Influencer marketing has become an important part of content marketing. Here’s how to integrate the social influence of your top consumers (and B2B customers) into your content strategy.
For most small businesses, word-of-mouth is still the holy grail of marketing strategies — and for good reason. Brands that achieve widespread peer-to-peer endorsements enjoy greater loyalty and higher credibility than companies who rely solely on advertising. Despite these benefits, however, only 6% of businesses polled in a recent American Marketing Association study feel they’ve mastered word-of-mouth marketing, according to Forbes contributor Kimberly Whitler.
Thankfully, marketers now have tools to spark the coveted “grapevine effect” among their most vocal consumers, allowing brands to take advantage of the trust and enthusiasm that typically comes only from conversations with trusted friends. Influencer marketing, as this strategy is called, has become a fast-growing component of content marketing thanks to affiliate networks and ad programs on popular platforms like Instagram.
How can you add influencer marketing to your content strategy? Here are three few helpful tips:
1. Choose Engagement Over Popularity
Although it can be tempting to choose influencers based entirely on their audience size, engagement can be a far more revealing indicator of conversion, says influencer marketing expert Kim Westwood, who founded digital platform Shopping Links to connects brands directly with bloggers for marketing collaborations. Influencer marketing works best when the relationships between brands and bloggers are genuine, she notes, just as content marketing is most effective when brand stories are told editorially. A natural congruence between a blogger’s audience and your own target demographic is therefore crucial.
2. Integrate Your Campaigns
Following the golden rule of content marketing, no strategy should operate in a silo — and that includes your influencer marketing efforts. The bloggers you choose to represent your brand should match the tone, content quality and storytelling style of your internal content strategy, which makes choosing the right influencers all the more crucial. Working directly with bloggers allows you to most effectively communicate your style and content marketing goals, which leads to more genuine communication and greater chances of organic word-of-mouth. Of course, before coordinating your content marketing and influencer campaigns, you’ll need to ensure that all internal efforts are also cohesive.
3. Let Data Be Your Guide
Just as data drives a good content strategy, your influencer marketing efforts should also include access to information that helps you gauge conversion — although this kind of transparency has only recently become available. Where brands once had to rely solely on followers to guess at a blogger’s expected engagement, a few tools are emerging to replace the guesswork with reliable data. “Transparency is something that brands are really looking for,” says Kim. She encourages bloggers on Shopping Links to share their Google Analytics on the network, offering a more complete profile of their audience. Content marketers used to analyzing their own data can quickly compare audiences to make a more educated decision about a blogger’s expected conversion.
The bottom line: Integrating like-minded bloggers and influential consumers (and customers, if you’re B2B) into your overall strategy can help boost your chances of achieving organic word-of-mouth marketing, but choosing the right influencers and integrating your messages is key.
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