstone of your influencer strategy.
3. Find Suitable Influencers
Once you have determined the type of influencer to target, you then have to identify them.
Traditionally this has been the hardest part of an influencer strategy. It’s not as if there is an influencer marketing Yellow Pages! Yes, there are platforms out there and you can scroll across social media, however ensuring these influencers are actually influential is another story. Lots of likes, comments or shares do not equate to influence!
If you are looking to identify your own influencers, you will find both this and the next step to be difficult. It can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Not only do you need to find influencers who match your ideal influencer profile, but you also have to build up a relationship with them. And you have to hope that they want to be involved with you. Not all do.
When working with certain influencer agencies, you know that anybody you find will be a genuine influencer, ready and willing to work with brands. You still need to tie your influencer selection in with your overall influencer strategy though.
At PMYB we ensure the influencers we use are completely aligned with the brand and the brand’s objectives. Additionally, what we do is analyse each influencer against 46 important Chromo-Factors (that contribute to sales/customer conversions) when conducting any Chromo-Influencer campaign.
4. Reach Out to Your Influencers
Once you’ve decided upon suitable influencers you need to reach out to them.
If you choose to take the long, slow process of finding your own influencers, a major part of your influencer strategy will be gradually building up a relationship with them over an extended period of time.
Regardless of how you make contact with your influencers you need to get to know them. Research everything you can about them. This helps ensure that you align your brand with influencers who are a good fit.
According to Cision’s 2016 State of the Media Report, 80% of influencers receive off-topic pitches from brands and wish brands knew more about them before reaching out. This clearly shows the importance of doing your homework first.
5. Develop Your Campaign
Obviously, any influencer strategy requires a strong concept. There are a number of possible approaches to this.
Some firms prefer to keep strict control over their assets, preferring to create the vast majority of content themselves. In other cases, brands work with creative influencer agencies to produce them high-quality content.
Remember that most influencers earned that title because of the quality of their interactions with their fans. It is often advisable to give influencers some element of creative license. It often works well when brands and influencers work together to create the shared content. Some particularly successful influencers insist they create most of the content with the brands, to ensure that it provides the best fit for their audience.
6. Measure Your Influencer’s Results
Your influencer strategy should also include how you intend to measure an influencer campaign’s success. Unlike many forms of traditional marketing, this is not necessarily clear-cut.
The KPI you use to measure your ROI will depend on the goals you set for your campaign. If your goal was for an increased number of visitors to a particular landing page, then traffic to that page will be your main metric. If you set a goal relating to increased sales, you will want to examine how successful your campaign was at generating additional sales. Perhaps your goal was focused on increased engagement, in which case you would focus on typical engagement measures, such as genuine likes, comments and shares.
Brands often create an influencer marketing strategy to distribute and amplify messages about their product, brand or service. Sometimes they proudly create the content and use highly targeted influencers to introduce a product launch. In other cases, they may produce no content of their own but work with their influencers to promote the product itself.
Regardless of what your goals and objectives are your influencer strategy must follow all of the processes outlined in the article. A brand must set clear goals for its influencer marketing strategy. Indeed these goals should apply to the SMART acronym (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-targeted).
Once you set strong SMART goals, you can then tailor the perfect influencer strategy to expand your customer base or reinforce ties with customers.