The A to Z guide to influencer marketing

Influencer marketing fits perfectly with two other forms of marketing: social media marketing and content marketing.

The buzzword term is growing in popularity for marketers. Some companies can’t thrive without a good influencer marketing campaign and brands are relying on influencer marketing more than ever.

Social media communication and blogging have leveled the playing field and given everyone the opportunity to share their voice, create and curate content, and become a digital influencer. And companies are forming relationships with influencers to help them promote and sell their products and services.

In fact, 86 percent of marketers have used influencer marketing in the past year so the strategy is an important part of today’s modern marketing mix.

And for good reason. These stats speak for themselves.

Let’s understand the three most important questions (what, who and why) when it comes to influencer marketing.

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that establishes long-term relationships (sometimes in the form of payment or an agreed upon reciprocity) with influencers to drive awareness for your brand, highlight your key messages and sell your products and services to a larger audience.

If done correctly, influencer marketing can be a big catalyst for marketing to drive business growth.

Don’t take my word for it, you may want to read 11 impressive influencer marketing campaignswhy it works [infographic] and/or love or hate it: influencer marketing works.

In an ideal world, influencer marketing is more than just brands asking influencers for gloried favors and being short-term and transactional.

Who are influencers?

Influencers are individuals who can persuade a significant or nice audience to make decisions based on their opinions and ideas. There are many faces of influencers.

Influencers can be journalists, industry experts, celebrities, academics, professional advisors, and individual brand advocates.

Why should brands use influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing provides four key benefits:

  1. Authenticity – influencers’ content carries an amount of built-in authenticity that companies enjoy because influencers spend a long time building their audiences, developing their reputations and building trust with their followers.
  2. Authority – influencers have gained reputations as authoritative sources on certain topics where their followers look to them for insight and advice.
  3. Helpful (not salesy) content – influencers help companies create better and fresh content from a voice that isn’t directly associated with selling. Influencer marketing content delivers 11X higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing.
  4. Reach – influencers come with an audience that may not have heard about your company before so they help you reach a new audience that you haven’t talk to before.

Let’s dive into influencer marketing more to better understand the fundamentals of influencer marketing.

Here is your A to Z guide to influencer marketing:

Attention

Influencer marketing may seem simple, you make a pitch to an influencer who has a large social media following in your industry and you get a surge of interest because that person shares your content or mentions your company. However, approaching and engaging with influencers is one of the top challenges marketers face today when it comes to influencer marketing. Research shows 59 percent of marketers struggle with getting the influencers attention.

Why? There are a wide variety of reasons.

One of them is the popularity of influencer marketing. With more companies getting into the game, the demand for influencers goes up so it is harder to win them over. Another reason for not getting attention is targeting the wrong influencers or not building a reputation that the influencer knows your company prior to the pitch. Influencers get tons of messages and are busy so another reason for not getting attention is that maybe your company didn’t make your communication compelling enough for them. Or maybe your company went right for the ask, instead of building a relationship with the influencer. Or maybe you didn’t put yourself in their shoes and why should they care about your content or company. Learn more about why influencers don’t respond.

B2B

Influencer marketing is just important to business to business (B2B) brands. Business to consumer (B2C) brands have been early adopters of influencer marketing since they have products and services that are natural for influencers but B2B brands are using influencer marketing successfully. This can be shown by these 10 telling examples of the power of B2B influencer marketing and four examples that prove influencer marketing can work.

Conversion

Influencer marketing is a great tactic but it needs to convert for it to be successful. According to a recent study, campaigns that include influencers show a 10x increase in conversion rates. And customers who do convert, stick around. Influencers campaigns achieve around a 37 percent increase in retention.

Disclosure

Research shows that marketers spend between $25,000 to $50,000 per influencer marketing campaign in 2016 with the number likely to double in 2017 with 48 percent of marketers planning on increasing their influencer marketing budgets.

With all of the money pouring into influencer marketing, it is important to understand the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) disclosure requirements. The FTC has cracked down on companies who disguise paid endorsements. Not disclosing information is illegal and a paid influencer’s content is a bad idea for your brand. Recently, the FTC warned 90 Instagram influencers to more clearly disclose their partnerships with brands.

Events

Brand-hosted events for a selection of influencers is a trend that is rising. Read the five examples of events with influencers. These events give brands to personally meet influencers and develop a personal connection. These events could include a retail company letting influencers try on products or borrow things for large events such as New York Fashion Week.

Find

One of the most critical parts of influencer marketing is to find and identify the right influencers. The type of influencer(s) you need depends on the goals of your campaign(s) and how you want your brand to be perceived. There are a lot of tools (see letter T) to help you search for influencers.

If the tools don’t help, you search manually on the different social networks such as searching the global list of 500+ LinkedIn influencers who are selected by invitation because they are the foremost thinkers, leaders, and innovators. One of the top challenges that marketer cite in influencer marketing is to identify the right influencers. Research shows most marketers find influencers for campaigns by reaching out to them directly rather than by using influencer platforms or talent agencies.

Growth

Research shows Instagram influencer marketing could be a $2 billion industry by 2019. This is because Instagram has been one of the fastest growing social media platforms. One of the reasons, influencer marketing is growing because of one word: trust.

People trust influencers where trust of the media is 43 percent and the trust of CEOs has dropped to an all-time low of 37 percent, according to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer. And most people don’t’ trust ads. People want authenticity.

Handlers

Once you have identified your influencers, it is important to build relationships with them. Sometimes, brands may deal directly with the influencers themselves or the influencers may have handlers or a management team. Make sure you put your ideas and expectations in writing.

