Call it what you will – native advertising, pay-to-play, brand ambassadors or word-of-mouth marketing, but there’s no denying influencer relations is a powerful marketing tool. According to a recent Forbes article, “Businesses make $6.50 for every dollar invested in influencer marketing.” I don’t know about you, but in my book that is a slam dunk in terms of ROI. I can’t think of anything else that gives you a 650 percent return on investment, can you?
What is an influencer program?
This type of marketing dates back to the old PR adage about third party endorsements. It’s not enough to say great things about your brand or product; you need other people to endorse you as well. This is one of the basic tenants of public relations and influencer programs can help take that a step further.
Influencer programs can take many shapes and are completely customizable to your client or product. They can include inviting bloggers to a restaurant soft opening, sending people products to review, inviting niche influencers to a VIP experience or paying influencers to create content on behalf of your brand. Influencer programs are also great to help seed new content. For example, say your brand has a small social media following, but you want to launch a contest. Why not work with influencers to help promote the contest for you? They can reach a broader audience and help share your message.
How to find influencers
Once you decide to launch an influencer campaign, you have to find the right influencers to help promote your message. There are a number of different ways to do that depending on the type of campaign. For larger brands and campaigns you can work with an influencer network like Tap Influence or Clever Girls Collective. These companies find influencers for you based on your target audience and desired reach. They are responsible for contacting each influencer, managing the program, following up with influencers and taking responsibility for payment. This makes it easy and turnkey especially if you have a lot of moving parts to your campaign.
You may also have a niche campaign where you are looking for a specific type of influencer. Franco worked with a niche blogging group in February for a campaign with the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI). SMDI was sponsoring the Folds of Honor QuikTrip at the Atlanta Motor Speedway and was trying to plug into the racing audience.
Franco recommended an influencer program to invite people to the race and educate them about the benefits of steel. Since Folds of Honor is an organization that supports military families, we focused on that audience for the program. Enter MSB New Media, an influencer network for military wives with a fantastic reach in a niche audience. We also launched a #StrongLikeSteel photo contest to engage the military audience at this event. You can read more about the campaign here.
Stay tuned for the second part of this series where I share my tips for working with influencers.