The terms “influencer marketing” and “content marketing” seem to overlap more and more frequently, and you’d be hard-pressed to find an article talking about one in which the other is not referenced. In a survey we conducted earlier this year with over 600 marketing and PR professionals, 57 percent deemed it to be “highly strategic” to achieve influencer involvement in the content creation and amplification process.
Modern marketers and communicators have grasped the idea that generating great content that’s shareable is absolutely necessary, yet far from being sufficient enough to ensure the overall success of their campaigns. If content is still king – and there is little doubt that it still is – then influencers should be considered the superheroes who are capable of raising a brand’s content strategy to the next level. Influencers have the power to boost credibility and extend your content’s reach into new communities, as well as be critical partners in generating content.
What exactly are the various roles that an Influencer may have within the scope of your company’s content strategy? Most likely there will be a wide array of options depending on the level of creativity that your own brand’s content creation team has. At Augure, we have defined five separate roles (bear in mind that any influencer may play several roles) that influencers may fulfill within our own content strategy.
Beyond their visibility and the relative size of their community, the prime attribute for an influencer is to be a true expert in a concrete subject. An influencer is capable of grasping all of the factors surrounding and affecting your target audiences and knows how to add a thoughtful response to their concerns through his or her own content.
As a brand, it is fundamental to know how to both identify and listen to those influencers who have achieved credibility within a community. The content that they post (or share) is an ideal observatory for detecting market trends, understanding consumers’ real interests, and thus inspiring a brand’s content strategy.
The next step is to co-create content. A co-branded eBook, webinar collaboration, a series of video-interviews, or setting up a joint event can be key in laying the foundation for a stable relationship with opinion leaders online. Including influencers in these kinds of activities has the potential to convert them into your best brand in proponents.
44 percent of marketing and communication professionals are already working directly with influencers to co-create content. Furthermore, 64 percent of these marketers stated that including influencers in content creation is a major stepping stone when the time comes to broaden the exposure for their content.
You may be thinking, “How am I supposed to get a well-known influencer within my sector to be willing to collaborate in creating my content?”
The fact is that unless you ask him or her directly you’ll never know what their response may be. Based on our own experience at Augure, we have been pleasantly surprised by the way that many influencers have been more than willing to participate in our content creation, although in some cases it may hardly be more than a simple quote. The key is to propose ways to collaborate that provides them a means to broaden the exposure of their own knowledge and expertise without necessarily forcing them to promote or endorse your products.
Let’s not fool ourselves; all of us have an ego when the time comes to interact and enhance our public image online. This has been proven time and time again by sociologists in numerous research projects. Go-Gulf, a leading research firm, found that 68 percent of all people share online content with the main goal being to let others know what they are doing and what themes they are really interested in.
Influencers – like all of us – are also seeking the benefits of this type of recognition, not simply for being an influencer, but rather to strengthen their role as being a recognized thought leader, to promote their own specific expertise and to build their own personal brand.
It may even be worthwhile to generate original content inspired by an influencer’s own content and experience. Let’s look at an example where this approach was used utilizing SalesLoft, an American lead generation tool.
Mark Suster is a partner at Upfront Ventures, a venture capital firm, and is also a high-spirited entrepreneur, well-known expert in sales & marketing and an active blogger. Mark Suster meets all of the requirements for being an excellent influencer in his sector. In fact, when we ran a keyword search based on the keywords “entrepreneur”, “startup” and “sales”, Mark’s profile popped up in every case.
In June 2013, Mark posted an article on his blog about the ideal profile for a “born salesperson” – one who is able to increase sales for any company. SalesLoft decided to use that post to generate recognition content: infographics that visually represented the profile that Suster had described in his blog.
The role of Amplifier – broadening the scope of content’s exposure – is surely the first one that pops into anyone’s mind when we start talking about getting influencers involved in content strategy.
Many brands have made major mistakes in seeking the attention of those influencers who have the largest number of followers, fans or readers. This is a grave error for two basic reasons:
- Even though he or she may be wildly popular, an influencer will only get a valid echo in those themes in which they have achieved credibility and trust.
- It is worthless for a brand to push their content towards an audience that is not aligned with their target audience. Not only does it not benefit them, it may even trigger unneeded costs as they generate non-productive, low-quality sales leads.
Knowing how to accurately identify the true key influencers for a brand plays a vital role in measuring the effectiveness of your content strategy. The influence should be defined as being contextually applicable to one single theme and you must be careful to not confuse the terms “influence” and “popularity”.
Marketing and communication departments tend to generate a vast amount of content on a weekly basis, so why not ask for your closest influencers’ opinions and get their feedback on the content being created? You need not send them each and every blog post that you publish, but you should get them involved in special content production, eBooks, infographics related to their specific sector and any other situation in which they are qualified to provide feedback that will enhance your own content.
In turn, they will appreciate this gesture and recognize that you really do value their opinion and expertise, increasing the likelihood that they will actively help the content gain greater exposure through their networks.
Leveraging influencers in these five critical roles can do wonders for your content’s visibility. Find inspiration for content topics from the trends they are participating in. Get them involved early on in the development of content, but be sure to keep it easy for them to participate. Help them enhance their own image and status by holding their input with high regard. And, finally, let them know how much you value their opinion by strategically asking for their constructive criticism on your most important content pieces.
Influencer marketing takes time and requires a clear plan for execution. When done purposefully with defined goals for success, influencers can be pivotal in helping your content receive the attention it deserves.