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Five Reasons To Invest In Influencer Marketing Today

If you’re part of the 20% of marketers not using influencer marketing, I believe you’re missing out. Here are five reasons to invest in influencer marketing today. 

By Josh Kohlbach, CEO and founder of Rymera Web Co, the makers of Wholesale Suite, the No. 1 WooCommerce wholesale solution.

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Influencer marketing has been around for decades, though we might not have called it that until recently. It’s a powerful way to get leads, make sales and increase brand awareness, even for business-to-business (B2B) companies. Industry surveys say that 80% of marketers use influencer marketing today, and spending is estimated to reach $8 billion this year.

If you’re part of the 20% of marketers not using influencer marketing, I believe you’re missing out. Here are five reasons to invest in influencer marketing today.

1. It Has An Extremely High ROI

TapInfluence, an influencer marketing software company, found that the return on investment (ROI) doubles after three months with no extra investment in the influencer campaign. A single piece of influencer content showed a four times ROI after four months and an eye-popping 11 times sales lift over 12 months.

Usually, it’s expensive to create and publish new content, but an influencer marketing campaign is inexpensive in comparison, mainly because the influencers typically pay all the creative costs of content production.

Finally, you’ll get a high ROI on your influencer content because the influencer knows what kind of content works best for their audience. You eliminate the discussion around what type of content needs to be created for the campaign or the marketing channel. The influencer has already done the market research in their earlier posts, and your brand can enjoy the prework without having to pay for it.

2. It Reduces Overall Marketing Costs

Influencer marketing is a cost-saver for marketers because it provides you with a new library from which you can repurpose content for future use. You’ll have access to all the influencer-created content from your campaign, and you can turn it into several other marketing assets reasonably easily.

This is especially valuable for B2B marketers because they’re creating content for an average of four different audiences and need as much content in their pipelines as possible. By repurposing influencer-generated content, they’ll save time, effort and money.

3. Influencer-Generated Content Lasts Longer

Content marketing is a long-term strategy, as is B2B influencer marketing. (Consumer influencer marketing often operates under a shorter timeline and can have a significant impact during that time.) B2B marketing takes longer to take effect because B2B purchase decisions are more nuanced and comprehensive.

Influencer-generated content can have a significant long-tail effect on B2B campaigns because it continues to be picked up by organic search engine optimization (SEO) searches.

4. It Boosts Audience Engagement

Influencers have highly engaged audiences that are used to connecting and engaging with the content the influencers publish. Partnering with influencers will give you access to that audience and desire to engage with products and brands. More specifically, influencers give brands access to some people, both business-to-consumer (B2C) and B2B, who normally block ads and do not see your content.

One reason that influencers have such devoted and engaged audiences is that they’re perceived as authentic and trustworthy. As we’ve transitioned into a more informed and transparent age of influencer marketing, audiences are more willing to trust the brand someone mentions as long as it’s appropriately disclosed. People are then more likely to share the branded content with their social circles, increasing the engagement even more.

5. It Offers Deeper Storytelling Opportunities

People listen to influencers in part because they’re usually very good at telling stories. Many have naturally developed this skill and use it to great effect online. As humans, we love stories and are innately drawn to storytellers. If your brand wants to create a deeper relationship with its audience, it makes sense to partner with an influencer.

An influencer can help show their audience how your product helped solve a problem they faced. And because their audience is likely made up of similar people to them, the audience relates to the same problem and solution, in both B2C and B2B markets. B2B prospects are people, too, and they often relate to the story just as deeply because they have the same wants and needs as B2C consumers. They may just have to consult with others to put your brand on their shortlist.

I believe influencers are the best content marketers because they have no vested interest in your brand. They’re creating customer-focused content that meets and solves the needs of their audience, which is precisely what content marketing should do. They’ll do it in a more authentic and trusted way, which is important because 85% of people think user-generated content is more influential than branded content. Consider adding influencer marketing to your marketing strategy today.

20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands

Recently we published the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing report after surveying hundreds of B2B marketers about their experiences, best practices, tools, budgets and plans for the future. In an environment where B2B marketing is decidedly digital and marketers are hard pressed to squeeze more productivity out of fewer resources, credible information about marketing…

20 brand b2b influencer marketing pros2.jpg - 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands

Recently we published the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing report after surveying hundreds of B2B marketers about their experiences, best practices, tools, budgets and plans for the future.

In an environment where B2B marketing is decidedly digital and marketers are hard pressed to squeeze more productivity out of fewer resources, credible information about marketing best practices, operations and trends for the future are in high demand. Judging by the response we’ve had to The State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report so far, we’re definitely meeting a need.

There is both optimism and an unrealized opportunity with influencer marketing for B2B companies. For evidence, check out these stats from the report:

  • 78% of B2B marketers believe prospects rely on advice from influencers
  • 74% believe that Influencer Marketing improves customer and prospect experiences
  • 63% agree that marketing would have better results if it included an Influencer Marketing program
  • 60% of marketers who use always on Influencer Marketing programs are very successful vs. 5% who do periodic campaigns

And yet:

  • Only 19% of B2B marketers are running ongoing influencer marketing programs
  • Only half include a plan for influencer activation in their influencer marketing strategy
  • Only 35% of marketers use software to identify potential influencers
  • 60% say they don’t have the knowledge to execute or have the right skills in house to implement ongoing Influencer Marketing programs

Influencer Marketing is a significant opportunity for B2B Marketers to connect with trusted and credible experts that have the attention of audiences that are probably overwhelmed with information and ignoring most of the ads that do get to them. At the same time B2B brands that build relationships to co-create content with these industry voices can integrate influence with thought leadership to build the authority and influence of brand employees.

It is very satisfying to have spent the past 8 years focusing on such a niche aspect of B2B marketing to see it now start to grow in acceptance, adoption and maturity amongst some of the top B2B brands in the world.  Where there were previously no positions outside of PR with “influencer” in the title, now it is much more common to find marketers with titles like, Head of Global Influencer Marketing, VP Influencer Marketing and Communications, or B2B Influencer Engagement Strategist.

Many B2B marketing professionals with these titles have earned hard won insights into what makes influencer marketing truly work for B2B, especially during a time when brand marketers are highly motivated to focus on strategies and tactics that will help them survive and thrive during the pandemic.

To help you connect with the collective wisdom of the B2B influencer marketing crowd, here are 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Professionals to follow (in no particular order):

Ursula Ringham SAP 1 - 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands

Ursula Ringham @ursularingham

Head of Global Influencer Marketing at SAP

rani mani Adobe - 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands

Rani Mani @ranimani0707

Head of Social Influencer Enablement at Adobe

Jen Holtvluwer Spirion - 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands

Jen Holtvluwer @JenHoltvluwer

CMO at Spirion

Garnor Morantes LinkedIn - 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands

Garnor Morantes /in/garnormorantes/

Group Marketing Manager at LinkedIn

Martin Hanna Schneider Electric - 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands

Martin Hanna @martyhanna

VP, Analyst and Influencer Relations at Schneider Electric

Amisha Gandhi SAPAriba - 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands

Amisha Gandhi @AmishaGandhi

VP Influencer Marketing and Communications at SAP Ariba

Chris Purcell HPE - 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands

Chris Purcell @chrispman01

Manager, Influencer Marketing at Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Janine Wegner Dell - 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands

Janine Wegner @JanineWegner

Global Thought Leadership Program & Activation Manager at Dell

Marshall Kirkpatrick Sprinklr - 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands

Marshall Kirkpatrick @marshallk

VP, Influencer Relations, Analyst Relations, and Competitive Intelligence at Sprinklr

angela lipscomb sas - 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands

Angela Lipscomb @AngelaLipscomb

Influencer Relations Manager at SAS

Srijana Angdembey Oracle - 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands

Srijana Angdembey @srijanaa

Director Social Media Marketing at Oracle

Ann Boyd Cherwell - 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands

Ann Boyd @annb

VP Corporate Communications at Cherwell Software

tom treanor treasure data - 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands

Tom Treanor @RtMixMktg

Global Head of Marketing at Arm Treasure Data

Sarah Groves ATTBusiness - 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands

Sarah Groves @sstoesser

Director, Communications, AT&T Business Marketing at AT&T Business

Alyssa Samuelson Microsoft - 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands

Alyssa Samuelson @alyssamuelson

Commercial Influencer Relations at Microsoft

Lucinda Henry Intel - 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands

Lucinda Henry @lucindarhenry1

B2B Influencer Engagement Strategist at Intel

Barbara French Juniper Networks - 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands

Barbara French @bfr3nch

Sr Director, Content and Influencer Marketing at Juniper Networks

Paul Dobson Citrix - 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands

Paul Dobson @svengelsk

Sr. Director, Social and Influencer Marketing at Citrix

Meg Crawford Splunk - 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands

Meg Crawford @Postgrad

Sr. Influencer/Social Media Marketing Manager at Splunk

Brandi Boatner IBM - 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands

Brandi Boatner @ThinkBluePR

Social and Influencer Communications Lead Global Markets at IBM

Of course there are many B2B influencer marketing practitioners from the consulting and agency world that could be on a list like this, including some of my team at TopRank Marketing. Maybe we’ll publish such a list in the future, but for now this resource is focused on people working at B2B brands.

If you know of other B2B brand influencer marketing practitioners, who would you add to this list?

To tap into the collective wisdom of these and more B2B influencer marketing experts, be sure to check out the full report here.

2020 state b2b influencer marketing report toprank marketing - 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands

*SAP, LinkedIn, SAP Ariba, Dell, Cherwell and Treasure Data are TopRank Marketing clients. 

Always-On Influence: Why B2B Needs Brand Research & 11 Must-Ask Questions For Marketers

What is brand research and why is it an important step in building a successful always-on  B2B influencer marketing program? Let’s find out

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What is brand research and why is it an important step in building a successful always-on  B2B influencer marketing program? What are the key facts you need to learn about a brand that will lead to the creation of a strong ongoing influencer program?

Doing brand research right is crucial for always-on B2B influencer marketing success, but where do you start, especially with the increased importance of brand empathy and authenticity?

Don’t worry, as in the third part of our ongoing #AlwaysOnInfluence series — following on the heels of “Always On Influence: Short Term vs. Long Term for Success During a Crisis” — we’ll take the time to show why brand research is key to building a B2B influencer marketing program that features the most relevant influencers.

As a refresher, always-on influencer marketing is the practice of ongoing relationship-building, engagement and activation of a specified group of influencers to build community, content and brand advocacy.

Always-on marketing is a key facet of successful and award-winning campaigns according to new research from Cannes Lions and WARC, which have featured campaign duration as an important element in their new “Effectiveness Code” white paper research examining 5,000 award entrants and winners from 2011 through 2019.

“Even at low budgets, campaigns with longer durations and more media channels are more effective,” the Cannes Lions report notes.

“Overall, tactical campaigns with very short durations and small budgets tend to do poorly when judged on effectiveness. Just 51 percent of those campaigns converted to effectiveness award wins when entered,” the report added.

“As campaigns increase their spend, duration and number of media channels used, they become more effective. An optimum split of marketing investment is 60 percent for long-term brand building and 40 percent for short-term activation,” the report concluded, highlighting the effectiveness of always-on efforts.

Brand Research For Always-On B2B Influencer Marketing

B2B marketers have varying levels of experience with influencer marketing, from initial forays and testing the waters, to much more seasoned and mature approaches developed over many years of refinement.

A sophisticated B2B influencer marketing approach is based on a maturity model that includes conducting preliminary research about a brand to learn its needs, strengths, and weaknesses as it relates to the next steps of finding and connecting with potential influencers.

Let’s take a closer look at why brand research is important to successful always-on B2B influencer marketing programs, and at some of the methods a savvy brand-research strategy should include.

A sophisticated B2B influencer marketing approach is based on a maturity model that includes conducting preliminary research about a brand to learn its needs, strengths, and weaknesses.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis Click To Tweet

Why Brand Research is Key to Successful Always-On B2B Influencer Marketing Programs

Smart brand research adds a needed dose of the insight needed for building an always-on influencer marketing program that will feature the type of well-matched industry expert collaborations that achieve supreme relevance.

By building a robust understanding of a brand’s values, you’ll gain a significant advantage over those who charge straight ahead into beginning the process of gathering a list of potential influencers to work with a brand — another feature that sets continuing marketing programs apart from one-off campaigns.

Learning more about a brand is beneficial to all parties involved. You’ll be able to make more informed decisions when it comes time to seek out influencers, while those industry experts will benefit from the knowledge you’ve already gained about their potential brand client, and the brand itself will also be setting itself up for long-term ongoing B2B influencer marketing success.

Our CEO Lee Odden is a pioneer in the B2B influencer marketing field, and he recently explored the varying influencer maturity models at play in the industry, in “5 Ways To Build A Smarter B2B Influencer Marketing Strategy.”

“When you are more sophisticated and have more experience with this, you can hit the ground running and do certain things to help a business — such as doing a pilot — and you’ll start to see some of those metrics that will get attention from executive sponsorship, and win you more budget to roll out that program in a much more significant way,” Lee explained recently on a topic he has also explored in greater detail in “Trust in Marketing: How to Build Influence with the C-Suite and on the Street with Customers.”

Turning Brand Research Data Into Always-On Influence Success

With smart brand influencer research data in hand, moving on to the process of seeking the most relevant potential influencers packs an especially powerful wallop when you understand a brand’s shared objectives, intrinsic values, and its nuanced peculiarities.

As Lee has often noted, trust is a two-way street of multidimensional elements when it comes to influencer marketing, and as B2B marketers it’s important to recognize this during research and communication with both brands and potential influencers.

“If the brand is empathizing with the influencer, they’re not only finding out if they’re topically relevant for the thing they want to collaborate on, but also they understand the influencer’s motivations, their needs, their wants, their pain points, and the return on investment (ROI) to which a collaboration with a brand will help solve those things,” Lee observed.

Truly legitimate brand-influencer collaboration also ultimately leads to stronger customer and buyer trust, as a mature B2B influencer marketing initiative recognizes the importance of first identifying and defining what marketing problem a brand is trying to solve.

Here are 11 key questions to answer during your brand research, to help solve a brand’s key marketing problem and inform a robust and mature always-on B2B influencer marketing program:

1 — What about a brand is unique with what it stands for?

Learn what makes a brand unique with what it stands for, through outreach to key team-members the the brand, examining mission statements and any history documents the organization has made available, recent press mentions, and through customer sentiment investigations via various social channels.

2 — What about a brand is compelling — why does the brand matter?

What makes a brand compelling and why should people care about it? Finding information that helps answer these important questions will go a long way in defining an always-on B2B influencer marketing program for the brand, especially when it comes time to find industry experts who match the brand’s story, vision, and organizational outlook.

3 — What is the state of the brand’s overall awareness — where does it fit in among its intended audience?

Just as brands have varying levels of influencer marketing maturity, each organization also holds a unique spot in the eyes of its intended audience, and learning as much as you can about the brand’s overall level of audience awareness will help bolster your always-on influencer marketing efforts.

Each brand holds a unique spot in the eyes of its intended audience, and learning as much as you can about the brand’s overall level of audience awareness will help bolster your always-on influencer marketing efforts.” @lanerellis Click To Tweet

4 — How is the brand perceived among its various stakeholders?

Not only the eyes of potential customers need to be taken into consideration when it comes to overall brand perception. Buyers, fans, and a variety of both internal and external stakeholders all have views on the brand that you can learn a great deal from by taking the time to research sentiment from each type of stakeholder.

This brand perception information then becomes useful throughout the influencer marketing strategy timeline.

5 — Where does the brand sit in its competitive landscape compared to those offering similar services or products?

Learning about a brand for an always-on influencer marketing program not only involves researching the organization, but examining its relevant competitive landscape.

A brand sitting atop its industry niche will have both advantages and disadvantages to consider, while a recently-launched startup can count on battling a different set of concerns — and seeing its own array of influencer marketing advantages. Having this data from early on in an always-on influencer marketing program will place your efforts ahead of those of others who take a pass on answering these important questions.

6 — How has the brand been performing both historically and recently?

Is a brand on an upswing, such as online collaboration platforms and their skyrocketing usage increases seen during the ongoing global health crisis, or has the pandemic brought it newfound struggles to overcome?

