Traditional advertising is becoming less and less effective. Ad blockers are common and people simply don’t trust information coming directly from brands as much as they do information from third parties. This makes all types of earned media more valuable and important than ever before. But earned media isn’t limited to reporters and journalists. It includes every mention of your brand that you don’t directly pay for. Some of those mentions will come from traditional channels, but another avenue for earned media that has grown wildly propular, is leveraging an 'influencer' network.
We define influencers as people who have an engaged following relevant to your brand. They might be bloggers, celebrities, or even your own customers. [Subaru is a killer awesome example.]
Who: Identifying Influencers for Your Brand
Three important things to consider when you start to look for people who might become a valuable part of your influencer network; context, reach, and helpfulness.
Context: When we bring up the subject of influencers, lots of folks throw out names like Kim Kardashian or Beyoncé. No doubt that celebrities like these can be powerful influencers for the right kinds of brands, but if you sell medical equipment or software, they probably aren’t the right fit. You need to consider who would logically be interested in telling their audience about your brand.
Reach: Reach in influence is very similar to the reach of a publication. The question here is if the influencer mentioned your brand, how many people would be likely to see it? Again, you do need to think about reach in terms of the context of your brand. If you are Apple, your influencers are likely to have a reach in the hundreds of thousands or millions. If you are a niche business services provider, an influencer with a following in the hundreds or thousands might be an excellent score.
Helpfulness: Reach is important, but the next thing to consider is whether or not the influencer’s audience takes action when presented with information. Does the audience engage with the influencer’s content? Do they share it?
If you find someone who is a good fit with your brand, has a decent reach, and an active audience, you’ve found someone who can help amplify your message. PR analytics software can help you find influencers that fit the bill.
What: Engaging Influencers
Now that you’ve identified people who have the ear of your audience and the power to persuade them, you can begin to engage. Here are a few of the most effective ways:
Provide Value: Influencers grow their reach and keep their audience interested by sharing relevant, useful content and insights. So that’s exactly what you should give them. It’s OK to weave in your brand messages and identity, but make sure the content is educational or entertaining.
Reciprocate: Influencer marketing is not about simply providing content for the influencer to share. It is about engagement and it needs to be a two-way street. You’ve already decided that your audience and the influencers overlap, so be sure to promote the influencer’s content and channels. Comment on their posts and join the conversation. Influencers probably won’t just be a broadcaster of your sales pitch, but they will appreciate active participation.
Track: If you are engaged with several influencers, keeping track of what is going on with all of them can be a chore. Media monitoring software is a must, with alerts and the ability to differentiate important mentions from noise can be a big help.
Why: Setting and Measuring Goals
According to a study from McKinsey, a recommendation from a trusted source is 50% more likely to lead to a conversion. What is a conversion? That depends on your goals for your influencer campaign. It is critical to decide exactly what you want to get from the approach and how you will measure the results. Start with some of the most common goals for influencer marketing:
- Increased website traffic
- Lead form fills
- Audience growth
- Improved search results
Once you’ve set your goals, you need to determine exactly how you will measure each one and put the tools in place to do so. Proving the ROI of influencer outreach is just as important as proving the value of any earned media. Google Analytics generally plays an important role, as does your PR analytics and/or PR measurement platform. You’ll also want to set up the tracking in your marketing automation solution so that you can “follow” prospects all the way through the sales cycle and identify sales that can be tied back to a particular influencer, article, or content asset.
Influencer marketing is much more challenging than simply buying an ad. That may be part of the reason that it works so well. People know that when an influencer makes a recommendation or passes along information, it’s been earned in some way. With thoughtful planning and the right tools, you can benefit from the shared interests of your influencers, audience and brand.
Request a demo today to see how you can create a data-driven influencer engagement strategy with TrendKite's advanced PR analytics software.
About the Author
Passionate about public relations and empowering practitioners, Lacey Miller found her dream job as content marketing manager at TrendKite, where she carries the crown of 'word nerd'. With a background in public relations and technology, she's a great fit with her desire to innovate the industry! You can find her most days writing for PR Forward, PRSA, and other trade publications.Follow on Twitter More Content by Lacey Miller