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What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencers. People who spend their time making content that influences other people. Thank social media for this gem of a marketing tactic and prepare yourselves as we lean in and and work this strategy to death over the next decade. So, what is it and how does it work? Maybe this will help.

By this time, you’re already following one or more of these “influencers.” Whether it’s Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or SnapChat believe me, most of us have them in our feeds. Sometimes they’re easy to spot, think Kardashians, while others are so niche you’d never know them even if they’re staring at you right in the face. The number of influencers on the web is only going to continue to grow too and, as marketers, we’ll do everything in our power to exploit them for even a hint of an impression. And that’s the reality with marketing nowadays. Everyone is always looking to play with the new shiny toy without having the first real clue about how any of it will work to enhance your marketing efforts. So be cautious and again, remember to ask a ton of questions before embarking on the plan.

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Influencers can come in the form of organizations and brands, sometimes it’s more than one person, and sometimes it’s not even a real person at all, I know, crazy huh? That’s what makes this such a fun but frustrating method of marketing. Again, use your brain and do enough research to learn more about the influencer you’re aiming to work with. If not, your marketing strategy may lack the return you’re after. 

After you’ve done your research and gotten an idea of some influencers that will help your brand or message, what next? Do they check all the boxes that will elevate your awareness around a specific topic? Will they provide value to your brand or cause some buzz which in turn starts an onslaught of Google searches? Let’s hope that’s the case but, then, how do you work with them? 

Depending on their strengths, again there are many types of influencers, maybe they’ll allow you to write a guest post for them and in turn they’ll create a video for you. Maybe they’ll do exactly what you ask them to do, but for a set price. Either way, be prepared to craft up some encouraging emails, thank you letters, and more. You may need to work with publicists or managers depending on the level of the influencer you choose. Don’t expect that simple tweet with a mention will do. There’s going to be lots of leg work to get in front of some of the most successful influencers on the web, and trust that everyone and their mothers will be trying the exact same methods so be unique and sweeten the deal by providing a benefit to them in return. 

After you’ve worked out the kinks and your ideas are finalized. Track your results. It might be cumbersome to have to add tracking codes, parameters, or even do some math but we have to track our performance. Think about the entire campaign from start to finish, what are all of the ways your marketing might be impacted? It might be combinations of data points so go slow, take your time, be patient and formulate a plan with your data teams to ensure that each step of the journey can provide you some insights into what worked and what didn’t when working with your influencer. Emails, radio spots, phone calls, and all of your social media channels will likely see some changes if your campaign was effective but you’ll never be able to get that Christmas bonus without the damn proof.

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