You will agree that getting a marketing program up and running quickly is a challenge!
Especially, if you want to set up a word of mouth program involving social media influencers.
Today, you are going to learn how to do just that!
Here’s the deal:
Last year, we began coaching clients how to set up their own ongoing influence marketing programs. They were looking to learn how to do it themselves so they can manage everything in-house.
It doesn’t matter if you are a consumer brand or a business-to-business (B2B) brand, this method works for either one.
Let’s get started.
Here’s What You Will Learn:
Our proven method to set up and manage an ongoing social media influencer program that gets you:
• Third party long form content about your product or brand
• Ongoing market intelligence and insights
• Favorable brand awareness and consideration
Step #1: Determine your campaign objectives
The first thing to do is understand what your firm’s business goals and objectives are for the year. Any good marketing plan is set up to underscore and enhance the business’ objectives.
Write the objectives down. Be as clear and concise as possible.
Once you do this, you must determine what the objectives of your influence marketing program are going to be.
For example, some questions to ask yourself:
1. To what extent are you looking to generate awareness about your brand or product?
2. Do you want to drive product consideration and convert leads into sales with your program?
3. Do you need to displace the competition by driving more conversation about your own brand or product?
4. Are you launching a new product and you want to drive online conversation about it beyond just the announcement phase?
Avoid generalities and be as specific as possible.
One objective you should include, no matter what, is to establish relationships with the influencers you select to participate in your program.
Building long term relationships is like planting an apple orchard.
As long as you tend to it and keep the trees healthy (your relationships) the trees will consistently yield fruit for you.
Step #2: Build your program with the goal in mind
Now that you have your priorities and objectives in order, it’s time to build out your program.
The first thing you need to do is outline a calendar of activities your company is committed to for at least the next six months.
For example, list out the following and place into a spreadsheet:
- Industry events your company plans to attend (do you plan to have a booth on the conference show floor?)
- Product launches and when they are scheduled to take place along with all launch activities (include PR – is a press release planned to announce the product launch?)
- Speaking opportunities your top level execs are scheduled to attend
- Online trainings or webinars your company plans to conduct
- Seasonal timing: back to school, holidays, etc.
Next, determine what results you’d like to see and when:
Do you want to get your product in the hands of some key influencers to review it?
Are you looking for unboxing videos?
Do you want to invite influencers to an event to cover it and what your company is doing there?
But remember where the real impact is at:
Its not just about getting content published, but having it viewed by X uniques (how many are you shooting for?), carrying through certain keywords or messages, and/or linking into sales channels.
And that’s something we work to train our clients to pursue — discrete success measures.
Or maybe you need to get insights about the marketplace and what your customers want?
Next, you want to identify the influencers that matter to your industry and who your customers trust and listen to.
Step #3: Finding the right social media influencer mix
Next we need to identify the bloggers/influencers we would like to include in our program.
I’ve recently posted about tools you can use to find influencers.
If you don’t feel like sifting through that list, here are three other quick tips to get you started:
Tip 1: Find Influencers/Bloggers through Google, use these queries in the search bar:
• Top “insert your industry” influencers
• Top “insert your industry” blogs
• Top “insert your industry” bloggers
• Top “insert your industry” experts
This method is time consuming but can be very effective. It requires you to do a manual search rather than use a third party tool.
Also, no third party tool is perfect and most likely you will need to search manually from time to time.
I use this method often myself.
Tip 2: Find candidates through BuzzSumo:
This is one of my favorites.
Head over to Buzzsumo and enter your industry topic in the search field and hit “amplification.”
For example, let’s say you’re searching for influencers in the enterprise technology space who write about cloud computing:
You can begin your search with “cloud” or “cloud computing”
As you can see, this brings up a list of blog posts and articles that have been highly shared through social media.
Next, you refine your search by hitting the “Amplification” tab and as you can see, the BuzzSumo engine pulls up a list of influential bloggers who cover the “cloud” computing topic.
Tip 3: Find candidates through AllTop:
You might be asking, why Alltop?
Sites in their data base have to be submitted to and accepted by Alltop. Most are quality sites/blogs.
Alltop doesn’t accept sites that appear spammy so the one’s you get back through search are solid.
Simply insert your keyword in the search box and hit the search button. Let’s continue to use the “cloud” keyword for our example.
Insert the keyword into Alltop’s search bar and hit search:
You’ll get a results page that looks like this. As you can see, Cloud Computing comes up in the possible topic areas:
Click on Cloud Computing to get a list of sites and blogs that cover that topic. More than likely you’ll have to hunt around a bit as many of the suggestions Alltop brings up are online trade media, i.e. journalists.
