On Google, there are more than 14 million results for the phrase “influencer marketing”. And within those result, most of what you’ll find are “What is Influencer Marketing?” posts (P.S. you can find one from us here). But the problem is that most of these posts have a different variation of what influencer marketing is, who needs it and what you should do. Talk about confusing!
Some of the types of definitions you’ll find include:
- Using influencers to spread your message on your behalf.
- A form of marketing that focuses on specific individuals.
- Promoting services through influencers that can have an effect.
- Incorporating influencers with a large social reach into marketing.
And while some of those definitions do describe the essence of influencer marketing, our CEO Lee Odden describes it as follows:
“Influencer Marketing is the practice of engaging internal and industry experts with active networks to help achieve measurable business goals.”
So here’s the truth: Expecting that you can simply tap the shoulder or fill the bank account of an “influencer” will not help you meet your business goals. In order to truly have an IMPACT with an influencer marketing program, it’s important to sift through the buzz and develop a program that has real intent.
Influencer marketing isn’t for everyone. If we’re being honest, influencer marketing may not be a fit for every company. While it’s true that there are experts in every field, your audience may not be particularly motivated by expert content.
Working with popular people does not make your brand popular. When starting your search for industry experts, it’s essential to align with influencers that can become an extension of your brand message and whose outlook already aligns with yours. A good mix of well-known experts or “popular influencers”, internal experts, up-and-comers and other expert types make for a well-rounded program to delight your audience.
Influencer marketing should not = compensation only. The real goal should be to develop mutually beneficial relationships with experts to co-create content that works for your audience, their audience and your mutual audience to build credibility. While it’s true that you may have to pay some influencers from time-to-time, a 100% pay-to-play model is not sustainable.
There’s more to influencer marketing than awareness. Many brands are investing hundreds, thousands or even millions of dollars into influencer driven marketing programs that are simply focused on building awareness. Now don’t get me wrong, brand awareness is essential, but expert content has a place deeper in the funnel as well. While the rules differ slightly between B2B and B2C, an integrated marketing strategy that includes influencers can be used to actually generate revenue.
Putting all the pieces together isn’t always easy. Access to influencer marketing tools and marketplaces absolutely make the process much easier. However, all the tools in the world are not a replacement for a sound strategy to incorporate influencers into your digital marketing mix. Your best chances for success are to have a dedicated team or agency help you build a strategy that is based on measurable business objectives.
My team at TopRank Marketing has actively been engaging experts to co-create content for own marketing and our client’s marketing for years. We know that the road to influencer marketing success isn’t always easy, but it is attainable and if executed strategically can create many benefits for your customers, your brand and your influencers.