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Marketing 101: How to Create a Successful Influencer #Marketing Plan

These days it seems like we’re in need of some unique marketing tactics, and although influencer marketing has been around for quite some time, it’s not something many companies have perfected. This particular type of marketing is a great way to propel your business forward and should be one method that never gets old or “penalized”. The biggest question most people have is how do you start without coming on too strong.

Influencer marketing takes a lot of careful planning in order to make sure it continues to grow, and this requires a plan. For many companies influencer marketing just happens, but sometimes you’re not so lucky and/or you want to grow this approach for your business. You have to ask yourself: What exactly is influencer marketing and how can I make sure I’m successful?

What Exactly Is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing refers to finding people who have a voice in your industry. You want to see who really influences your target audience and then build a relationship with that person or company. The idea is that those who are influencers have a lot of power when it comes to swaying your target audience. This could be for a variety of reasons, but typically it just means that the influencer has probably been in the industry for quite a while and has built up credibility and trustworthiness through reliable articles, projects, referrals, etc.

There are several different things an influencer can do to help you:

  • Write a blog post or an article about your company and publish it on their authoritative website (or another website they may know).
  • Allow you to submit content to their website (again, it’s most likely an authoritative site that brings in a lot of targeted traffic).
  • They can share information about your company on their social accounts.
  • They can share something you’ve done on their own social accounts (+1, retweet, etc.).

Of course, someone who can persuade your target audience because they are credible took a long time to get there. In other words, you can’t expect to reach out to an influencer and immediately strike up a partnership to help get your brand name out there through someone your audience trusts. You have to prove yourself so an influencer will want to work with you in the first place, and this isn’t always easy.

How to Get Started Creating an Influencer Marketing Strategy

In case you need a little bit more convincing: according to a SocialChorus report from 2013, influencer marketing campaigns drive 16 times more engagement than paid or owned media. It will take some time to create a solid strategy, but it’s well worth it in the end.

Below are a few tips to getting started with influencer marketing.

Ridofranz Marketing 101: How to Create a Successful Influencer #Marketing PlanFind the Influencers: Determine your target audience and find those influencers.

You first have to identify your target audience and then see who out there is able to reach and influence that audience. If you’re still a little bit unsure who your audience really is at this point, I recommend spending some time on your own campaigns and gathering data to see who exactly is clicking your content. Buyer personas are also a great way to get a feel for your audience, which you can learn more about here on our blog if you’re interested.

Once you have a good feel for your audience, you want to determine what they are reading, what platforms they are using, what they are sharing, etc. As you go through and do research, you might see some of the same authors popping up often. Take a look at these authors’ social profiles and see how much influence they really have. You want to look not only at the number of social followers, but the quality. It’s also a good idea to look at other things they have written to see the quality of commenters and the content in general.

In most cases, though, the influencers will really pop out and be easy to spot (you probably have some in your head already, right?).

Build the Relationship. Reach out to these influencers and have something to offer.

Building a relationship is what will take the most time in the process, so you’ll need to have a plan. You can’t just send an email and assume you’ll be answered. You have to gradually build up your own credibility and visibility online in order to be noticed. I recommend taking the following steps:

  1. Connect and interact on social media. Social media is your easiest first step. They probably get lots of requests each day, so even if the influencer doesn’t accept right away (or ever), it’s worth a try. If they accept then great, if not, you can still share their content on your own social channels. The more you comment on their articles and share content, especially if you can tag them in that content, the better chance you have that they will notice you and see that you’re serious. Hopefully after a while they will accept your request to connect if they didn’t initially.
  2. Reach out for content contributions. Once you think they know who you are, attempt to email them directly and ask to submit content to their site. Again you might not get an answer right away, but this is a good way to show that you know your stuff and you’re ready to help get involved.
  3. Don’t forget to focus on more than one person. It’s worth mentioning that you shouldn’t only focus on one influencer at a time. It’s also important that you continue to work with other publishers who maybe aren’t influencers. If your Twitter is full of the same three people’s retweets, it’s not going to make you look good!
  4. Try to meet face to face if possible. Believe it or not, this isn’t as hard as you might imagine. Most influencers speak at different conferences. If you can attend, make sure to sit right up front and introduce yourself when the time is right. This is the best way to form that relationship. Once you do build that relationship, wait until you feel comfortable to ask them if they will share your content or help you in any way. In reality, just having this relationship should be enough to help out your company organically—sometimes you never have to ask for a thing.
  5. Stay Consistent. Keep in touch and keep your quality material coming.

You don’t want to stop talking with an influencer the minute you have his/her email address and they start sharing your content. Continue to contribute to your site, continue to talk with them at conferences, and continue to share their material. It’s important that you spend time on your own site as well, but you have to remember that these relationships need nurturing to be successful.

When will influencer marketing work best? Influencer marketing works best when you have a little bit of authority yourself. It’s hard to jump right into this form of marketing if you don’t have a solid portfolio of content or a fairly good following on social media. Influencers don’t work with just anyone (likely a big reason they’ve established themselves as influencers), so you have to prove yourself.

If you’re interested in some examples, check out this article to see more of the best influencer marketing campaigns of 2013 from the Huffington Post.