Examining brand performance trend data can provide helpful insights for shaping a robust always-on influencer marketing program tailored specifically to the needs of the brand.

7 — Who are the brand’s stakeholders?

In addition to knowing how stakeholders perceive a brand, compiling a basic list of who its stakeholders are can fast-track potential influencer outreach and vetting activities when the time arrives.

As with many of these brand-research questions, asking a variety of people throughout an organization — and not only marketers or corporate executives — can provide a more wide-ranging and realistic look at a brand.

8 — What are the brand’s plans and vision for the future?

Wherever possible seek out information related to a brand’s future plans, whether it’s through a short-term or long-term timeline of goals. Understanding a brand’s vision for the future — especially if they involve major planned shifts in focus — can make finding and lining up appropriate industry experts to meet a brand’s changing directions all the more efficient.

9 — What are the primary and secondary topics that represent solutions to a brand’s foremost marketing problem?

It’s important to identify and define what marketing problem a brand is trying to solve, and to then use this information to compile a list of primary and secondary topics that represent solutions.

Such a topic solutions list can then be consulted when researching potential industry experts to collaborate with for a brand’s always-on influencer marketing program.

10 — How is the brand marketing its solutions, and how do buyers and potential customers find the solutions they’re looking for?

If the two aren’t aligned, the information you’ve gathered from following the previous steps we’ve gone over can help harmonize the solutions the brand offers with those that buyers and potential customers are seeking.

A brand’s potential customers and buyers may be primarily looking for answers and solutions on LinkedIn* or another platform, or through search engines, while the brand might be offering its key solutions on its website in white paper or case study form.

Armed with the types of information about a brand we’ve explored, bringing the brand’s solutions to the places its existing and potential customers are actively looking for answers is a much more streamlined proposition, and one where always-on influencer marketing can thrive.

11 — What are the terms, phrases and topics most accurately associated with a brand’s problem and its solutions?

Finally, compiling a list of the keywords, terms, phrases, topics, and questions that are most relevant to a brand’s primary marketing problem and the solutions it offers will help power a smart always-on influencer marketing program.

Once you’ve used brand research to answer these 11 questions and identify a brand’s topics of influence, you’ll have a much clearer signal for finding experts who are influential about those topics, and when it then comes time to facilitate content co-creation between a brand and influencers, your earlier efforts will pay off.

These questions are only a starting point for learning more about a brand, however, and we encourage you to expand on them as needed.

With Smart Brand Influencer Research In Hand, It’s Time To Find The Best Influencers

Brand research for always-on influencer marketing offers B2B brands a great value when done right, in a process that is of an ongoing nature and not a one-and-done single campaign.

As AdWeek recently noted, “Brands leading in influencer marketing are making increasingly longer collaborations a big component of their influencer marketing strategy. It allows the influencer to best understand the brand’s values and marketing needs, enabling the development of a thoughtful strategy to deliver that to their audience over time.”

Always-on influence involves co-creating the kind of authoritative content that earns, grows, and keeps audience trust, and by asking the 11 questions we’ve explored here, B2B marketers will be well-equipped to tackle the next phases of an always-on influencer program.

Stay tuned, as we’ll be exploring each step of the always-on B2B influencer marketing journey in upcoming posts, and explaining why each portion of a continuing program is vital for ongoing success.

In case you missed the previous three guides in our ongoing series of always-on B2B influencer marketing, you’ll find them here as a helpful reference:

* LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

How to Set Up and Measure a TikTok Influencer Marketing Campaign

Want to get your product in front of TikTok’s growing audience? Wondering how to partner with influential creators on TikTok?

In this article, you’ll discover tips and tools to set up and analyze a TikTok influencer marketing campaign.

Want to get your product in front of TikTok’s growing audience? Wondering how to partner with influential creators on TikTok?

In this article, you’ll discover tips and tools to set up and analyze a TikTok influencer marketing campaign.

tiktok influencer campaign how to set up measure 800 - How to Set Up and Measure a TikTok Influencer Marketing Campaign

How TikTok Influencer Campaigns Work

While still in its infancy, TikTok has become ripe for businesses interested in partnering with influencers. With tools like the TikTok Creator Marketplace, you can easily source suitable influencer partnerships to promote sponsored content.

Although content on TikTok has the potential to reach millions of users, the dynamic of building a successful influencer campaign requires a higher level of strategic planning in comparison to platforms like Instagram or Facebook.

When partnering with an influencer on Instagram, a content strategy could often include publishing photos of a product, some additional stories, or perhaps a video of a creator using the product.

On TikTok, however, the objective of a sponsored partnership is to partner with one influencer, then drive more engagement from the community of creators as a whole. TikTok influencer posts will often promote a product while also encouraging the rest of the community to join in the experience.

To visualize this, when retail stores closed in early 2020, Levi’s turned to TikTok as a way to drive traffic to their eCommerce site. By partnering with popular creators, they successfully promoted their new line of customized denim products. As a result of this creator collaboration, the brand doubled their website traffic to these product pages.

@callenschaubIn my Montreal studio putting my spin on the Levi’s® Future Finish jeans – Shop online from home! ##stayhome ##oddlysatisfying ##levishausmiami ##ad♬ original sound – callenschaub

When the audience of an influencer actively participates in a promoted challenge, they too become a part of the influencer campaign, promoting this content to their own audiences. No other platform has the framework to create viral engagement like TikTok does.

ims20logo - How to Set Up and Measure a TikTok Influencer Marketing Campaign

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Now we’ll look at how to set up a TikTok influencer campaign.

#1: Choose a TikTok Influencer Campaign Type

Before your business begins sourcing TikTok influencer partnerships, it’s important to understand the different TikTok campaigns you can create through these collaborations.

TikTok Challenges

Some of the most popular videos across TikTok are user-generated challenges. TikTok challenges are a fast way to gain viral traction as millions of users actively participate by recreating an original video.

When an influencer creates a branded challenge, it should include a dedicated hashtag, allowing users to label and follow each submission. TikTok displays a list of trending hashtags on the Discover page so these challenges are organically promoted within the community.

tiktok discover page 350 - How to Set Up and Measure a TikTok Influencer Marketing Campaign

Dances

Similar to hashtag challenges, dance routines are structured to be recreated by each user. These types of posts are powered by a consistent theme song with a catchy hook or rhythm.

@jasminetxoMood when you reunite with your friends! (Don’t forget to social distance!) 💛🙏🏾 || ft. @livpats || ##YeahWeBack ##Dance ##Australia @optus♬ Move – Baker Boy

Duets

Duets encourage any TikTok user to directly collaborate with an existing post by creating a side-by-side video with an original piece of content. You can think of these like reaction videos on YouTube, only they can be used in all sorts of creative ways.

@charlidamelio##duet with @gemmah_ i miss my baby gem gem!! 🙁 dc @noahschnapp♬ Do It Again – Pia Mia

Like all influencer marketing campaigns, it’s important to work closely with creators to develop a content strategy that’s consistent with their existing profile. When a TikTok influencer’s content resonates with their audience, the post will often result in higher engagement rates.

#2: Use TikTok’s Creator Marketplace to Identify Possible Influencer Partners

Once you’ve developed an initial content strategy for your branded TikTok influencer campaign, it’s time to start searching for suitable influencers to partner with.

With TikTok’s Creator Marketplace now available in early access, you can seamlessly search for and collaborate with suitable influencers for your business. If you’re interested in sourcing influencers for a campaign, you can request access to the platform.

tiktok creator marketplace 800 - How to Set Up and Measure a TikTok Influencer Marketing Campaign

Once you’re granted access to the marketplace, it’s time to begin searching through the catalog of potential TikTok creators. Using the available search filters, you can uncover data about a creator’s profile and the demographics of their audience.

When starting your search, there are myriad filters to help you find the most suitable creator for your needs.

Creator Data

These filters will help you refine your search based on the creator’s profile.

Country: This is the country in which the influencer is based.

Topic: This is the category of content that a creator publishes. Because TikTok’s platform is capable of identifying the context and objects within a video, it allows the Creator Marketplace to accurately segment creators into content categories.

Reach: The reach measurement is a representation of a creator’s total follower count. Remember that unlike existing social platforms, the true potential reach of a creator’s content is often far beyond their own audience. If a piece of content is featured on the For You page, the content can quickly be distributed to an audience of millions.

Average Views: This is a useful metric to understand a historical benchmark of a creator’s previous content. Because follower count is often not the best representation of a creator’s potential reach, this data point can help forecast the future performance of a piece of content.

tiktok creator marketplace search 800 - How to Set Up and Measure a TikTok Influencer Marketing Campaign

Audience Data

Selecting a TikTok influencer whose audience is best aligned to your target users can yield the highest performance results throughout an influencer campaign.

You can use these filters to refine your creator search based on available audience data.

Country or region: Filter your search based on where the majority of a creator’s audience is based. Although a creator might live in the U.S., their audience could be based in the UK. So if your business is only interested in targeting users in the U.S., this creator wouldn’t be suitable.

Gender and age: These filters allow you to refine your search based on the average demographics of the creator’s audience. This is important for ensuring your brand reaches the users who are most likely to engage with your sponsored product.

Pro Tip: You can add a filter to this gender search field to customize what percentage of an audience is a specific gender. This would be useful if you’d like to partner with a creator whose audience is greater than 50% female, for instance.

tiktok creator marketplace gender filter 800 - How to Set Up and Measure a TikTok Influencer Marketing Campaign

Devices: This filter allows you to search by audiences that use a specific operating system (Android or iOS). This would be helpful if you’re promoting an ad for app downloads or even a podcast. Again, you can add minimum and maximum filters to this search criterion.

eCommerce anchor: As TikTok continues to introduce eCommerce features for sponsored content, this filter allows you to identify which creators have access to these shoppable features. These features will be essential for eCommerce brands looking to drive product purchases through their influencer partnerships.

tiktok creator marketplace e commerce anchor filter - How to Set Up and Measure a TikTok Influencer Marketing Campaign

#3: Evaluate Individual TikTok Influencers in the Creator Marketplace

Once you’ve created an initial search using the available filters, the marketplace will display a list of creators who meet your selected criteria.

At first glance, each creator tile will display a view of their top-line metrics, including their country, reach, average views, and audience breakdown by gender.

tiktok creator marketplace topline metrics 800 - How to Set Up and Measure a TikTok Influencer Marketing Campaign

When you click through to an individual creator’s profile, you’ll see a full dashboard of their core metrics, allowing you to glean more insights from their profile performance data. It’s important to note that these metrics are an average of the creator’s last 30 videos.

This data includes:

  • Total views
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Shares
  • Average engagement rate

tiktok creator marketplace core metrics 800 - How to Set Up and Measure a TikTok Influencer Marketing Campaign

Below these core metrics, the creator’s profile displays a grid of sample videos from their most recent uploads. You can filter these videos to display any previous sponsored videos the creator has published. As a business, this allows you to review the quality of those sponsored videos.

tiktok creator marketplace sample videos 800 - How to Set Up and Measure a TikTok Influencer Marketing Campaign

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Below this list of videos, you can see a full breakdown of the creator’s audience insights. This data is displayed through a series of engaging visualizations, making it easy to uncover meaningful insights.

tiktok creator marketplace audience demographics - How to Set Up and Measure a TikTok Influencer Marketing Campaign

One of the core data points that I strongly recommend analyzing is the measurement of an audience’s usage. The usage metric identifies what total percentage of a creator’s audience is currently active on the platform. If a creator has a reach of 1 million followers, but the usage of their audience is only 55% active, the potential reach is in fact 550,000.

As a business, it’s obviously in your best interest to find influencers with the lowest level of inactive users, allowing your promoted content to reach as many people as possible. This metric also influences the cost of creators throughout any paid partnerships.

tiktok creator marketplace tiktok usage - How to Set Up and Measure a TikTok Influencer Marketing Campaign

Another key visualization is the breakdown of the creator’s audience by geographic location. The Creator Marketplace provides two visualizations on each profile—one for a country-level breakdown and another for the top-performing states.

This data can be useful in determining which cities you’d like to target. To illustrate, if your brand owns brick-and-mortar stores in California, Texas, and Florida, it’d be essential to partner with creators who have the largest distribution of their audience across those states.

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The last key data point I recommend analyzing is the historical view, displaying performance trends across the creator’s profile. This data will visualize a graph of the creator’s follower count, video views, and engagement rate on a day-by-day timeline.

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Viewing this data will help you identify creators who have consistently grown their audience over time. Because newly established creators can amass large audiences after publishing a handful of TikTok videos, this data identifies those who have shown long-term engagement.

When a creator has an established profile over a longer period, an audience is more likely to trust them as a thought leader. From a brand perspective, partnering with established creators can result in higher engagement rates because their audience will be more receptive to their sponsored content.

Once you’ve discovered the perfect influencer for your campaign, you can add that person to a custom shortlist so you can bookmark their profiles for later use.

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Note: The Creator Marketplace is still in its infancy, so as of this writing, it features some of the most renowned creators across the platform. Because these influencers are often the most popular accounts, some businesses with a smaller budget might have difficulty finding a partnership. If your business is interested in partnering with micro-influencers, the Creator Marketplace may not be the best solution.

#4: Set Up and Run Your TikTok Influencer Campaign With Your Chosen Influencer Partners

Once you’ve discovered an influencer you’d like to collaborate with, you can create a shortlist and bookmark their profile within this group.

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Next, click the New Campaign button to set up the campaign framework itself.

From here, you’re required to add the details about your brand and an outline of the campaign including the campaign objective, dates, and a custom message to send to creators. You can even add a custom file to showcase the full campaign summary.

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Pro Tip: When outlining a custom message for your campaign outreach, you can use one of TikTok’s templates to streamline the onboarding process.

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After building the framework of your campaign, select influencers from your saved lists on the right-hand section of the page.

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Once you’ve finalized the details of your campaign and added a complete list of the creators you’d like to partner with, you can submit your campaign. At this point, the shortlisted creators will receive your campaign invite and can choose whether to accept the partnership.

#5: Measure the Performance of Your TikTok Influencer Campaign

If you’ve discovered a smaller-sized TikTok influencer you’d like to partner with, but they’re not yet featured in the Creator Marketplace, it can be difficult to glean any insights about the performance of their account.

As influencer marketing becomes more data-driven, understanding the metrics of an influencer’s account will help determine the success of your overall campaign. A third-party tool like Pentos will help you track and measure the performance of any TikTok profile, as well as individual videos, hashtags, and songs.

As a social media marketer, I use Pentos not only to measure the performance of my clients’ TikTok content but also monitor the content published by their competitors.

A Pentos pro account starts at €29/month but you can sign up for a 14-day free trial to start monitoring potential influencers right away.

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Measure the Performance of Influencer Profiles

Although TikTok’s Creator Marketplace is an effective platform for discovering influencers, it still has room for improvement when it comes to the post-campaign performance data it reports. Without direct access to a creator’s profile analytics, businesses are restricted to the few insights available under the Reporting tab.

After launching a campaign, I rely on Pentos to aggregate insights from a creator’s profile, their videos, and any related music or hashtags associated with the campaign.

After adding any TikTok handle into your Pentos dashboard, you can start recording data on core account metrics, including:

  • Total followers and new followers
  • Total account likes and new likes
  • Total number of video views and new views
  • Total of accounts the creator follows
  • Total number of videos published and videos published within the past 7 days

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It’s also possible to view a breakdown of each account to uncover more useful data, including their:

  • Average engagement rate
  • Average comments per post
  • Average likes
  • Total comments across their posts
  • Total shares
  • Most frequently used hashtags

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As TikTok’s Creator Marketplace only displays core metrics over the most recent 30-day period, I’ve found Pentos to be more effective at benchmarking averages for metrics across creator accounts.

Measure the Performance of TikTok Influencer Content

Another key benefit of Pentos is its ability to measure data from individual videos. This is perfect for identifying the performance of your sponsored piece of content. By submitting the URL of any TikTok video, you can review all of the same core metrics listed above.

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Pentos will even visualize this data in a historical graph, allowing you to identify key dates when a video went viral or started to lose momentum.

