Influencer marketing is a digital marketing trend that will continue to gather speed in 2017. As a result, we’re starting off the year by providing you with useful information about creating an influencer marketing strategy to strengthen your content marketing efforts.
Before we dive into strategy, let’s review a few influencer marketing basics. Influencer marketing is leveraging the credibility and audience of industry experts and authorities—aka influencers—to improve a brand’s credibility and/or reach a new or larger audience. Influencer content is content created collaboratively with an influencer.
The potential benefits of influencer marketing are many and include generating a wider audience, increased content reach, more authoritative inbound links, credibility and authority by association, and future content, client and partnership opportunities.
Before you begin, define the goals for your influencer marketing efforts. How do you want to use influencers to contribute to and promote your content? Do you want to drive traffic to your site? Drive sales? Build brand awareness? Focus on one goal and translate it into metrics you can track.
As you prepare to contact influencers, you need to do research on your audience’s online behavior, potential influencers, and your potential influencer’s online behaviors.
Start by finding out where your target audience spends their time online, the kinds of content they respond to, and the influencers they listen to.
Then, put together a list of the influencers your audience listens to whose personal brand fits with your products and services. For example, you might read their content or check out their website and read their about page to find out if they’re a good fit.
Prioritize your pared-down list of influencers by those who engage most effectively with your target audience. Do they reply to Twitter mentions? Share other people’s content? Comment on blog posts? Reply to comments on their own blog posts? Influencers need not have a huge following, but they do need to engage effectively with the audience you want to receive your message.
Once you know who your key influencers are, find out who they are and what motivates them. Take the time to understand their focus, their audience, what they care about and why.
Influencer marketing is largely about building and nurturing relationships. To start, pick 2 or 3 people from your list of priority influencers. In order to kick off a relationship with an influencer, you might begin by posting questions or comments to their blog posts. Follow them on social media networks and share their content. Send them direct messages with questions and comments about their work.
Later, after you’ve partnered with them on content, remember to thank them for any content they contribute to and ask them to share it with their audience. Follow up to let them know if the content performed well, if there are any comments for them to respond to, or to put out feelers for another content opportunity for the future.
Maintain the relationship by reaching out regularly and continuing to share their content and to comment on their material.
Influencer marketing is also about collaboration. As you get to know your priority influencers better, start thinking about original ideas for collaboration that make sense for both your target audience and your key influencers. Influencers are often intrigued by collaborations they haven’t participated in before.
At the same time, it’s perfectly acceptable to start out with tried-and-true influencer content, such as inviting an influencer to join you for a podcast episode, asking an influencer to contribute content to your site, interviewing an influencer for a blog post on your blog, and asking influencers to share your content on their social media networks.
Pick topics relevant to your audience and the influencer and define the form of the content—blog post, e-book, social media promotion, etc.—you want to produce based on your earlier research. Be willing to be flexible if the influencer throws out an alternate idea.
Once you’ve established a good rapport with your key influencers, start crafting an outreach email in which you ask for what you want. In this email, you want to be clear, succinct, and straightforward. State outright what you want and what’s in it for the influencer.
How will the influencer benefit? Can you offer them access to new audience? Promotional perks? Whatever it is, state it upfront.
Make sure your influencer outreach email is personalized with key information about their focus and their audience in order to show that you’ve done your research. Schedule out your initial message, reply, and follow-ups to be sure you don’t miss a beat. When the best time to send your outreach email? It’s generally best to connect midweek, preferably on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Lastly, make it as easy as possible for them to help you. If you’re asking an influencer to write a social media post about your product, include a re-written post with embed codes, images and short URLs as needed.
As you progress with your influencer marketing strategy, track your success with the metrics you defined with your goals. Optimize your strategy for your target audience and your key influencers.
While influencer marketing can be time-consuming, it’s a must-have part of your content marketing strategy in 2017. You can create a better chance for success by having an influencer marketing strategy in place from the get-go.
Need help creating content for or with one of your key influencers? Filament can help! Get in touch with us today to start creating useful content for your target audience.