There’s no doubt, influencer marketing is a hot topic, and it can get you business results.
Influencer Marketing one of the most searched for types of marketing in Google, behind social marketing and content marketing.
Technically, it’s both social marketing and content marketing, because influencers usually use social and content to connect with their audiences and to market.
So, in case you’re new to this, what IS influencer marketing, exactly?
Influencer marketing is when an organization leverages an influencer and their audience to create new customers.
Gallup’s research has found that companies with highly engaged customers achieve up to:
- 50% – 51% more sales
- 27% – 34% higher profitability
[References: 1, 2]
And the beautiful thing about the audiences of influencers is that they’re often highly engaged.
Influencer marketing lends that engagement to your brand, transferring that sales and profit potential as well.
In this article, we’ll look at a few case studies and cover some of the most effective tools for:
- Finding and qualifying the influencers who drive conversations in your niche
- Cultivating one-on-one relationships with them
- Managing influencer marketing campaigns
- Measuring and reporting on your results
Tools for Finding and Qualifying the Right Influencers for Your Brand
Some of the best tools out there for finding influencers include:
- Buzzsumo: a geeky but extremely powerful search tool for looking through the web and social media for bloggers, twitterers and even journalists. This is where I’d start if I wanted to find someone unique and create an exclusive relationship with them.
- Tomoson: search through over 90,000 influencers or just post your opportunity to get micro-influencers to post in social media about your stuff. This is my favorite if you just want a bunch of social media people to try and talk about your product. But it doesn’t have everybody in it, and it’s not going to create a custom exclusive relationship with your brand. These influencers are guns for hire.
- Famebit: if you want to find video creators and influencers, this one is now owned by YouTube and going strong.
- Heepsy: similar to Tomoson, but a lower monthly fee.
- Klear: with an influencer search engine and database, it’s not CLEAR how Klear is different, and they CLEARLY want to sell you at a higher unknown price tag through salespeople… so if you’re a bigger brand, check them out, but if you’re a small business, probably not for you.
- Upfluence: an all-in-one solution for finding, managing and tracking ROI, Upfluence is also another solution like Klear that requires you go through a salesperson, so expect a hefty price tag.
You’ll see when you review these tools that there are really two major ways to go:
- Find a non-exclusive influencer who’s joined a marketplace of influencers and is probably promoting other companies too. You do this with platforms like Tomoson, Famebit, Heepsy, Klear, or Upfluence.
- Find an influencer on your own who may not do it very often, and may end up being exclusive to you, whether that’s intentional or not. You do this with tools like Buzzsumo.
Leverage Influencers To Find New Enthusiastic Buyers.
There are bloggers, YouTubers and other social media influencers out there who already have big influence with audiences of people that include your future customers.
Brendan Bauer of Grand Fusion Housewares told me how lucky he was to have found an influencer that has boosted their sales. He found this blogger on his own, outside of an influencer marketplace. She had access to 40,000 of his potential customers. They simply donated a product (12 of the same product) as a giveaway and paid her $150, and their Amazon sales went crazy.
But influencer marketing doesn’t have to be the prototypical expert/microceleb with zero connection to your brand…
When Are Customers The Best Influencers?
Peachdish, an Atlanta-based meal-kit company, has leveraged their own best customers to create their Ambassador program. Peachdish also uses an always-running Instagram contest where you might win a free meal just for posting a picture of your latest Peachdish meal on Instagram using their #peachdishmeal hashtag.
Full disclosure: my wife and I are Peachdish customers, and I’m in their Ambassador program, but Peachdish forbids people us from using any custom links to promote them- so nothing in here is benefiting me. We just love their stuff.
As customer experience and sales manager Michael Milich says, “The Peachdish Ambassador program has been successful as our Ambassadors genuinely love PeachDish. The majority of received over a year’s worth of PeachDish boxes (52+ weeks). So far, we’ve discovered those influencers with a connection to food and/or wellness are the most successful. It’s a bit tricky, because the the goal is to find customers who want a deeper connection with a brand, rather than just a giveaway or first-time discount. Overall, just giving a discount or something for free is not a guaranteed way to create those long-term relationships we want with a subscription business.”
