From A to Z: How to embrace influencer marketing

Partnering with bloggers and popular social media personalities to spread messages about your products and services can boost your brand—and sales. Here’s how to do it right.

This article originally appeared on PR Daily in October of 2017.

Influencer marketing is growing in popularity.

Some marketers can’t thrive without a good influencer campaign. Social media communication and blogging have leveled the playing field, giving everyone an opportunity to share their voices and to create and curate content.

Considering that about half (49 percent) of consumers rely on recommendations from influential social media users when making buying decisions, the strategy is an important part of today’s modern marketing mix. Eighty-six percent of marketers have used influencer marketing in thepast year.

Follow this A-to-Z guide for influencer marketing success:

Attention

Approaching and engaging with influencers can be one of the top challenges marketers face. Fifty-nine percent of marketers struggle with getting an influencer’sattention.

If you’re having a hard time securing a partnership, you might be targeting the wrong influencers or perhaps you aren’t sending compelling messages. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself why influential social media users should care about your organization and products.

B2B

Business to consumer (B2C) brands have been early adopters, because they offer natural fits for influencers. Still, B2B brand managers are using influencer marketing successfully. This can be shown by these 10 telling examples of the power of B2B influencer marketing and four examples that prove influencer marketing can work.

Conversion

Influencer marketing is a great tactic, but it has to convert for it to be successful. A recent study revealed that campaigns featuring influencers show a tenfold increase in conversionrates. Customers who do convert will stick around: Influencer campaigns achieve a 37 percent increase in retention.

Disclosure

Marketers spent between $25,000 to $50,000 per influencer marketingcampaign in 2016 with the number likely to double for 2017, as 48 percent of marketers plan on increasing their dedicated budgets.

Read up on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) disclosure requirements. The FTC has cracked down on companies that disguise paid endorsements. Not disclosing information is illegal, and a paid influencer’s content is a bad idea for your brand. Recently, the FTC warned 90 Instagram influencers to more clearly disclose their partnerships with brands.

Events

Brand-hosted events can give you opportunities to meet influencers and develop personal connections. Events don’t have to be huge. Retailers can allow influencers to try on products or borrow them for large events such as New York Fashion Week.

Find

The type of influencer(s) you need depends on the goals of your campaign(s) and how you want your brand to be perceived.

There are many tools to help you find the perfect brand ambassador, or you can check out the global list of LinkedIn influencers, which includes foremost thinkers, leaders and innovators.

Growth

Research shows Instagram influencer marketing could be a $2 billion industry by 2019. This is because Instagram has been one of the fastest-growing social media platforms. One key reasons influencer marketing is gaining steam: trust.

People want authenticity. They trust influencers, where trust in the news media is 43 percent and the trust of CEOs has dropped to an all-time low of 37 percent, according to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer. Also, most people don’t trust ads.

Handlers

Once you have identified your influencers, build relationships with them. You might deal directly with the blogger or social media heavyweight; some, though, have handlers or a management team.

Influence

Consumers have many choices about where hang out, engage and spend their money. Partner with influencers who can affect consumers’ opinions and actions and measure it across social media platforms.

Jargon

Skip the jargon and acronyms/abbreviations. People want simple, authentic language in your messaging.

Kind

There are three categories : mega-influencers, macro-influencers and micro-influencers. Huge influencers are often expensive and might have a less-engaged community than smaller influencers. Micro-influencers are cheaper and can provide a bigger effect on marketing efforts.

Long-term

Instead of a short campaign, aim for a yearlong or multi-year relationship so an influencer can get to know your brand’s voice, messaging and community. This increases authenticity and helps influencers show followers how they use your products and services in their everyday lives.

Measurement

Marketers can measure influencer campaigns’ success in terms of web traffic, content sharing numbers, revenue generated, leads and press and blog coverage. Proving ROI is the second-biggest challenge for marketers with influencer marketing. Most marketers don’t measure influencer marketing by direct sales, but rather byengagement and reach.

Niche

Seventy percent of marketers are looking to reach a niche audience. Identify influencers who are popular with a particular audience, and work with them to see what products or services are the best to promote. Consider why the niche audience followed these influencers.

Ownership

Data is one of brand managers’ most important currencies. Track consumers’ digital body language to identify the people who influence them. Digital marketing tools such as marketing automation, customer relationship management, web analytics and customer satisfaction surveys can help you obtain a single view of a client or customer.

Personalities

There are several influencer personalities, including activist, informer and authority. Based on their personalities, work with influencers individually to help them educate their followers.

Quality over quantity

Focus on a small number of influencers in the beginning; you can expand later. Don’t ignore those who are already speaking positively about your products and services. Check backlinks from your website(s). These influencers already know what you do and can be more authentic and convincing.

Reach

Seventy-one percent of marketers want to reach new audiences, and 54percent of marketers want to increase their brand’s social mediafollowing. Ensure that your influencer marketing campaigns fit your brand persona and align with your messages.

Science

Influencer marketing is equal parts art and science. Understand the data, along with the theories and principles of influence and persuasion. This can help you select the right influencers and better reach target audiences.

Tools

Tools such as BuzzSumo, Followerwonk and Klear can help you discover which content performs well online and identify top influencers in certain topics through keywords. You can also see how much authority and reach each person has.

Unity

Your marketing and PR teams must align their efforts for successful influencer marketing. Drop the turf war, and harness the power of integrated marketing and communications, especially when you work with internal and business teams.

Visuals

Visual content receives 94 percent more views than text-based onlymarketing. It’s crucial to include images, videos, infographics and the like in your marketing.

Why?

Ask yourself why you’re partnering with influencers. Eighty percent of marketers look to influencer marketing to reach a newaudience, and 70 percent want to reach a niche audience. You might want to generate early buzz around an incipient product or service.

Xenial

This word describes a friendly relationship between two parties. Successful influencer marketing requires healthy, working relationships between your organization and brand ambassadors.

Yaply

This means to do something nimbly, seen in the rise of agile marketing.

Zeal

Inject energy and enthusiasm into your influencer marketing campaigns. It can help you reach your objectives.

Matthew Royse is a digital marketing director of Forsythe Technology, a global IT firm in Chicago. A version of this article originally appeared on his blog, Knowledge Enthusiast.

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