In his keynote at the Social Media Rockstar event yesterday, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden opened with a heartwarming story about building influence.
For anyone who doesn’t think that building influence is something they can do, this story is a must hear (or in this case, read).
The story is about a fifth grader named Sam. Sam is an influencer. An aspiring author, Sam decided to write a book and include some of his classmates as characters. To make editing and collaboration easy, Sam wrote his book on Google Drive and shared it with his classmates, asking them to review and make edits. This small ask quickly became a competition in his classroom to be included in the story and to be involved in the project. Sam become the center of attention. Sam become influential.
What made Sam influential wasn’t money or authority. Sam created a space where his classmates could collaborate and be recognized, either as characters or collaborators. By showcasing his classmates and collaborating with them, Sam helped them get attention and a small degree of their own influence. In doing so, it made Sam more influential himself.
This is a case where one of my favorite quotes from Lee rings loud and true:
Everyone is influential about something.
Lee pointed out that in an an age where marketers are creating more content and consumers are overwhelmed with information, those who build influence will stand out. Social networks enable people to share their interests and passions, create content and connect with like-minded people to form communities. Brands that share values with those communities can tap their collective influence by collaborating with members to co-create content.
Partnering with social influencers, famous and niche, is great exposure opportunity for those participating. There’s also a lot of value from a marketing perspective. Here are a few statistics Lee shared in the presentation:
- $9.60 earned media value for every dollar spent is what a Burst Media study reported about working with influencers.
- 82% of customers were highly likely to follow recommendations from social influencers about products or services according to a study by the Wharton School.
- Programs including influencers experienced a 10X increase in conversion rates according to a study reported by Content Marketing Institute.
- A 37% higher retention rate with customers acquired though social influencer programs was reported in a McKinsey study.
Why Should Brands Include Influencers in Content Marketing?
TopRank Marketing defines influencer marketing with a strong focus on content:
The practice of developing relationships with connected internal and industry experts to co-create content of mutual value to achieve measurable business goals.
Including influencers as collaborators in your content marketing programs has multiple benefits:
- Authenticity: From “real people”
- Quality: That taps into expertise of others
- Variety: More quality content (and often more quantity)
- Engagement: From both your customers and the influencers
- Reach: Participation in co-creation inspires action
- Scale: Content creation is distributed beyond your own team
- Measurable Results: You can track and measure the impact
Lee shared several useful examples of brands that enable their customers to share their own content on the brand’s website including #becharming from Pandora MOA and #MyMinnetonka from Minnetonka Moccasin. By doing so, these brands create an opportunity to involve influential customers to share as well as helping customers grow their own influence through exposure on the brand website.
5 Steps to Social Influence with Content
Successful influencer marketing requires time, and process. Working with brands like LinkedIn, Dell, and recently signed BMC Software, TopRank Marketing has developed some pretty solid processes around influencer content engagement. These five steps can help you develop a content-centric influencer marketing program that is valuable to your brand, the influencers and your customers.
Step 1: Story Planning – Look at your content calendar and determine what topics or themes are a part of your current focus. Then, map topics to your content plan and determine where incorporating influencers could have a positive impact.
Step 2: Activate Content Participants – Identify who you would like to participate by using a combination of tools like BuzzSumo, Onalytica or Traackr. Then, include your identified influencers on a list of top influencers, or simply quote them in an article. Also, make sure that you’re following and engaging with them both online and offline.
Step 3: Co-Create Content – Your options for including influencers in your content are nearly limitless. Below are some options for the type of content that you can create.
Step 4: Amplify Content – Once the content is created then it’s time to promote. Content can be promoted on social media, through email, cross-posting (on your blog), optimized for target keywords and sent to influencers for amplification.
Step 5: Measure & Optimize Performance – For each stage of the sales cycle, it’s important to have a different way of measuring success. Below are the metrics that can be tracked as part of an influencer marketing program:
Are You Prepared to Make Your Brand More Influential?
While there are clearly many benefits to working with influencers as part of your marketing strategy, it doesn’t happen overnight. However, if you work hard to identify the RIGHT influencers, set clear EXPECTATIONS and use the right TOOLS and RESOURCES, you are on the path to success.
Social Influencer Content Takeaways:
- Identify & qualify collaborators: internally, externally. Challenge them with goals & reward with recognition.
- Set clear expectations: for your content and for contributors. Identify KPIs to monitor progress towards business outcomes.
- Find the right tools & resources: Strategy, influencer discovery & management, analytics, optimization.
Disclosure: Pandora MOA and Traackr are TopRank Marketing clients.