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Whenever I stumble across a competitor’s TikTok influencer post, I’ll always add the URL to my Pentos dashboard. By monitoring these videos, I can start to benchmark any common performance trends. This data becomes helpful when I create a new influencer campaign. At this point, I can analyze what previous videos have performed well and then try to replicate a similar strategy.

Monitor Your Sponsored Hashtag

With hashtag challenges being one of the most powerful ways to gain viral engagement across TikTok, businesses are beginning to partner with influencers to kickstart viral challenges of their own.

Traditionally, it’s been difficult to measure the impact of a TikTok influencer’s post on an overall hashtag. Because the measurement of success for a hashtag doesn’t rely on just one video, it’s important to understand how well the whole campaign performed as a result.

The hashtag analytics tool within Pentos empowers you to monitor any sponsored hashtags you follow or create.

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Once again, you can dive into each individual hashtag and review the performance data as a timeline series. This will allow you to identify the tangible impact your sponsored influencer posts had on your overall TikTok campaign.

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In the past, this data has helped me maintain the overall performance of an influencer campaign, allowing me to identify when additional resources should be allocated.

When I start to see a decline in the performance of a hashtag, I know to start collaborating with another influencer to reboot engagement. This ability to remain agile throughout your TikTok influencer campaign will help you outperform your competitors.

Pro Tip: Pentos lets you export any data into a CSV file. This feature is useful when reporting the performance of an influencer campaign to a client. Whether you’re using Data Studio or manual pivot tables, you can easily import this data to create your own branded visualizations.

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Conclusion

With the average TikTok engagement rate surpassing Instagram, brands are beginning to prioritize the platform as a valuable tool for building their own audience. Some of the world’s most popular brands like Chipotle, Calvin Klein, and Levi’s are using TikTok in creative ways to drive viral engagement. While brands are finding success in publishing native content to the platform, they’ve also found value in partnering with popular creators to leverage their audiences.

There’s no denying that TikTok is here to stay, so if your brand is working with influencers, it’s more important than ever to start diversifying your strategy to include TikTok. With unprecedented reach, TikTok can be a powerful way not only to drive engagement for your business but also to convert users into customers through its new eCommerce features.

Using both of the tools mentioned in this article, you can easily start sourcing suitable influencers for your brand and then properly attribute the performance of these campaigns.

Like all influencer marketing campaigns, it’s essential to build meaningful relationships with creators and include them throughout the campaign process. No one understands the nuances of their audience more than the creators themselves.

What do you think? Have you started working with TikTok influencers? What strategies and tools have worked well for you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

More articles on TikTok marketing:

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How to Use Instagram Branded Content Ads With Influencers

Do you partner with Instagram influencers? Want to easily turn influencer content into ads? In this article, you’ll discover how to use Instagram Branded Content Ads to amplify the reach of your influencer campaigns.

Do you partner with Instagram influencers? Want to easily turn influencer content into ads?

In this article, you’ll discover how to use Instagram Branded Content Ads to amplify the reach of your influencer campaigns.

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Why Use Instagram Branded Content Ads?

According to Instagram, branded content is defined as “a creator or publisher’s content that features or is influenced by a business partner for an exchange of value (for example, where the business partner has paid the creator or publisher).” Instagram branded content posts are created by influencers to promote a particular brand or business in return for some sort of compensation like money, products, or services.

All branded content posts have a “Paid Partnership with [name of company/brand]” label under the influencer’s Instagram handle, making them easily recognizable. This ensures better transparency of paid collaborations and clears up any confusion in the viewer’s mind.

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People engage with a lot of branded content on Instagram. According to a Facebook for Business survey of Instagram users:

  • 42% of respondents said that branded content helps them discover products or services.
  • 44% of respondents said that branded content helps them find out about a product or service.
  • 41% of respondents said that a brand’s content helps them research a product or service.

To reach a wider audience with Instagram branded content posts, you can now turn them into ads. Currently, there are two types of Instagram branded content ads: feed ads and stories ads. You must be tagged as a business partner in the post to be able to promote that post as a branded content ad.

Here are a few reasons why you should consider running Instagram branded content ads for your business:

  • Amplify the reach and engagement of branded content. These ads are presented to Instagram users just like any other Instagram ad type, ensuring more eyeballs on the content beyond just the influencer’s following.
  • Provide transparency to Instagram users. Social media users care about ad transparency, and Instagram branded content ads make it easy for people to recognize your brand collaborations with influencers. Every branded content ad contains a “Paid Partnership” tag along with the brand name. This builds credibility and brands don’t have to rely on their influencers to use transparent hashtags.

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  • Offer a seamless shopping experience. With shopping tags and branded content ads at your service, audiences can easily purchase your products without leaving the Instagram app.
  • Allow for optimization. You’ll be able to see all of the results and ad metrics for your Instagram branded content ads in Facebook Ads Manager. With meaningful insights for your campaign, you can optimize your ads for better results.

Now that you know about the benefits of Instagram branded content ads, here’s how to set up a campaign.

#1: Approve and Manage Instagram Influencer Partnership Requests

Before you start collaborating with influencers on Instagram branded content, you need to set up branded content approvals.

To do this, tap the three-lines icon at the top right of your Instagram business profile and choose Settings from the pop-up menu.

When your account settings open, tap the Business option and then select Branded Content.

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The next screen will show your branded content approval settings. The option to manually approve tags is selected by default, which makes a lot of sense. If you were to toggle this option off, anyone would be able to tag you as a business partner in branded content.

The Tag Requests section is where you view and approve requests from influencers to tag your brand as a business partner. When you approve a request, that influencer shows up in the Approved Business Partners section.

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How Instagram Influencers Tag Your Brand and Make Their Content Eligible for Ads

Your influencer partner must be a registered creator on Instagram and must have access to branded content tools. Creators must comply with some Instagram policies to become eligible for branded content tools.

When influencers create branded content posts, here’s how they send tag requests to your brand and make their content eligible for ads.

For Instagram Branded Content Posts in the Feed

When creating a feed post, the influencer taps Advanced Settings and then Tag Business Partner. From there, they search for your business partner account and send you a tag request. Once your brand approves the influencer as a business partner, they’ll be able to directly tag your brand in their posts.

Influencers also need to take one additional step to make their organic Instagram posts eligible for branded content ads. In the Branded Content section, they must select the Allow Business Partner to Promote option.

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For Instagram Branded Content Posts in Stories

When the influencer creates a branded Instagram story, they tap the link icon at the top of the screen and then select Tag Business Partner.

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From here, the influencer can either send you a tag request or directly tag you as a business partner. Additionally, they’ll see the option to allow your brand to promote the content as an ad.

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Pro Tip: For your Instagram branded content to be successful, you need to clearly communicate with your influencer partner. Discuss your plan and objectives with them so there’s no confusion about what you want to achieve with your partnership.

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#2: Choose an Instagram Branded Content Post to Promote

After your influencer partner has successfully shared a post organically, tagged you as a business partner, and allowed you to promote it, you can create a branded content ad on Instagram.

Note: Influencers can publish branded content ads in Ads Manager without posting the content organically first. However, your brand can only promote branded content that was first posted organically from the influencer’s account.

Choose the organic branded content post you want to promote carefully. This is a vital step. You should be familiar with the type of content the influencer posts on their account and the type of response they get from such posts. Depending on your ad objective or goal such as increased app installs or sales, determine which influencer post is best suited to achieve that goal.

To view insights for organic branded content you’ve been tagged in, you can look in your Facebook Page Insights or Facebook Brands Collabs Manager.

Set Up Brand Collabs Manager

Brand Collabs Manager is a dedicated tool provided by Facebook that takes content partnerships between brands and influencers on both Facebook and Instagram to the next level.

As a brand, Brand Collabs Manager will help you find Instagram influencers who have similar audiences to yours and show insights for organic Instagram branded content posts.

To sign up for Brand Collabs Manager, go to https://www.facebook.com/collabsmanager/signup/brand. Select the Facebook page that’s connected to your Instagram account, type in your email address, and accept the Terms of Service. Click Submit when you’re done.

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Once you’ve been approved, you’ll see the Brand Collabs Manager dashboard.

On the Insights tab, you’ll be able to see the reach and engagement data for any organic branded content posts from influencers you’ve partnered with.

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View Instagram Branded Content Insights in Facebook Page Insights

You can also view data for organic branded content posts in your Facebook Page Insights. To access this data, click the Insights tab on your page and select Branded Content in the left navigation.

Click the Posts tab to see reach and engagement for your branded content feed posts. On the Stories tab, you’ll find reach and engagement for branded content Stories posts.

#3: Create an Instagram Branded Content Ad to Promote Your Influencer’s Post

Before setting up your Instagram branded content campaign, define the campaign goal you want to achieve. Then based on this goal, determine the metrics involved in achieving it. For example, if your goal is to increase app installations, the number of clicks on your application download button matter more than the reach of the post. You’ll then be able to calculate campaign performance more effectively.

Once you’ve decided what you want to achieve and what content to promote, go to Facebook Ads Manager, create a new ad campaign, and select your campaign objective. You can choose App Installs, Brand Awareness, Reach, Traffic, Video Views, Conversions, and Page Post Engagement (feed only) as objectives for Instagram branded content ads.

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Next, set up your ad set. Define the audience you want to target and choose your ad placements. Instead of automatic placements, go with Manual Placements and choose only those that apply to Instagram such as Instagram Feed, Explore, or Stories.

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When you reach the ad level, click on Use Existing Post. Then under Creative, click Select Post.

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In the Select Post window, click on the Branded Content tab and select the branded content post you want to promote as an ad. When you’re done, click Continue.

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You can now see a final preview of your ad. If everything looks okay, click Confirm to finish the ad creation. The ad will then be reviewed and approved or disapproved for publishing. You’ll be notified in both cases.

Note: Your influencer partner won’t be able to make any changes to their post while you’re promoting it as an ad. They also won’t be able to see the ad performance, just the metrics of their organic post.

#4: Remove Your Tag From an Instagram Branded Content Post

As a brand, you may want to be removed or untagged from an Instagram branded content post at some point. You can remove the tag from either Facebook or Instagram.

From Facebook

To remove your tag via Facebook, go to your Facebook Page Insights and click on the Branded Content tab. Then find the branded content post and click on it, or click on Review Post.

Select Remove Tag and then click Confirm on the Remove Tag confirmation screen.

From Instagram

For an Instagram feed post, tap on the three dots at the top-right corner of the tagged post and select Remove Me From Post.

For an Instagram story post, tap on the three dots in the bottom-right corner of the tagged story post and select Remove Me From Post.

Conclusion

One effective way for brands to boost their social media engagement is with influencer marketing. Brands partner with Instagram influencers to boost the credibility of their content by association and reach the influencer’s audience on the platform. With Instagram branded content ads, you can expand the reach of the content beyond the influencer’s following and improve the chances of reaching your target audience.

What do you think? What features of Instagram branded content ads do you find the most advantageous? Have you run an Instagram branded content ad campaign yet? Do you plan to use these ads in the near future? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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How To Level Up Marketing Content From B2B Influencers

So you’ve identified the true influencers to your target audience, Here is how to unleash your Influencer content you start,

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Why do you even need a content person for influencer marketing?

After all, the influencers are providing the content. You just have to collect their pearls of wisdom, make them look pretty in a PDF, and you’re good to go, right?

I’ll confess, on my first influencer marketing project, I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing there. Over the last few years, however, I’ve come to understand the role that content marketers can play in shaping influencer content.

It’s the content lead’s job to shape the conversation with the influencer. We have to ask the right questions, and provide a structure and framework to elicit thoughtful, detailed responses.

There are a few extraordinary thought leaders who will dash off a thousand-word, amazingly insightful response to the vaguest prompt. But most folks — even those who write for a living — need more to go on than “What is the biggest problem facing our industry?”

The influencers you’re talking to have spent hours of time and effort learning about their subject matter, building an audience with powerful, useful content that provokes action. When you email that list of questions, or sit down for an interview, make sure you don’t leave any insight untapped.

Here’s how we at TopRank are evolving our influencer approach to get at that next-level content.

How to Unleash Your Influencer Content

So you’ve identified the true influencers to your target audience, you’ve developed relationships, and now you’re ready to co-create content together. Before you start, make sure you lay the groundwork for a productive Q&A.

Ask More Specific Questions

Influencers will take their cue on how to answer based on how you ask the question.  If you start with a mile-high question like, “What challenges should leaders be aware of right now?”, you’re likely to get a high-level response, something vague and oracular. That’s not because the interviewee can’t get into specifics — it’s because you didn’t invite them to.

A better approach is to find out the biggest challenges that your industry is facing, pick one, and ask what we should be doing about it: “The latest Gartner report says that 75% of managers don’t have enough donuts in the breakroom. What are the options for HR leaders to fix this problem? What do you recommend?”

Limit the scope of your question, and you invite the influencer to give a more detailed response.

Limit the scope of your question, and you invite the influencer to give a more detailed response. @NiteWrites on #InfluencerMarketing interviews. Click To Tweet

Don’t Ask Questions Everyone Knows the Answer To

It’s easy to fall into this particular trap. You offer the influencer softball questions that have a broad consensus for the answer, they agree with the consensus, everyone goes home happy.

I’m talking about questions like, “Do you think automation is, on the whole, a good thing or bad thing?”  And they answer, “Well, it’s a different thing. It will cost some people their jobs, but for others it will make their jobs less repetitive and more meaningful, and that will open up new opportunities to innovate.”

The above is perfectly acceptable, content-wise, but it’s a waste of your influencer’s time and talent. You don’t hire LeBron James to dunk on a 4-foot rim. Ask questions you don’t know the answer to, questions that your industry is struggling with, questions that cry out for guidance!

You don’t hire LeBron James to dunk on a 4-foot rim. Ask questions you don’t know the answer to, questions that your industry is struggling with, questions that cry out for guidance! @NiteWrites on #InfluencerMarketing Click To Tweet

And, of course, give your influencer plenty of time to think about these questions and formulate thoughtful responses.

Let Your Audience Ask the Questions

One of the best ways to get at these more detailed, more challenging questions is to see what questions your audience is actually asking. There are two ways to go about soliciting audience questions for an influencer.

The first is the direct one: Ask on your social media channels and your email newsletter. For example, a Twitter post could say, “If you could ask Lee Odden one question about influencer marketing, what would it be? Answer with #AskLeeO.” Collect the most pertinent questions and let them guide the interview.

The second way to let your audience ask the questions is to do some keyword research. The topics your audience is searching for are the ones they need answers on. If they had the answers, they wouldn’t be searching! But don’t stop at the highest-volume keywords; those are likely to be too general. Dig into the long-tails on a tool like SEMrush to get at the burning questions.

Ask for Stories

Many of the influencers we work with are consultants, keynote speakers, or have been executives at multiple companies. These folks have a ton of practical experience — we just have to ask them to draw on it.

Instead of asking, “What do you think are the three biggest challenges,” ask, “What problems are your clients coming to you with?” Or, even better, “Have you had clients with a similar problem? Tell me about how you advised them, what they did to solve it, and what success looks like.”

Asking for stories like this gives your influencer a chance to demonstrate their expertise in action, and offers your audience a more grounded, relatable look at your topic.

Power Up Your B2B Influencer Content

Content planning is a crucial part of influencer marketing. It’s the content team’s job to ask questions that meet audience demand, inspire thoughtful contemplation, and make full use of the influencer’s experience and insight. Asking the right questions is the difference between good and great influencer content.

If you want to level up your B2B influencer marketing content, make your questions specific, skip telling the audience what they already know, and ask for unique stories that only your influencer could tell.

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How To Find And Engage Influencers To Multiply Your Brand Reach

When looking for potential ways to expand exposure and reach this year, many turn to influencer marketing. Here are a few noteworthy ways to find credible influencers that are aligned with your brand and craft conversion-worthy posts with them, so that you can take full advantage of influencer marketing this year. 

When looking for potential ways to expand exposure and reach this year, many turn to influencer marketing. Defined by investing in influencers with large social media followings rather than in targeted advertisements, many find that the results are stronger with influencers simply because of the trust they’ve established with their audience.

In fact, nearly 90% of marketers report that influencer marketing has a higher ROI than other marketing avenues. Where can these marketers get stuck? Finding the right influencers for their product and helping them craft the ideal advertisement. Some influencers aren’t open to advertising on their accounts, some appear to be influencers due to vanity metrics but don’t have the engagement to boot, and some have ambiguous audiences.

