While you can use many software tools to help manage and scale influencer marketing programs, don’t forget to look back.
Old-school methods – alongside the tools – can mitigate the common pitfalls of influencer marketing. I asked six experts in the influencer arena for their best technique, and they went retro with their recommendations.
1. Influence through influencers
John Andrews, president, The Katadhin Company, says:
When we were starting Collective Bias (a shopper-focused influence marketing firm), we had a general rule: Someone on our team had to personally know the influencers we worked. This got harder as we grew, but we typically hired our influencers to manage our programs and influencer relationships. We called this approach influence by influencers.
The best part was we had a real understanding of the influencer process and virtually instant feedback when our business approach or messaging wasn’t connecting with their goals. We also implemented a hand-raising model where influencers chose the programs that were right for them. They knew their audiences better than any data set ever could. The analytics then built themselves as we measured the impact from campaign to campaign and captured the audience metrics along the way. Over time, we built a great understanding of what groups of influencers were the best for any given campaign.
2. Ask employees for their picks
Justin Levy, director of social and influencer marketing, Demandbase, says:
One of the best resources for influencer marketing is asking your employees who they find value from. When identifying someone as an influencer is often based on similar criteria, such as the number of followers, topic, location, etc., learning from your employees is even more important.
We are working on a campaign focused on the sales persona (sales leaders, account executives, sales development reps, sales ops, and rev ops). Beyond influencers with whom we already have relationships and newly researched influencers, I’m meeting with members of our sales team to find out who they follow and what communities they find valuable. It’s also important to focus on online communities where niche conversations are happening and who is leading these conversations.
3. Focus on the audiences
Rand Fishkin, founder, SparkToro, says:
Oddly enough, I actually don’t love the ‘influencer marketing’ model nor most influencer tools for two reasons:
- Traditional influencers are rarely followed for their product endorsements and rarely trusted for them either. If you’re a giant consumer brand seeking raw impressions, influencers can work fine, but if your goal is more targeted, it’s usually a mismatch.
- Almost every influencer marketing tool ranks results based on follower counts and the influencer’s self-described area of focus. But that’s not what brands should care about.
Instead, you should focus on whether the audience of a given person or publication is relevant to your message. Are these followers really the people you want to reach? And do they trust this source to give them information about this topic? This is why I’d rather be featured in a small email newsletter that reaches my target audience than go viral on TikTok or Instagram from a highly followed but irrelevant account.
Johanna Voss, founder, Johannavoss.com, says:
The best influencer marketing tool for driving great outcomes is communication, luckily, it’s something we all have available to us. When an influencer is partnering with a brand/agency for a campaign, understanding the campaign’s goals is incredibly helpful so that the influencer can best figure out on their end what set of deliverables would achieve that goal.
Perhaps the campaign goals are app downloads or new user signups. For an influencer who does more education and brand awareness than conversions, it’s in their best interest to pass on the project versus committing and failing to meet expectations, leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.
Conversely, if an influencer is great at converting and they know their winning combo of making that happen is through storytelling via Instagram stories and links to click, they can put together a scope of work to do just that.
From the first moment of connection between an agency/brand and an influencer/manager, asking questions from the talent side to get the full perspective of the project gets everyone on the same page from the get-go. Questions about timing, exclusivity, expectations, goals, and creative vision from the brand side and open-ended questions such as ‘Is there anything else I should know about this project?’ will be insightful and helpful to achieving the goals and knocking the campaign out of the park.
5. Be authentic
Hilary Thompson, off-page SEO and digital PR team lead, Portent, says:
Relying on one tool to attain success in influencer marketing is not ideal. The key to success is building relationships, and that can easily be done without complicated or expensive tools.
Email and Zoom have been our favorite platforms for building relationships and establishing trust. Nothing beats a face-to-face conversation, even a remote one.
Authenticity is the key to successful influencer partnerships, and when an influencer can meet you, exchange ideas, talk about the product or brand, and receive feedback directly about their integrations, there is a connection, a level of trust and authenticity, and engagement in each ad that is irreplaceable.
6. Do podcasts
Trevor Oldham, founder, Podcasting You, says:
The best influencer marketing tool for driving robust outcomes from collaboration comes from podcasting. This can be either hosting a podcast with guests or guesting on other people’s podcasts. Where else can you spend 30 minutes with someone where the only task at hand is to have a conversation?
From these conversations are built collaborations beyond your wildest dreams. If you do not have your own podcast or not guesting on other people’s podcasts, you are missing a gold mine of collaboration.
Make sure to integrate your old-school influencer tools
True influence doesn’t start with tools. It begins and ends with a network of influencers who drive valuable conversations within your chosen audience.
Some tech tools are necessary for scaling your influencer marketing strategy, especially around process, data, and content analysis. But never forget to integrate old-school “tools” into your influencer strategy. The goal of influencer marketing is always to get a return on the relationship.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute