For many brands, an influencer program is a common and effective component to the marketing arsenal. It establishes credibility for your brand, generates buzz and leads, creates limitless content opportunities, and exposes your brand to new audiences. In the past year, RingLead has developed and grown our influencer marketing program to over 75 influencers and guest bloggers, which has resulted in a 300% increase in web traffic and double the number of monthly leads.
The term “influencer” means many things to many people, so you must define it for your brand, and ensure you’re reaching out to the right people. While the factors can vary depending on your industry and subject matter, there are some basic criteria to keep in mind when finding influencers.
The influencer must have expertise in your specific industry, vertical or subject matter. They might work in your industry at a well-established organization, provide consulting, teach, train, coach or author a book on the subject. For example, RingLead helps salespeople and marketers with their data productivity. While Justin Bieber might be influential in the pop culture world, he’s not exactly a data quality guru, so he doesn’t make the RingLead influencer cut (sorry Biebs).
Once you’ve narrowed down your experts in your industry, it’s time to ensure they’re well known to your specific audience and customers. Not only must they have a following, but their following needs sync up with your target audience. For RingLead, our influencers must have a following of salespeople or marketers. Therefore, while my grandmother may love RingLead and talk about us to her Mahjong group, she’s limited to a very small audience that does not include our core target. Like a game of poker, Grandma folds.
Great influencers are constantly engaging and creating content. Not only do they have the subject matter expertise, but they’re sharing it. Whether it’s speaking opportunities, blogging or sharing content, great influencers are very active. While it depends on the industry and subject matter on their level of activity (for instance, an influencer in marketing might be more active on social media than a scientist), they know how to reach their audience and stay connected.
Once an influencer is part of your program, you want them to share your content and your brand. If they’re not active in their community from the start, they may not be the right fit.
An influencer may have the following and the subject matter expertise, but if their content is bad, they won’t be influential for very long. It’s easy to create content, but quality content is where an influencer and a brand shine. Great influencers create sharable, helpful presentations, blog posts, videos, and more. Before committing to an influencer, read their content. Are they helping or selling? Are they offering new and interesting information or regurgitating what you already know? Not only should their opinion and advice align with your brand’s vision, but it should be quality stuff.
The influencers in your program should know your brand vision, product/service and even your executives. It’s important that these influencers are educated about your organization. They’ll feel empowered to answer questions from their following, and mention you in conversations and content. Moreover, you’ll feel confident in them, because they can now answer questions and speak on your behalf, aiding in your credibility and extending your voice.
Once they’re up to speed, they should be excited and interested in what you offer. They don’t necessarily have to be customers or 100% tied to your brand, but they need to be educated and on board.
The criteria and requirements of an influencer may vary from brand to brand, and industry to industry, but if you consider these five elements first, you’ll be on your way to building a great influencer program. Get started with finding these influencers by using tools like Klout.
Amanda Nelson is Director of Marketing at RingLead where she leads the content marketing strategy and execution. She has spent the last three years in content marketing and community management at salesforce.com and Radian6, and has a background in account management for interactive and full service advertising agencies. Follow her on Twitter at @amandalnelson.
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