Back in August, we published a pretty awesome white paper: The Definitive Practical Guide to Influencer Relationship ManagementWe brought together industry experts from marketers to the influencers themselves, to create a step by step guide with best practice and frameworks to help you nail your influencer marketing strategy. 

This guide is for anyone in Marketing, Communications or indeed business who would like to improve brand equity and/or market share by working with influencers in a 2-way partnership to provide value to the influencer community and wider marketplace.

This guide was so detailed, that we’ve been releasing one blog post per week on each step. Last week this blog post drew to a close, meaning you should be all set to get going with your strategy. We covered:

We’re going to bring this series to a close by summarising our 14 conclusions and pearls of wisdom.

Have something valuable to offer influencers

Influencer relations is the practise of building and nurturing organic relationships with influencers based on an equal value exchange and partnerships, between the brand and the influencer. An equal value partnership is  where the end goal is to deliver value to your target audience through influencers’ networks.

Don’t skip the research stage

It is very tempting to pace through the initial research and planning stages and jump straight to where you can take action and get results. However, it is imperative that prior to any influencer engagement, you complete an essential research stage both externally and internally to gauge the potential outcomes you can achieve, prepare your organization to maximize the opportunity and lay the foundations for success.

Outline your objectives

It is extremely important that you understand exactly why you’re doing influencer marketing in the first place and what you want to achieve. Decide what your influencer marketing program business objective is and then create six KPIs around:

  • Outbound Engagement
  • Inbound Engagement
  • Event Activation
  • Building Relationships
  • Advocacy
  • Outcome Measurement

Assess the market opportunity

Understand if the level and scope of opportunity within your market place. Assess competitor strategies, your brand strength & quality and level of internal resource to decide your program strategy. This assessment will also inform whether you are focusing on a paid, earned or owned media approach or a combination of the two.

Influencer discovery and segmentation is crucial

Program success heavily relies on optimum influencer discovery, segmentation and selection. These exercises ensure that you’re targeting and engaging with the right influencers in the most effective way.

Even for very proven, public companies like NETSCOUT, harmonizing our views on important topics with known experts, analysts and influencers is fundamentally important.  In the B2B space generally, I find Onalyca’s views, practical guides and thought leadership helpful in my pursuits of finding the right voices that matter.

 Steve Horneman, Field Marketing at NETSCOUT

Influencers’ reach is not everything

The golden rule of influencer discovery is to look for individuals with high relevance and topical resonance rather than using reach as a standalone metric. High follower numbers does not guarantee influence, it merely highlights popularity. Micro-influencers may have less reach than macro influencers, but they often have a stronger connection with their audience and much higher engagement.

Think organic first

Look for opportunities to engage with influencers organically rather than jumping straight to paid. Paying influencers immediately changes the dynamic from a mutual exchange to a competitive transaction. This shift cannot be unbroken, you will need to keep paying, or the influencer will turn down opportunities. If you put the effort in and have the right program values influencers will be more keen to work with you.

Think hybrid second

Use a hybrid model of organically building relationships with influencers by co-creating content and then paying to promote your content.

Build relationships offline too

Managing your top engagement targets with a white-glove approach whilst engaging with the wider influencer community on social media is a very effective and complementary strategy. Build your relationships offline and use social media to track relevant conversations, amplify your message and sustain your relationships.

Slow and steady wins the race – start small

You do not have to immediately identify and build relationships with hundreds of influencers; start with 5-10 influencers. An influencer marketing strategy cannot be rushed. Practice makes perfect – nail your approach first, right the way from identifying your select group of influencers, through to effectively engaging, building relationships and fostering brand advocacy. Replicate and scale your success to an even larger pool of influencers.

Have transparency with influencers

When engaging influencers be clear on your value proposition, and what you expect from them in return. This will make arrangements far more comfortable and black & white for your brand and the influencer. You need to provide the same clarity to internal program stakeholders on your expected contribution and the program objective. This reduces ambiguity and ensures that time, money and resources are used effectively.

Expect lack of control

Influencer marketing requires sometimes passing the buck to influencers. You’re also embarking on something very new. Plan for things to go wrong; anticipate shifting goalposts, deadlines and lots of twists and turns. Go with the flow but assert control over the process where you can.

“WITH INFLUENCERS YOU MAY LOSE CONTROL OF YOUR MESSAGE. BUT WHAT YOU LOSE IN CONTROL, YOU GAIN IN TRUST.”

Tim Hughes, Social Selling Influencer & Co-Founder of Digital Leadership Associates

Relationships with influencers are partnerships

Remember that the objective is to influence the influencers to more effectively communicate your messages to your target audience. This has to be done through partnerships rather than selling directly to the influencers.

Influencer marketing is much more than correctly identifying someone and contacting them about your idea. Influencer marketing is creating and sustaining mutually beneficial relationships with the top minds in your industry.

Rachel Miller, Influencer Marketing Manager at TopRank Marketing

Allow your brand to evolve

EXPERIMENT, LEARN & IMPROVE – Find your sweet spot! Influencer marketing is new to many brands, and every brand is different. Experimenting and making mistakes along the way is good, so long as you take this in your stride, learn and improve.

To download the full white paper, click the button below.

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