Here are a few noteworthy ways to find credible influencers that are aligned with your brand and craft conversion-worthy posts with them, so that you can take full advantage of influencer marketing this year.

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How To Find And Engage Influencers To Multiply Your Brand Reach | Stephanie Burns

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1. Work With An Agency

If you don’t have a ton of extra time to search for influencers, consider finding an influencer marketing agency or talent agency. These agencies represent people with large followings, whether they built them themselves or appeared on reality shows. There’s a benefit to going this route even if you did have the time to research on your own: you have a higher chance if getting a response.

Since these agencies already have relationship capital with their talent, going through them nearly guarantees a response. It’s harder to reach major influencers on your own when they get so many cold emails and direct messages on a daily basis. Some are full service, too – according to Influencer Marketing Hub, “many influencer marketing agencies…help brands through every stage of the influencer marketing process, from influencer discovery, through influencer management, assisting with content creation, to analyzing and reporting on a campaign’s success.”

2. Encourage Creativity In The Influencer’s Approach To The Advertisement

Janelle Kao (Freya Fox) influencer marketer and esports consultant, shared with me that influencers are going to be, and should be, as creative as they can in approaching how they advertise your product. “Remember that this is not traditional advertising,” she advised. “So, giving the influencers free rein to put their own twist on how to advertise is essential, while also maintaining open communication about the main points you need emphasized.”

The more creative the influencer is, the more it will resonate with their audience because the audience is likely to recognize the influencer’s flair. “It will feel less like an advertisement, and more like a natural puzzle piece of what the influencer is already doing,” Kao said. For this reason, it’s important that your team likes and feels a resonance with the current creative direction of the influencer’s accounts.

3. Add In Incentives On Top Of The Marketing Fee

In addition to offering the standard fee for a sponsored post, it may be a good idea to add in an incentive, especially if you’re working with several influencers. Allee Williams, founder of Leia Rising and social media strategist, noted that a company she once worked with did just that. “They emailed all their influencer partners on Black Friday and told us that whoever had the most conversions from their unique link would be flown out to headquarters for a tour, spa day, and three night stay in Southern California,” she shared. “They blew up on social media that day because we all wanted to win that trip!” she laughed.

If a trip isn’t a good fit for your company, add a financial incentive, such as – “If you sell X amount of products in the first week, we’ll give you an extra $X.” This will motivate the influencer to be more diligent in crafting their post, and to perhaps send it directly to people who would be interested in your product.

Once you get started with influencer marketing, your brand will gain enough exposure and recognizability to start gaining credibility with other influencers. It can take off from there. Expand your brand reach this year by putting these influencer marketing tips to work.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

Now Is the Ideal Time to Invest in Influencer Marketing

Coronavirus has thrown the ad industry in disarray. The traditional way of doing things is over, which means that this is the perfect time invest in influencer marketing, which is effective, efficient, nimble and drives results.

Influencers drive engagement and are cost effective.

3 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Coronavirus has thrown the ad industry in disarray. Offices are closed and staff are working from home. Productions have been postponed or canceled. Marketing budgets have been slashed. The traditional way of doing things is over, which means that this is the perfect time invest in influencer marketing, which is effective, efficient, nimble and drives results.

In terms of measurable ROI, influencer engagement scores much higher than most brand content. Brand videos on Facebook have an average watch time of 4.57 seconds, while influencers get tens of minutes. According to recent studies, influencers are more trusted (not to mention far cheaper) than celebrities or athletes among Gen Z and Millennials. Under normal circumstances, these are great reasons to work with influencers. Given today’s landscape, here are a few more reasons.

Related: How to Make Instagram Your Not-So-Secret Sales Weapon

Influencers are still producing

Given bans on large congregations, few productions are happening. However, clients still have needs. Influencers make for a one-stop shop solution since they are the talent/director/producer/editor/DP/media distributor rolled into one. They’re set up better than anyone to create content with limited resources — they’ve been doing it for years.

Influencers are inexpensive

Brands and agencies are tightening their belts in preparation for a recession. Influencers are feeling the impact as well. Campaigns are being delayed or canceled. A recent report shows that influencer prices are likely to fall by 25 percent. As a result, you can work with influencers more cheaply than ever.

Influencer engagement is skyrocketing

At the same time influencer pricing is going down, their audience is growing. With much of the world forced indoors, social media usage is skyrocketing. Facebook and Instagram saw a 50% percent increases in livestreams. Twitch’s viewership shot up 31 percent in two weeks. YouTube’s U.S. viewership has increased 63%. Influencers are benefitting from this, with some reportedly seeing as much as a 76% increase in “likes” on Instagram sponsored posts.

Related: The What, Why and How of Programmatic Advertising (and 5 Tips on Using It)

Influencer marketing works

With everyone forced to shop online, influencers are driving more purchases than usual. Data from affiliate marketers showed upticks in sales via influencers. SmartCommerce reported a 30 percent increase in orders, and competitor RewardStyle has seen a similar spike.

But agencies should tread carefully

While the benefits are clear, I do have a word of caution. Given today’s landscape, agencies need to tread carefully. Not all influencer marketing is the same, and the best programs are collaborations with trusted partners. Influencers are people, and some people can act irresponsibly (and very publicly) while others are using their platforms for good. Choose wisely.

In a “shelter at home” world, advertisers and agencies are scrambling to create things fast, cheap and with few promotional dollars — just the things influencers have been doing for years. More than ever, this is the time to invest in the experts.

Complete Guide to Influencer Marketing in 2020

We currently associate influencer marketing with new technologies and popular influencers from YouTube, Instagram, and other social media sites. But, this marketing technique was already being utilized years ago to create brand awareness and influence consumers through the use of famous people. Here is the complete guide to influencer marketing in 2020. What Exactly is…

We currently associate influencer marketing with new technologies and popular influencers from YouTube, Instagram, and other social media sites. But, this marketing technique was already being utilized years ago to create brand awareness and influence consumers through the use of famous people. Here is the complete guide to influencer marketing in 2020.

What Exactly is Influencer Marketing in 2020?

There are many companies that we continue to recognize today with a history of influencer marketing. One such company that is a pioneer in using the influencer marketing technique is the well-known Coca-Cola brand.

Coca Cola was a new brand in the 1920s and developed what can be considered one of the first influencer marketing campaigns. And what a success! Coke used a creative marketing campaign using one of the most trusted and loved people in the world — Santa Claus.

Santa, an endearing bearded man dressed in red and white, who sneaks through the chimneys of houses to leave gifts for children — taught us to remember the values and qualities of a brand. Brilliant.

Influencer Marketing in social networks.

Its emergence in social networks could be determined as the start of influencer marketing in the digital environment between 2009–2010. Since 2005, the blog format has boomed, although it did not experience its strongest growth until five years later.

With the creation of online profiles for influential people in the digital environment, influencer marketing then grew within social networks. Today, it is the social networks that are boosting the earnings of businesses by increasing the visibility of brands and products.

Influencer marketing is based on the hiring, by a brand, of a person with the power of persuasion over a specific community. As such, the influencer is able to influence a group of people in their decision-making.

Do users really trust these profiles? Do they believe in their opinions? Are they able to advise? More than 70% of internet users consult third-party opinions on the internet before embarking on the purchase of a product or service.

Therefore, influencer marketing is not purchasing advertising space or launching an advertising campaign. It is a non-intrusive type of marketing that claims not to encroach on the user.

It is about individuals with the power, knowledge, and influence in a particular sector, to position a product in the mind of target customers. Not only in order to generate brand awareness but also to make it more visible and bring more potential customers to the business.

Benefits of Influencer Marketing.

Influencer marketing can provide you several benefits.

  • Improve your SEO positioning. The more content generated about the brand, product, or service, the greater the recognition of it. Therefore, the relevance in the search pages will be greater.
  • Increase credibility about your brand, product, or service. Keep in mind that consumers trust the testimonies and opinions of third parties when choosing a product. And if someone professional in the field recommends a brand, your word has twice the weight.
  • Help gain a bigger impact. It is more effective than other strategies. Additionally, one of the advantages of influencer marketing is that you can measure the impact that is achieved.
  • Engage third parties to generate their own content about the brand. It is ideal for any business where customers can create content related to their business or product.
  • Improve brand image with greater visibility, and promote your brand without advertising. Conducting a campaign with an influencer will make you visible to a potential new audience. And this will generate new business opportunities.

Understanding the Potential of Influencer Marketing.

Creating an influencer marketing strategy is an essential action nowadays for any brand with a digital strategy. Influencer marketing data highlights the brands that are increasingly relying on these strategies.

According to a Who-Say study, more and more marketing specialists are recognizing the value of creating such campaigns. So much so that around 70% of U.S. marketing specialists have said that they “agree” or “strongly agree” that their budgets for investing in these types of campaigns have increased.

Moreover, 89% recognize that through this type of marketing, a positive impact is achieved in the way in which people perceive a brand.

The story does not end there. According to Think-With-Google (a marketing and digital research/trends platform), 70% of YouTube teen subscribers rely on the opinions of influencers.

A sizeable 60% of consumers who buy in physical stores claim to be influenced by content on social networks regarding the product. The same goes for a review or a blog article.

As AListDaily (the leading source for news related to marketing innovation) points out, about 71% of shoppers are more likely to make a purchase based on published content seen on networks. Around 86% of the most-watched beauty videos on YouTube were created by influencers, while in contrast, those created by brands make up the other 14%, according to statistics.

Instagram is the No. 1 channel for influencer marketing. Recent figures show 1.5 million posts with the hashtag #ad.

( read more about How data can benefit marketers)

Types of Influencers

It is difficult to define this sector since it is not a standardized measure. Each one has its own unique parameters, depending on where it is. An influencer with 10,000 followers in a city of 50,000 inhabitants is not the same as in a city of 20 million. But in general, influencers can be classified like:

  • Influencers with nano impact have 0–2.5k followers
  • Influencers with micro impact have 2.5k–25k followers
  • Influencers with macro impact have 25k–250k followers
  • Influencers with mega impact have 250k–2.5m followers
  • Celebrities have more than 2.5m followers

How Influencers Can Provide Synergy?

  • They create trends and encourage social debate.
  • Influential people can create themes that speak to the whole of society since their words are commented on by their many fans.
  • They create more valued intrinsic advertising. Their ads seem less invasive and transparent – they also have a credible opinion since they are consumers in much the same way that their own fans are.
  • They have their own specific audience. This makes them ideal for niche campaigns since their audience tends to be highly targeted.
  • The reputation of these people tends to expand to the brands they mention or associate with.
  • They are effective and persuasive campaigners.
  • Many people think that influencers are only for branding. This is a big mistake! Buying behavior and conversion are also affected by the opinion of influencers.
Perform Influencer Marketing 1 900x600 - Complete Guide to Influencer Marketing in 2020
As a consequence, an influencers’ opinion is able to directly mobilize the consumer buying process.

How to Perform Influencer Marketing

To launch an influencer marketing strategy, you must perform the following process:

  • Search for influencers
  • Negotiate with the right influencers
  • Establish collaboration guidelines

How to Search for Influencers

After learning about several of the important features of influencer marketing, it is time to talk about how to choose influencers for the distribution of content. This is not difficult, and on the contrary, when you have the necessary information, the task is much easier.

Not all influencers are created equal because people are different. And this means that the profiles of the influential persons in the sector that you want to reach must have, at least, a profile analogous to yours in terms of the products or services you provide.

You should realize that in all sectors, there are always subsectors. And within these subsectors, this is where you can find the ideal influencers for you. A true influencer is truly passionate and a lover of their life, hobbies, work, or tastes and expresses this to others with their own, personal and special style, thus reaching their community and gathering a multitude of followers.

Therefore, beware of fake influencers! Similarly, the number of followers on social networks does not indicate being an influencer or not. This is usually a very misleading indicator, especially since there are ways to quickly build thousands of followers.

The most important parameter to identify the true influencer is their engagement; the number of likes, comments, and shares that are generated by each of their posts. However, this is also relatively all falsifiable on social networks, so it is advised that you research and follow the actions of an account for a while before launching a campaign with them and thus assess their true influence.

The ideal thing for a successful influencer marketing strategy would be to look for your own influencer – a person who likes your products or that whose content theme is similar to that of your product.

To identify a good influencer, you should look at them having integrity and being true to their ideals, as well as being consistent with certain themes. That is, they will not have lost their unique style by advertising brands or that their only goal is not to earn money through them.

The problem with influencers is the massive demand for offers they receive to promote brands. This can make them susceptible to losing credibility with their followers by posting about brands not aligning with their own identity.

Tools to Locate Influencers

Although there are many tools to locate influencers, some that businesses or entrepreneurs can consider are:

  • HypeAuditor
  • Influence.co
  • Discover.ly
  • Audiense
  • Alltop
  • Buzzsumo
  • Brandwatch
  • Trolldor
  • Tweetdeck
  • Klout
  • SEOquake
  • Crowdfire
  • Social Crawlytics

Emerging Platforms

Little by little, an attempt is being made to end the YouTube monopoly, and new streaming platforms such as Twitch are emerging, in which great influencers have already joined and started uploading audio-visual content.

Meanwhile, we will have to be very alert to changing trends and the inclusion of new patterns to not miss a single drift of our audience. It should be noted that network consumption also varies with the age and preferences of certain demographics.

If two years ago, teenagers flocked from Facebook to Instagram, they now opt for new networks such as TikTok, which breaks into the teenager and preteens market with a theme of music, dance, and trends through a mainstream channel.

Negotiation with an Influencer

The hardest part, even if it sounds contradictory, is to contact and negotiate with the influencers. As well as writing an email, leaving a tweet, or talking to them from some other social network, you also need to convince them to collaborate with you.

Many will not answer, others will, but then they will forget your messages. And then, there will be those who would love to help you. Here the goal is to obtain the best possible result. Sometimes by being very original, you can achieve great things. Influencers are people just like you and me.

People who created a profile on a social network and began to create their own digital brand. As with any personal brand, the person’s online reputation and integrity are always at stake, so what almost all influencers value most is having constancy in their reputation.

This being the case, the influencer not only seeks a quality product with which to earn money by endorsing it (69.7% of influencers prefer monetary compensation for their work) but that this advertising brand improves or aligns with their brand image.

That is why we must prior study the influencer’s profile: what characteristics they have, what followers they have, what message and public content, which of our products would be best associated with all this information, etc.

With all such prior information at hand, a negotiation strategy with the most appropriate influencer can be considered. Coobis (a content marketing platform that connects publishers with advertisers), for example, stands out for their ongoing purchase of articles and links on webs and blogs.

They also conduct social campaigns, especially on Twitter. Once selected for a campaign, they don’t abandon you. They pay in € and quickly.

How to Set Collaboration Guidelines

Once we have negotiated with the influencer, what must be done in an influencer marketing campaign is to structure a series of obligations on both sides. We must take into account the following things:

  • Work to be done

When conducting influencer marketing, a series of actions must be established, such as the number of posts to publish. The most common approach is to produce one and then if this collaboration works well, expand and think about other more complex campaigns. Content to include in each post includes:

  • A hashtag, which should always be generated to identify and measure the impact of the campaign.
  • Images and/or videos. Although many times you want to impose your own image, videos, or images produced by the influencer usually work best. Of course, they may require additional payment and commitment by the business (guidelines, content review, etc.).
  • A defined message and text. It is worthwhile creating some guidelines and conditions regarding the text and distribution ideas. Always provide an example and insist on original content.
  • Labeling and mentions. Always specify that the brand is mentioned. In the case of Instagram, it is essential to highlight the brand tag.
  • Links that are appropriate to create a personalized campaign for each influencer and thus measure reach, impact, and conversions.
  • Date of publication. Establish the timeline and calendar of the campaign. Some agencies prefer to publish the content themselves and thus avoid communication problems and mishaps. If this isn’t possible, try to set up an online meeting with the participating influencers, so the campaign can be launched without problems.
  • Payment conditions.

If they ask for money to help you, don’t be surprised. Welcome to the virtual world. These are businesses; it is not a playground. If they are very influential people, they have the power to do so, although accepting it or not is your business.

The agreed form of payment should be made after the service is performed, and if possible, after a certain time in case the influencer’s obligations are not fulfilled (beware of post deletion after publication).

