3 steps to take your influencer marketing to the next level
How can your message be heard through all the social media noise? Columnist and Bitly senior content strategist Blaise Lucey discusses the benefits of micro-influencers and how to ensure that they deliver.
If you look at the social landscape of 2017, one word comes to mind before anything else: noise. A great rush of static is crackling out from all the channels available to us — Facebook, Twitter, email, SMS, television. When brands need to reach people, it’s no longer guaranteed that your audience will hear the message, even if they see it.
So how do you get heard? Well, last year, 86 percent of brands used influencer marketing in some capacity. Working with people who already have thousands or millions of followers can guarantee that your brand’s message is actually heard.
But just because influencers help your message get heard, it doesn’t mean that it resonates. Or even makes you money. The same research found that 78 percent of marketers have a problem tracking the actual ROI of their influencer marketing programs.
Since most of us can’t afford to have Kim Kardashian advertise our products, we often turn to micro-influencers — people who have a few thousand followers or fans — and then we have to figure out how to measure and manage dozens or even hundreds of people.
Here are the three biggest things you need to do to make sure that your micro-influencers deliver:
1. Influencer marketing analytics
You need a way to track something beyond shares. There are a few great ways to do this that are easy and free. First, you can hand different discount codes out to different influencers. When you see the number of codes redeemed, you can note exactly how many conversions each influencer drives.
Want to know what influencers are driving from their own channels? Give each one a trackable link (disclosure: I work for Bitly) so that you can see the click counts on each link.
Also, create UTM parameters for the links using Google Analytics. That way, you can go back into GA and check out which influencers are driving the most traffic to the website.
2. An influencer content management system
As influencer marketing efforts get more sophisticated, brands are going to need to think about what kinds of content those influencers are producing.
How are they sharing it? How does it align with the company goals?
In the initial stages, you should at least have a brief and a deck that you hand out at the beginning of all influencer relationships. After that, build out a community content calendar.
Finally, as your initiatives evolve, you may want to start using a content management system to pull together influencers and assign them different pieces of content. That could be something like a WordPress blog, or it could be custom-coded to deliver the content that influencers need to create or share with their audiences.
3. An influencer distribution channel
If you have a thousand micro-influencers at your fingertips, you worked hard to build those relationships. Don’t lose them.
The easiest way to stay connected is to send a monthly email to all of your past and current influencers and partners with upcoming opportunities for collaboration. Highlight great projects, discuss upcoming opportunities and foster relationships between the influencers themselves.
From Facebook Live and Twitter Chat to live events or webinars, being able to tap into your past relationships can ensure that you always have easy access to influencers who trust your brand and will continue to be interested in working with you in the future.
Influencing the future
Today, there are partner marketing managers and teams that are tasked with building content and marketing initiatives with industry peers. Influencer marketing teams will soon be commonplace, too.
Even the shiny (relatively) new social channels like Instagram and Snapchat are reaching maturation. Snapchat user growth fell 82 percent after Instagram Stories launched. Instagram engagement fell 33 percent between 2015 and 2016.
This kind of saturation is going to lead to more human interactions. Brands will have to figure out how to make social content far more engaging and interactive to stand out. And that starts with influencers.