The world of influencer marketing is evolving… at last. A while back, I had an assignment to conduct a search for new tech influencers around the world. The challenge was titanesque in that I needed to try to find an equal balance by continent (and I was ideally also looking for a balance in gender). This is no easy feat when some continents contain so many countries and a diversity of languages and eco-systems. More dauntingly, new tech experts tend to be in high demand, digitally sought after and naturally suspicious of unsolicited contacts. I hasten to add, that’s normal. Moreover, there are many other categories of influential people that have the same characteristics, namely celebrities.
Executing Influencer Marketing
Here are a few of my lessons learned:
- The best connections are those that have been built up over time. That’s when trust comes into play. It is important to develop an eco-system first, before having to “ask” for anything in return.
- There is no automatic solution to find influencers around the world. Systems that help identify and engage influencers — such as Traackr*, Kred, PeerIndex, BuzzSumo and Klout — are essentially anglo-centric.
- Many of the influencers are linked to major (aka traditional and offline) media, so social media isn’t enough!
- There is no shortcut to engaging with influential people . However, whenever you do contact them, be clear (and short) about the WIIFM**: what’s in it for the influencer to spend their valuable time with you?
- Allow for flexibility and tailor your approach to each influencer. There are many different ways to interact with and benefit from an engaged influencer. Your ROI should necessarily be flexible to accommodate their interests.
- If you don’t know them personally, there are great ways to “listen” to them online. Follow them and, on occasion, engage with them by retweeting them, sharing their content, listening to what they have to say in podcasts, interviews, etc.
In my particular case, the range of topics and the need for an international scope, made the project very challenging. Influence that is offline is not only hard to gauge but it is much longer to leverage. There are no shortcuts in influencer marketing and, if there are time pressures, the chances are that the efforts will be rooted out for being rather hollow, if not overly commercial.
Influencer Marketing Blueprint
If there were a blueprint for strong influencer marketing, it would be, first, to listen and engage without intention. But the reality is that influencer marketing depends on a number of variables, including the brand’s own DNA and ability to work with other stakeholders. It will also vary according to the industry, the objectives and available resources. Bottom line, though, the better able you are to understand what motivates and/or concerns each of the influencers, the more likely your approach is to have success. It must start with their benefit.
Your thoughts? Happy to hear your experiences!
*I was lucky enough to be able to use Traackr and it was extremely useful for identifying the English-speaking technologists and futurologists. Full disclosure: Traackr sponsors my podcast on occasion.
**WIIFM = What’s in it for me