In the case of high-level influencers who require payment in advance, try not to make it for 100% of the amount and thus ensure both parties have are committed and strive to fulfill the campaign in the best possible way.

Bartering is a great option, although it can be more time consuming than expected.

What Will Be the Outcome of an Influencer Marketing Strategy?

You already have agreements in place and are about to materialize your strategy, but have you made it clear how the promotion will unfold? This concept is really important because this is where the results of the strategy will really be seen. Normally, this type of collaboration is usually done in this way:

  • Mention in social networks.

An influencer who has a lot of social interaction on Facebook or Twitter, to give you an example, can help you get your name to start reverberating throughout the web simply through a mention. Although, with the advancement in technology and social networking, there are some other mediums (i.e. Instagram) that are used to increase conversions.

  • Mention in the influencer’s email.

It is increasingly common for entrepreneurs to help each other through an email marketing strategy. If, for example, you are going to promote a course, I would recommend that the influencers who have accepted your proposal be your affiliates. In this way, you will benefit, and they will also because their subscribers, in all probability, will purchase the course in question.

  • Advertising campaigns protected by an influencer.

If you allow an influencer to carry out an advertising campaign, the payoff can be high as well. First because of their influence, and second, because you probably have knowledge about these types of campaigns. Therefore, this will help you generate conversions as well.

  • Write a guest post on an influencer’s blog.

If you have the ability to write a guest post on an influencer’s blog, conversions can increase even more, as you will expose yourself directly to your audience. What benefit does this have?

Well, basically it builds trust because if the influencer agrees that you write on their blog, their users will think that it is because you are at least someone of importance. This can make a difference in practical terms.

  • Broadcast a YouTube video on an influencer’s channel.

This strategy is often referred to as “express results.” Your message can be disseminated to millions of people in seconds because of the nature of a YouTube video. In this case, you must be prepared for the flood of requests, as long as everything has been done well and follows a methodology. It is time for you to get down to work and feel the power of marketing’s ability to influence at its best.

Evaluating the Success of Influencer Marketing Campaign.

After recognizing which people can offer the best results, it is important to consider their ability to interact with their audience. For that, it is worth checking their social network profiles and verifying their degree of communication with their audience.

It is also essential to analyze the response of the followers and their participation in the posts of the influential person. In this way, it is possible to verify the credibility of the influencer.

The number of followers on social networks is an important indication of the way in which the influencer in question is seen by users. Having many followers, it is easy to understand that people with certain preferences and tastes are attracted to their personality and what it represents.

Where did the influencer marketing system began to take force on your social networks?

This influencer marketing system began to take force with social networks such as YouTube (currently occupies 12% of influencer marketing strategies) and Instagram (which leads the entire influencer market at 82% according to a 2018 statistical report), however, the success or ROI of the campaign is how your brand is affected by the:

  • Increase in traffic of the online campaign
  • Following the count on social media platforms
  • Reach in the form of comments, mentions, sharing, and likes, etc.
  • Hash-tagging
  • Podcasts
  • Direct conversion

Want a more significant reach for your social media campaigns.

If you are looking for a massive reach of your campaign, then investigate those widely recognized characters who can identify with your brand in a natural way and invite them to have a unique brand experience, so they genuinely want to recommend it.

If you need a balance between credibility and scope, then search the internet for those “experts” who are an authority on issues related to your brand and also invite them to live it. Create a positive experience, as the best opinion leaders only recommend brands that they really identify with and that enhance their reputation.

If you are looking for conversion, let’s say your goal, in this case, is to increase your number of customers. Take advantage of your current clients, identify the most loyal, and give them VIP privileges (points for referrals, free benefits, invitations to events).

These experiences will make your customers not only influencers but also advocates for your brand’s campaign success.

Whatever your choice, remember that it is important to establish a relationship of collaboration and trust with your influencers. Constantly monitor the contents distributed by your influencers, their impact, and ROI, and analyze the results to evaluate the fulfillment of the objectives.

Researchers in this domain suggests three attitudes in influencer marketing that perpetuate success. They are primarily how to define objectives and goals, motivate influencers during the teamwork, and meet the consumer.

  • As in any marketing strategy, it is important to establish what are the inherent objectives of hiring influencers. This helps to have better control of the results obtained with the campaign.
  • Some methods that increase the reach of influencers are to offer them products for evaluation, provide them with benefits for their followers such as prizes and souvenirs, allow them to participate in strategy development, and give their opinions on activities.
  • The customer will always be your starting point, it is with them you want to succeed and improve the relationship. It is relevant to consider that influencers are only a means to achieve the fulfillment of that communication. With this in mind, it helps to know what the most viewed content by the public is, which are the most used social networks, and to understand who the web personalities are that are most admired by your consumers.

Conclusion

Influencer marketing is nothing other than the collaboration of a company or entrepreneur with an influential person in a sector or industry so as to benefit both parties.

You should consider the way in which you sell a product, your services, or how you want to create a personal brand if that is what you want to do. Given this, you may be the best person to formulate your strategy because it must be based on your idea and the conditions that influencers can propose to collaborate with you.

Influencer marketing allows the possibility that the reach of your business towards its audience will rise exponentially.

However, in the case that you fail to plan, with influencer marketing you can achieve the opposite effect, that is, be worse off than you were without a well-ordered strategy.

Image Credit: Chermiti Mohamed; Pexels

Windy Pierre

I’m an eCommerce & Digital Marketing Strategy that works with organizations. To ensuring their messages, products and services reach all the ideal consumers. Utilizes my experience in eCommerce, web design, social media, advertising, management, and marketing to convey positive and consistent brand imaging that drives conversions on a global scale.

4 Questions You Should Ask Before Investing in Influencer Marketing

After spending part of the year talking with and learning from successful marketers about how to get the most out of working with influencers, I’ve come to believe that there are four main questions every marketer should ask before getting too far along in the process. Those questions are as follows….

There are more resources, tools and case studies available than ever to help build a successful campaign.


6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Influencer marketing is alive and well. It’s thriving, in fact. According to Mediakix, “89 percent of marketers have reported that ROI from influencer marketing is comparable to or better than other marketing channels” they invest in.

Still, I’ll admit, when influencer marketing first became a thing, I wasn’t sure if the trend would last as long as it has. But I’ve been happily proven wrong again and again, as it continues to be a worthwhile channel to invest in for ecommerce brands of all sizes.

If you haven’t learned whether influencer marketing can help you connect with new customers, drive sales and grow your business, now is the perfect time to find out. There are now more resources, tools and case studies available than ever before that can teach you everything you need to know to build a successful campaign.

After spending part of the year talking with and learning from successful marketers about how to get the most out of working with influencers, I’ve come to believe that there are four main questions every marketer should ask before getting too far along in the process. Those questions are as follows….

Related: Influencer Marketing Really Is a Game-Changer

1. How well do I really know my customers?

Before investing in any new marketing channel, it’s important that you take a step back and think about who your customers are and what matters to them. Knowing your customers and their motivations will help you throughout the development of your campaign — everything from deciding which platform to focus on and which influencer to hire to what kind of content to create and promote.

There are a lot of different exercises you can go through to put yourself in the shoes of your customers, but one of my favorites is known as empathy mapping. The purpose of an empathy map is to try to better understand what your customers think, how they feel, what they say and what actions they take. It’s similar to a customer persona, but the creation process is often quicker and more collaborative. When you build an empathy map, you can choose who you want to gain insights from. It could be your marketing employees, some of your best and most loyal customers, other employees across other departments at your company or a blended group comprised of all three groups.

By the end of the process, you should have a better understanding of who your customers are, what their goals are and what they are motivated by.

To plan your first empathy map exercise, use this helpful step-by-step toolkit from IBM.

2. What message am I trying to send?

You can hire the most popular influencer in the world, but your efforts are going to be fruitless unless you have a firm grasp on the specific message you’re ultimately trying to send to your audience. Remember: You’re not hiring influencers to sell for you — at least not directly. Instead, you’re partnering with them to help you build relationships and establish trust with people. To do that, you need to have a clear idea of the message you’re trying to get through to people.

For example, when Sprint launched a marketing campaign that leveraged influencers, they didn’t make the message all about phones and phone service. Why? Because it’s a message that ultimately won’t resonate with people. Instead of focusing on themselves, Sprint worked with influencers to create a viral video that helped promote their #LiveUnlimited hashtag, which encourages people to follow their dreams and work hard for what they want.

Think about what message you want to send to your customers. What matters to your customers, and what beliefs or motivations could you tap into with the help of the right influencers?

3. What kind of person do I want to partner with?

One of the hardest truths to understand when you’re new to influencer marketing is that not all influencers are created equal. This was one of the most common pieces of advice I got when talking with more than a dozen experienced marketers who have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars hiring influencers to help promote products and brands. Everyone said the same thing: You have to really know who you’re working with and how they can help you.

Things aren’t always what they seem. Influencers can buy fake followers and make themselves appear bigger and more popular than they really are. Some social sites are working to crack down on the problem, but it hasn’t been completely solved yet. You can waste a lot of money hiring people that won’t actually be able to bring any sort of value or ROI back to your business.

The best way to avoid this is to think of influencers as business partners, not simply people you pay to promote products. A partner will ask questions, seek to understand your customers and your goals and help you develop a campaign that hits the mark. If you reach out to an influencer and all they care about is getting paid, it’s probably worth finding someone else to work with.

4. What will success look like for me?

Influencer marketing is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It’s not the golden goose that will lead to an instantaneous influx in sales as soon as you hit go on your campaign. That’s why it’s important to think about how else you can track success along the way. You should know before launching a campaign how you’ll measure success. If it’s not immediate and direct sales, what does success look like for you? Maybe it’s related to increases in engagement or website traffic. Maybe it’s a boost in followers. Maybe all you want is to align yourself with a well-known person in your industry that you know your prospective customers like and trust.

Related: 4 Influencer-Marketing Secrets Entrepreneurs Need to Know

Thinking about the bigger picture and all the ways you can measure success will prevent you from getting too discouraged or giving up before you find out what kind of impact influencer marketing can have on your business.

78% of Marketers Want to Work with Micro-Influencers

78% of marketers say they want to work with micro-influencers in 2020 according to a key finding of Linqia’s fourth annual State of Influencer Marketing Report. 2020 State of Influencer Marketing Report The report confirmed that influencer marketing is a continuing marketing trend, with 40% of marketers saying they are running six or more influencer…

78% of marketers say they want to work with micro-influencers in 2020. This was a key finding of Linqia’s fourth annual State of Influencer Marketing Report.

2020 State of Influencer Marketing Report

The report confirmed that influencer marketing is a continuing marketing trend, with 40% of marketers saying they are running six or more influencer marketing campaigns. The study also found that 57% of marketers say they plan to increase their budgets for this type of marketing in 2020.

For small businesses, influencer marketing can be an effective way to promote their brand and products. Small businesses often have limited marketing budgets, as they have yet to fully establish their brand. By trusting the recommendations of the ‘influencer’, influencer marketing can be a cost-effective way for small businesses to ‘prove their worth’ to a large audience, which can ultimately help them sell their products or services and give their reputation and credibility a boost.

The report’s authors describe how influencer marketing will continue to dominate marketing this year.

Influencers Continue to Have Impact

“In 2020, we’ll see more growth, deeper impact, and greater reach thanks to a wide range of influencers across a wide range of platforms. There’s still plenty of room to learn and grow, and this year will bring more accuracy in measurement and an increase in transparency.

“Overall, 2020 will be more sophisticated, more thoughtful, more strategic, and more transparent,” the report notes.

What’s particularly interesting about Linqia’s report is that marketers are opting to involve micro-influencers in their marketing campaigns rather than just focusing on celebrity influencers. With 78% of participants saying they would like to work with micro-influencers in 2020, the report shows that these types of individuals are the most selected type of influencer, and the use of celebrity influencers are in decline.

Micro-influences enjoy a following ranging from between 2,000 up to 50,000 on a specific social media channel. They lack the visibility and prolific output of celebrity influencers. But micro-influencers focus on a particular topic, market niche or passion.

More Findings from the Report

Consider, another notable finding of Linqia’s latest influencer marketing report. Influencer marketing remains pervasive. For example, 89% of marketers plan to re-use content created by influencer marketing campaigns. This content appears across their social channels, on their websites, on emails and in display ads.

Instagram leads other social platforms in this type of marketing. Respondents to Linqia’s survey recognize the importance of Instagram. As a result, nearly 100% of the respondents said they plan to use Instagram for influencer marketing in 2020.

The research also highlighted the effectiveness of influencer marketing. For example, it found this type of content outperforms typical branded content by 2.7x on paid channels.

Consider the takeaway message from Linqia’s State of Influencer Marketing Report. You need to remain competitive and grow your brand and its reach. As a result, consider connecting with a broad range of influencers across a range of platforms.

The entrepreneur’s ultimate guide to influencer marketing on Instagram, from micro-influencers to brand ambassadors, and everything in between


The entrepreneur’s ultimate guide to influencer marketing on Instagram, from micro-influencers to brand ambassadors, and everything in between

Influencers are the compass that navigates consumers toward new and interesting products. Here is your ultimate guide to working with influencers to market your startup brand. 

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Sisters Elma and Amra Beganovich were bloggers before influencers came on the scene. Now, they run a marketing agency with a database of one million influencers.

Courtesy of Amra and Elma Beganovich

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  • Influencers are the best way to attract customers to your brand on Instagram.
  • By 2021, shopping on Instagram is expected to generate $10 billion a year in revenue.
  • Business Insider spoke to influencer marketing expert Elma Beganovich on how to navigate the industry. She gave us tips on the five types of influencers, how much they cost, and getting loyal customers to build your network. 
  • Beganovich suggested starting small — don’t go after celebrities and macro-influencers until you’ve established your brand and following.
  • Click here for more BI Prime content.

Influencers are the compass that navigates consumers toward new and interesting products.

Startups are using influencers for market research, product development, and free or low-cost marketing. Business Insider previously reported that shopping on Instagram is expected to generate $10 billion a year in revenue by 2021.

But when it comes to marketing your brand, not all influencers will give you the same results. The most successful strategy is one catered to your customers — one that speaks to them on a personal level but isn’t forced. Social media is ultra saturated and followers are fickle. Miss the mark and you become invisible.

Elma Beganovich founded a $5.2 million digital-marketing agency with her sister Amra Beganovich before “influencer marketing” was coined. They were on the fashion blogger scene back when fashionistas documented their outfits on their blogs and shook up the front row at fashion week. The sisters’ agency now works with a database of one million influencers and has created campaigns for international brands like Uber, Huawei, and Johnson & Johnson.

“Since Amra and I started this, it has really developed into a fairly sophisticated industry,” she said. “Once upon a time, you could even get one of the major influencers to do something on a trade basis — it doesn’t happen anymore.”

Beganovich told Business Insider what brands need to know about influencers, from macro to micro (and what those terms mean), how much they cost, and how to hire them. We also talked to startup founders who have rapidly gained followers on social media, worked with influencers, and formed legions of loyal customers.

Here is your ultimate guide to working with influencers to market your startup brand. 

Following: The difference between a macro-influencer and micro-influencer.

- The entrepreneur's ultimate guide to influencer marketing on Instagram, from micro-influencers to brand ambassadors, and everything in between
In today’s world, almost anyone can be an influencer and brands are looking to the everyday consumer for marketing opportunities.

AP Photo/Martin Meissner

The influencer landscape has changed drastically in the last few years. What used to include just celebrities and Instagram users with 500,000 followers, now includes people with medium- and small-sized audiences.

Beganovich broadly breaks influencers into five tiers by number of followers: 

Celebrity ≈ more than 5 million followers

Macro ≈ 500,000 to 5 million followers

Mid-tier ≈ 75,000 to 450,000 followers

Micro ≈ 10,000 to 50,000 followers

Nano ≈ 5,000 to 10,000 followers

Nano-influencers are the newest on the scene. These are the everyday people who are average consumers more than they are public figures. Your aunt or best friend could be a nano-influencer, as long as they post content about a specific topic and have a distinguished voice or style.

Brands are increasingly using them as approachable and cost-effective audience builders. “They still have a very good network and brands do use them,” Beganovich said.

