You have 200,000 Twitter followers – you are an influencer right? Wrong - In today’s tech-savvy, socially-enabled generation, marketing influence can often be misinterpreted thorough social media statistics alone. Marketing influence should not be characterized by the number of Twitter followers a person, or brand have and/or the frequency in which they automatically repost and repurpose content.
Real marketing influence is a byproduct of credible and authentic personalities (people) and sources (content), and the best marketers and brands know how to combine human, psychological and behavioral best practices and then utilize technology to further enable them to understand, connect and engage with their audience of influencers.
Marketing influence can be defined as many things – from simply connecting with a person to impacting a defined and specific business outcome – but regardless of your goal or your technique (inter-personal or technological) there is a formula for success.
Below are nine steps that you can use as a guide for marketing INFLUENCE for blending interpersonal skills with social research and online tactics:
1. Identify. Before you conduct any marketing influence outreach make sure you are targeting the right people, at the right level and for the right reason. Building your target list is critical to outreach success. For example, ensure that you segment influencer types in terms of factors such as:
- Academic high -level market influencer
- Brand ambassador (customer, product and sales enablement)
- Community influencer (a specific topic or influence in a certain segment of market)
Build your marketing influence campaign accordingly and map your marketing influence strategy to key goals such:
- Brand evangelism and sharing of insights
- Specific corporate, product and customer success/sales goals
- Specific metrics - a blog post, a joint content proposal, a business recommendation or a specific ‘relationship build’ goal
It is important to understand what type of marketing influence you want to have and what type of marketing influence is the best match. Many hybrid marketers target influencers across multiple persona types while for others specific individuals can be mapped to certain influencers.
2. Navigate. Navigating your way through to the right influencer takes a concerted effort. Many marketing influence campaigns are misdirected when they identify the wrong influencers based on researching vanity metrics and hence actually nurture the wrong relationship.
Social media and user-generated content has meant that access to influencer connections are more visible and accessible than ever before. However navigating your way through to the right connection requires researching and developing, not just one, but multiple relationships through first, second and sixth degree connections.
3. Follow. The development of social media tools, monitoring systems and engagement platforms has empowered marketers to ‘follow’ as well as lead. Technology has fueled the growth of influencer marketing to such an extent that you can follow, monitor and listen to what your market, target influencers, brands and customers saying.
Platforms such as Twitter, Hootsuite, LinkedIn, Brandwatch and Radian6 are great monitoring systems that help bridge the gap between ‘follow’ and ‘listen’.
In this article, here, Lee Odden from Top Rank takes us through over 22 social media marketing tools that help source connections and follow influencers.
4. Listen. The ability to follow is easy but the ‘ability to listen’ is one of the most vastly underused tactics in this industry. Technology can help you identify and engage with influencers, but the ability to listen is a human/behavioral discipline. Technology can deliver the insight but it is up to you to digest it. This is especially the case in marketing influence.
Just like sales – successful marketing influence relies on listening. If you don’t really understand your target influencers in terms of what they say, what they like, how they feel and what they want, then your outreach and engagement campaigns become little more than spam. This is where social media monitoring technology adds real value to your influencing campaign.
Return on Ignorance
As marketers we, quite rightly, focus on ROI in terms of Return on Investment. However one of the main reasons why influencer campaigns, and business initiatives as a whole, fail is due to “Return on Ignorance” – the cost of not listening.
- Understand your target influencer ‘inside and out’ and work out what is in it for them, (WIIFT) not just you.
- Understand your target influencers’ company and brand
- Understand your target influencers’ market and key challenges
- Spend 60% of your time reading, consuming information and monitoring what is happening in market
- Assign 2 to 3 hours a day to read, listen and understand
- Utilize your knowledge – see next step
As mentioned earlier in the article – marketing influence is based on relationships. Relationships, like links, are actually earned. marketing influence is not bought, and building your influencer database takes hard work, dedication and time. Utilize all data, assets and information at your disposal to build up profiles of influencers you would like to engage with.
Work out what is in for you and what is in it for them and begin to think about how best to engage.
To maximize business impact from your influencer campaigns only engage once you have established a meaningful goal, story or project of mutual interest. “Random acts of engagement” due to the proliferation of social media serve little purpose other than the individual ego.
As per the guidelines above - ensure that you have identified the right person or brand, listen and understand the needs and wants and have a message/story/goal that will resonate with your target. For example, if your goal and reporting metric (see evaluation) of success is number of followers, number of contacts, amount of content you distribute then you are actually on the wrong influencer track.
Engaging and building influencer relationships is part art and part science. Utilize all online tools at your disposal but ensure your ‘influencer mix’ includes:
- Online engagement – see the conversation prism below
- Telephone conversations (yes telephone!)
- Conferences and conference meet-ups
- In-person meetings
- First, second and third degree meetings
- Leading industry events
- Networking events
- Social engagements
7. Nurture. The key to developing long lasting and productive outcomes from influencer outreach lies in the ‘nurture’ stage.
There is a huge difference between a contact and a relationship. Using social media as an example, everyone in today’s new media ecosystem can establish a contact by simply using LinkedIn, Twitter or any other social media platform. However, marketing influence is not a contact - influence is an outcome of a relationship.
8. Convert. The art of persuasion is a discipline of which sales is based upon and being a marketer, influencer or thought-leader actually means you are a sales person at heart. The most successful marketers and influencers actually have strong sales backgrounds.
In this Fast Company article Kevan Lee shares a wealth of insight into the psychology of marketing influence, persuasion and conversion.
To get the best results from any influencer campaign balancing marketing and sales skills is essential. Be it a company, individual or departmental effort sales and marketing (this applies to all marketing in general) should be aligned. Ignore the myths and focus on a result.
As with everything in marketing balancing soft measures of marketing influence (i.e. a connection, a conversation or objective) and hard metrics (i.e. a result such as an asset, sale or upsell) defines how you measure success.
9. Evaluate. As with any marketing campaign ensure that you take time to step back and evaluate your success in line with 8 points above.
The bottom line is that marketing influence can be conducted and measured in multiple ways. For one person that could mean spending $100,000 on a broad reaching conference, campaign or asset and gaining a 4X return. For others it could mean spending $1000 on a strategic, individual influencer project and landing a $2 million dollar contract.
Influencer marketing success can be evaluated in many different ways depending upon the scope of and aim of your approach. Smart marketers utilize and evaluate marketing influence success across multiple avenues – some they share and some they don’t.
Liked this post? Check out our new piece on SEO marketing strategy.