Moderated by President Mark Barrera, at the May meeting of the Social Media Club of Dallas a panel of three bloggers discussed how to establish and execute a successful influencer marketing program. The experts were Lea Ann Stundins, Elysa Ellis, and Autumn Rose Reo. They all blog, plan and participate in influencer marketing campaigns.
As Wikipedia explains, influencer marketing engages the support of people with large followings among prospective consumers in order to promote products or services on behalf of a client. During this question-and-answer program, the three social marketers gave examples of successful campaigns, warned about pitfalls and provided promotional guidelines.
According to the panelists, influencer marketing involves
- Establishing a tactical plan with well-defined and reasonable expectations for the campaign.
- Using communication channels (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram etc.) that are popular with desired audiences.
- Selecting voices that use the appropriate channels and are well-respected within the target community.
- Offering influencers desirable benefits for participating.
- Communicating expectations effectively to influencers but giving them sufficient latitude so that they can amplify the effects of others.
- Measuring campaign results.
They stressed how important it is to identify communicators who are compatible with the pitch. For instance, Autumn Rose Reo complained that she had no idea why she had been contacted, but she had been asked to blog about healthy “hoohoos.” The other two bloggers also noted that they often receive blanket pitches that do not correspond with their demonstrated areas of interest. Even when they had been appropriately selected, there may not be any follow-up when they tried to respond to the pitch outreach.
Influencer marketing is considered to be an extension of traditional word-of-mouth but the lines between paid promotion and personal opinion can become blurred. This was one of the most spirited discussions of the evening because influencers are often provided with incentives or paid for participation in a marketing campaign. A book commentator may receive an advance copy, an entertainment reviewer may be given free tickets or a mommy blogger may get free baby products. Insider experiences can also be attractive to influencers. Many corporations are initiating affiliate programs that pay influencers for clickthroughs from mentions. All three panelists agreed that they only take part in a campaign if they genuinely hold the opinion they give, but if they’ve been compensated they are required by the FTC to disclose the relationship with the promoter.
Lea Ann Stundins wondered about all the companies that solicit support from popular bloggers or tweeters without any return. Like other marketers she believes they should get compensated for their efforts. They are supplying their expertise, their reputations, and their time. The panelists agreed that most of what they do as bloggers results from passion, not pay. How do you find influencers to reach the right audience?
- Popular bloggers are good resources for finding other spokespeople with followings because they have influencer friends.
- Use emails and the organizational website to solicit participation in a campaign.
- Employ active listening to see who is already talking about the brand on social media and then build a relationship with them.
At the end of the program these generous presenters offered the audience access to additional resources related to influencer marketing best practices.
Kay Byfield is a Content Strategist who provides marketing communications services to small and medium-sized businesses in many industries as Stand-Out Communications. She is also the Editor for the Social Media Club blog. Please contact her at email@example.com if you would be interested in sharing insights that you have learned as a practitioner of social media.