Develop An Influencer Marketing Strategy in 5 Simple Steps

Carol Feigenbaum |
 07/23/19 |
6 min read

Develop An Influencer Marketing Strategy in 5 Simple StepsInfluencer marketing can be tricky – mostly because it is misunderstood. Developing an influencer marketing strategy that reaps impressive returns for your brand doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, you can develop one in five simple steps!

Step 1: Identify Influencer Marketing Focal Points

Which aspects of your business can benefit from an influencer’s touch? Although you undoubtedly have ideas about what you would like to promote and products or services you think people are interested in, you are not the audience. So, sorting out people are talking about is step one.

A search of the cosmetics industry reveals lots of sentiment information – and sentiment drivers, sorted by attributes, behaviors, emotions and things. This is all intel that NetBase extracts from mentions and is important to explore as you progress through your influencer marketing strategy steps:

Sentiment drivers to inform influencer search

Attributes track terms or phrases expressing positive (like) or negative (dislike) sentiment. We can see “health benefits” viewed as a negative here, for example – we’ll get back to that in a bit!

Emotions are terms or phrases expressing a positive emotion (such as “incredible”) or negative emotion (such as “ridiculous”). The value in understanding what these emotional responses are referring to is obvious.

Behaviors are terms or phrases expressing positive behavior (such as “wear”) or negative behavior (such as “not wear”). What cosmetics are potential customers wearing or not wearing? Now you’ll know!

And then “Things.” This is probably the most exciting of all the options, as it shares frequently occurring objects of sentiment – the products, locations, brands, people, or other items that are linked directly to a primary term. For example, if the sentence “I like that @Nike commercial with @KingJames” matched a topic on Nike, NetBase would return “commercial” as a thing.

Clicking on any items in the word clouds reveals granular, transparent intel supporting each, along with numerous avenues for a cosmetics brand to pursue. We’ll explore a few as we go.

Step 2: Making an Influencer List and Checking it Thrice

Making an influencer list seems pretty easy if you’re actively monitoring your brand and tracking mentions. “Easy” may not be the right word, as it is labor intensive work fraught with deceptive surface insights – but it is certainly one of the more obviously available data points to brand marketers. It’s a lot like tracking “likes” and @mentions in a spreadsheet. You can do it and overwhelm higher ups with data, but the quality of what you’re providing is questionable – and it certainly isn’t part of the influencer marketing strategy steps we’ll be outlining.

Influencer identification, relationship building and ongoing monitoring is tough work. Your “influencers” are typically mini-celebrities in your space, with some able to direct millions in purchase choices each year. A product launch could live and die depending on what these folks say.

So even if you aren’t planning to contract with them for promotional purposes, becoming friendly with them and sharing insider info is wise. Influencers love insider info. It’s ups their cred with their audiences.

Making It Mutually Beneficial

Finding and creating mutually beneficial relationships with influencers, beyond making them look like rock stars to followers, also requires finesse. When starting your search for influencers, it’s tempting to look to only those who have positive things to say about your brand – but detractors are powerful too.

For example, although the overarching “cosmetics” conversation is positive:

Analyzing positive and negative sentiment around a topic for influencer marketing preluanch purposes

There are a significant number of opportunities presented by the negative end of the spectrum.

To connect back to the “health benefits as a negative” indicator mentioned in our attributes query above, we can see one person commanding quite a bit of attention. This person has a post criticizing the industry that has been reblogged nearly 6,000 times on Tumblr:

Analyzing domains and showing one influencer driving thousands of reblogs on Tumblr

Imagine connecting with that person with your cosmetics designed to improve skin in some way, offering a benefit this person could get behind and share with his/her supremely engaged audience? Deeper exploration into who this person is would be in order, of course. But it’s a potential angle that social listening discovers for you – particularly as the conversation around cosmetics on Tumblr is significant:

Analyzing sources including social media news forums reviews comment data and more

 Talking Tumblr and Influencer Fit

You’ll want to be sure to approach only those influencers that are a good fit for your brand, as relevant influencers are a hot commodity – and just because someone doesn’t meet your needs right now, (dependent upon the segment you’re targeting) doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. So you’ll want to keep relationships positive.

Also, sometimes your top picks don’t work out for whatever reason and you’ll be glad to have a few backup influencers available. Relationship building is an unspoken – and key – influencer marketing strategy step that all savvy brands master.