Have you used influencer marketing in the past or created a strategy for influencer marketing? Let us know what worked for you and what didn’t in the comments below.

Feature Photo Credit: highervisibility.com

Image Credit: thinkstockphotos.com; Photographer Ridofranz

 Marketing 101: How to Create a Successful Influencer #Marketing Plan

Amanda DiSilvestro

Online Content Editor/Writer at Higher Visibility
Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for HigherVisibility, a nationally recognized SEO consulting firm that offers online marketing services to a wide range of companies across the country. Connect with Higher Visibility on Google+and Twitter to learn more!
 Marketing 101: How to Create a Successful Influencer #Marketing Plan

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10 thoughts on “Marketing 101: How to Create a Successful Influencer #Marketing Plan

  1. These are very good steps. I think a lot of people tend to forget the relationship step is sometimes the most important step and is worth the time you will need to spend developing it. Building a base of your biggest fans takes time and thoughtful planning.

  2. Hi Amanda,
    I do agree with you. It is necessary to identify the influencers within our niche. Thanks Amanda for sharing with us the steps of building strong bonding with influencers. I will soon apply it for my own blog and let see how much it is effective.

  3. The connecting and interacting makes the difference Amanda. If you’ll just listen, chat and help you can gain an influencer’s attention and become an influencer yourself, after enough high profile folks give you backing. Consistently engaging is the key, the fuel that makes the social media influencer engine go. If you can chat, you can open many doors in the social game.

    I found this post on Kingged(dot)com and gave it a juicy thumbs up!

  4. Choosing the right influencer is the key! Because it is targeted traffic that we want. So, only the right influencer can provide us with that thing. :) Choosing the wrong man can bring in traffic, but it won’t be targeted traffic.

    And when we approach an influencer, we must offer an interesting proposal in front of them. Before putting up a proposal, we should spend some time connecting and interacting with them.

    This will give us a chance to establish some credibility in front of them. As mentioned in the article, social media is the easiest place to get started in this direction. It acts as a platform to seamlessly connect with the influencers.

    Definitely, this article is worth giving a read for everyone!

    I found the link to this article on Kingged.

    Arun

  5. Its one thing to seek for influencers and its quite another to leverage on their authority and influence. I agree that the best way to attract influencers that would help you out is when you have a little bit of authority yourself. This is what the influencer looks at before helping you in his/her sphere of influence.

  6. Hello Amanda, What a great article about approaching and interacting with an influencer, I do agree this can be very beneficial, I really liked how you go over each step for us to take to start building your own credibility,
    Thanks for sharing.. Chery :))

  7. Good stuff, Amanda. Getting in front of influencers isn’t always easy. Sometimes it takes time and persistence to get noticed, and other times it just takes some really awesome content.
    If you can show an influencer something they haven’t seen before, your much more likely to have them help promote your content.
    Also, I like the use of the hashtag in your blog title…. Smart!

  8. So happy to see so many people reading, and so sorry I missed a lot of these comments! I think influencer marketing has a lot of gray areas and blurry lines so coming up with a strategy can take some time, but I think this will be the next big thing!

  9. Hello Amanda, thank you very much for the tips. I actually did the same thing and went to scout some best influencers in the SEO community both in local and global. Guess it was some luck and pure persistence which led me to put Neil Patel and Brian Dean and some big names into my one of my blog post. :)

    Here’s what I actually did:
    Before I started to reach out my target influencers, I performed some necessary actions like observing them first by subscribing in their newsletters, checking out their social media profiles from time to time and then I have established myself as their “follower/fan”.

    I also used Twitter and retweeted their status most of the time and some of these influencers were added as friends on Facebook. Before I requested a proposal for text interview, I “tested the waters” by personally talking to them to establish trust and turn myself as an acquaintance from being a total stranger.

    I didn’t only target one person but almost 20! That’s a lot I know, but I was thinking that it will give me more chance of getting “best ideas” published on my blog. Some declined (please understand that these guys are really busy for your request), but some granted the request!

    How I got Neil’s reply:
    For Neil Patel, I went to see his page here first and CAREFULLY READ EVERYTHING THERE.

    It was not hard for me to explain my motives since I have used his products (Hellobar, Quicksprout) and mentioned that to him in my email request.

    How I got Brian’s reply:
    For Brian Dean, I personally got in touch with him through email. After having some good conversation I then asked him if its okay for me to get his ideas about my questions. He said YES but he had a schedule would likely answer my questions it within 3 weeks time. So I patiently waited for the time. :)

    What I did for everyone (in common):
    When I realized that the time was ripe, I pushed my luck and directly went on submitting a request for a text interview. I again waited for them to respond with their answers.

    What I got in return:
    These influencers greatly helped me boost my site’s traffic as well as its engagement. It took a long time to build the blog post but it’s totally worth publishing it. Average visits, shares and time on site totally improved by 200-300%.

    The best advice I can give is to believe you can do it, be patient and totally understanding. Keep in mind that influencers are ALWAYS busy and it will take a little to 0% percentage for them to recognize your request.

    It’s a one shot try. The most important thing when approaching an influencer is to be polite, honest about your goal and you should know how to position yourself.

    Thanks again.

  10. Great post, it’s definitely not the easiest of the marketing strategies but if implemented properly can bring decent ROI.