How Influencer Marketing Can Pump Up Your Content Strategy

Most marketers are familiar with the concept of influencer marketing - the strategy of marketing to a select group of individuals, such as consultants, bloggers, or industry analysts who influence your buyer’s decisions. In fact, according to a recent study comprised of marketers from a variety of industries, 94 percent believe influencer marketing is an effective campaign strategy. However, this reliable tactic can be difficult to pull off successfully, 78 percent of marketers said that determining the success of influencer marketing campaigns would be one of their top challenges this year.

Taking the time to discover influencer relationships and nurture them to build your brand’s credibility is important. This strategy can help you move prospects down the buyer’s journey more quickly. For example, if you offered content marketing software and got Jay Ba r’sapproval, his endorsement would go a long way in boosting your sales. Of course, Jay Baer isn’t putting his seal of approval on everything marketing--the product has to be great.

Many influencers won’t be world-famous celebrities, but they should be well-versed in your industry. Such influencers can really pump up the impact of your content marketing strategy, especially when these influencers are contributing content on your site, sharing your content, or writing about your products on their site.

3 Reasons to Invest in Influencer Marketing

There are many reasons to invest in influencer marketing. Here are three you may not have heard of before.

1) 41 Percent of Millennials Use an Ad Blocker

Ad block extensions have certainly hurt the advertising industry. In 2015, for example, ad blocks were blamed for almost $22 bill ion in lost global revenue.The use of these browser extensions has grown significantly over the past several years. According to a 2017 study by Uponit , an ad recovery platform, the estimated rate of adblocking rate in the US has increased by 11 percent from 2016, to reach 33.1 percent of internet users in 2017. As consumers are targeted with ads from all angles, consumers are either blocking those ads or tuning most of them out. Influencer marketing is a way to get past the need to use ads to reach your audience.

2) 69 Percent of Gen Z Skip YouTube Ads

The younger a consumer is, the more negatively they respond to obvious advertisements. For example, according to CNBC, 69 percent of Gen Z consumers prefer to skip YouTube ads, which the platform typically allows 3-4 seconds in. Instead of investing in these types of advertisements, try asking influencers to showcase your products.

3) Celebrity Endorsements Only Work for 3 Percent of Consumers

According to a 2016 report, only 3% of consumers would consider buying a product after seeing a celebrity endorse it. But consumers were 30 percent more likely to buy a product that had been recommended by a non-celebrity influencer. This shows that an influencer’s reach or audience size should mean much less than their relevance and actual influence among your target audience.

This shows  that an influencer’s reach or audience size should mean much less when you choose influencers than their relevance and actual influence among your target audience. *Source: eConsultancy

3 Examples of Successful Influencer Marketing

1) Sperry 

Near the end of 2016, the boat shoe brand began working with over 100 micro-influencers on Instagram to create engaging content for their followers, and the campaign has been so successful that it’s still going strong today. Sperry identifies fans of the brand on Instagram who already shares high-quality photos of their products, and invites these users to develop visual content for their official Instagram account.

 Sperry identifies fans of the brand on Instagram who already shares high-quality photos of their products, and invites these users to develop visual content for their official Instagram account.

2) Hallmark

For its 2016 holiday season, Hallmark invested in influencer marketing to promote its keepsake ornaments. The influencers were family-friendly Instagrammers who shared their family’s personal holiday moments with the world. Using the hashtag #KeepsakeIt, the influencers offered their followers candid glimpses into their special traditions, along with a link for users to purchase Hallmark’s keepsake ornaments.

3) GoPro

GoPro uses the theme “Be a HERO” to connect with its target audience across social media. Using brand-related sponsorships and endorsements, web, SEO outdoor ads, and plenty of social media marketing tactics, GoPro integrates all of its marketing efforts with much of its content coming from users. Top it all off with a comprehensive “always on”  brand ambassador marketing program, and GoPro is a pro in influencer marketing.

Four Tips for Getting Your Influencer Marketing Strategy Off the Ground

  1. Begin by determining who influences your buyers and which of those influencers you’d like to target, you’re starting your influence marketing campaign off right.There’s a lot of research that happens at this point of the process, including speaking to your sales team and your buyers. Using a list of relevant keywords can help you identify a broad group of influencers, who can be found on sites such as Google Blog Search, Linkedin, Twitter, BuzzSumo, or using PR tools such as Cision and Vocus.
  2. Once you have your list of potential influencers, prioritize this list based on whom you think will have the largest impact. Target those individuals first, building relationships by engaging them in a simple conversation and following up periodically. You may choose to follow them on Twitter, comment on their blog posts and retweet their content on a consistent basis.
Target those individuals first, building relationships by engaging them in a simple conversation and following up periodically.

3. After several interactions, you’ll reach the point where it seems appropriate to send the influencer a personalized email/message. Explain that you have been following them for some time, and introduce your business and a quick elevator pitch of what’s your looking for in an influencer campaign and what you’re willing to offer them. Some brands choose to offer monetary compensation, while others believe in only offering broader exposure. The choice is up to you, as best practice guidelines exist on both sides. 

4. Finally, once you have posted content than an individual influencer has contributed to on your website or social media, be sure to e-mail that influencer to share the content, ask them to post it across their social networks, and thank them for contributing to your brand. You may also choose follow up with the influencer in the days that follow to let him/her know how the content performed, if there are any comments that need a response, or even to propose another opportunity to contribute more content in the future.

Common Challenges of Influencer Marketing

Like every marketing strategy, influencer marketing doesn’t come without its challenges. Some of the issues you might face when building an influencer marketing program include:

  • Lack of buy-in and/or commitment from the C-suite. Make sure all of your executives are on board with the strategy before you move forward.
  • Lack of clear, measurable goals. Work as a team to identify and set the goals at the beginning, and adjust goals throughout your campaign based on analytics and feedback.
  • Lack of valuable content. Without quality content, it will be difficult to tell your company’s story to influencers and encourage them to share that content. Make sure you have a solid buyer’s journey mapped out in content on your website.
  • Little participation from customers/end users. Influencers don’t want to hear how great you are from you— they want to hear from your customers or end users. Before you start your influencer marketing campaign, identify some key customers that can tell your brand’s story.
  • Focusing on the wrong influencers. Influencer marketing can have a powerful impact, but only if you are targeting the correct individuals, at the correct time, with the correct message. This is where influencers can really help. Part of an influencer’sjob is to make sure you’ve identified the type of customers in your industry.
  • Delivering the same content to all influencers. In the same way you develop personas for your prospects, you should also create them for your influencers. Each influencer should be approached differently based on what they can add to your brand's story, their preferred methods of communication and their specific needs. For example, you’ll probably have to approach technical bloggers differently than you will industry analysts.Understanding your influencer personas will help you build and deliver targeted, effective pitches.
  • Consumers may thinkinfluencer ads feel fake if done improperly. Consumers can easily distinguish real, organic posts from paid or sponsored posts. One misguided sponsorship and your brand will be called out for inauthenticity. An eMarketer survey reports that 59% of female consumers find ads inconsistent with the rest of an influencer’s social feed to feel fake or disingenuous. Make sure you’re monitoring your influencers to ensure their posts look and feel as organic as possible. In addition, the same survey reported that 30 percent of female consumers found social posts with #ad, #paid, #sp, or other hashtags denoting payment to be inauthentic. Discuss how such hashtags might influence your business with your influencers.

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