What to Know about Leveraging Influencer Marketing in 2017

Marketers of today exist in a world filled with fluid and “outside-the-box” tactics that present varied ROIs. When viewed from a traditional marketing perspective, it’s easy to question the efficacy of an influencer marketing strategy – especially if you could spend the same money on something with more immediately tangible results like a Facebook ad campaign. It’s a good thing we’ve thrown the status quo out the window, because influencer marketing may be the most effective tactic we have after email marketing. Some studies even suggest that influencer marketing can capture 16 times the engagement of an owned or paid media marketing campaign. So how do you get in on that type of engagement? Read through these influencer marketing tips to find out how you can leverage this useful channel for your business.

Give Influencers Freedom To Create

Influencers are big-name thought leaders in your industry. They have their own personality that, in addition to their extensive subject matter knowledge, propelled them to the point where they’re truly influencers. So don’t restrain them. Don’t create a campaign that doesn’t allow for the creative freedom of your influencer. Just like you know how best to work with your audience, the same goes for influencers. After you give general guidelines on the content topic, step back and let the influencer go to work.

There is no Ultimate Influencer

When searching for the “ultimate” influencer, it’s easy to get caught up in looking at follower counts. More followers means more impressions, which means more sales, right? That’s not always the case. If you only chase influencers with a high follower count, you may miss out on potential relationships with influencers who may be a better fit for your product. A larger audience can give your campaign more exposure, but ask yourself this question: would you rather have more exposure or more engagement? Don’t get caught up on follower counts. Get caught up on how well your target influencer fits with your product – and how well that influencer works with their audience.

How to Find Influencers

An influencer marketing campaign obviously has no teeth unless you find an influencer. But how do you find the right one? Consider the following steps:
  • Research campaign keywords. At the onset of your campaign, you’ll need to research keywords that encapsulate your efforts. You can use these as part of your PPC and content efforts – and they help nicely with the next step.
  • Monitor hashtags. With your keywords fully researched you’re ready to monitor hashtags on social media. You’ll be able to see who’s posting about the topics and identify thought leaders.
  • Perform outreach. Once you’ve identified some potential influencers, looked at their audiences, and read through their blogs to ensure that they’re the best possible fit for your campaign, it’s time to get in touch. Social media works, but you’ll usually have better luck sending emails.
Once you’ve established contact with an influencer, it’s time to get to the brass tax. As noted in this Entrepreneur article, you should always negotiate on prices where possible. Don’t spend so much on the post that your campaign goes upside-down, financially speaking. You also want to bear in mind that you’re not creating a longform advertorial. The post your influencer will put together shouldn’t read that way, and if it does, you need a rewrite or a different influencer. It’s easy to get caught up in letting influencers make the calls on content, but you don’t want it coming across like a content-mill SEO piece. You want the post to meet all the best practices criteria for content.

Measuring, Tracking, and Analyzing Influencer Marketing

Now comes the truly fun part – analyzing, measuring, and tracking your influencer campaign to make sure you’re getting the ROI you need. But how can you effectively track this type of campaign? Samantha Wright, over at Social Media Today, has some tips. Effectively tracking an influencer marketing campaign comes down to being able to pull reports for:
  • Following and reach. Wright suggests looking at the combined total of your audience in addition to your influencer’s to get an accurate picture of the potential reach for your post. Remember – potential doesn’t equal reality, but you’ll want to know what percentage of followers you were able to reach. Tally up Twitter followers, YouTube subscribers, and followers of any other social media page you can think of.
  • Views and Impressions. Views/impressions is the total number of people you actually reached – not the reach potential. Again, you’ll pull these numbers from every social media channel through which you pushed the content.
  • Engagement. This takes views and impressions one step further. As Wright wrote, “Engagement shows you that not only did a potential customer see your influencer’s content, but that they took action.”
You can always create more advanced reports for specific goals you had in mind (for example, say you wanted the piece to have a higher engagement rate on Twitter than Facebook, or wanted to reach a certain demographic in a geographic area in a more personal way than you have before) but covering the basics is usually enough to provide you with all the data needed to ensure your campaign was cost-effective. One last thing – as you’re tracking and running your influencer campaign, you can’t let your others fall by the wayside. Keeping up on all other campaigns will provide incredible context when you compare data from a Facebook-only campaign to your influencer campaign. You’ll easily be able to see how influencer versus in-house content performs, likely against the same – or similar – audience segments. That information will inform your campaign decisions moving forward.

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Greg is the founder and CEO of Stryde and a seasoned digital marketer who has worked with thousands of businesses, large and small, to generate more revenue via online marketing strategy and execution. Greg has written hundreds of blog posts as well as spoken at many events about online marketing strategy. You can follow Greg on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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