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The Making of a Successful Online Influencer Program

by Gillian Pommerehn

Whether your marketing objective is to educate key audiences about your cause, change public opinion around a specific issue, or drive adoption of a new product or service, online influencers are invaluable for helping to create genuine conversations among today’s savvy consumers.

Influencers are people who have the power to motivate behavior, actions and opinions. They range from the media and everyday bloggers to celebrities and community leaders. In working with online influencers, the key for marketers is to engage those who align with your brand’s mission and purpose. By partnering with influencers who convey authenticity and relevance, organizations can interact with their priority audiences in customizable and relevant ways ─ and ultimately build brand equity and drive action.

A 2015 survey conducted by Tomoson, a company specializing in influencer software management, found businesses generate $6.50 in revenue for each $1 invested in an influencer program. The survey also revealed that influencer marketing is the fastest-growing online customer-acquisition channel, outperforming both organic search and email marketing.

So how does an organization launch an influencer program? Here are a few best practices.

Use the right tools.

There are many new software applications and multi-channel networks emerging that can help brands develop influencer programs. They range from all-in-one influencer marketing platforms to self-service software that connects brands with influential everyday users, journalists, and even celebrities. These tools, such as TapInfluence, GroupHigh, IZEA and Thuzio, can help identify, recruit and manage a variety of influencers, ultimately helping to grow a program.

With so many tools to choose from these days, the challenge is determining the right one for your program. First, consider your goals, budget and internal resources. For instance, if your goal is to start small and build a strong, internally run program, look for simple, DIY tools that integrate with your existing software and allow you to do the work yourself. Other more sophisticated tools, with price tags that can easily exceed $100,000 a year, will connect your brand with hundreds of influencers across multiple channels for larger campaigns.

Choose the right influencers.

Do your homework to engage influencers who align with your brand’s mission and purpose. Find people who connect to your topic, product or service in highly relevant ways. If the influencer can’t demonstrate true relevance and enthusiasm for your brand, followers won’t connect either. Look at an influencer’s community, content history and engagement analytics to understand their potential power to influence.

Track your results.

Essential to tracking results is setting clear goals and metrics up front. Define your metrics, including the quality and quantity of interactions. Then closely monitor community engagement. Ask yourself: Does the influencer engagement feel authentic? What are the comments and questions from the community? Did the overall effort drive the desired levels of reach, click throughs or other impact? Based on your learnings, make changes and optimize your program in real-time.

Effective influencer campaigns are about creating authentic and relevant relationships. With that focus at the forefront, a strong return on investment will ultimately follow.

Gillian Pommerehn

EVP, PR & Reputation Management

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