How to Build an Influencer Marketing Strategy

Content Marketing · Digital Marketing

There’s no doubt about the fact that that influencer marketing is huge these days, with more than 70% of brands using influencers as a part of their marketing strategy this past year. The majority of these brands found success -- and indeed influencer marketing can be an effective tool for newer entrepreneurs who are scrambling to get a piece of the action or even for businesses who are already established and are looking for new ways to reach certain audiences.

Influencers have a ton of credibility and authority in a given field, and to that end, they’re excellent people to turn to if you’re thinking of marketing a product that fits the brand. But bear in mind that, the bigger a person is, the more they may expect in the way of compensation. Here’s a breakdown of some of the things you should be doing if your goal is to pursue an influencer marketing strategy.

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is essentially a way that companies can get people who already have a social presence talking about their product. It’s also a term for those who start their own business (often in the digital space) and continue to show leadership and authority on a personal level beyond the products they create.

Influencer marketers are people that have built a name for themselves in the digital sphere, and sometimes are just known for their social presence alone -- in other words, they may be “Instagram famous” or “YouTube sensations.”

When done well, this mode of marketing can be a powerful tool for both partners involved, allowing two different entities to potentially fuse and grow their audience.

Common Characteristics of Influencers

What does it take to “be” an influencer? Well, the truth is that they come in all shapes and sizes. When we talk about influencers in the digital marketing sphere, though, we’re usually talking big name entrepreneurs who are well-versed in some specific specialty in the digital space, such as content marketing, SEO or social media.

You may be familiar with names like Gary Vaynerchuk and Rand Fishkin already -- that’s because they’ve done a lot of work to make a name for themselves, and they continue to stay on the public speaking circuit, do a ton of writing and have fresh entrepreneurial pursuits consistently.

So what do people like this have in common? They’re typically quite prolific, multi-skilled and have an entrepreneurial aptitude. They’re not afraid to speak their mind, take charge and take risks. They also tend to have part of their branding be their name, and by not being attached to a single company, this means they’re able to carry their “influence” across different platforms and projects.

To add to this, it should be noted that all successful influencers have a specific focus on changing people’s minds -- that is, influencing their thoughts, decisions and actions. This is what makes them not only great at selling themselves, but of course selling other people’s products as well. Another key influencer strategy is that they spend a lot of time building authority and credibility in the field that they specialize in -- in other words, everyone in the business knows their name.

In a marketing context, here are a few key things that a great partnership with an influencer can bring in:

  • Engagement and reach. Influencers are naturally great at engaging audiences, sometimes through a single channel but more likely through multiple channels.
  • Authority. Influencers are well known for being the best in their field, so if they genuinely want to promote your product, it’s a good bet that people will listen.
  • They know how to close. Most influencers are really entrepreneurs and they’re great at establishing a firm hold on people at all phases of the buyer journey -- including the conversion (purchasing) phase. They’re great at convincing people, and that’s a good person to have on your side when it comes to selling products!

Tips for Building an Influencer Marketing Strategy

If you’re looking to find an influencer and trying to figure out how to use influencer marketing to market your own product.

Have a Product

Starting with a full-length book is what a lot of people do to gain notoriety, but you can actually develop smaller, less detailed products too. Choose a speciality, make sure you know it inside and out, and start selling (or even giving away) short PDFs or e-books to teach people more about why you do what you do so well.

Keep Track of your Goals and KPIs

When you engage in any new marketing strategy, it’s important that you track and monitor results so that you can be sure that you are getting an appropriate ROI. To this end, Paul May of BuzzStre am suggests that one of the first things you should do is make sure you not only choose the right set of key performance indicators (KPIs) to build your strategy around, but they should attract people to your platform that are actually engaged in your industry. This means you want to pay attention to each step of the funnel and see what your followers and customers are doing as they go through various purchasing decisions.

One of the main things that you’ll pick up as you partner with influencers is referral traffic, so this will be a key thing to look for as well. Other KPIs to bear in mind include cost per engagement, which will give you an idea of how much ROI you are receiving from influencer actions, new followers, actual reach, sign-up metrics, and indicators that give a clear picture of your overall visibility.

Know Your Competitors

When you understand the contextual landscape of the other people in your field, you will need to choose the person that suits your brand the best. This also applies according to audience segmentation and targeting. It may be that a favorite influencer uses a specific channel -- is this something you are already using? Or perhaps they can help you establish a fresh new audience for your product through a different channel?

The key thing is to figure out where conversations are already being had, and whether you can fill a gap in that specific space. You’ll also want to have a solid understanding of who is naturally talking about your products or services.

Get to Know Them Before You Make Them an Offer

No “sneak attacks” and don’t bombard them with random messages that they have no reason to answer.

Follow influencers that you genuinely respect and get involved in the community by corresponding twist them in social groups and showing your own expertise as well -- but in a genuine way. You don't’ want an influencer to get to know you because you are constantly harassing them!

One way around this is to use Mention influencer dashboard which lets you nurture influencers based on conversations and authentic engagement. Another way of following and tracking influencers is viaTwitter lists.

Remember that if you find an up-and-coming influencer that still is looking for extra exposure, you may be able to strike a deal and work in tandem without any financial compensation. But it’s more likely that people understand their value and expect payment -- so don't chase around an influencer that you won't’ be able to afford!

In Conclusion

The key to being a great influencer is that - really, you need to first and foremost not be shy about letting your natural personality be a key part of your brand. Gary Vee does this for instance by being somewhat abrasive and harsh, at times. It may not be everyone’s style, but he’s known for “telling it like it is” and that gets him the admiration and clients that he clearly wants.

So this is a perfect example of why you have to let your natural personality shine through and not be afraid of perceived “flaws” if they are things that actually can help you differentiate yourself.

Not only that, but you must be able to provide consistent amounts of useful information as part of your engagement strategy. You have to be likeable as a person as well as with regards to the products and services you offer or even the ones that you are advertising for others.

Becoming a great influencer takes focus and honesty, and a lot of speaking and personal marketing -- it’s not something that just anyone could do. But if you can get your name known, through whatever product, channel or service, you can be sure that you’re going to be set for life.  

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