Most marketers have “influencer marketing” on their priority list for 2016. In fact, almost 60% of fashion and beauty brands have a strategy in place, while an additional 21% plan to invest over the course of the year. However, very few know how to approach this seemingly new practice. “Where should I start?”, “How should my team get organized?”, “How do I scale an influencer program?” are all questions our team gets asked on a daily basis.
Though we’d love for every marketer in the world to use Traackr to power their influencer program, getting your head around kick-starting with influencer marketing is strikingly simple and does not necessarily require technology. These are 5 very simple steps that have led to success in the early days of influencer marketing.
1. Articulate what you’re trying to achieve
Yes, you’re rolling your eyes… It is quite obvious that one would start by deciding on a destination before starting the drive, isn’t it? And yet, you may find it shocking that a large portion of companies getting started with influencer marketing are not able to formulate what their endgame looks like.
“Increasing sales” and/or “generating leads” are not actionable business goals. Of course you want to make more money, who doesn’t?
What is your business strategy? What assets have you developed to support it? What separates you from your competitors? How do you see influencers fitting in? These are questions you need to ask yourself (and your boss) even if it is to acknowledge what you don’t know; in which case, the first steps of your program become about figuring out these answers.
When it comes to influencer marketing, context is king. Whether you’re a technology company aiming at informing and stirring conversations within the DevOps community, a consumer appliance and electronics brand eager to improve air quality in large metropolitan areas, or an FMCG brand conscious of promoting a healthy lifestyle among your buyers, you need to articulate who you are, what you’re trying to do, and what your approach is to achieve your goals.
2. Find people who have already proven they can help
That’s it. I let the cat out of the bag. You know the dirty secret of influencer marketing and why it’s so effective… Influencer marketing is not about manufacturing influence (which will invariably fail); it is about stirring existing influence.
Forget the lofty idea of turning your fans into influencers or paying a bunch of random people to make your campaign ‘go viral.’
The art of influencer marketing lies in your ability to create a match made in heaven between your brand and a set of influencers that are meant for each other. As any good dating service, your job becomes to infer affinities based on profiling your influencers on their ability to create the impact you need (based on past performance) and possible affinities with your brand.
You find these influencers by first locating the online conversations around the issue set your brand is involved or nterested in (to stay with my earlier examples: DevOps, air quality/pollution/asthma, healthy diet/exercise) and where they are taking place—blogs, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Then you find those who contribute content to these conversations and have a decent following.
Finally, you test these individuals’ ability to drive engagement (mentions, backlinks, comments, etc.).
If you’re not using a platform like Traackr, it’s a bit of an effort and a manual process that you’ll want to record on a spreadsheet. It is well worthwhile though as it provides a first version of a valuable influencer list you can start with.
3. Listen and formulate your contribution
Now that you know which influencers you want to target initially, here comes the simplest, yet most uncomfortable part of influencer marketing: you need listen to what they have to say and understand where your brand message and position fit in (if at all).
Why is it uncomfortable? As marketers, we have to fall in love with our brand and what it stands for. We even come to find our company’s idiosyncrasies as endearing. Falling in love with the reflection of our brand image is required for a marketer to be an effective brand steward, but many of us have gone past the point of consciousness on this.
And here we are, meeting with a group of people, essential to our category, who either don’t care about (or worse—don’t know) our brand. How dare they!
The art of influencer marketing starts with acknowledging that influencers, as most people, don’t care about us.