Influencer marketing is a well-known, and perhaps, mature channel for many content marketers.
Unfortunately, though, a significant swath of marketers is not leveraging influencers in the marketing mix. This is ill-advised because studies show that every dollar invested in influencer marketing returns $6.50 in value.
For many marketers who use influencer marketing there seems to be a gap in understanding of what influencer marketing constitutes. Some believe it is a roundup post featuring industry experts and their insights. Others believe it’s an all-encompassing marketing strategy with a refined goal and many prudent tactics.
Which is it? It can be all of them at the same time. However, which path a marketer chooses can have a significant impact on marketing metrics, and, ultimately, the bottom line.
In this post, I help you make sense of two influencer marketing tactics – the roundup blog post and the influencer-authored blog post. They’re based on my case study of NewPro Containers, which featured influencer marketing as its marketing strategy (not a one-off tactic) and tracked its performance all the way to see a 35% increase in year-over-year revenue in 2017.
I’ve created simple-to-implement checklists to help in the execution of your owned media side of influencer marketing. They give the steps to use earned and paid media promotion, too. Using earned and paid media to promote influencer content helps influencers feel more confident in the value of their work. This added validation can keep them coming back to contribute more.
These checklists aren’t comprehensive to a full influencer marketing strategy; instead they cover two of the most valuable tactics:
The influencer roundup post is often the quickest win in the tactical quiver. It’s simple in concept: Feature the thoughts of several industry influencers in a blog post or some other form of content to drive earned media traffic and brand awareness. The steps listed in the checklist mirror the ones taken in the NewPro Container project, a shining example of what success looks like in a campaign. Following these steps will give you the best chance for success.
A blog contributor program should be familiar to content marketers. Building a blog by an industry community requires sustained and constant efforts but produces some of the biggest value in influencer marketing. This approach can be quite fruitful for a brand because each contributor has an audience and a vested interest in their content being successful. In addition, such authors can bring prestige and credibility to the brand’s content.
The award-winning publication, Relevance, which I helped co-found, was created on these ideas. The checklist below outlines how to recruit industry influencers to write original content for a publication or blog.
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One row of each checklist consists of each step’s deliverable, tasks associated with the deliverable, who owns it, and due date. The column consists of each individual deliverable required to execute that tactic.
These checklists, which are produced from the successful case study, offer three major value propositions for marketers:
- Proven recipe for success
- Speed to proficiency
- Centralized tracking
It’s also important to note what these checklists are not – a one-size-fits-all proposition. They’re meant to be the starting point for success across most industries. The purpose is to know the steps that need to be done, when they’re due, and who’s responsible for them. Remember, the goal is to replicate proven models and constructs of success in influencer marketing.
Executing the program: Similar steps applied differently
Although an influencer roundup post and blog contributor program are unique influencer marketing methods, many of the steps are the same. I’ll explain how to apply the steps, calling out the differences for each approach.
Determine the topic
Identify the “what” by figuring out which topics work for your goals and the influencers’ expertise. If you’re working on an influencer roundup post, seek input for a single topic or a few topics. If you’re working on a blog contributor program, look for influencers who cover a broader set of topics.
Determine who you want to ask to participate. Make sure the influencers show an inclination to produce the type of content needed, especially if you’re working on a blog contributor program. For example, if the blog features videos, then try to identify influencers who are using video.
Here are some tips on how to find relevant influencers:
- Use digital tools like BuzzSumo, Little Bird, DemandJump, Cision, or the software du jour.
- Explore Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other social sites by hand.
- Recruit from conferences, networking events, and your customer base. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone.
Added step for blog contributor program: Paying top influencers for their content can be the jumpstart needed to more easily recruit. Set a budget before your outreach.
Draft and send outreach emails
Make it as simple as possible for influencers to contribute:
- Write a short email.
- Tell them who you are, why you’re emailing, what’s in it for them, and give clear instructions on how they can participate.
- Include link to Google doc or form where they can put content, links, headshot, etc.
- Don’t forget to share a list (or partial list) of the other influencers who are participating in the roundup post or contributing to the blog.
- Distribute personalized one-off emails and gauge their interest. (Do not use a mass distribution or automation tool to send these emails.)
Added step for blog contributor program: If you offer compensation, mention it in the email but don’t share a dollar amount.
TIP: If you can’t find an email address, look for a contact form on the influencer’s website. You can reach out through social media, but that is less likely to get a response.
Create the content
Once the influencer content is collected it’s time to put it all together. Here, the steps for the different influencer projects differ slightly.
Steps for influencer roundup posts:
- Draft the copy. Write an intro and be sure to include a thought leader from your brand in the roundup.
- Design elements or gather images for post (if needed).
- Publish. Give the post one last review and push it live.
Steps for contributor blog posts:
- Review the contributor’s content. Edit the piece for grammar, clarity, and alignment with your content marketing strategy.
- Publish. Give the post one last review and push it live.
Follow-up with influencers
It’s important to make sure it’s as easy as possible for the influencers to share the roundup post or contributed content with their audiences. That’s why follow-up is important. It also helps your brand steer the message to the influencer’s audience.
- Draft social copy – Draft a tweet, LinkedIn post, Facebook post (or whatever their social-site fancy is) they can share with their audience. Include appropriate hashtags.
- Send follow-up email – Send a personalized (not automated) note to the participating influencers. Thank them for their contribution and share the article with them. Include the article link and the suggested social for easy sharing.
Use social to promote the post
- Draft social copy – Write a series of social posts to promote the influencer content over time. Tag three to four of your featured influencers in each post and include pertinent hashtag(s).
- Schedule social posts – Influencers are more likely to reshare content multiple times if the social posts are spaced over time. Keep in mind that sharing frequency is dependent on the social platform and relevant audiences.
Step for a contributed blog post: Use the influencer’s social handle on each social post, and consider paid social promotion, especially for well-known contributors.
Since the stated goal is to drive earned media traffic and brand awareness, traffic and social shares are good performance indicators for these influencer tactics. However, marketers should pick the performance indicators that work best for their content marketing goals.
Measure traffic and social shares to the roundup or contributor post. To gauge success, compare the influencer content metrics to the metrics of your non-influencer content. If it doesn’t outperform the average, it isn’t a win.
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The steps I’ve shared merely represent two checklists in the influencer tactic bundle. Use these two simple influencer content tactics to gauge the value and get buy-in. Use the checklists to help with flawless execution.
Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).
Learn more about influencer marketing and other content marketing tactics at Content Marketing World Sept. 4-7 in Cleveland, Ohio. Register today and use code BLOG100 to save $100.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute
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