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Influencer Marketing has gone from “Influencer what?” to a breakout market category experiencing hypergrowth¹. As someone committed to customer success at Traackr, I spend a lot of time talking with our customers about managing and measuring influencer marketing in their businesses, plus conquering any hurdles in the process.
These businesses range from global consumer goods companies, to major enterprise technology companies with comprehensive product suites, to advertising and PR agencies of all sizes working on behalf of their clients. Yet across these disparate types of businesses, three common challenges have emerged:
Social media has changed everything in marketing, and thus old methods and expenditure models simply do not work in this new media type.
Marketers don’t know how to get the right data to measure and prove positive business impact. Old “ad biz” models simply don’t hold up when applied to a new culture that holds marketers accountable for tracking impressions all the way through to revenue.
Practitioners constantly ask for guidance around what to do each day of the week, how to engage with influencers, and how to influence them to influence others. When the rubber hits the road, this is what really matters.
In order to succeed at influencer marketing, whether you’re a Traackr customer or just getting started with this new practice, you must understand what is standing in the way--and then make the right changes to improve and execute. That’s why I’ve broken down the obstacles and provided a framework to help you get there.
The new reality of social media has created an always-on, connected world. Brands now have the ability to engage directly with customers, prospects, and influencers--anytime and anywhere. With this omnipresent connectivity and access to available public data comes the ability to track and measure every step in the process, allowing for instant measure of ROI. This is a far cry from the prior methods of advertising and marketing, as one could not measure actual impressions (rather than just estimated), and tracking those impressions to actual sales was borderline impossible. The prior innovations of email marketing and demand generation changed this result, and subsequently changed the expectation for everything in marketing. Advertising, and marketing, are forever changed, and yet are full of new opportunity to prove and demonstrate real, measurable value.
In my engagement with customers at Traackr, I have noticed a unique and correlated pattern in methods, knowledge, and skills for those who have succeeded in influencer marketing. Regardless of role, turf, or expertise, the customers who are the most successful are those who recognize that influencer engagement is similar to the tried-and-true engagement methods and goals for PR, AR, and Communications (earned influence), rather than pay-to-play methods often deployed in advertising.
The methods of gaining earned influence, and the “always-on” engagement method utilized in PR/AR/Comms with journalists and analysts, have demonstrated the most measurable success for Traackr customers, including CPG companies, agencies, and enterprise technology companies.
By thinking of Influencers as “informal” analysts and journalists, and then leveraging the methods used in PR to earn influence with those influencers, our customers have seen the most immediate and sustainable success. The methods work, even if you are not in PR. Although everything has changed, the rules of engagement have stayed the same.
The prior rise of email marketing and demand generation set the expectation that everything in marketing was measurable.
Social media impact, and (most importantly) influence and influencer impact, now also help extend that metaphor of ubiquitous measurability. However, in the case of measurement of both content and influence(rs), it is important to first separate the signal from the noise, and thus be able to sort and subsequently analyze the impact of the signal.
The only way to actually separate that signal from the noise is via context. This means using specific keywords and terms that give you something by which you can sort all the content, posts, and individual influencers in the context of their importance, value, and rank relative to those keywords and terms. Those keywords and terms are selected by you; they are the context around which the value of the influencer pivots.
It really doesn’t matter if an influencer has a large audience; what matters is the size of their audience, and the scope of their interaction with that audience, relative to two key impact variables driven by those keywords, analyzed in Traackr:
The third measure analyzed in Traackr is Reach. Reach is a measure of the Influencer’s total audience. It is critical to not view Reach in the abstract, as an influencer with a large audience, but with low audience engagement and low topic relevance, is not a very useful influencer for you and your efforts. Conversely, Reach is the multiplier effect on an Influencer’s value to you if you find that Influencer with a high Resonance and Relevance score.
(High Resonance + High Relevance) x Reach = Influencer Gold
The most common pain point I hear is “How do you do Influencer Marketing?”. This is a newer field; the term did not even exist five years ago. Yet, as discussed above, the practice and methods of executing a successful Influencer Marketing program do resemble a known discipline in the field: the disciplines of Public Relations (PR), Analyst Relations (AR), and Communications.
What is different from these well-understood disciplines is that the Influencer may, or may not, hold a formal role relative to the area in which they are influential. The archetypes of Influencers in social media are far more than just journalists and analysts, however we have noticed that there is a distinct pattern to these Influencer archetypes:
So, how do you engage with these Influencers, given their archetype? How do you discover them, engage with them, and manage the relationship to move them from unaware all the way to advocate? And how do you track progress and results along the way?
The Traackr Framework for Influencer Marketing
Given this heavy-duty question, we decided to develop a methodology for successfully executing Influencer Marketing at scale. The Traackr Framework for Influencer Marketing spells out the operational process for delivering success in this field, whether or not you are using Traackr as the tool to execute your IM program. So here ya go… ;)
If you are already in PR this should look familiar; now just applied to a larger and less formal audience. If you are not in PR, then feel free to steal the methods from your PR and Communications colleagues.
So, yes, Influencer Marketing is different, although pretty similar to other disciplines (PR, AR, and Communications), and applied to a larger audience. Influencer Marketing is a different beast simply as the result of social media itself being a different beast. Getting your measures of success correct is the most important part. Don’t put audience size on a pedestal unless that audience size is evaluated in the context of Resonance and Relevance.
Finally, the methodology for executing your Influencer Marketing program and related tasks and tactics is actually rather simple, however it requires rigor and diligence in order to succeed. Influencer Marketing is not magic, and it is one of the most effective and measurable methods to deliver meaningful impact in your marketing, communications, and outreach goals. You got this...
What's your biggest obstacle with influencer marketing? Leave a comment or send a tweet. Let's start talking!