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What is Influencer Marketing? (And How Do You Find the Right Ones?)

What is Influencer Marketing? (And How Do You Find the Right Ones?) Blog Feature

March 23rd, 2017 min read

So, you want to implement influencer marketing into your strategy. That's awesome!

But, what exactly defines an influencer of your brand? How can they actually help you?

Influencer marketing is a form of marketing that focuses on specific key individuals whose opinions can impact the purchase decisions of others, rather than your exact buyer personas.  

Considering 51% of marketers believe they acquire better customers through influencer marketing, this is definitely a strategy that needs to be capitalized on in every industry, but defining the right influencers of your brand and how to reach them can be challenging.

So, where do you start? 

If your goal this year is to embrace influencer marketing, here is a list of tactics that will help you define the right influencers of your brand and start winning them over:

1. Define Your Objectives and Goals of Influencer Marketing

With any marketing plan, defining objectives and goals to benchmark against the success of experiments allows you to fully understand what's working and what's not. For influencer marketing, you need to define how you rate success. What do you want to happen as a result of launching this campaign?

  • More website visits?
  • More leads?
  • Better brand awareness?

From there, choosing the right influencer is based on who can help you reach those goals the best.

More often than not, we choose influencers based solely on how many people they reach (in other words, how large their audience or following is) and this is great, but you want to work with an influencer whose strengths are aligned with your campaign. If you're looking for awareness, go for someone with a large audience, but if you want traffic and leads, maybe focus on someone who leads in engagement. 

RELATED: How IMPACT's CEO Built His Influencer Network

2. Document Your Influencer Criteria

After defining your goals, developing and documenting strong influencer criteria will help organize and weed out the influencers that aren't right for this campaign, or not right for your brand in general. 

Here are four ways you can define the criteria of your influencers:

The Size of Their Audience & Reach:

Although I mentioned that reach shouldn't be the sole indicator of an influencer, it's still incredibly important.

For example, a valued customer willing to participate in a case study won't necessarily make a great influencer. If they aren't active on social media, create content, or have established expertise with an audience, they likely won't do much for your brand in terms of awareness.

Using tools, such as Buzzsumo, can give you some great insight into an influencer's reach as well as help you identify potential influencers based on keywords/industries you are researching. There's a free version of the platform, but I'd buck up and get the paid version. It's worth it!

Demographics:

Now, we're not talking about the demographics of the influencers themselves, but those of their audiences. After all, that is who you are talking to.

If your influencer is 55 and lives in CA, but their audience is an average age of 25-35-year-old, tech savvy, and loves software development and you sell software development, then this may be the right influencer for you.  

If you only take clients locally, this should be taken into consideration when building out your influencer criteria and only search for influencers who are hyper-focused on a specific location. 

Voice, Brand, & Culture:

The way your chosen influencer speaks to their audience should align with how you speak to yours. It's important that the experience an audience receives from your influencer is consistent to the experience they receive with your brand. 

For instance, if your influencer swears, wears jeans, and is very informal with their audience (like Gary V), and they visit your website or engage with a rep and they get a "buttoned-up," overly conservative vibe, this could potentially be a turn off. Why? Because their experience between the influencer and your brand are on two completely different levels. 

It's so important to align with influencers that have a similar voice and tone and culture that you've spent so much time creating.

In the same breath, you also want to make sure their content is the quality you would expect in your own writing. If it doesn't stand up to your standards, it's best to move on to someone who does. 

The Value You Can Offer Them:

If you can't provide value to the influencer, then honestly, there will be very little reason for them to work with you -- sometimes even if they used your product or service in the past.

Influencer marketing usually falls into the "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" arena. Influencers want to get something out of their time and rightfully, you want to be able to compensate them. 

Check out this article to explore the different types of value you can offer to influencers in return for their advocacy. If you find you have nothing to provide them with, they may not be the right influencer for your brand. 

3. What Is Your Story?

If your pitching process consists of emailing random people about your products or services, PLEASE STOP!

You need a story; One that promotes excitement, brings forth the value of the potential partnership, and that resonates with the influencer and their audience.

Of course, you have an idea of what you want your influencers' to promote, but you have to pitch this message in a way that builds trust and value.

When you start off the partnership by dictating the exact message/tactic you want your would-be influencer to produce, this could be a turn-off and an immediate red flag. Your best tactic is to write a compelling message about the value the audience would gain from your story. This gives them a clear-cut perspective on the benefits of working with you and why they need to partner with your brand. 

Overall, it's making it about them, not you. Pitch your message and value around their already-established voice and tone and be clear on how it relates to their audience. 

4. Building A Database of Influencers Based On Research

You've built goals and objectives, you've identified your influencer criteria and you have a really great story.

Now, you're ready to build your database of influencers. 

This is by far, the most time-consuming task because it's not just about randomly picking influencers. You have to research them, the type of content they produce, whether they already promote brands in your category, if they charge and have media kits, and of course, their voice and tone.

Some of the top tools you can use today to find and build your database, as well as research potential influencers include:

  • Buzzsumo - as I've already mentioned and if you can't tell, this is one of my favorite tools to use for researching influencers. The free version gives you just enough to gather some great data, but you'll be so happy with the free info, you'll want the paid version stat!
  • Keyhole - allows you to search for hashtags and track them in real-time with their freemium version. There is a ton of great value here, so I would spend some time digging to learn more about its other features, such as competitor tracking, influencer tracking, demographic analytics, and so much more!  
  • Brandwatch - This audiences platform employs state-of-the-art influencer technology and a live database of over 200MM Twitter users. You can identify and engage the right people and understand the networks and audience segments they influence. 
  • Linkdex - This is technically an SEO analytics SaaS, however, their author discovery is an excellent tool for finding authors and influencers in your industry. You can easily integrate public relations and outreach strategies with your SEO projects. 

So, as I end this blog on my birthday, these tips and tools are my gifts to you! Influencer marketing can add tremendous value to your content and inbound marketing strategies if done properly and these steps should help.

Influencer marketing is one of the most time-consuming initiatives you can launch, but the value and ROI can be incredible.

Have you had any success with influencer marketing? If so, we'd love to hear some success stories, so be sure to leave your comments below! You never know who you'll help by sharing your insight!

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