3 Tips for Building Social Influencers into Your Editorial Strategy
A few years ago, I had the chance to hear Social Media Research Foundation talk about the impact of influencers on consumer goods and hotel brands. In two separate industry events, speakers explored the importance of identifying influencers and then leveraging those influencers to drive engagement with a brand.
A few months back, I had a chance to talk with the head of the foundation, Marc A. Smith, about the influencer model and the impact it could have on a brand. In that conversation, Smith said something that really resonated with me. According to Smith, to be a success at social, brands have to realize they are likely not the mayors (or influencers) of a particular topic.
Now that one hit home. If our editorial teams are not the influencers on a topic in a social channel, who is? That’s the question that today’s media brands, especially editorial teams, need to grapple with. More and more, I hear from editors and brand leaders that they know they are not the leading social voice in an area. But they also struggle to understand that if we’re not the influencers, we must find a way to influence the influencer and how to do that.
The key to answering this question lies in implementing an influencer marketing strategy in your editorial operation. Here are some tips that can make influencer marketing come to life.
Tip 1: Understand and Identify
There’s no doubt that some editors are influencers in their market. But more than likely, most editorial teams are not the true influencers in their segment. So to build an influencer marketing strategy for editorial, the first step is realizing that you’re not the leader on a topic or set of topics in your industry.
Once you’ve made the first leap, the next is to identify the influencers that are impacting your market. There are several ways that you can do this. The first is by crawling the social media channels. Search on hashtags. Check out groups. Search for topics. Ask your editorial team and industry friends who they follow. These are all great ways to start identifying influencers.
Fortunately, there are also a number of tools available to help today as well. Organizations like the Social Media Research Foundation and vendors like BuzzSumo have tools that can help you find your market influencers.
Tip 2: Sending Links to Headlines is Not Enough
As you read this article, I want you to think about your Twitter strategy. For many, the strategy is to use Twitter as a headline feed tool.
While that may be effective for some, it will not work in the influencer marketing model. If all you do is send an influencer links to headlines, then you’ll more than likely not gain any wins through your influencers.
To make influencer marketing a win, you have to understand the influencer. What does he or she cover? What does he or she like to talk about? What types of conversations and posts are generating the most attention on the influencer’s site?
Once you understand the influencer, start to funnel things their way that they would care the most about. It may start by dipping your toes in first. Join in on their conversations. Retweet their content.
After you’ve built a relationship, then start to dig deeper. Don’t provide all coverage on a topic. Give the influencer material you know they’ll care about. Maybe provide them access to a special set of data they can share. Think about inviting them to an event and putting them on a panel.
Remember, influencers didn’t simply form a following because they pumped out headlines to their communities. They are influencers because they love the topic, want to be seen as an expert on that topic, and because they can spark conversation. Therefore, it’s critical that you feed into that when trying to market to the influencer.
Tip 3: Measure Success and React
The final piece of the puzzle here is in measuring success. It’s also important to act on that success or change if you’re not receiving the success you expected. Here are some steps that will help.
- Define up front what your key performance indicators (KPIs) will be so that you can judge the success of your influencer marketing efforts.
- Once you have KPIs, use tools to judge whether you’ve seen success. For example, if it’s event attendance, maybe it’s a special promo code. If it’s traffic, Google Analytics can help. Remember, the tools used will depend on the KPIs defined.
- Feed the beasts – Once you know the influencers that are delivering, continue to feed them with the materials that are working. This isn’t to say to bombard them with content or offers. It’s more to say that if a technique is working with an influencer, keep it up and continue to try and expand and enhance the relationship.
- Change tactics – If an important influencer isn’t delivering, then try some new tactics. Evaluate whether they are actually the right fit for your market. If they are and are not delivering, go back and try to engage them in a different way.
Dip Your Toes, Then Jump In
The biggest question is how to start. Clearly, analytics tools can help. But, the challenge is fitting this marketing in with everything else your editorial teams are trying to achieve.
Start by dipping your toes in the water. Identify one or two influencers and learn how to build a successful model. If you’re too swamped or can’t convince your editorial team to make the leap, think about bringing in a contractor. Have the contractor identify influencers and build a test case scenario. If you haven’t already, consider hiring for a social media editor or content marketing position that can drive objectives at the intersection of editorial and marketing.
No matter what approach you take, today’s media brands need to get an influencer marketing plan in motion. In the end, you may not be the influencer of a topic in social channels, but if you have connections and relationships with all of the social influencers, then you’ll be a more crucial resource for your audience and marketing partners.
Rob Keenan is the President of Keenan Media, LLC, a consultancy firm providing digital, content, marketing, and audience support to the media sector. Rob has worked in the BtoB media sector for 20 years, most recently at the VP of Online Media for Edgell Communications. You can contact Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org.You can also follow him on twitter @robkeenan11 or connect with him on LinkedIn.