Not feeling so great about turning around a “toxic makeup culture” influencer, but still want that Tumblr influencer action? There are so many angles to pursue. You can always partner up with Kim Kardashian West, of course – or a sports figure searching for makeup that works while training could be your “in:”

Analyzing authors to vet as potential influencers as part of influencer marketing strategy

And there’s always the Cosplay crowd, which can be seen actively sharing in search of cosmetics that won’t clog their pores.

cosmetics sound bite summary around specific hashtag

All found by searching through sentiment and exploring whatever terms feel relevant for a brand’s mission/online persona.

Whatever you decide, it’s crucial to have benchmarking criteria in place.

Step 3: Benchmark All The Things

Where are people talking about your brand now? Understanding where the conversation is happening, both in the category and about your brand specifically will help you set realistic goals for this phase of our influencer marketing strategy steps.

For example, if you didn’t know your brand was already being discussed on Reddit and looked later to see thousands of mentions (or were directed there by a savvy influencer to prove his/her value to your brand), you might be impressed if you weren’t aware of the conversation already happening about your brand on that site. So be sure to take stock of multiple benchmarks online before you start.

Tracking where target audience is participating on forums blogs and news sites

And understand what is being said, specifically, of course. If you don’t have a solid sense of sentiment, and specifically around indicators you plan to measure around brand love, you’re doing yourself a disservice:

Analysis overview of mentions, impressions, brand sentiment and timeline activity spikes

Managing Expectations

Do you expect an uplift in brand sentiment? What keywords are you wanting to see associated with your brand as you move forward? Is that happening at all right now? Where do you expect to see this change?

Monitoring all available metrics helps flesh out your narrative, both before and after a campaign. And fluctuation reports help brands understand conversation spikes – and who/what is driving them:

Fluctuation summary providing detailed look at sentiment spikes or dives

And again – you can (and should) make your initial benchmarking specific to the topic areas and influencers you’ve identified. This way,  you can create a fine-turned search. You wouldn’t want to benchmark the entire cosmetics industry, for example.

If you wanted to focus very specifically on the “skin concern” subset, your overview would look like this:

Analysis of skin concern topic specifically

And your fluctuation summary would be much more manageable – as any specific search would:

fluctuation summary of skin concern topic segment sentiment spike

Step 4: Campaign Launch Logistics

Be very clear about the “ask” when creating influencer engagements. You’ve done such great work in fine tuning precisely what you would like them to discuss – and where. Providing detailed instructions around same is a super important step in your influencer marketing strategy. Be prepared to assign each influencer to a set topic to keep your efforts organized (and it’s just necessary for tracking besides!).

To accurately measure their efforts, you’ll require all “owned channel” access. This includes their website, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram accounts, of course. Be sure to plan ahead of that and ensure they’re aware of it. You will add these channels to your influencer topic to collect all available data from those channels. And add channels consistently across influencer topics.

How to designate owned channels for influencer marketing intel

And be sure to stress the importance of disclosing your collaboration with influencer followers. They need to add this disclosure to every post they’re paid to make on your behalf. Advertising rules are clear and fines are steep – not to mention it makes your brand look sneaky. That’s never a good look for any brand.

Step 5: Monitoring Lift & Making Changes in Real-time

Measuring the performance of an influencer’s owned and partnered media content is pretty easy, once we get to this step in the influencer marketing strategy process!

You can track Influencer Metrics Across Channels, regularly reviewing followers, brand posts, engagements per post and shares per post metrics:

Influencer marketing cross channel information capture

Or the Total Channel Conversation section to track post count and sentiment score by domain:

Total channel conversation track post count and sentiment score by domain

You can even compare and contrast top performing content on owned channels:

  • Compare net sentiment and total engagement across owned channels.
  • Drill into spikes to see how some content performs better on other platforms.

Owned media Twitter performance influencer marketing metrics

And there’s so much more available beyond that. It’s exciting, really.

Change is a Good Thing

Monitoring channel conversation happening on influencers’ accounts, as well as ongoing listening to both brand and category conversations will reveal lots of opportunities for making changes in real-time. You can – and often will – spot trends in the earned media conversation for adoption into future posts. Influencer intel is a gift that keeps on giving!

Or – have (or should) your focus points changed since your campaign started? That’s okay, it’s an ongoing exploratory process where changes are expected.

We know it seems like a lot to manage – and it is, which is why you can’t do it with ad hoc worksheets. Reach out and we’ll show you how quickly you can be up and running with powerful influencer identification and monitoring tools.

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