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Influencer Marketing Strategy- A 10-Step Guide for Marketers

Your influencer marketing strategy could use a little TLC – and this ten-step guide is just what the doctor ordered. You’ll find the steps for constructing a solid influencer marketing foundation as you enhance audience understanding and create benchmarks to measure your efforts against.

Let’s go!

#1. Learn What You Don’t Know About Your Brand  

There’s lots you don’t know about how your brand is perceived and it’s time you found out! Category influencers have a sense of your overall standing, but their personal preferences can get in the way here as well. They are significant voices in your industry, but they do not represent every voice.

Your brand needs social listening to sort out where you stand in the big picture. To see what is being said about your brand and the emotions being expressed in relation to your brand as well.

For example, who knew fashion made so many people sad?

who knew fashion made so many people sad, yet that's what trending conversations tell us

Clicking the term reveals insight around a “Fashion Nova” event that many were sad to miss, and other reasons people were sad, including:

View whatever brand intel you uncover against the conversations that category influencers are having, and see if any areas match up. These are things you may want to focus on first, or they may inspire future marketing efforts.

#2. Explore Category Through Eyes of Influencers

Your category is in a constant state of flux whether or not you realize it. The main players may stay the same, but there are lots of disruptors on the fringe. And you can be pretty sure they’re capturing data around where the category is headed, just like you. They’re also attempting to get out in front of the next big thing, whatever that “thing” may be. And you don’t want them to discover it first.

Social monitoring keeps brands (both established and fringe brands, alike) apprised of trends and upcoming challenges. And influencers are a big part of this category conversation.

It’s their job to be aware of emerging players and trends in the space, of course. And you can be certain they are.

Being in constant contact with these voices is a key engagement strategy. It will keep you in the habit of reviewing what these folks are saying and who they’re talking to/about. This decreases the likelihood of your brand being hit with any category disruptors or wild trends that come out of left field. And the influencers will love being in touch with you, as it may result in work for them some day.

#3. Rethink Audience Influencers with Psychographic Insight

Audiences can’t be broken up along traditionally demographic demarcations anymore. Or at least they shouldn’t be. So if you’re still doing that – stop.

Real people listen to other “real people” – even those they don’t know. Just as long as they aren’t brands. People have a strong distrust for most things brand marketing. This makes influencer marketing super important for any brand to master. Audiences resent and are skeptical of online advertising.

But can’t they can also be skeptical/distrustful of influencers? Yes, they can be. What’s a brand to do?

Don’t just go for the obviously popular people in your category, search out every day influencers who match up with psychographic insight around a variety of segments! Psychographic data tells us the feelings, attitudes and commonalities across multiple demographic boxes that brands were previously trapped inside.

For example, you likely don’t need a baby boomer, Gen X and Millennial to speak to your sports enthusiast segment – but you may want a funny, every day person, knowledgeable in the sports space who has proven, exceptional audience engagement:

you may want a funny, every day person, knowledgeable in the sports space who has proven, exceptional audience engagement for your influencer marketing

Everyday influencers are amazing for promotions. Just ask Geico or Dove. And everyday audiences provide them.

#4. Review Competitors’ Influencer Strategy

Competitors are watching what your brand does and, at the least, have simple Google alerts set around keywords associated with your brand. And odds are, you have at least one competitor whose social listening game should frighten you.

Getting a handle on influencers in your category – and who they’re working with – will tell you lots about the level of social analytics sophistication you’re dealing with.

Have competitors partnered with big name influencers who maybe aren’t super authentic? It happens. And it matters more than you think.

Are competitors connected with some enviable micro-influencers? If so, who are they targeting with these influencers? Knowing this can reveal new audiences for you as well. You can, in effect, hijack their research – or at least use it as a starting point for your own.

What are the age, gender, interests, professions, ethnicity and bio terms of a given audience? It should all be part of your strategy.

What are the age, gender, interests, professions, ethnicity and bio terms of a given audience? It should all be part of your influencer strategy

And do these influencers have equally influential friends that you can collaborate with? Competition is good among influencer friends – and can be potentially viral, depending on the depth of the brand rivalry!

#5. Who Is Talking About Specific Topics

There’s a difference between category segments, brand segments and topic segments. You can have different, yet overlapping, audiences for each. And it’s important to get comfortable with all of them.

