Why do some brands seem too intimidated to own influencer marketing in-house? Perhaps because the term has gotten too sexy and, therefore, too intimidating to add to their already hectic marketing strategy. Influencer marketing works best when a brand owns their relationships and brings the strategy in-house. This overwhelms a lot of marketers in theory, and they resist adopting this type of marketing when, really, every brand is capable of building a network of influencers right now. To get you started, this guide outlines the most crucial steps for brands who want to build a network of influencers.
Get a Pulse on Your Current Network
Unless your brand is new to the scene, you should have a list of happy customers or people who have written about you in the past. Gather up all these people into a list, and find the blog posts, forums, social posts, etc. in which these influencers say good things about your brand.
If you have a list of “brand advocates” who have taken it upon themselves to tell your brand they’re happy with you, they’re offline mentions are extremely valuable. Include them in your influencer list—though opinion on this tactic varies, so it’s your call.
Now that you have your list of self-identified brand fans, reach out to them personally, tell them something interesting and new about your brand, and propose a new way to partner. It can be as simple as asking them if you can send them your latest product. These are the easiest and strongest relationships you’ll ever form—they already are telling you they love your brand.
Identify Niche Influencers
It’s time to find new people to introduce your brand who have an active voice in your space. The easiest way to identify influencers that you should partner with is to take a look at your buyer personas. Think about the type of bloggers or influencers these buyer personas would seek out to ask questions about a product. Consider which type of influencers these consumers would follow on a regular basis.
Next, list niches within verticals of influence. Keep in mind that influencers tend to specialize in something pretty specific, which makes them so influential on their topic to begin with. Niches are easiest identified by past post topics. For example, I may know that I need to work with influencers who specialize in interior design. To earn the most effective media possible, I would brainstorm some niches or additional topics within that vertical that would tell me that an influencer is a very specific fit for my brand. I may look for things like:
- Sustainable living
- DIY design
- Non-toxic home goods
Create an Opt-In Hub
One of the easiest ways to ensure that your brand continues to gather new voices is to have a place where influencers can opt-in to be part of your network. Once influencers start seeing their friends posting cool things about your brand and know they are a fan, they will often reach out or look at your site to see if they can apply to be in your network. Therefore, it’s very important to make it easy for people to self-identify as someone who loves you and wants to work with your brand.
Have a place on your homepage where influencers can apply to be in your network, and be sure to share the link to your landing page on your social channels and in your newsletters. Ask for crucial information like blog URL, links to social channels, and most importantly, why they like your brand. This will make the vetting process much easier.
Plan Creative Campaigns
Once you start to develop ongoing, long-term relationships with influencers, product launches and campaigns becomes easier than ever. Plan ahead and capitalize on seasonality, holidays, and different influencer affinities to create the most creative campaigns possible.
Remember that your job is to work with influencers to earn a story, rather than a boring post that simply mentions your brand. Find ways to integrate your brand into an influencer’s life in a way that sparks their audiences’ interest. At the end of the day, that’s the point, right?
Here are some ideas to get your wheels turning, but I recommend you look to brands in your space and brands that you love in your own life to keep the creative ideas flowing!
- Run a giveaway.
- Challenge them to use your product for an event.
- Organize an in-person event, or give influencers resources to run an event.
- Send photo-worthy assets.
- Equip influencers with something for their next vacation, project, or life event.
- Send influencers a “sneak peek” of your product before it’s released.
Nurture That Network
Nurturing relationships should be nothing—we do it with our real lives all the time. The influencer and consumer voice is priceless, so a good rule of thumb is to make sure you’re communicating with them about once a month and making yourself available for questions.
Here are some ways to keep in touch so you’re not sending a boring email every time:
- Organize a piece of research or survey that they would find interesting, and have them weigh in.
- Send them surprise gifts or birthday gifts.
- Send them an email gift card.
- Share their content on your own social channels.
- Ask them if they’ll post on your blog or social channels.
- Keep them informed about brand and product updates.
- Personally reach out and ask for their opinions and input concerning your brand.
Track and Analyze
When it comes to measuring influencer marketing, all brands approach it differently, and you want to develop a goal before you start. Metrics speak to the goal, and that’s why the process tends to vary. The most common ones include:
- Growing influencer network: number of influencers in network, number of contents earned
- Increasing brand awareness: Traffic from earned posts to site, social shares of earned posts
- Brand engagement: Social shares of earned posts, comments on posts, number of influencers opting into network
- Sales: Traffic back to site, conversion rate
- Stay educated! This type of marketing is constantly evolving and changing, so make sure to follow this blog, your favorite marketers, and similar brands in your space.