Whether its PR, Corp Comms, Content Marketing or otherwise, chances are you're already running an influencer program. However, while influencing activity is becoming increasingly critical to businesses, traditional programs are difficult to scale, and it's hard to demonstrate their value - here are some tips to get some real results out of your influencer program.
According to a recent report from Forrester Research, B2B marketers should increase their focus on influencer identification and engagement when planning their 2013 marketing strategies. While listening to the market remains an important element of an organisation’s communications strategy, actively engaging with influencers gives marketers an opportunity to shape their discussions and in turn have a measurable effect upon key metrics. There are a number of emerging tools that can help brands supplement their online listening analytics with influencer engagement solutions.
TALK IS CHEAP
Influencers are going to talk about your brand and products whether you engage with them or not. Positive or negative, amongst advocates or detractors, there are countless conversations about your company taking place across various online and social media channels. As a result, brands are increasingly moving beyond reactive responses to these conversations and towards proactive engagement with those influential in their key sectors and areas.
IF YOU DON’T, THEN SOMEONE ELSE WILL…
Interacting with influencers allows brands to steer their conversations in a direction that can lead to increased positive sentiment for the company, both amongst these influencers and their networks. Engaging with influencers in the right ways can not only boost the amount of positive dialogue and content created around your brand, but also ensures that your brand is indeed what they are talking about – if you are not working to actively shape these conversations, your competitors may already be doing just that!
According to Forrester’s research, while 71% of B2B firms use listening tools as part of their market research, and 66% do so for brand tracking, just 40% are employing listening tools for influencer marketing purposes. This is because many existing platforms (such as Radian6 and Visible Technologies) are great for listening, but are less robust when it comes to influencer engagement. Furthermore, many of these platforms are overly focused on Twitter – as pointed out by Forrester, Twitter is far less influential than other forms of social media, for B2B audiences in particular.
THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB
There are a number of rapidly-evolving solutions out there to help drive influencer engagement. Your choice of tool will depend greatly upon what it is you are trying to achieve with your strategy. You can read more about measuring the results of influencer marketing here, or if you want to get started on your own influencer program you can download a step-by-step guide here.
by Tim Williams
There have been many interesting articles recently about the ways in which influencer marketing is being transformed by social media, such as this piece from Sean Clarke, and this article from Intelegia, which give a great background into why and how brands are adapting their communications strategies to new media channels. An issue which receives less attention however is how companies subsequently measure the results of influencer engagement. This is a major challenge for many brands, but absolutely critical to success.
MEASURE AGAINST CORPORATE OBJECTIVES
When it comes to influencer engagement, many organisations continue to rely upon a gut feel that their efforts have worked, but have no way in which to measure the real impact of these efforts. Measurement is important for helping businesses understand not only how this form of influencer engagement compares with other marketing methods, but exactly what it is they are doing to drive the effect.
BIG DATA, BIG OPPORTUNITY
Change begets change, and as new forms of interconnectivity reshape the marketing communications landscape, new measurement techniques such as large scale data analytics are playing an increasingly essential role in influencer engagement programs. Big Data can be used to uncover influencers in relevant fields and measure engagement results in real-time, allowing brands to proactively re-align their influencer marketing campaigns, and feed this information back into their engagement strategies.
BEYOND SOCIAL MEDIA
Accurate identification and profiling of influencers is a key element of an effective influencer program. Someone who is influential in the area of music might be less so when it comes to consumer electronics or Hungarian politics, regardless of the size of their Twitter following or overall influence score! It is important therefore for businesses to differentiate between influence and popularity and engage primarily with those who are influential both within the framework of a brand’s defined business areas and within a wider context than a particular social media channel. While social networks represent an excellent opportunity for brands to communicate with end users they are not often a reliable tool for measuring influence.
PLAYING THE WEIGHTING GAME
The credibility of influence-measurement services such as PeerIndex, Kred and Klout remains a contentious topic (nicely summed up here). When it comes to measuring influence, it is important to remember that the primary objective of an influencer program is not just to influence the influencer. The real objective is to influence the influencer’s network, as this is the point at which the impact of influencer engagement is both felt and measured. Knowing how much ‘weight’ various influencers have within different topics and networks not only allows organisations to identify the best influencers to engage with, but also those who punch above their weight in terms of influence – these represent the ‘low-hanging fruit’ when it comes to engagement.
BUILDING YOUR INFLUENCER ENGAGEMENT PROGRAM
For a more in-depth look at influencer marketing, including a step-by-step guide to creating your own influencer engagement program, please check out our latest white paper.