In this case, the best tools they had for finding and qualifying the right influencers were:
- Their own customer records
- Instagram activity on their hashtags
I’m really tempted to write a cheezy play on “outside the (meal) box” here, but as you know, I’m better than that. Let’s move on.
Using Facebook Data to Verify That A Celebrity Influencer’s Audience Matches Your Customers
Some tools you might not have thought of for checking out potential influencers are
- The Facebook ad platform and
- The Facebook Audience Insights tool.
If the prospective influencer is very popular and/or has a Facebook page, you can find some interesting data out about them there.
A franchised fitness client of ours wanted to pilot a celebrity sponsorship and see if it helped them grow their business.
They considered who their customers were (mainly women over 50 years old) and asked themselves, “Who would be an influential celebrity we could hire that our audience would love?”
When they settled on a British actress (whose name I have to keep private, since the pilot has not even yet begun), we immediately started looking at audience information about her in Facebook.
“Who are this woman’s fans?” we were asking Facebook.
Here’s what we found:
And that was good news:
- Her audience is 85% women, which matches our client’s customers.
- She is liked more than average in the 45-54, 55-64 and 65+ age groups, which again matches our client’s customers.
In fact, when we selected some of the states that our client has the most franchise locations in, the match was even stronger.
Facebook Audience Insights will also give you an idea how many active users are fans of that person, and the Facebook ad tool will give you targeting numbers as well (when you go to create an ad targeting that influencer) if you want to double check it.
Tools for Cultivating One-on-One Relationships with Influencers
Creating relationships with influencers doesn’t always require extra tools.
When you do want to build a relationship, it’s really important to not get so lost in tools and technology and forget some of the most basic things about relationship building:
- You have to connect
- It takes time
- You have to personalize to each person
- You have to listen
- You have to be empathetic
Tools can’t replace all of those activities. Sometimes you can damage a relationship by trying to use tools instead of creating the intimacy required to build strong relationships.
Not every influencer relationship is going to require hours of one-on-one conversation, but some of the most important relationships will merit at least a few emails or phone calls.
You’re going to need emotionally intelligent people managing that part of the process, or you’ll offend and scare off important influencers.
The tools you’re going to use to cultivate influencer relationships include:
- The tools above you used to find influencers, if they contain messaging components, or they are all-in-one solutions.
- Direct messages within social platforms like Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn
- Email and Phone
- GoToMeeting, Zoom, Facetime, Skype and other remote video solutions that allow for more personal meetings
- Google Sheets or any other collaborative documents you use to organize campaigns.
And of course, make sure you have good influencer marketing contracts.
Tools for Managing Influencer Marketing Campaigns
Again, some of what you need for managing the campaigns may be within the same platform you used to find the influencers.
If not, you may want something like AspireIQ (formerly Revfluence), which is an Influencer Relationship Management platform… like a CRM teamed up with an analytics platform.
Tools for Measuring and Reporting on Influencer Marketing Campaign Results
The all-in-one solutions we’ve mentioned will give you some reporting and measurement already.
However, they may or may not have anything for measuring ROI. Some of the platforms are entirely focused on top-of-funnel metrics like reach or engagement.
Again, you may want to add something like AspireIQ to help you automate your tracking, but make sure it’s compatible with the influencer platform you’re using.
You may be able to get the influencer to use a custom analytics URL (e.g. using the Google Analytics URL Builder) that will help you see in your analytics where your results are coming from.
Conclusion: Your Best Toolset
One thing is clear about influencer marketing and the tools: it’s complicated!
Every situation is going to be different, and you’re going to need a slightly different set of tools to accomplish your influencer marketing goals, depending on how you proceed and which platforms you use.
So, if you’re not clear what you need or if you’re covering all your bases (finding all the influencers out there and tracking results accurately), then you may want to reach out to a consultant or agency to to create a plan or review everything before you get started.