What does meaningful content mean to you?
More importantly, what does it mean to your target audience?
Questions that make you go hmmm, or at least questions that should make you reconsider what you are currently doing, so you can stay at the top of your game.
Digital advertising isn’t what it used to be, and even though it hasn’t exactly gone off and disappeared, you need to do more to reach your audience. Trust and reputation go hand-in-hand as you work towards your goal.
To build your brand or business, collaborating with influencers that fit your target audience is a great way to do so and, of course, developing an excellent content marketing strategy.
The focus of this article is at least half of that equation in helping you develop your influencer marketing strategy.
Aligning Your Buyer Persona
It starts with your buyer persona.
You should have already set out or mapped out your customer persona in your marketing strategy. If don’t have a persona you should consider developing one. According to Mark W. Schaefer 3 to 4 personas normally account for over 90% of sales of a company.
Will explore this in much depth in another article.
Knowing your ideal customer sets the tone for your influencer strategy. It helps ensure that the right influencers are selected that fit with your target audience as well as the right channels to use.
It also ensures the right messaging to your target audience is maintained. While relevant and valuable content is created that the audience loves. A survey by Marketing Insider Group/Onespot found that 87% of consumers say personally relevant branded content positively influences how they feel about a brand.
What Are Your Intentions?
It’s more than a question someone asks their son or daughter’s significant other. This has to do with your overall goals and how you intend to measure them.
Begin with your goals to create and develop supportive objectives. By doing so, you’ll lay the groundwork for future successful campaigns.
To get your creative juices flowing, consider the following example.
- The goal: Build your reputation and establish trust with a new audience.
- The objective: Fostering 10 long-term relationships with mid-tier Instagram creators within 3 months.
Let’s have a look at another example.
- The goal: Generate more website traffic and hot leads for sales
- The objective: Work with 3 top expert influencers to produce gated authority content within the next 12 months.
It sounds simple enough, right? But wait – how do you make it happen?
Influencer relationship management is significantly less complicated than you would think as long as you have everything planned out. Jumping in without a sense of direction is worse than getting lost in a dead zone.
In the above example, you would focus on building those relationships and ultimately giving them creative freedom to help you develop campaigns that fit your brand.
You can use either the SMART or OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) frameworks for setting objectives. The above examples are done using SMART.
Relationships Don’t Have to Be Complicated
The phrase “building relationships” sounds pretty vague, and without much direction, it can be an intimidating idea.
Don’t fret – here are some steps to take that will guide you through the process.
You should however note, there are different relationship building methods and it may vary depending on the type of influencer marketing. From instance, from organic with expert influencers to paid Instagram or Youtube creators. Though, one is focused on here more.
You Need to Find Them First
There are so many influencer networks out there, it’s like finding a needle in a pile of needles, so you have to know what you’re looking for before you start reaching out.
Choosing the right influencer isn’t about how many followers someone has – instead, it’s about how many of their followers are regularly engaged. Engagement matters.
Researching topics they cover, their audience demographics, and eventually connecting with them are the way to go.
A few questions to help:
- Do you plan on finding influencers for free?
- If so how are you going to find the right influencers?
- Will you rely on social networks for your research?
- Will you rely on free influencer platforms?
- Do you have an influencer budget that can accommodate a paid platform?
Answering those questions will help you decide which path to follow and how to find the right influencers. And also, how you are going to integrate this process on an ongoing basis if thinking long-term.
Connecting with Influencers
Once you’ve selected the influencers you’re interested in working with, you can contact them via email as a way of starting a new business relationship.
Alternatively, you can follow your choices online and slowly work on building a more organic relationship with them.
Collaboration vs Direction
There is some legwork to be done here.
You need to contact the influencer of your choice and personalize your introduction with an explanation of why you think that particular individual would be best suited to your brand.
Ideally, you want influencers who you can work with as opposed to direct. Why do you ask?
Influencers like to have a certain level of involvement in a project they believe will add value to their audience. This enables them to make sure the content resonates with their audience which they have built and understand better. As opposed to just directing them to do as you want.
This does not mean that you should relinquish your brand values. This will be covered in another article.
Some questions to ask include;
- How are you going to communicate?
- How are you going to continue managing communications?
- How will the entire relationship be managed?
- What content formats do you plan on producing? (video, photos, eBook, infographic?)
You will need to decide if you want to use different tools to communicate like within the social network, email, skype. Or use a tool that manages everything in one place.
Especially if you use a long-term approach to influencer marketing which is advisable as opposed to treating it as a one-time affair.
Be Selective in Your Process
Don’t just reach out for an influencer that has a large following, and whatever you do, don’t just send a generic email.
Influencers that are worth their weight receive tons of emails, so being creative and selective in deciding on who to contact is crucial to your goals.
Be honest and direct to tell them why you want to collaborate on a given project. Show them you’re serious by being specific. Just don’t be sales-y because salespeople aren’t typically well-received by say high value influencers. More so, if you are a small brand still growing.
The Audience of Your Influencer is Your Audience
You may have a better chance of reaching out to an influencer if you also make an effort to understand their audience. Think about the influencer’s audience as the persona you may have developed as part of the marketing process.
It might feel a little like working backward as you create a persona that reflects your influencer’s current audience, but it will help when working with your influencer to create your campaign.
To get engagement, you have to create meaningful content, and what better way to do that than to build it around what the audience appreciates?
Don’t Forget About Metrics
When it comes to influencer marketing strategy, it may feel daunting to track your campaign, but the truth is that monitoring works much the same way as any other strategy.
Pay attention to see what is and what is not working via KPIs (Key Performance Index). You can make adjustments as needed even if you’re working with an influencer via open communication.
If you see social postings that have a good ROI, boost those. Remove mistakes as soon as possible when you see them.
Do A/B testing with multiple UTM links to see which variable returns a better result to optimize your marketing campaign.
So, you will need to decide;
- Which metrics to measure?
- How are you going to measure them?
- How do these metrics support your marketing goals?
- How does it support your overall business goals?
And ultimately the metrics selected should tie with your goals and objectives mentioned above.
Creating Your Influencer Marketing Strategy
Once you see it laid out, it’s much easier to develop a strategy with influencers as your marketing choice.
Start with goals and objectives, buyer personas, followed by finding the right influencers that will work with you and your brand. As well as other elements highlighted above.
After you’ve connected and are ready to implement your influencer campaign, work with influencers to optimize your approach along the way.
Remember to track and measure your ROI, so you know when and where adjustments need to be made. Especially for future collaboration efforts with existing and new influencers.
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