Followers are general guidelines for brands and marketing agencies to assess how they work with an influencer. There are outliers, of course, and the amount of followers is only skimming the surface.

Content: How an influencer will impact your branding.

- The entrepreneur's ultimate guide to influencer marketing on Instagram, from micro-influencers to brand ambassadors, and everything in between
Phone-case startup Casely amassed a following of 200,000 on Instagram through micro-influencers.

Courtesy of Casely

The most important component to influencer marketing is what gets posted. Influencer content has to reflect your brand image, values, and target customer.

Every influencer has specific viewers in mind. That gives a brand access to an entire demographic through one account. For example, if a skincare company specializes in plant-based products, it could market through beauty influencers — but also with yoga, vegan, and health influencers.

Phone-case startup Casely made its Instagram account three months before launching any product. The brand found micro-influencers and photographers were the best way to market its products and test designs. Cofounders Mark and Emily Stallings looked for influencers who reflected the brand’s vision and style. “We basically got our business off the ground through Instagram,” Emily said.

Casely now has amassed more than 200,000 followers on Instagram and made just over $10 million in sales in 2019.

Compensation: How much you should expect to pay influencers.

- The entrepreneur's ultimate guide to influencer marketing on Instagram, from micro-influencers to brand ambassadors, and everything in between
Carleigh Bodrug is a health and nutrition influencer who posts content around plant-based food and recipes.

Courtesy Plant You

The cost of influencer marketing varies widely across industries. For example, luxury or fashion influencers generally charge more than yoga or health and wellness influencers, considering they have the same number of followers.

Beganovich said reputation and location are just as important as an influencer’s following when determining compensation. Brands will pay an influencer with an audience mostly in Texas differently than they pay an influencer with an international reach. If the influencer has been featured in the media and major magazines, that adds to their reputation and demand.

“Is it somebody who’s considered a serious industry insider or just somebody who locally is followed by people within a certain area,” Beganovich said.

Influencers who work through an agent or agency will likely cost more than those who work solo.

That said, Beganovich gave a general metric for cost per post: 

Every 100,000 followers ≈ $1,000 per post

Beganovich said a brand should think about how to get the maximum amount of impressions in its relevant target demographic. For example, an annual marketing budget of $50,000 could pay for a group of 10 macro- or mid-tier influencers for concentrated impact, or a brand could “flood the market” with hundreds of micro- or nano-influencers.

Some brands may think they don’t need to pay lower-tier influencers, but Beganovich advises against that if you want to maintain a clear brand image and have timely content. “For micro-influencers, if you want guaranteed coverage and to have control over the campaign, it has to be paid,” she said.

Brand ambassador: The customer becomes an influencer.

- The entrepreneur's ultimate guide to influencer marketing on Instagram, from micro-influencers to brand ambassadors, and everything in between
Direct-to-consumer bra company LIVELY has an ambassador program of more than 100,000 loyal customers that drives its marketing, product development, and retail stores.

Courtesy of LIVELY

Brand ambassadors are essentially a hype squad for your brand. They post photos of your products on social media, participate in special launches and events, and may even collaborate on a limited-edition collection. Ambassadors can be unpaid customers who get perks like event access and free gifts. They can also be paid influencers who require a contract and special terms, like attending events, photoshoots, and speaking to the press.

Lingerie startup LIVELY found major success through more than 100,000 loyal customer ambassadors who not only helped the company gain customers through social media, but also gave feedback on new products and drive foot traffic to retail locations.

CEO and founder, Michelle Cordeiro Grant, said LIVELY unofficially started its ambassador program before launch with focus groups, while developing its first underwear line. After launching in 2016, LIVELY’s customer network quickly grew through social media. “It really crystallized once we realized that their word of mouth and their sharing was converting into sales,” Cordeiro Grant told Business Insider.

The company now has more than 200,000 followers on Instagram and four retail stores. “Instagram was and still is the biggest billboard out there,” she said. However, algorithms have changed and social media is much more saturated than when LIVELY launched, so she said brands today have to be more creative and strategic. The ROI may be lower, but it’s still an important space for consumers to discover your brand. “Now you fight a little bit harder to get that billboard exposure on Instagram,” she said.

Start small: It takes time to reach Kardashian-Jenner level influencers.

- The entrepreneur's ultimate guide to influencer marketing on Instagram, from micro-influencers to brand ambassadors, and everything in between
As a startup, don’t go after the mega-influencers too soon. Beganovich suggests starting small.

Getty Images

Beganovich’s biggest advice to startups is to work your way up to the big leagues. Most businesses don’t get to Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid overnight.

She used ecommerce clothing brand Revolve as her case-in-point, which was founded in 2003 and now has more than three million followers on Instagram. The company went public in 2019 and had a nearly $1.5 billion valuation. “They started with gifting, events, forming relationships with influencers, and it really carried them a long way and they continue to be very influencer focused,” she said.

If you’ve used social media or influencers to grow your brand, Business Insider wants to hear from you. Please email your story to this reporter at  jortakales@businessinsider.com. 

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Optimizing ABM with Influencer Marketing at #B2BMX

Account based marketing (ABM) is the hybrid sales/marketing/revenue discipline that is shaking up the status quo for marketers and sales pros alike. There are as many definitions of ABM as there are accounts to target, but I’m partial to this one from LinkedIn’s Megan Golden:  “ABM is a strategy that directs marketing resources to engaging…

ImageC600w - Optimizing ABM with Influencer Marketing at #B2BMX

Account based marketing (ABM) is the hybrid sales/marketing/revenue discipline that is shaking up the status quo for marketers and sales pros alike. There are as many definitions of ABM as there are accounts to target, but I’m partial to this one from LinkedIn’s Megan Golden

“ABM is a strategy that directs marketing resources to engaging a specific set of target accounts. Instead of casting a wide net with their lead-generation efforts, marketers using ABM work closely with sales to identify key prospects and then tailor customized programs and messages to the buying team within target accounts.” Megan Golden, Group Manager, Global Content & Social Media Marketing, LinkedIn*

It’s all about earning the trust of — and ultimately influencing — members of specific buying committees. In other words, it’s the distillation of what all B2B marketers should be doing. Or as Sangram Vajre, CEO of Terminus, put it (embroidered on his sneakers, no less):

ABMisB2B - Optimizing ABM with Influencer Marketing at #B2BMX

Marketers who practice ABM are seeing impressive results. A recent report from ITSMA and the ABM Leadership Alliance found that 73% of marketers plan to increase ABM budgets in the coming year, and 71% saw greater ROI compared to traditional marketing.

Yet as much success as marketers are seeing with ABM, most are missing a crucial part of the strategy: Building trust through external influence.

In his B2BMX presentation, Lee Odden observed that ABM marketers tend to focus on internal influence — which members of the buying committee have a say in the purchase decision. But…

influencers 1024x581 - Optimizing ABM with Influencer Marketing at #B2BMX

Here’s what is possible when B2B marketers include influencer marketing in their ABM strategy.

Influence in ABM: It’s All About Trust

According to Lee, “Trust is one of the most paramount matters in marketing today.” If buyers don’t trust your brand, it’s hard to even get a message through, let alone close a sale. The problem is, buyers overall don’t trust brands. In the CSO Insights report from Marketing Charts, brands were near the bottom for trust:

trust 1024x581 - Optimizing ABM with Influencer Marketing at #B2BMX

And who is at the top of the list? Subject matter experts from the industry or third parties. These are the people your audience wants to hear from…which means they’re the voices you want to highlight in your content.

“Trust is one of the most paramount matters in marketing today.” @LeeOdden Click To Tweet

Dell Outlet Builds Trust & Brand Awareness with B2B Influence

For his first example of the power of influence in B2B, Lee shared a success story from Dell Outlet*, a 2020 Killer Content Award Finalist.

Dell Outlet needed to build awareness as an entity distinct from their parent brand. With a focus on refurbished hardware and a commitment to a more sustainable, circular economy, Dell Outlet has a unique personality, purpose and value proposition. But they needed to both establish themselves as their own brand, and educate a small business audience on the value of refurbished equipment.

With targeted research and outreach, Dell Outlet was able to connect and co-create content with small business influencers that had relevance and resonance with the brand’s target audience. The full campaign, featuring videos, a landing page, and social promotion, achieved amazing results that were only possible with influencer marketing:

delloutlet 1024x580 - Optimizing ABM with Influencer Marketing at #B2BMX

Of particular interest is that the campaign was 175% over goal for traffic to product pages. Even though this was primarily an awareness campaign, the influencer contributions actually drove conversions. That’s a powerful testament to how successfully the campaign built trust with its target audience.

Cherwell Employs Influence Across the Customer Lifecycle

For his next example, Lee shared a success story from software company Cherwell*. Their story highlights the importance of a diverse influencer mix to appeal to buyers across the lifecycle, from awareness to engagement to decision.

Cherwell needed to create awareness around their brand, build trust with IT executives, and ultimately drive leads and sales. This full-funnel approach required different types of influencers for each stage:

cherwell 1024x580 - Optimizing ABM with Influencer Marketing at #B2BMX

At the top of the funnel, brandividuals with large networks and enthusiastic audiences help drive awareness. Further down, subject matter experts add even more substance to the conversation, contributing to meatier content. Finally, at the bottom of the funnel, brand advocates help with the final push to conversion.

This type of strategic co-creation, with influencers at every stage of the funnel, generated unbelievable results for Cherwell. The campaign achieved over 400% more social reach than any previous campaign, and influenced 22% of their sales pipeline for the year.

ALE Creates a New Industry Award

Lee’s final example shows just how powerful influencer marketing can be not only for awareness, engagement, and conversion, but also for creating goodwill among influencers, prospects, and customers.

Alcatel Lucent Enterprise (ALE)* wanted to raise awareness and add credibility with prospects to accelerate sales discussions. Their solution: With the help of influencers, create a new award to honor and uplift the IT professionals in their target audience.

The 2020 IT Vanguard Awards started by selecting judges, influencers in the IT space, as well as a subject matter expert from ALE. These judges shared their thoughts on what qualities defined the best IT leaders. Then ALE asked their target audience to nominate their co-workers and peers for the award.

ALE 1024x581 - Optimizing ABM with Influencer Marketing at #B2BMX

The resulting campaign saw unprecedented levels of engagement and influencer promotion for ALE, along with earned media reporting in industry publications. The resultant flood of goodwill from IT professionals firmly established ALE’s credibility and added deals worth millions of dollars to their pipeline. And for a finishing touch, the campaign won ALE an award of its own: A Killer Content Award (“Finny”) for 2020.

Optimizing ABM with Influencer Marketing

Looking to get some of those results for yourself? Lee offered a 5-step plan to integrating influencer marketing into your ABM strategy:

#1: Find Your Ideal Customer Topics. Use tools like SEMrush, Brandwatch and BuzzSumo to identify your customers’ burning questions — and how they search for answers. Seek out the topics that align with your brand’s expertise and your customers’ need to know.

#2: Find Your Ideal Customer Influencers. With the help of tools like Traackr, identify the people who are influential about your topics. You’re looking for those who care about these topics, whose audience cares about them too, and who are regularly publishing content.

#3: Identify, Qualify and Recruit. The three key considerations for an influencer are:

  • Popularity: How large of a following does the influencer have?
  • Resonance: How well does the influencer actually move their audience to take action?
  • Relevance: How closely aligned is the influencer’s output with your values, audience, and topics?

For top of funnel influencers, popularity is the #1 consideration. For middle of funnel, it’s relevance, then popularity. For the bottom of the funnel, resonance and relevance rule. And also look for the five key traits of the best B2B influencers: Proficiency, Popularity, Personality, Publishing and Promotion. 

#4: Create Content & Activate Influencers. Plan your content types, platforms and media —based on your audience research. Once you co-create content with your influencers, activate them to share the fruits of your collaboration.

#5: Practice Ongoing Engagement. Don’t make your influencer involvement a one-and-done. Keep following and engaging with your influencers, helping promote them and developing a community. Better yet, introduce influencers to each other! They’ll have your brand to thank for meaningful connections they make with their peers.

ImageD600w - Optimizing ABM with Influencer Marketing at #B2BMX

Understanding Influence, Influencing Understanding

In closing, Lee urged account-based marketers to include influencer marketing in their ABM strategy. In addition to your brandividuals, advocates, and experts, he also recommended adding prospects into your influencer mix. Promote your most valued potential customers right alongside leaders in the industry, help them become influential, and you can begin a mutually profitable relationship.

Is influencer marketing part of your B2B marketing mix? Whether you’re running multiple campaigns, or just thinking about testing the waters, we want to hear from you. Take our quick B2B Influencer Marketing Survey to share your experience, and have a chance to win a $500 Amazon gift card!

take the survey - Optimizing ABM with Influencer Marketing at #B2BMX

* LinkedIn, Dell Outlet, Cherwell, and Alcatel Lucent Enterprise are TopRank Marketing clients.

25 B2B Influencer Marketing Campaign & Engagement Ideas for 2020

In the business world, you don’t have to look far to see that the number of B2B companies engaged with influencer marketing is growing. As more companies are moving beyond experimentation to conducting pilots, sequential campaigns and always on programs, there is an increasing desire to expand how brands engage with business influencers. To help…

25 b2b influencer campaign ideas - 25 B2B Influencer Marketing Campaign & Engagement Ideas for 2020

In the business world, you don’t have to look far to see that the number of B2B companies engaged with influencer marketing is growing. As more companies are moving beyond experimentation to conducting pilots, sequential campaigns and always on programs, there is an increasing desire to expand how brands engage with business influencers.

To help B2B marketers solve that problem, I’m going to share a swipe file of sorts of different business influencer campaigns and engagement opportunities. Implementing just a few of these could help a company with a substantial amount of influencer program activity.

Of course just because you can, doesn’t mean you should! As with all effective marketing, it’s important to match up the campaign approach with the criteria for your customers and how they want to engage with influencer/brand content.  Check out the list below and hopefully some good ideas will spark and ignite your 2020 B2B influencer marketing to new levels.

25 B2B Influencer Marketing Campaign and Engagement Ideas for 2020

1. Conduct a series of video interview with influencers – Pick a theme and topics you want your brand to be influential about, then interview the top experts. The Break Free B2B interview series is a good example of that. The great thing about video is that you can repurpose as a podcast or even as text for social shares and quotes for related blog posts, presentations, reports and newsletters.

2. Engage an Influencer host on a brand podcast@TamaraMcCleary does an amazing job for the SAP Tech Unknown podcast, interviewing other influencers and executives from SAP.

3. Invite Influencers to provide content for an interactive content experience – Of course we’ve been specialized in this form of content collaboration for many years and have numerous examples. The interactive content format is engaging for your audience and also for contributing influencers because it elevates their status and visibility. One of my favorite examples of this is this microsite featuring 10+ influencers and a simulated voice assistant named Penny, who helps you navigate the world of finance, machine learning and AI.

4. Publish a list of top influencers in each industry vertical where you operate – Many companies want to begin developing an influencer program but have no meaningful connections with influencers yet. One of many ways to get on influencers’ radar is to publish a qualitative list of who is leading the field. Then reach out to share the honor followed by an invitation to collaborate. Go beyond one-off lists and make it an annual event like the list we’ve been publishing each year for the past 10 years of women who rock on digital marketing.

5. Add influencer reactions and expertise to a research report – When IT Service Management leader, Cherwell Software released their research report on Work Process Integration and Digital Transformation, they engaged a group of relevant influencers including Dr. Sally Eaves, Tim Crawford and Ray Wang to share their expertise.

6. Enlist influencers as judges in a contest – This is exactly what Alcatel Lucent Enterprise did with their IT Vanguard Awards. Industry influencers were invited to review nominations for IT network and communications professionals. The program created great exposure for the winners, the judges and for ALE, resulting in multiple six figure leads.

7. Engage influencers to interview brand executives either online or in real-time at a conference – The influencer marketing team at SAP engaged multiple influencers to interview SAP executives during the SAPPHIRE conference, an ideal time to connect industry pros with in-house thought leadership like this interview I did with Oliver Betz, General Manager, Innovative Business Solutions at SAP, on innovation.

