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Influencer marketing has a simple premise: By targeting media figures who shape your customers' opinions, you can exponentially amplify your message. "Before the Internet changed the game, analysts, editors, and reporters made up your list of key influencers, and the program was called PR," explains Amanda Maksymiw at the MarketingProfs Daily Fix blog. "Now add bloggers, microbloggers, and online forums to the list."
The trick is to persuade them to discuss your product or service. Here's her five-point plan for influencing the influencers.
1. Decide what you want to accomplish
A scattershot strategy will deliver only scattershot results—so maintain your focus with a clear goal. If you want to close sales more quickly, for instance, you'll pursue influencers whose opinions are critical in final buying decisions. To drive heavy website traffic, however, you'll seek out influencers with large audiences.
2. Identify the influencers you want to influence
Do what your customers do, and use simple keyword research to find influential voices. Influencer-identifying tools are another option, but Maksymiw offers this caveat: "If you do use these tools, be careful not to solely base your list building and prioritization based on influence scores or social media metrics." It's important to confirm their status by reviewing posts, tweets, and actual reach.
3. Create your pitch
You must tailor your pitch to each influencer you contact. Read what she writes, learn what she cares about, and observe how she interacts with others; it's the only way to be sure you're telling a story that matters to her. She can easily discern when your research is limited to knowing her name and the last post she wrote.
4. Interact and engage
Engaging an influencer takes time, patience, and care. "In a way, an influencer marketing process is similar to a lead qualification process in a B2B environment," notes Maksymiw. "Most often, it will take multiple touch points to build the relationship in order to ultimately close an opportunity." Connect with influencers in social networks, comment on their blog posts, and highlight their content in your social media.
5. Devise a system to manage the process
You can buy dedicated software, customize Salesforce.com, or even use Excel to track your influencer marketing efforts. But having a tracking system is the only way to stay organized and gain insights into the success of your program.