Influence

Success with influencer marketing boils down to one simple concept: get your ideas to spread. In today’s modern world, we live in a time where time is sparse and there is not enough time in the day to do everything. People have choices on where to spend their money, where to hang out and where to engage. It is important to make sure that you answer this question: Are your influencers really influencing? Brands should take their time in finding the right, the most relevant and the most valuable influencers. This company has a simple method for measuring influence across the various social media platforms.

Jargon

Influencers marketing works because it is authentic. How does one be authentic? Skip the jargon and acronyms. People want simple language where it is easy to share your message.

Kind

What kind of influencers does your brand want? It is important to decide how much you want to spend. You don’t always want the biggest influencers in your industry or field because they tend to be expensive and may have less engaged community than smaller influencers. That is why there has been a rise of the term: micro-influencers. These micro-influencers are cheaper and can provide a bigger impact. There are three kinds of influencers: mega-influencers, macro-influencers, and micro-influencers.

Long-Term

Just like content marketing and social media, it is important that your company is in it for the long haul. It is critical to building long-term relationships with influencers so you can move beyond a short campaign to a year-long or multi-year relationship where influencers get to know your brand your messaging and your community so they can influence in an organic way. This way, influencers can show their community how they use your brand’s products and services in their everyday lives. Learn more about how to maximize the long-term value of influencer marketing.

Measurement

Web traffic generated. The number of times content is shared. Revenue generated. Press coverage received. The number of mentions in blogs. Lead referrals. These are some of the metrics that brands use to measure the success of their influencer marketing campaigns.

Measurement or return on investment (ROI) is the second biggest challenge for marketers with influencer marketing. Most marketers don’t measure influencer marketing by direct sales but rather engagement and reach.

Niche

Research shows that 70 percent of marketers are looking to reach a niche audience. Influencer marketing should not be confused with hiring celebrities to promote your company’s products and services. Marketers need to identify influencers who are popular to a nice audience and work with them to see what products or services are the best to promote. It is important to remember why the niche audience followed these influencers.

Ownership

In today’s digital world, data is one of the most important currencies for brands. Marketers should be tracking the digital body language of their customers or clients so they can find influencers among their customer or client base. It is important to have the right digital marketing tools in place to get the single view of the customer such as marketing automation, customer relationship management, social media management, web analytics and customer satisfaction surveys and much more.

Personalities

Just like celebrities, a lot of these influencers have savvy personalities. There are several types of personalities of influencers: activist, informer, and authority. It is critical to build a relationship with these types of personalities and based on their personality, work with the influencers on how to best educate their followers.

Quality

Quality trumps quantity. Focus on a small number of influencers in the beginning before you expand. Don’t ignore the influencers that you already have on your side. You may already have some influencers that can help you who are speaking positively about your company, products and/or services. You may want to check backlinks from your website(s). These influencers already know what you do and a wonderful place to start since they will come across to their followers as more authentic and convincing. Learn how influencer marketing has evolved over the years.

Reach

One of the main reasons that brands use influencer marketing is to extend the reach of their key messages and extend existing marketing efforts. Research shows 71 percent of marketers want to reach new audiences while 54 percent of marketers want to increase their brand’s social media following. It is important that your influence marketing campaigns fit your brand persona and align with the right messages.

Science

Influencer marketing is as much art as it is science. What does the data say? It is critical to understand the theories and principles of influence and persuasion so they can help you pick the right influencers and persuade your target audiences better.

Tools

There are a number of tools for influencer marketing that can give you valuable insights into what influencers persuade several types of audiences. Here are some tools to consider:

  • BuzzSumo helps brands find what content is work well on the web or certain industry and who the major influencers are for a certain topic. You can search for terms or phrases and identify what influencers are persuading a certain niche audience.
  • Followerwonk (made by Moz) allows you to search for keywords in bios to find those with the most authority and largest reach.
  • Klear helps you search for keywords and discover relevant influencers. You can filter by skills and location.

Unified

It is critical that your marketing and public relations (PR) teams are unified and align when it comes to influencer marketing. At many organizations, there is turf war taking place between marketing and PR with the shift toward digital marketing and social media. Brands are realizing the power of integrated nature of marketing and communications in today’s digital world and the importance of aligning the marketing teams internally and aligning marketing with the lines of business or business units. Alignment and integration is a fundamental part of a successful business strategy. Is your influence marketing unified and aligned at your company?

Visuals

Research shows visual content receives 94 percent more views than text-based only marketing. We are visual creatures and visual marketing is critical to success today. You are not going to be successful today without visuals. It is important to include visual marketing into your influencer marketing.

Why?

It is important to understand why you are doing influencer marketing and how that translates to the influencers you want to work with in the long-term. For example, 80 percent of marketers engage in influencer marketing to reach a new audience while 70 percent look to reach a niche audience. Another motivation could be working with influencers to generate early buzz around a new product or service. There are also the unintended benefits that help you with the why in the long-term. Influencers are usually well-connected and connect the dots well so they can help you with ideas about what is working or ideas are not working at your company.

Xenial

Xenial is a word to describe a friendly relationship between two parties. To be successful in influencer marketing, you need a healthy, working relationship that lasts for a while.

Yaply

Yaply is to something nimbly or agilely. With the rise of agile marketing, it impacts your influencer marketing efforts. It is important to understand how to the two work together as we shift toward becoming digital businesses.

Zeal

Brands that are successful with influencer marketing, do it with zeal or have great energy and enthusiasm that influencer marketing will help them reach their marketing goals and objectives.

What are the letters of your influencer marketing?

What words would you add this A to Z list? How do you successfully find, engage and nurture your influencers? What influencer marketing tools do you use?

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