By now, you’ve heard about the popularity of Influencer Marketing.
It’s so popular that many organizations are including influencer marketing initiatives into their marketing strategies.
Linqia, in its The Value of Influencer Content 2017 report, cites that 86% of marketers use influencer marketing to add more power to their content marketing engines.
The ROI is there. According to a Tomoson poll, businesses, on average, are making $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing.
Yet, here’s where the water gets muddy.
Many believe that influencers, with their huge networks, can get people to visit a website and convert them into a sale.
But, that’s not reality.
The Reality of Influencer Marketing
Influencers are driven by growing their audience. They will promote a brand or its products only if it helps them or their audience. Thus, influencers drive awareness, not specific actions or more importantly, behaviors.
Three things that stand out for me in this infographic are consumer trust – 18% trust influencers, while 92% trust brand advocates – duration of loyalty – short term for influencers vs. long term for brand advocates, and motivation – influencers are focused on growing their audience while advocates are focused on helping those that they know.
Trust has been at issue lately regarding Influencer Marketing.
Because Influencer Marketing is viewed as a “pay for play” initiative (brands must compensate influencers in some way for promoting their brands and products), that has left a bad taste in some brands’ mouths in using influencer marketing at all. In addition, influencer marketing has somewhat of a black eye as of late thanks to some greedy influencers.
This greediness has garnered the attention of the FTC, so now influencers and brands must disclose the relationship.
Influence isn’t bad. We all want influence. We all strive to be influential.
Influence is defined as
“the capacity to have an effect on the character, development of behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself”.
In fact, it is the combination of brand advocacy with influencer marketing that can help you build a stronger influencer marketing program and become more influential with your customers and in the marketplace.
How Brand Advocacy is the Answer to Help you Build a Stronger Influencer Marketing Program
–Brand Advocacy helps you find influencers that you already know.
A brand advocate is someone who has a strong relationship with you. They love you, are loyal to you, and want to help you help others. They can be a customer, employee, vendor, journalist, blogger, analyst, or even a fan.
Brand advocates drive behaviors.
So, finding an influencer who is already an advocate can drive awareness and behaviors, build loyalty and create trust. Find those that best align with your brand and strategy. These are your advocate-influencers.
This becomes one of best influencer marketing wins you can get.
–Brand Advocacy helps you choose extra influencers.
Choosing extra influencers that you do not know can be tricky. This is because you need to know who can help you cast a wider net without hurting your brand.
If you find you need extra influencers, it is vital to use prudence in selecting influencers. After all, they are an extension of your brand.
Pick the influencers that your audience trusts, who influence your audience.
Ask your advocate-influencers to help you select extra influencers.
Determine which of these influencers strongly align with your corporate strategy. Then, determine their influence. I love tools such as Brand24, Followerwonk and BuzzSumo to identify and measure influencers.
Implementing influencer marketing this way is more effective. And, it guards against false positives that can result from inaccurate social proofing.
–Brand Advocacy helps you create your influencer marketing strategy.
Your influencer marketing strategy should have clear-cut goals and objectives.
Why is influencer marketing important to you? What do you expect from influencer marketing? How will it improve the customer experience and your corporate strategy?
Influencer Marketing must align with (1) what your customers expect and what would enhance their experience, and (2) your corporate strategy.
If you want to do influencer marketing just to do it, or because everyone else you know is doing it, then you are doing influencer marketing for the wrong reasons.
The result is the program will fall flat and you will be unsuccessful.
So, while influencer marketing is still new and evolving, there are things you can do.
-Do your research by reading content produced by leaders in the influence marketing space such as Traackr.
-Review case studies of brands in your industry who have achieved successes in influencer marketing.
-Interview brands who have experimented with influencer marketing. When asking questions, use the STAR (situation, task, action, result) approach:
-what was the situation or reason that the brand used influencer marketing?
-which specific task(s) were involved?
-which actions or steps took place?
-what was the result of using influencer marketing?
Be clear and realistic about what influencer marketing is and what you expect to get out of it. Laser-focus in on its value. Be realistic on context and content.
Don’t think vanity metrics, such as likes or followers. Think engagement and conversions. Focus on the performance metrics that matter. Also, consider the platforms that will be of the most value.
Thus, it is paramount to create an entire influencer marketing strategy. Be detailed and specific. Answer the what’s, why’s, where’s, when’s, who’s, and how’s.
But, don’t create it in a vacuum.
Rather, while it is important to understand the value an influencer marketing program would be for your organization, it is equally important to understand the value your influencer marketing program would be to influencers.
Answer such questions as:
What new audiences can you help them reach?
What purpose or causes inspire both your community and theirs?
Who is speaking and writing about topics that align with your main focus areas?
Successful influencer marketing is a two-way street.
Get your advocate-influencers and other influencers in a room to collaborate on strategy development. This is a great way to build even stronger relationships with your advocate-influencers and other influencers.
And, collaborate on tactical development as well. Determine where it makes sense to co-create and even where you give influencers complete content creative control.
Thus, create the strategy and associated tactics together with your influencers. Your influencers will get to see your inner workings, and you’ll get to walk in their shoes.
This will help you with future requests you make of your influencers. They’ll understand the context of the ask – and how it fits in on a micro and macro level with your operation, and how they will benefit.
Always be open to new ideas and out-of-the-box execution.
Today, it’s all about relationships and influence. Using the right influencers and brand advocates together gives marketers the best means to influence behaviors.