Influencer marketing campaigns can have a big impact on audiences — sometimes it’s an entire nation at the peak of a Presidential election. The New York Times recently reported how Vladimir Putin allegedly “ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election,” and it got me thinking about how much influence plays a role in the world beyond the B2B marketplace.
The biggest “A-ha” moment for me was how the same influencer marketing tactics and strategies can be leveraged to create positive — or in Putin’s case, negative — influence in a B2B, B2C or political climate. This includes clever use of social media, digital channels and building relationships with key influencers.
When done correctly, building relationships with key influencers in your area of business can help expand your overall reach within a target audience, boost brand credibility and open a wealth of new opportunities to start engaging conversations with prospects that are relevant and contextual to their needs.
Here are five steps to incorporating influencer marketing within your B2B initiatives:
1) Identify The Topics In Which You Want To Expand Your Reach
When formulating a campaign strategy for influencer marketing, it’s important to first identify the discussion topics your team will use to engage prospective buyers. This can be as easy as looking at your current content strategy and identifying topics that you cover regularly, or even topics you plan to cover in the future. For example, a digital media company may want to hone in on conversations around “content strategy” and “buyer engagement.”
If you are struggling to identify topics to prioritize, talk to current clients to find out what topics most interest them. This helps align topics with your ideal customer profile or personas. You can also use SEO tools — such as Google Analytics — or a free web tool called Word Counter to help identify keywords and phrases you may be overlooking by copying and pasting content from a recent blog into it.
2) Use Social Media To Identify Key Influencers
Once the topics are identified, it’s time to do some research! Have your team look at their Twitter and LinkedIn accounts to identify individuals having discussions around these topics. For Twitter, it would involve researching relevant hashtags such as #contentmarketing or #contentstrategy. For LinkedIn, join discussion groups that align with the topics you found.
Often, the influencers you’re hoping to work with will be deep in the discussion in these areas, and you can use these discussions to align your company message to their own messages and identify potential partnership opportunities.
3) Don’t Forget To Google It, Too!
The goal of an influencer campaign is to expand your brand’s reach within a target audience. Therefore, the best influencers in the space will likely have their own content optimized to rank high on search engines such as Google and Bing.
Search for the topics you identified, and be sure to check the “News” and “Books” tabs to identify individuals that regularly blog about the topic — or have even published a full-length book on it. This research, along with the research conducted on social media, should provide an ample list of influencers in the space that can help your team engage the right audience and have relevant conversations.
4) Take Baby Steps When Identifying Where Influencers Can Help Most
There are multiple ways that influencers can have a positive impact on your marketing campaigns, including a broader social reach to a relevant audience and a boost in topic credibility for your brand. However, asking for too much too soon from an influencer can throw a wrench in your campaign before it even gets off the ground.
It’s important to take baby steps at this part of the process; prioritize one area — such as increased social sharing for content or increased discussions on an owned channel like a blog post. That can get the ball rolling and lead to bigger projects down the line, such as guest blog posts, Q&As and introductions to similar influencers that can further expand your reach.
5) Formulate A Plan For Outreach
Working with influencers is much like working with current clients; a certain level of trust is required before both your team and an influencer align on similar goals and outcomes — and that takes time.
Build on the relationship with healthy give-and-take by sharing content the influencer produces through your social channels and creating your own discussions with audience members on their blog and forums. Once the relationship is set, you can then begin requesting influencer’s involvement in your social channels and discussion groups.
Do you have an influencer marketing tip you’d like to share? Be sure to leave a comment below and get a conversation going!
An avid B2B journalist with a knack for all things trendy in the POS, mobile and social space.
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