8. Invite influencers to an event at brand HQ: tours, executive meet and greets, education, social content creation – Adobe does a great job with this kind of B2B influencer activation and hosted 18 industry marketing, design, tech and business influencers to San Jose for a deep dive into topics like CDP, CXM and of course, Adobe’s solutions. The bonus was a fun visit to the company store for Adobe swag.  Here’s a fun video from Ross Quintana documenting the experience.

9. Invite influencers to write a series of articles published on the brand site – Brands that answer buyer questions provide a valuable service. Inviting 3rd party experts to answer those questions through useful content is even more valuable. Keep in mind, in most cases a commitment to writing on a regular basis is a paid engagement with the contributing influencers.

10. Engage influencers to keynote or workshop at your brand’s user conference – Another common form of paid influencer engagement is as a featured speaker at a company event. These engagements can elevate the performance of an event when a talented performer that also has deep industry expertise can inspire the audience.

11. Partner influencers with your customers to interview each other for a web video series – Customer trust in brands is not high but trust in peers and experts is. Creating conversation opportunities between credible industry experts and your clients can inspire truly meaningful dialog that resonates with potential customers.

12. Invite influencers to an event to livestream and document their experience – I have been invited by multiple B2B companies to attend events and share my impressions using whatever media I was comfortable with including Adobe, SAP, IBM, and Oracle. A small number of influencers experiencing a brand event can have a big impact. At SAP’s annual conference, 15 influencers drove 25% of all social media impressions.

toprank clients influencers mpb2bforum19 600 1 - 25 B2B Influencer Marketing Campaign & Engagement Ideas for 2020

13. Invite influencers along with clients and prospects to VIP dinners where your brand presents, sponsors or attends industry events – This is one of my favorite things about attending industry conferences: connecting our clients with top industry influencers. There’s no selling, just an experience and connection that everyone involved remembers – and that top of mind effect is priceless.

14. Create an ebook featuring brand thought leadership accentuated by relevant industry influencer insights – Oracle Dyn created the Cybersecurity Intelligence Report featuring a combination of respected influencers and practitioners as well as an Oracle executive, building credibility by association.

15. Run a webinar or series of webinars featuring an influencer as host or guest and a brand executive – Featuring an industry expert in a webinar is a fairly common influencer activation and the reason is, it works! So why not create a series of webinars to build audience, momentum and a body of content that can be repurposed?

16. Engage influencers to contribute expertise to content that advances a key brand theme – It sounds pretty basic, but I can’t tell you how many B2B brands produce content without any 3rd party credibility. Adobe engaged multiple influencers to provide insights around customer experience management in this interactive infographic in support of the Adobe Summit conference.

17. Feature quotes from a group of influencers for a roundup blog post or landing page – Dell Outlet Small Business added commentary from multiple small business influencers about the value of refurbished computers on this landing page to drive awareness and engagement.

18. Curate quotes from influencer contributions and repurpose them as social shares throughout the year – Modular content means planning repurposing by using templates with influencer interviews and content capture. This makes it easier to create a library of influencer quotes organized by topic for social shares, use in contributed articles, newsletters, blog posts and presentations. Not only does reposting influencer quotes add credibility to brand content, but they also give the influencer ongoing exposure, which they will appreciate.

19. Engage influencers with a blog network, or podcast network to come up with a creative campaign for your brand – The notion of “creator” is most often associated with B2C influencers. But more B2B influencers are adapting and acquiring media creation savvy. Better yet is when influence creators and media publishers bundle themselves together.

20. Invite influencers to an executive meeting or retreat to discuss topics of mutual interest, then publish a summary – Guided discussions amongst industry experts and internal subject matter experts can generate a goldmine of ideas. The Digital Marketing Institute has formed the Global Industry Advisory Champions with representatives from major brands Google, Facebook, IBM, CocaCola, The Economist, LinkedIn and even TopRank Marketing 🙂 to share insights around the state of digital marketing and education. Summaries of conversations are released along with industry research.

21. Engage an influencer to be an Emcee or digital correspondent during a brand conference – A few people I know do this really well. First, Jay Baer and Katie Martell are excellent emcees and influential in their unique ways. Sarah Evans is an amazing digital correspondent that can cover a conference with interviews and commentary to really level up the brand.

22. Make your influencer community available to a publication – 12 influencers including Dion Hinchliffe, Tamara McCleary, and Ronald Van Loon were interviewed by The New Economy publication during the SAPPHIRE conference for this video focused on a key topic of interest to SAP: The Experience Economy.

23. Create a series of blog posts featuring author influencers and their books  – The team at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions has published a series of posts honoring top marketing authors that have been well received by their readers and inspiring for authors to share. Even better, is when authors recommend other authors to be featured.

24. Have a tech influencer do an “unboxing video” of a server or other hardware from your tech brand – Many B2C influencer tactics could be cleverly applied to B2B products. Go ahead and search for “server unboxing” on YouTube and you may be surprised at how many there are. Maybe a “haul” video from an office supply store isn’t such a bad idea?

25. Publish a list of the most influential speakers at conferences relevant to your industry – Of course this is something we’ve been doing here on our blog for several years including Content Marketing Influencers / Speakers and B2B Marketing Influencers / Speakers. Publishing influencer lists before the conference can open up conversations while attending the event and complement other outreach afterwards.

BONUS! (Thanks to Debbie Friez @dfriez and Jack Fitzpatrick @fitzJackrick from our Influencer Marketing team)

26. Invite influencers to do software walkthroughs and post them to IGTV, Facebook, and YouTube. They could could also be live-streamed on platforms like Twitch.

27. Host a networking happy hour with influencers and your key customer contacts during a conference or in your city.

28. Co-create a series of podcasts on the influencers channels that include supporting content like blogs, twitter chats/polls and cross-channel amplification.

29. Create an ask-the-expert video series on your brand YouTube channel where influencers join a brand co-host to answer top questions.

While there’s a variety of solid and actionable ideas in this list, it’s really important to lay the groundwork and strategy for an influencer marketing program in terms of understanding what kind of influencers and topics make the most sense for your brand and customers.

Influencers are not magic, but when you develop strong relationships with a relevant group of influencers, the impact on your marketing across the customer lifecycle can seem magical.

If you would like to learn more about influencer marketing for B2B, see these resources and be sure to check out the following list of upcoming conferences where I will be sharing strategies, best practices and case studies featuring B2B brands of all sizes:

February 24-25, 2020 – B2BMX – Scottsdale, AZ

How to Optimize ABM Results with Influencer Marketing

March 19, 2020 – Convergence Summit – Minneapolis, MN

In Search of Trust: How Authentic Content Drives Customer Experience

March 24, 2020 – Pubcon – Miami, FL

B2B Influencer Marketing Workshop

April 20-22, 2020 – Content Tech – San Diego, CA

How to Optimize Content Performance with Influence

April 22-23, 2020 – Content Marketing Conference – Boston, MA

Be Best Answer for Your Customers with SEO and Influence

May 27 -28, 2020 – B2B Ignite USA – Chicago, IL

In Marketing We Trust: How to Build Influence with the C-Suite and on the Street

I hope to see you there!

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How to Spot a Fake Influencer

Marketers who want to work with influencers should heed this advice before hiring someone. Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox Stay informed and join our daily newsletter now! Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy Image credit: ferrantraite | Getty Images Lee Scarratt Guest Writer Social Media Manager at Right Angles February 6,…

Marketers who want to work with influencers should heed this advice before hiring someone.

Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox

Stay informed and join our daily newsletter now!

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Guest Writer

Social Media Manager at Right Angles


5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When used effectively, influencer marketing can produce incredible results for brands, providing a good return on investment — some 94 percent of marketers who use influencer marketing strategies believe it is effective. But as it becomes easier to buy followers and likes, the problem of so-called “fake influencers” who employ shameless tactics to misrepresent themselves has made it a risky game. The influencer marketing industry is estimated to be worth $5 to $10 billion, but research shows up to 24 percent of influencers have falsely manipulated their engagement numbers. This not only makes it more difficult for real influencers, but also causes marketers to be more cautious when thinking about trying to use them.

Related: ‘Influencer Fraud’ Costs Companies Millions of Dollars. An AI-Powered Tool Can Now Show Who Paid to Boost Their Engagement.

As a brand, you don’t want to associate yourself with fake influencers, nor do you want to waste your money on them. You need to know how to look properly for real influencers and how to identify fake ones from the herd. Luckily, the best way to spot these fake influencers is fairly simple — so long as you know what to look for.

So what is a fake influencer? 

They are often bots or real people who purchase their likes and followers to help raise their engagement artificially, making them appear to have a strong following and thus a good influence over the market. That’s not the reality, though, and you’d get better results by opening your window and throwing your cash out into the street.

How do you spot a fake? 

The simplest way to spot a fake influencer is to go into their follower list and glance at the accounts. Look out for profiles without an image as their display photo, few to no followers and/or following, no posts and also private accounts. Another marker is if followers have clearly made up names, particularly if their handles contain lots of numbers. If there are a lot of these accounts then it is quite likely these are bots that have been bought. The same can be done for likes and comments too. 

Follower to engagement ratio

Do they have 10,000 followers but are only getting a few likes on their photos? Then it’s likely that they have bought followers to make them appear more popular. This is surprisingly inexpensive: Buzzoid, an “influence” booster business, offers 5,000 “quality” followers for $39.99. Perhaps they have 10,000 followers and 1,000 likes, but only a few comments? This is also an indicator that they have bought both their followers and likes. A legitimate account with this many followers should be getting at least a few hundred comments on posts if they have real followers that are actually engaging with them. But that’s not all — comments can also be bought if this individual is sparing no expense to make themselves look legitimate. How to spot a fake? Simple. Look for simple emoji responses or generic comments like “Awesome!” and “Love it!”  

Related: Are Influencers Worth Your Money? We Went Undercover to Find Out.

Screening process

One of the best ways to determine if an influencer is right for your marketing is by asking for screenshots of their audience insights. Those provide you with their followers’ top five locations (cities and countries), age range and gender. This information can be a valuable tool for determining if they will be influencing the same demographics that align with your marketing. Remeber also that it’s not just size that matters, trends show that 2020 will see an increase of nano-influencers as they have a more authentic connection to a highly-committed audience.

Ask for references

Having someone market for you is no different from hiring a new employee. Go through similar processes, such as asking for references from previous brands, companies and businesses they have worked with. Don’t be sucked in by big numbers and empty promises. Make sure you have proof first and that they are actually able to deliver before sending them anything. There is no harm in asking what the ROIs were for those collaborations — and the evidence to back it up. 

Insights and statistics

A real influencer more than likely has a business account, which allows them to view their reach, impressions and other statistics so they can monitor how well their posts are doing. Don’t be afraid to ask for their latest engagement statistics in the form of a screenshot for both their account and their latest posts. If someone has thousands of followers but a true reach of a lot less, this is another red flag and should be looked into before you hire them. Engagement rate benchmarks vary by age, industry and follower size but generally fall in the 4 percent to 8 percent range.

The bottom line

Most business decisions boil down to hard-headed analysis of a proposition. All the usual caveats apply, not least one of the oldest: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. So you have to scrutinise exactly what you’re getting for what you’re prepared to spend. 

If you do fall prey to a fake influencer and invest in them to promote and market your products, then you’re unlikely to see a rise in your actual sales, which is the bottom-line metric for measuring your ROI. These basic checks will save you a lot of time — and money.

Related: 11 Common Mistakes You’re Making With Influencer Marketing

Influencer Marketing: State of the social media influencer market in 2020

This is a preview of The Influencer Marketing research report from Business Insider Intelligence.Purchase this report.To check to see if you already have access to Business Insider Intelligence through your company, click here.As influencers become more plentiful and proven, brand dollars have flooded into the space. Brands are set to spend up to $15 billion on…

As influencers become more plentiful and proven, brand dollars have flooded into the space. Brands are set to spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022, per Business Insider Intelligence estimates, based on Mediakix data.

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Business Insider Intelligence


Partnering with influencers is already familiar to many brands, but the market is undergoing constant change: Brands must continually evolve their strategies accordingly. The market is rapidly expanding as influencer types have proliferated, with influencers filling every conceivable niche and sub-niche interest. Each of these types offer distinct benefits and trade-offs for brands. In addition to celebrities with massive followings like Kim Kardashian West and Kylie Jenner, brands are increasingly tapping other key influencer types, including micro- and nanoinfluencers, kidfluencers, gaming influencers, and virtual (computer-generated) influencers. 

As social media becomes more entrenched in people’s lives and takes on more functional uses beyond communication, like shopping, the role of influencers is set to only grow. And as e-commerce and social media converge, influencers will become increasingly vital intermediaries, helping to connect brands with consumers on social media in highly resonant, authentic ways that can deliver immediate returns.

In Influencer Marketing 2019, Business Insider Intelligence gives actionable recommendations for how brands can effectively navigate this changing and expanding market to meet campaign goals, and how they can evolve their relationships with influencers. Brands looking to partner with influencers need to to constantly renew their perspective to ensure that they mutually maximize the value of these partnerships. 

The companies mentioned in this report are: Ader, Balmain, Brud, Calvin Klein, Coca-Cola, Discord, Dr. Pepper, Fable Studio, Facebook, Hershey’s, Instagram, KFC, LinkedIn, NFL, Nike, Old Spice, Pinterest, Red Bull, Reddit, Sephora, Shadow, Snapchat, Socialyte, Spotify, Superplastic, The Diigitals, TikTok, Toonstar, Twitch, Twitter, Unilever, UTA, and YouTube.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • The influencer marketing industry is on track to be worth up to $15 billion by 2022, up from as much as $8 billion in 2019, according to Business Insider Intelligence estimates, based on Mediakix data.
  • Every social platform attracts influencers to some degree, but Instagram is the gold standard for the group. Nearly four in five (79%) brands predominantly tap Instagram for influencer campaigns, compared with Facebook (46%), YouTube (36%), Twitter (24%), and LinkedIn (12%), per Influencer Marketing Hub. 
  • There are two primary ways of categorizing influencers: reach and niche. 
    • Reach. As a general rule, targeted reach, cost-effectiveness, engagement, authenticity, and accessibility all go up as follower count goes down. 
    • Niche. Brands can leverage relevant niche influencers to more intentionally target audiences. 
  • Before pursuing a partnership, brands and influencers alike should ensure brand fit, meaning that an influencer is aligned with the brand and product. 
  • Brands should develop a streamlined but robust network of high-quality influencers to diversify their bets.
  • Brands are likely to increasingly prioritize longer-term partnerships with fewer, more authentic influencers.

In full, the report:

  • Forecasts the growth of brand spend on influencer marketing as influencers have become more plentiful and effective.
  • Discusses how social platform shifts impact the influencer market, and how platforms are embracing (or estranging) influencers and creators.
  • Outlines how the industry categorizes and values influencers according to follower count (reach) and area of expertise (niche), and the benefits and pitfalls of each type for brands.
  • Investigates how brands should approach three key emergent types of influencer, including kidfluencers, gaming influencers, and virtual influencers.
  • Explains how brands can confront and overcome key challenges of influencer marketing.
  • Envisions how brand relationships with influencers could grow or change in the future. 
  • Provides actionable steps for brands to best determine the best strategic approach.

Interested in getting the full report? Here’s how to get access:

  1. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >>  Purchase & Download Now
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Venture capitalists ‘like and subscribe’ to influencers

Danielle Bernstein is just 27 years old, but she’s been running her own business for 10 years. First it was street-style photography, then came the launch of her popular fashion blog WeWoreWhat. Next she took to Instagram, a new social media platform that quickly became the most effective tool in a blogger’s toolkit. With new…

Danielle Bernstein is just 27 years old, but she’s been running her own business for 10 years. First it was street-style photography, then came the launch of her popular fashion blog WeWoreWhat. Next she took to Instagram, a new social media platform that quickly became the most effective tool in a blogger’s toolkit. With new followers — today her account, @weworewhat, has 2.2 million — came opportunities to monetize her influence. She created and launched an overall brand and a swim collection, then came the book deal (“This is Not a Fashion Story: Taking Chances, Breaking Rules, and Being a Boss in the Big City” is expected out May 2020). Naturally, the next step in Bernstein’s evolution from blogger to businesswoman was a technology startup.