And looking at the differences seen here, shows why. We see very different, and somewhat overlapping influencers talking at a category (gaming), brand/gaming format (PC) and further fractured by topic/game (Rust) perspectives:

We see very different, and somewhat overlapping influencers talking at a category, brand:gaming format and further fractured by topic:game perspectives

This intel will be essential as you put everything together to create your “asks” for influencers.

There will be influencers that are too general to reach your niche segments, but are fantastically engaging from a general awareness standpoint.

And some niche influencers will be beneficial beyond your narrowly defined topic, but will only take your brand so far. Each serve a purpose and enhance your credibility with key audiences.

#6. What Segments Are Saying

Same as above, but expanding beyond category, brand and topics audiences, to tie in category, brand and topic conversations.

Same as above, but expanding beyond category, brand and topics audiences, to tie in category, brand and topic influencer and audience conversations

And this is essential influencer planning data as well, of course. “Giveaways” and “competitions” are hot topics across the board, but the language to reach each changes.

Some are huge “Twitch” fans, while others are sticking with YouTube and others care less, but want to “support small streamers” wherever they are. The options to pursue there (and to power your influencer selection) are myriad

#7. Where Segments Are Interacting the Most/Least  

And where are these conversations happening? Don’t make assumptions. Your audience might be on Reddit, for all you know – and you won’t, till you start exploring.

where are these influencer and audience conversations happening? Don’t make assumptions

And not every influencer is suited to (nor active) on every social site or forum. And it’s important to feel that part out as well.

You can evaluate an influencers channel activity and engagement success rate:

You can evaluate an influencers channel activity and engagement success rate

#8. Connecting the Dots   

So you’ve considered and explored all of the following – all through the influencer marketing lens:

  • What you don’t know about your brand, audience, category
  • Competitor intel you hadn’t considered before around who they’re marketing to and why, also the level of social analytics sophistication you’re up against
  • A variety of influencer types you’d likely need based on psychographic intel
  • The relevant category, brand and topic audiences and conversations that are happening right now
  • Where segments are interacting and where influencers could be most beneficial to your brand

And now you’re trying to make sense of it all.

Don’t overcomplicate things. You know (from the data) what you need to focus on, where and the relevant language to use. Reach out to influencers you’ve identified and would like to partner with to run them through a deeper vetting process. You should ask them:

  • Which brands they’re worked with in the past (to see if they’re focused in your niche or all over the place – which you’ll already know from vetting them in NetBase as we can go back 27 months).
  • How they’d describe their personality online (again, you’ll know this already from investigating them in your social analytics tool, but this answer can be revealing)
  • Why they feel they would be a good fit for your brand (where they’ll likely reveal lots of additional insight to confirm your analyses of the space!).

Create topic searches around new areas your brand has yet to explore in-depth, as you’ve just discovered these areas thanks to social listening and influencer vetting. 

#9. Creating Plan of Attack  

You have so much influencer marketing intel floating around in your brain right now – and hopefully on an easy-to-use dashboard too.

Be sure to keep the power you’ve harnessed with these influencers top-of-mind. Relevant influencers can sway an online conversation. They can attract target audiences toward or away from a specific trend or topic, helping these concepts gain or lose momentum accordingly.

And once you set something in motion, it takes on a life of its own. So think every campaign through to completion, with variables (including detractors) firmly in mind. Having a list of known detractors and monitoring them as you go is wise as well:

Having a list of known detractors and monitoring them as you go is wise as well

#10. Measuring Results

This is where things get fun, because you get to show off your amazing results to stakeholders. And there will be results a-plenty, as you’ve done such meticulous work in steps 1 through 9, saving analyses as you go for later exploration

You have data around mentions, sentiment, brand passion, engagement, channel metrics and so much more. And dashboards that organize not only influencers, but also influential, random authors you’ll want to keep an eye on, like this:

dashboards that organize not only influencers, but also influential, random authors you’ll want to keep an eye on

If you haven’t set up your intel gathering expedition as we’ve gone along here, get in there and get to it! There’s really a world of data points to capture

The ability to communicate success with meaningful, specific metrics that tie back to your insight is precisely what brand managers need in order to secure more budget for their efforts. And we all know that’s typically a struggle. Reach out and we’ll show you how it’s done!

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