All businesses selling product have the same goal in mind—getting their product in front of consumers so they’ll buy it. And in today’s internet-operated world, one of the best ways to get your product in front of thousands of consumers is taking advantage of influencer marketing. Nowadays, consumers prefer recommendations from people they know (or celebrities they think they know), with 83% of people trusting recommendations from family and friends, making it the most credible form of advertising. And one study found that this word-of-mouth type of marketing triggers twice the amount of sales as paid advertising. To see these type of results, you have to effectively manage a strong influencer marketing strategy. And here’s how you can.

Step 1: Recruit relevant influencers.

Influencers are independent voices. They’ve established a loyal online following through their fun adventures, amazing pictures, array of hashtags and honest reviews of products. Influencers are trustworthy, so you have to trust that the right ones are going to be a cost-effective revenue driver for your brand. Before you can recruit, you need to find influencers who are qualified and who represent and will relate to your target audience. Rather than manually sifting through millions of Instagram and Twitter accounts, automate the process of finding relevant and influential people with helpful tools, like BuzzSumo, Followerwonk and TwtrLand. BuzzSumo has a tab dedicated to finding influencers, and many love it for its ability to filter influencers by authority, reach, engagement and even time frame of when certain content topics were shared. With Followerwonk, again there’s a tab for influencers, and you can search through users based on social authority, comparisons and visualized keyword data. Klear (formerly Twtrland) is a search tool that allows you to follow brands on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, as well as search by name, location and skill and then filter your search results by location, categories and influencer level. As you’re searching through influencers, create influencer lists based on your products, target audience, season, etc. Once your list is divided, the most important things to examine and determine best fit for your brand and influencer marketing goals are relevance to your target audience, how engaged their audience is, that their tone and style match your brand and budget. Now that you have your list of relationships to develop, how do you actually do it? One of the most successful efforts is reaching out directly to an influencer, as 79% of social influencers prefer this. You can contact them via email or social media messaging. However you choose to contact them, remember two things—talk to and nurture them like the individual they are, and incentivize them with something they can’t refuse, be it money, free products to test or maybe swapping guest posts on each other’s blogs. Also, ensure whatever you’re proposing they do is a worthwhile opportunity for them and is relevant to their social following.

Step 2: Manage influencer workflows from start to finish.

To relieve stress and ensure you get the most out of your resources, create and manage an easy-to-use influencer workflow. Your workflow should start with identifying influencer opportunities and work through:
  • Engaging with specific influencers
  • Reviewing influencer content
  • Keeping track of communication and assignments given to influencers
  • Monitoring ROI from influencer campaigns
  • Maintaining the relationship.
Your workflow should also identify who is responsible for fulfilling each of these tasks. Here at Stryde, we use BuzzStream to help us manage our influencer outreach workflow, from organizing our influencer list to setting reminders to follow-up with people and creating campaigns. But there are an array of outreach tools you can use to effectively manage your influencer marketing workflows and achieve success with your influencer marketing strategy.

Step 3: Track the performance of influencer content across all channels.

Metrics matter. They’re what measure the impact of your specific influencer marketing strategy efforts. But you can’t measure anything unless you’ve set a clear goal to work toward, a goal that has a clear number attached to it. So instead of the vague, we want to increase brand awareness, shoot for goals like we want to increase total sales or sales for this product by X amount of dollars or increase our Instagram following by 25%. In terms of the influencer content metrics you need to pay attention to, don’t focus on what many call “vanity metrics,” i.e. likes and shares. Focus instead on gaining real-time tracking for deeper metrics, including:
  • Reach
  • Time spent on content
  • Content by engagement
  • Engagement across each channel
  • Conversion rate by content.
Once you’ve got this data, you can gauge how much each social channel is worth, compare your return on influencer investment vs. program costs and learn which influencers work best in which channels, content types and come out on top in the metrics you’re tracking.

Step 4: Maximize the impact of high-performing content with optimized distribution.

To more effectively boost engagement levels and influencer marketing ROI, you need to invest time and money in optimized distribution. Nothing is perfect the first go around. Bloggers rewrite headlines numerous times before choosing one to use. Designers spend countless hours refining sketches and color palettes until finally sticking to clothing line designs. And teenagers take 10-20 selfies before liking one enough to post it on Snapchat. Like these people, you have to continually improve your results through continuous optimization. Optimization simply produces better results. And I’m not just saying that. I’ve seen it with clients. And an article on showed the results of two news releases, one that was optimized and one that wasn’t. Want to guess which performed better? The optimized news release had 886 views compared to just 161 with the non-optimized release in the first two hours of being released, as well as had 96 website sessions compared to 12 and 67 new visitors compared to only nine. With optimized distribution, you have to measure data to help you find and predict what content types, social channels and industry influencer will perform best before changing or broadening your distribution efforts. It’s this last step that’s really going to enhance the other three. If you’re new to influencer marketing, check out our Guide to Leveraging Influencers in 2017.]]>

Laurel is a member of the executive team at Stryde. She's been doing digital marketing for businesses for 10 years. Two years ago, she started set up her own ecommerce business selling baby gowns and knows the struggles of a small business owner. She loves talking about digital marketing, content, SEO, and conversion rate optimization.