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#DearB2B: How do I get started with influencer marketing?

Katie Colbourne, digital account director at The Marketing Practice, provides some useful pointers for companies to consider before reaching out to influencers​

#DearB2B: How do I get started with influencer marketing?

Some 83% of brand marketers cite influencer marketing as a top priority to “identify and build one-on-one relationships with industry key influencers,” yet only 49% of B2B marketers are experimenting with it, according to recent research. Here, we examine what B2B marketers can do to make influencer marketing a viable aspect of their marketing strategies.

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Q. Dear B2B, we're keen to get started with influencer marketing. How do we get an influencer on board, and should we be prepared to pay them for their time/influence?

A: It’s best to think of influencer marketing as a value exchange. If you take the right, personal approach where there’s a clear benefit and match to each party, you should end up with a collaborative relationship, i.e. one that’s mutually beneficial.

You should be prepared to pay a minimal fee, because although you won’t be advertising on their site, you’ll be paying them for their time, their voice and community access. Some may not even charge if there’s real synergy between them and your brand and your message is something they believe in – and they should do so if you’ve done your research properly. Which leads neatly into my first point.

1. Do your research

It sounds pretty obvious, but you need to do your research and really find the influencer that’s right for you. This should never simply be a case of just getting someone who has the greatest exposure. Think of influencer marketing as a partnership – there needs to be something in it for you but also the influencer and this can’t just be treated as a transaction.

2. Define your target market

You need to define your target market with what the influencer is doing activity too. You can only do this by really looking into the content they post, who they regularly engage with, how active their audience is in response to their content (no-one wants a broadcaster) and who their followers are. As that’s ultimately what you’re after – access to their audience and followers.

3. Decide on the areas you want to expand into

Define the business topics and key business areas you want to expand into or – dare I say it – gain more ‘buzz’. Then monitor those areas on social for three to six months so you have reliable and consistent data. This will help you pick someone that’s influential on ‘enterprise mobility’, for example, rather than someone who has only been influential for the past month.

Using enterprise mobility as an example, you can do in-depth monitoring on this topic by brainstorming all of its associated keywords e.g. mobile management, mobile security and mobile working as these will form your social media monitoring search terms that you will input into your chosen tool to identify, each month, who is most active or visible in these conversations online. In each of those six months, we would typically look at social monitoring reports pulled from tools such as Brandwatch or Crimson Hexagon to highlight who has the most mentions, who is generating the most content, getting the most shares, having the most discussions, and has the largest share of voice.

You can then map that six months’ worth of data into your messaging to see where you have a natural match – and use these matches to take a really personal approach to the influencer. We would find key articles, quotes and personal info from top influencers before approaching them and then use their quotes to explain that what they've said matches the message we’re trying to convey to our audience. It’s best to think of it as a mini-marketing or ABM campaign. This not only shows you’ve done your research on them but also that it isn’t a random request and you have a reason for approaching them.

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