According to Wikipedia, influencer marketing is “a form of marketing that has emerged from a variety of recent practices and studies, in which focus is placed on specific key individuals (or types of individual) rather than the target market as a whole. It identifies the individuals that have influence over potential buyers, and orients marketing activities around these influencers.”
Key decision-makers operate within communities of influencers. Influencers may or may not be actual buyers, they are not always obvious, and typically are a neutral party – which is why they are such an invaluable asset as their potential to affect sales is immense.
We’ve all heard (and probably participated in) conversations about blogger relations, disclosure and transparency. Bloggers are just one class of influencers, though, so the first step in Influencer Marketing is seeking out and identifying those and other influencers.
At a recent PRSA St. Louis half-day event, Erin (Eschen) Maloney from Perficient explained that 92 percent of people trust recommendations of friends, family, word-of-mouth, above all forms of advertising, which is why influencers matter. She went on to say that 13.4 percent of U.S. adults create 80 percent of the content that influences people, and that is why we must find them.
An influencer must be credible. That doesn’t necessarily equate to a lot of followers, a high job role, frequent posts, or even being famous in real life. Influence cannot be reflected by a single metric, and influence does not equal popularity.
So how do you find the influencers that matter to your organization? Maloney advised that there is no one tool or score that can do this for you. You must roll-up your sleeves and dig-in. You can use Klout and Kred (she likes Kred better) as a beginning point, but you may also use Google, Twitter, WeFollow, Twellow, Alltop, LinkedIn groups, Facebook pages, Listorious, RSS feeds and more. (We here at BurrellesLuce prefer our Social Media Monitoring Solution, Engage121). This step is the core foundation of your program. It is time consuming and there is no substitute for hard work here.
Once you’ve identified key influencers who are active, relevant and timely, then what? You listen. Yes, you stop and listen for a while. It takes listening, Amanda Maksymiw says, to gain “a solid understanding on who they are and what they are interested in. Connect with them on the relevant social networks, subscribe to their newsletters or blogs, and absorb everything you can: the main point is to be quiet here and learn.” Only after this step, can you begin to engage with them.
Author and speaker Alexandra Levit was recently quoted as saying, “Uncovering the top influencers in one’s field requires old-fashioned research. Read the trades, go to industry events and, of course, check out Twitter, Facebook, etc. Then, gradually develop a relationship with the influencers by asking questions and citing their content.”
Those of us, who have a background in PR and media relations, know that building relationships takes time and effort. Do you have any tips to add?