Her newest venture, Moe Assist, claims to be the first project management and payments tool for influencers. Last month, the product launched with $1.2 million in funding from Rebecca Minkoff and other unnamed investors. Creators and influencers like Bernstein are forging a path from content creator to full-fledged business, with multiple revenue streams via podcasts, licensing deals, branded merchandise and even software products.

“A company like Moe will help legitimize the industry,” Bernstein tells TechCrunch. “I feel this responsibility to my industry to put the best business practices I’ve learned along the way into a platform so I can help other influencers.”

We are in phase three of the influencer economy. Bain Capital Ventures’ Jamison Hill

Tech entrepreneurs, quick to pounce on any emerging economy, have also begun building services for creators and influencers from marketplaces that connect individuals with brands, financial solutions that help capitalize burgeoning influencer-led businesses, tailored monetization platforms and even a “LinkedIn for Influencers” intended to foster connections between influencers and brands.

“We are in phase three of the influencer economy,” Bain Capital Ventures senior principal Jamison Hill, who led the firm’s investment in the influencer shoutout marketplace Cameo, tells TechCrunch. “The first phase was the rise of the media platforms: YouTube, Instagram, etcetera, that allowed creatives to build audiences. The second phase was the emergence of influencer marketing, or connecting those influencers to brands to leverage their audiences … Now that influencer marketing has become an established part of the marketing playbook, we are in phase three: tools to help influencers further monetize their influence, like Cameo, and then manage their lives.”

While some businesses, like Cameo, have successfully raised venture financing, VCs have yet to fully tackle the influencer and creator economy. Founders and investors circling the space suspect a wave of Silicon Valley interest is coming, however, and that it will alter the category entirely.

“2020 will be a watershed year for investment in businesses around the creator economy,” Neil Robertson tells TechCrunch. Robertson is the founder of Influence, a networking tool for influencers that’s expected to announce its Series A financing in the coming weeks. “Influencers and creators are small businesses and if you think about all the things that small businesses need these days to succeed, they will be repurposed for the influencer marketing space.”

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CEO of Patreon Jack Conte attends VidCon 2019 at Anaheim Convention Center on July 12, 2019 in Anaheim, California (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images)

‘People say we’re crazy’

As venture capitalists wake up to the business opportunity, they’re seeding startups that help influencers go from hobbyists to professionals.

We know creators are legit businesses. Karat, a startup building a bank for creators

Karat, a startup expected to enter Y Combinator’s Winter 2020 batch, is building a “bank for creators,” with its debut product focused on lending to individuals through a revenue-share agreement. The company was co-founded by Eric Lei, a former product manager at Instagram who focused on the creator and influencer side of the business.

The startup has already secured a seed investment from Maveron and CRV, TechCrunch has learned, and will receive another $150,000 in exchange for 7% equity upon entering YC next year. The company plans to give creators and influencers more independence from existing platforms by allowing them access to funding from a team well-versed in their unique capital needs.

Banks won’t underwrite an individual based on qualifications like their Instagram following, of course, and given that influencers don’t typically have a consistent income or a W2 statement to showcase their earnings, they may not be able to receive a bank loan to invest in their own brand. Imagine receiving a loan based on the size of your TikTok or YouTube following? Karat and other new startups focused on monetization could accelerate an influencer’s path to entrepreneurship.

“People say we’re crazy, but we know creators are legit businesses,” Karat writes on its website — the company didn’t respond to a request to chat about what they’re working on. “And just like any other business, you need capital to grow faster, services to make you more money, tools to manage it all.”

Karat’s approach to treating individual digital content creators as future “unicorns” is not isolated. Podfund, for example, writes checks sized between $25,000 to $50,000 to emerging podcasters. The company asks for 7% to 15% of revenue for three to five years depending on current traction, revenue and projected growth. Patreon, one of the first businesses to develop a tech solution for artists and creators seeking consistent income, recently announced Super Patron, a $50,000-per-year grant for creators, according to The Verge.

Influence, the “LinkedIn for influencers,” doesn’t directly invest in influencers or creators; rather, gives them a central meeting point to land gigs, learn about production, gain insights into brand deals and communicate with or befriend other influencers. Indeed, 175,000 people are using the platform, 30,000 of which are businesses, which pay between $229 and $600 in annual fees to reach influencers on the platform. Influencers, for their part, pay $48 per year for access to the company’s premium features.

“Think of the old days when a young woman got off the bus at Hollywood & Vine and said ‘where do I go to be a star?,’” Robertson, the chief executive officer of Influence, said. “That’s happening in the influencer marketing space, but there’s no answer to that question. People in the industry need a place to go and figure it out, to talk about it and learn about it.”

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YouTuber Caspar Lee, the co-founder of a startup called Influencer, attends the UK Gala Screening of “Wonder Park” in London, England (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage)

Rethinking value

While angel investors like Rebecca Minkoff might be savvy to the business proposition of influencers, many investors have remained skeptical. Influence’s Robertson tells us venture capitalists were initially uncertain of his latest startup despite his track record, which includes the sale of multiple software businesses, including the affiliate marketing company VigLink.

“We had to explain that there was a very different way to create value in the marketing economy,” Robertson said. “We needed VCs to rethink how value could be created in the influencer marketing space.”

Everyone wants to become an influencer. Influencer CEO Ben Jeffries

The first businesses to crop up in the space were traditional two-sided marketplaces: influencers on one side, companies and brands on the other. Naturally, these were also the first business to get funded. Ben Jeffries launched his startup, Influencer, in London in 2014 after his close friend matched with Caspar Lee, a YouTuber with 7.3 million followers, on Tinder. Once Jeffries and Lee were introduced, the pair begin brainstorming what became Influencer, a marketing platform that helps brands and influencers build more meaningful relationships. The business has attracted about $4.5 million in funding to date, including a recent $3.6 million Series A led by Puma Private Equity, a U.K.-focused fund.

“There’s money coming into the industry and with this influx of money is more companies entering the market,” Influencer co-founder and CEO Jeffries tells TechCrunch. “Attached to that, brands are becoming much more savvy in how to run influencer campaigns.”

The company has used its new cash to open an office in New York City and expand its American clientele. Another company, Tribe, has similarly raised VC to grow its American footprint. The Australian startup, which connects brands to “micro-influencers,” or every-day people with more than 3,000 followers on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, raised a $7.5 million Series A in March. But even these straightforward marketplaces had trouble explaining their market to investors.

“What we used to always say to investors was ‘I guarantee if you ask your kids about influencers, that will spark a conversation and help you understand the industry and how crazy it’s going to become,’ ” Jeffries said. “When I was younger, everyone wanted to become a famous sports star. Now, everyone wants to become an influencer.”

Los Angeles-based funds, in closer proximity to the entertainment industry, have been quicker to invest in the creator economy. In fact, new funds have launched there with expertise in the category. Next 10 Ventures, an LA-based $50 million venture capital fund founded by Benjamin Grubbs, YouTube’s former global director of top creator partnerships and Paul Condolora, the former co-head of the Harry Potter franchise at Warner Bros., invests exclusively in the space. The firm even launched an accelerator for YouTube personalities in late 2018. The program, called The EduCator Incubator, planned to seed 25 to 40 “emerging video creators” with $25,000 to $75,000 in seed funding. Similar to Karat and PodFund, Next 10 signs a revenue-share agreement with participants of the accelerator, with a possibility for an equity investment in the future.

Rx3 Ventures, a new venture fund led by long-time Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, is helping influencers in sports and entertainment get stakes in the companies for which they are hired to be spokespeople. The SoCal outfit has tapped influencers to become limited partners in their fund, giving them the opportunity to develop equitable relationships with the brands requesting their promotion.

“If I am going to support something, why don’t I take an equity position and benefit from the upside?,” Rx3 Ventures vice president Ryan McGuigan tells TechCrunch. “It’s all about getting a stake in these brands as opposed to signing some sort of endorsement.”

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Lil Miquela, a virtual influencer created by the venture-backed startup Brud, poses for a selfie

When anyone can be an influencer

This year, companies are expected to spend a total of $8 billion on influencer marketing campaigns, a figure that should swell to $15 billion by 2022, per data collected by Mediakix, an influencer marketing agency.

We all have that friend that somehow has 10,000 followers. Rx3 Ventures’ Ryan McGuigan

Factors including the onset of shoppable video and live shopping — a category still in its infancy led by startups like Tiltsta — will give more autonomy to influencers, who have proven an ability to transform browsers to buyers time and time again. CGI influencers like Lil Miquela, a digital avatar with 1.7 million followers created by the venture-backed startup Brud, or the lifelike personalized avatars that Genies, SuperPlastic and Toonstar have cooked up, should drum up more dollars. Plus, efforts to democratize the path to influencer, including courses on how to become an influencer and marketing channels that allow for people with only a few thousand followers to earn money, should expand the market size and fuel growth.

“We all have that friend that somehow has 10,000 followers,” McGuigan of Rx3 Ventures said. “Giving them the tools to monetize that reach is going to be important and also a valuable angle to approach influencer marketing for brands.”

“Now, more and more, we are seeing that anyone can turn into a “micro-influencer,” he adds. “Anyone with a decent following or free time can post about products — why can’t they be an influencer as well?”

With the expected influx of venture cash, entrepreneurship from creators themselves and startups looking to capitalize on the phenomenon, the creator and influencer economy is poised for a boom.

The Three Key Elements of Influential Digital Marketing

Ever see a numbered headline like the one above and try to guess what the three things are? Sometimes it’s easy; sometimes it’s not. In this case, you could be thinking I’m going to talk about content, copy, and email. And while you’re right that those things are important, that’s not what this article is…

Ever see a numbered headline like the one above and try to guess what the three things are?

Sometimes it’s easy; sometimes it’s not. In this case, you could be thinking I’m going to talk about content, copy, and email.

And while you’re right that those things are important, that’s not what this article is about.

Content and copy contain the messages you need to get across, and email delivers those messages within a conversion-rich context. But without understanding the fundamental elements of those messages, you won’t create the kind of influence with your target audience that leads to sales.

With companies of all sizes rushing to embrace “influencer marketing,” it seems that many have given up on the unique power the internet provides to form direct relationships with prospects.

Instead, they’re trying to avoid the work by reaching the audiences of people who have already put in the work. That continues to put you at the mercy of others when you could instead own the relationship.

Despite the disintermediated nature of the internet, brands are instead turning to a new form of intermediary, or influential middle man. Shortcut marketing rears its ugly head again.

Now, don’t get me wrong — having relevant influencers in your corner is desirable, and often game-changing. That said, your main goal is to first develop direct influence with your prospects, which ironically makes it easier to get outside influencers on your side.

This is the reality of modern marketing in any medium, and it’s especially viable online. And those three key elements that your digital marketing must embrace to develop true influence are aspiration, empowerment, and unity.

1. Aspiration

Effective marketing has always been about identifying and fulfilling aspirations. People strive to improve themselves and their station in life, especially in relation to others in the social strata.

Early mass marketing did a great job of channeling aspiration through envy. Messages encouraging consumers to “keep up with the Joneses” through the accumulation of material goods became the persuasion prompt for elevated social status.

Aspiration remains as powerful as ever, but it’s a different animal now. First of all, we no longer compare ourselves to our geographic neighbors. Instead, we now have worldwide Instagram-fueled expectations based on who we desire to be like based on interests, lifestyles, and various forms of success.

As master marketer Roy H. Williams presciently said:

“Show me what a person admires, and I’ll tell you everything about them that matters. And then you’ll know how to connect with them.”

Paired with that is a pronounced reduction in the desire to accumulate material things. According to this Trend Watch report on consumerism, status is shifting away from markers of material wealth — what they have — and moving more toward who they want to become.

This shift is amplified by celebrities and other influential people on social media. Their followers want to be healthier, smarter, creative, connected, and entrepreneurial. If you’re selling material goods, you need to understand how your widget fits into the broader aspirational lifestyle of your target audience.

This alone seems to justify the focus on outside influencer marketing, but it’s really just a way of abdicating your responsibility as the shepherd of your products and services. As Eugene Schwartz famously said decades ago:

“You do not create desire for your product. You take an existing demand in the market, and you channel it into your products.”

The desires and aspirations of your ideal customer are out there — in plain view — thanks to a social medium that publicly identifies who people admire and follow. It’s your job to discover the parameters of that aspiration, and channel it toward your product or service.

2. Empowerment

If you know what a prospect aspires to become, then your product or service and your marketing must empower that person to become a better version of themselves. If you fail across that spectrum, you’ll lose out to a competitor who delivers.

The 20th century was fueled by inadequacy marketing that encouraged material accumulation. Without access to alternative perspectives, people were targeted by marketers with messages that positioned the brand as the hero, promising to save the poor prospect from the anxiety manufactured by the message.

If your neighbor had a new Buick, you were now made to feel lesser in terms of social status. Why not upgrade to a Cadillac and take the lead?

Effective modern marketing flips that approach on its head. Rather than appealing to materialism or base self-interest, people are looking for positive inspiration and pragmatic guidance on how to become their best selves.

Pair that with the fact that the internet in general (and social media in particular) have helped erode trust in traditional institutions, while shifting power to engaging individuals. The appeal of attracting influencers with strong personal brands reflects this trend — people want to be empowered by other people, not faceless corporations.

Why not also put a human face on your own company? Again, what’s going to get an influencer excited about pimping your stuff, if your brand is uninspired to begin with?

This can be as easy as flipping your perceived role as a marketer. Whether you want to think of yourself as a guide, mentor, or coach, it’s your job to empower the buyer’s otherwise self-directed journey.

In an environment ripe with information and choices, the prospect is in charge. And while they may not look like a hero yet, they’re definitely the protagonist of their own story.

That means they’ll follow and choose to do business with the brand that empowers them to achieve their heroic aspirations. Outside influencers can help, but only as long as you’re also developing direct influence within your market in a meaningful way that establishes that you’re a player.

3. Unity

For decades, smart marketing and sales professionals have worked to incorporate the six fundamentals of influence established by social psychology studies — reciprocity, authority, social proof, liking, commitment and consistency, and scarcity — into their persuasion efforts.

So it was definitely news when Dr. Robert Cialdini, the original definer of those fundamentals, added a seventh — unity.

In reality, it wasn’t that much of a surprise. Books such as 2004’s The Culting of Brands by Douglas Atkin, and Seth Godin’s Tribes from 2008, provided earlier reflections on the power of unity influence. Meanwhile, companies such as Apple and Harley Davidson have used the power of belonging to build brands worth billions.

Smart digital marketers knew what was up, but we simply tried to shoehorn the concept into the existing influence principle of liking. That means people are more readily influenced by people they like and otherwise find attractive.

But unity goes way beyond simple liking. From the prospect’s perspective, it’s more about people like me or even of me.

According to the same Trend Watch report, people now trust people like themselves more than representatives of traditional power centers, and as much as academic or technical experts.

To me, that makes unity perhaps the most powerful of the (now) seven fundamental principles of influence.

Take authority. It’s no longer enough to just demonstrate your expertise with content. You need to be the relatable authority that also shares the core values and worldviews of your prospects.

Or consider social proof, which means we look to others for indications of value and how to behave. A Breitbart article may get tens of thousands of social shares, and yet that social proof is meaningless — and actually a negative — to those who do not share the values and worldviews of that crowd.

There are a lot of tribal ways that we unify. Family, neighborhood, city, province, and nationality are obvious. But the more powerful forces of unification from a marketing standpoint are interest, aspiration, and empowerment. You need to lead people with similar aspirations in a way that brings them together even more.

Thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier for anyone to locate like-minded people who share their interests and aspirations. And as Godin pointed out repeatedly in Tribes, they’re also looking for like-minded leaders to provide the empowerment.

Stand for something that matters

It’s impossible to practice empowerment marketing with wishy-washy content and copy.

To the contrary, it’s bold positioning, motivating manifestos, and innovative mission statements that inspire people to confidently chase their aspirations. And it’s no coincidence that these are the same sort of messages that spread like wildfire through social media.

Empowering content that matches aspirations and validates worldviews is what those coveted influencers use to build audiences. You must do the same to remain in the game.

Traditional wisdom says to hide behind a carefully crafted brand, powered by safely sanitized messages, in the hope of appealing to everyone. But if a prospect can’t see themselves belonging with your brand, they’ll look for — and find — someone who does make them feel like they belong by standing for something that matters to them.

True influence isn’t something you borrow. It’s what you embody.