Why You Need an Influencer Strategy (and How to Build One)

“We want to do influencer marketing!” We hear this a lot. But it tends to come with other questions: “How do we go about it? What will go into it? And, how will we measure it?”

Sound familiar? 

It’s like when you say, I want to go on an overseas trip for vacation this year. But, where do you want to go and when? 

Your vacation planning needs to include a destination, airline tickets, accommodations and some idea of what you want to do and see. Otherwise, the vacation anxiety will set in and the exciting trip abroad may never happen.

Just like a well-planned vacation, any good influencer marketing campaign or program starts with a thoughtful strategy. About one-third (34%) of respondents in our 2023 B2B Influencer Marketing Report said their B2B influencer marketing strategy is “extremely effective.” Don’t you want to be a part of this group? There’s no reason you can’t! But jumping in without clear objectives and planning will cause a lot of anxiety and, usually, a lackluster program.

If you are considering an influencer program or campaign, you will need a strategy.  Let’s review the key elements of that strategy. 

Why influencer marketing for your brand?

Markets are crowded, and as you try to stand out from the crowd, you need new avenues to be seen by your audience. Knowing that people want to hear from people, instead of brands,  opens up the possibility for influencers to bring a more human perspective to your audience. 

Benefits of Influencer Marketing:

  • Increase brand awareness by reaching new audiences 
  • Garner trust
  • Grow credibility and brand reputation 
  • Support content and social media marketing strategies
  • Add to your brand thought leadership
  • Improve brand advocacy
  • Build long-term relationships with industry professionals

As with any good tactic, having the strategic plan to help guide your team gives a clear roadmap to follow. It will guide the way to success, much like mapping out your vacation will help you find your way in an unfamiliar land. 

Creating your influencer strategy

Are you ready to break through the content clutter with great B2B influencer content? Then it’s time to create your strategy. Similar to your overall marketing plan, a good influencer strategy will include:

  • Goals and KPIs
  • Program objectives
  • Audience identification
  • Influencer types, tiers and selection criteria
  • Outreach plan
  • Content plan
  • Reporting, measurement and optimization

Your influencer marketing strategy needs to hone in on the specifics of your approach, and who will be involved in the plan.

Setting achievable goals

Where do you plan to go on your exciting trip abroad? I might say I want to go to Bali, and then I set a goal to get there. That’s achievable, if I have the budget for the airfare and accommodations.

The same goes for a good influencer strategy. It begins with setting goals. And, with that, understanding how you achieve that goal and measure your success. 

A common goal for influencer marketing is increasing brand awareness. As mentioned, influencers bring a new audience to your messages, helping you grow awareness and share of voice in your industry. Remember, it is important to measure the current level of awareness for your brand so you can identify the changes that come from your campaigns. The key to success is setting achievable, measurable goals that aren’t shrouded in ambiguity. 

Be honest about your goals and make sure the tactics match up. If your plan says you are looking to increase awareness, but in reality you really need leads, don’t be surprised if you do not see leads coming into the funnel. Lead generation can happen, but that needs to be planned upfront with the tactics you choose. 

Helpful tip: Be sure to set benchmarks upfront, so you can accurately measure success and impact. Influencers can help you understand the results to expect from working with them. So, don’t be afraid to ask them upfront for benchmarking purposes.

Audience identification

Most brands have documentation on who their primary audience is, but you may want to narrow in on a particular segment of that audience. Documenting the audience helps you identify the right influencers. It also helps the influencers understand who they are trying to reach.

Influencer types, tiers and selection criteria

Who do you want to engage with for your influencer program? 

Strategy development is a key time to review the type of influencer you will want to reach out to for involvement in your campaign. This is not the time to create a full list of influencers. Instead, set your focus by deciding if you want to include thought leaders, niche experts, practitioners or internal influencers, and what percentage of the total for each profile. 

This is also a time to set your selection criteria. Beyond the type of influencer, what do they need to be talking about? What can’t they be talking about? What platforms are they active on? These are just a few of the questions you should address in the strategy. 

And, don’t forget to consider employees or executive leadership into your mix. Social media posts from employees, that are personalized, generate 64% more engagement than brand content. Plus, the clickthrough rate on the same piece of content is two times higher when it’s shared by an employee versus a company according to Business2Community

Don’t forget to account for word of mouth!

Have you ever had a friend come home from an amazing vacation, and then you find yourself planning to go to the same location on your next trip? They were a fan of that amazing place, and now you want to be a fan, too. 

Who are your brand’s fans? Consider adding your clients and customers as part of your influencer mix. Finding advocates or fans is more authentic and impactful for your potential clients.

Outreach plan

How will you connect with potential influencers? Even though you don’t yet have your final list of influencers, you need to think strategically about how you will engage them. 

Some questions to address with your outreach:

  • How will you contact the influencers? 
    • Are you building in time to understand who they are and how to nurture them in advance? 
    • What channels will you use?
  • What are the key points that your outreach message includes? 
  • What are you asking the influencers to do? 
  • Who will be doing the outreach? 
  • How will you keep track of the correspondence and activations? 

This is a good time to recognize the value of an influencer brief, and plan for that creation before you contact the influencers. 

Content planning

Depending on your objectives, the tactics and types of content you include may vary. But this is a great time to work through themes as well as the look and feel of the content. Design is important for any brand content. It is also a nice share if you plan to ask influencers to use any brand images. 

Content planning is the first step in developing the influencer brief. The aim is to help the influencers understand what you are asking them to create or do. 

Review and optimize

Sometimes while you are on vacation, a wonderful opportunity – like an amazing tour or a cooking class with a local chef – becomes available. Even though it was not in the original plan, you wouldn’t want to miss out on that experience. So, you adapt your vacation plans and make room for the new experience. 

As you are analyzing your influencer marketing program, you will often find new opportunities along the way. Or you might see that a particular tactic is not working, so your team pivots. Understanding this upfront is key, so the team is prepared to stay agile and take advantage of the learnings as the program unfolds.

Through measurement and reporting reviews, you can see patterns and actions that lead to your desired outcomes. Be ready to ideate on your plan and consider your next steps. 

Measurement metrics you can use to track the success of your influencer marketing campaign may include: engagement rates, website traffic, and conversions. Use tools like Google Analytics and social media insights to gather data. 

Is your B2B influencer marketing strategy ready to take off?

Now that you have your plan of action, it’s time to go! The vacation anxiety is gone because you know exactly how your vacation should play out. 

The same goes for your influencer program. The plan is in place and that strategy will guide you to success. 

Need help with your influencer marketing strategy? Check out our services and let our team of experts guide you to high-flying success. 

The post Why You Need an Influencer Strategy (and How to Build One) appeared first on TopRank® Marketing.