It will look like this:
Note, you will likely get some media outlets and journalists included with the results, but you can easily sift these out.
You might want to qualify and create tiers for your candidates as you organize them.
For example, your top level influencers that have a clear focus in your niche could be Tier 1, the next level where some of the influencers cover other topics as well as your focus, Tier 2, etc.
These tiers could be based on raw numbers like “reach” but I advise against that.
Marketers often make the mistake of considering an influencer as top tier solely because of raw reach numbers.
Don’t be one of them.
Instead, take a close look at your influencers by the quality of the content they produce and who they seem to interact with.
Step #4: How to qualify your candidates
If you are not already aware of social media influencers in your industry, you’ll want to consider the following to help you select who’s right for your program:
1. They are NOT a journalist or work for a media company
2. They have been writing for at least six months about the topic or area of interest. Preferably, the blogger has been writing and posting longer than this, as it takes time to build an audience
3. Review the quality of the blogger’s content and their knowledge of your industry. Does he know what he is talking about?
4. What tone of voice does the blogger use in her writing? Is she snarky or balanced and objective in her posts?
5. Does the blogger get a lot of comments to his/her posts? If so, are they quality comments or lots of trolls? Note that trolls pop up on every forum or comment thread
6. How big is the blogger’s monthly readership? Some bloggers will post this information, others are quiet about it. Try SimilarWeb to get an estimate of monthly audience numbers
7. How large is their Twitter audience? Note that Twitter numbers are only a gauge and some bloggers spend more time on it than others. Also Twitter audience numbers can be easily inflated (to the point that gaudy numbers require corroboration with other metrics)
Here’s a little extra tip:
Pay close attention to who comments on their blog posts and who follows them on Twitter.
I find these are usually good indicators of their audience make up.
Does that audience correspond with your target audience and customer set?
Now, once you have identified and qualified your influencers, place them into this spreadsheet:
Step #5: Metrics and measurement that matter
The first thing you’ll need to do is reach out to our bloggers and introduce yourself. I suggest you follow the following steps:
First, be sure to follow each one on Twitter and Facebook. Be sure to like and share some of their content that you find interesting and enlightening.
Believe me when I tell you they will notice.
This means you should actually read their content!
Just do it.
It’s a great way to learn about the influencer and what they care about.
And let’s go one step further …
Be sure to comment on their blog posts.
I’m not talking about posting some throw-away comment about the content being good, but a substantial comment, one that adds to the conversation.
Perhaps you can even ask a question? Influencers generally like it when readers ask for their advice or opinion.
Yes, its a little bit of ego stroking, but everyone can relate.
Second, after you have followed the influencers and begun to support them on their social media channels, you will need to email them individually and introduce yourself.
Whatever you do, don’t send a blast email to all of them at once to introduce yourself. It looks unprofessional – because it is – and it does not demonstrate that you value each one as an individual.
Feel free to tailor it to meet your needs. The more you personalize it and make it authentically your own, the better.
Lastly, know what metrics you want to measure success by.
Metrics should include much more than simply the number of likes and shares, although these are useful surface measures.
But they are only that: surface measures.
We’re looking for something deeper.
Since you want long form content generated about your product/brand, the following measures should be considered:
- X number of third party blog posts that are neutral to positive in sentiment
- X number of videos that are neutral to positive in sentiment
- Inclusion of critical keywords and key messages in each post
- Are backlinks (follow or nofollow) to your product or category page included in the content?
- X number of social shares the blogger generates per post and in total
Step #6: Maintain your relationships for the sake of your program
Remember my analogy of the apple orchard earlier?
You plant the trees, care for the trees and they bear fruit.
The same principle applies here.
Your new program is not something that you and your company can simply implement and forget about.
You have taken the time to introduce yourself, your company, to cultivate relationships — so don’t throw that away.
They deserve periodic communication from you — and more than likely, they want to hear from you.
Hold a conference call with your influencers once per month to let them know about new developments, but better yet, ask them questions about the marketplace. Ask them if they are hearing from readers and customers about your product or competing products.
Stay in periodic communication. Email is okay, but you might think about setting up a private Facebook group. That way it is a forum and other participants can ask questions, post links to content, you can take surveys, and more.
The upshot is that the more interactive you are, the more insights and benefits you will glean from your program.
Whatever you do, don’t treat the influencers like their disposable or only good for when you want something from them.
Now you have all the makings of your own program.
I’ve gone through with you how to strategically think about your program and align it with your larger marketing goals.
I’ve also shown you how to find influencers and qualify them.
And lastly, I’ve shown you what metrics use and how measurement works.
Now go out there and get started!