The rise of social media has democratized the concept of being an “influencer.” For businesses, this term used to mean a mainstream journalist or analyst. Those two categories are still important, but today it also means anyone who has cultivated a large following on social media and is perceived as authoritative and trustworthy.
These influencers can be a powerful part of a B2B or B2G marketing strategy. As detailed in this Maximize Social Business article, many studies have documented the power these influencers can wield with prospects. Just one example – Forrester Research reports that 85% of B2B decision-makers rely on trusted online communities when researching business technologies.
Content marketing positions a company perfectly to gain the attention and cultivate a relationship with influencers. What better way to impress something than to demonstrate your expertise in a particular industry through consistent, high-quality content? Outside of ethically fraught and shallow “pay-for-play” relationships, I’d suggest that’s the only way to truly build lasting relationships with your specific influencer community.
A quality content marketing effort is a must, but then exactly how do you go about influencer marketing? The Maximize article lays out six logical steps:
1. Research who your followers are, and where they are in social media
Now there’s an obvious starting point! This process can be done manually, but most will quickly need some tools. The article recommends a tool called Little Bird. Last summer I wrote about a social analytics company that impressed me, Simply Measured.
2. Create an influencer marketing strategy
Decide what your objectives will be and define what success will look like. This could be increased traffic to your site, brand awareness or sales leads.
3. Understand what your influencers are talking about online
Follow them obviously, and use the topics and themes they are talking about to guide your content marketing editorial calendar.
4. Engage authentically with your influencers
This step shouldn’t be too hard if the content you’re producing is high-quality and exhibits your thought leadership in a way that provides value to your visitors/followers. If it’s warmed over press releases and collateral, then you’ve got no chance with influencers.
5. Use paid social media to amplify relevant influencer marketing content
My clients started doing this in 2015, and it can be extremely effective and cost-efficient.
6. Measure and adjust
Do this by using the metrics for success determined by your strategy. For high volume social interactions, a monitoring tool makes things far easier. One of my clients uses NUVI.
Another good source of information on these tactics is an e-Book created by Hubspot and Traackr, an influencer identification company. Here’s the link — registration required.
An influencer marketing program needs to be part of any company’s overall marketing strategy. And if that company has a good content marketing strategy in place, adding an influencer component requires just a few tactical steps.
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