Cliffs Notes on Implementing an Influencer Strategy

i-influencersA client expecting his first child lamented he wished there were Cliffs Notes for all the baby books stacked on his nightstand.  It got me thinking — I feel the same way about the amazing marketing webinars, blogs, podcasts, white papers and newsletters out there.  So many great resources and so little time to review them! I decided I’d start producing my own version of Cliff Notes on some outstanding content.  I promise to condense it down to a five minute read, pulling out the golden nuggets so you don’t have to.

This week’s installment is a white paper on the implementation of an influencer strategy by Augure, a PR and influencer marketing software company:

Consumers have never been so connected. Today, most opinions relating to a decision to buy (or not) begin online with a Google search, review of forums, checking out a product test on a blog, or reading a tweet from a satisfied user.

In a global economy, it has become extremely difficult for a business to distinguish itself simply by the superior quality of its products.  It must also gain the preference of its customers.

There are three levels of influencers:

  • Top level: Celebrities: But they require a large budget and you have little control over them, so there’s the risk of a mess-up: This tweet from David Ferrer is a perfect example: he praised the qualities of the Samsung Galaxy S4 phone, but the tweet was sent from his iPhone! That’s the risk involved with “buying” influence
  • Middle level: Connected journalists, bloggers, leaders in the business world or in volunteering, activists, experts in their field, etc., who have credibility within the community of their specific field. These are the primary targets of PR and communication professionals
  • Bottom level: Consumers. But his category has taken on considerable importance with the advent of social networks. Consumers can become true ambassadors for your brand.

How to recognize an influencer:

  1. Twitter followers, but it’s easy to buy followers on Twitter for very little money
  2. Post frequency, but you can automate RSS feeds and schedule posts
  3. Number of retweets, but many people retweet without looking at their tweet

It’s clear that digital influence can’t be measured based on a series of quantitative data. But influencers can be recognized by their ability to mobilize opinions of their followers within a given subject matter.

Three elements for detecting an influencer in a given field:

  • Exposure: the audience the influencer has built over time within his/her fields of research (the number of unique visitors to his blog or media where he writes, etc.)
  • Share of Voice: the level of participation of the influencer on the topic in question
  • Echo: the ease with which the influencer gets his opinion on the subjects in question to spread and be relayed (links to his blog articles, for example)

Influencer Strategy: Six Steps

1. Identify

Define the search topics: including the brand and products; competitors; targeted product category; current events within the industry; related, cross-connected subjects

Create specific lists for each channel: Twitter, blog, online media.  Each channel approach will be different

Categorize by subjects

2. Monitor

Become familiar with the subjects these influencers talk about

Learn the best channels to transmit your messages

Refine your initial list

How to monitor

Themed lists on Twitter

Follow their blog

3. Making contact

Use a personalized approach – no mass mailings!

Let them know you’re following them

Comment on and enrich their content

Stay up to date with events in the sector and arrange face to face meetings if possible

4. Attract attention of influencers to boost visibility

  • Brand content: industry articles and videos, white papers, questionnaires, product launch events; product trial; breakfast and informal events

5. Collaborate to build credibility

Create an influencer community

Indicators you’ve succeeded at attracting attention:

Active influencer participation

More mentions of your brand

Interest of new influencers

Co-creation of content with influencers:

  • Create a defined editorial style
  • Facilitate influencer participation
  • Associate your content with the influencer’s Google+ profile
  • Validate all modifications made to your content
  • Use every channel of social connection to distribute your content
  • Organize meetings
  • Hold a company event utilizing influencers:  But first, do a cross-check of influencers and events. Check the influencer’s profile to find out his/her last presentations and give get an idea about his/her capability as a speaker. Prepare a budget. Hold preliminary meetings. Promote the event and the participation of the influencers. Stream the event live online. Measure the coverage.
  • Encourage community participation: Influencers can encourage participation within your online communities, whether on blogs, your Facebook page or your own site, by recommending the services of the products you sell.

6. Improve the reputation of the brand using the recommendations of the influencers

From Influencers to Ambassadors

To get recommendations from influencers, you also need to put in place a brand ambassador program that encourages participation and also rewards it. This kind of program should be organized around the following guidelines:

  • Choose the ambassadors of your brand carefully. To sum it up, it’s better to have less ambassadors who are really passionate, than more ambassadors with a limited interest in your products.
  • The best way to recruit ambassadors is simply to ask
  • Don’t hesitate to show them your gratitude, whether by financial means or with material elements, such as membership in a small group of users who can test your products before everyone else.
  • Reward the “technological activity” of your brand’s ambassadors by offering them greater visibility through your channels.
  •  Think of influencers as members of your team. Let them participate in your product tests and launches and ask for their opinions in your next campaigns, etc.

Keep your ambassadors in mind while planning actions for your marketing strategy. An influencer attracts many followers online, and many of those are opinion leaders. Using influencers as a voice and a leader for your events can be the key to success, which will also strengthen relationships for future actions.

If you want to learn more, here’s the entire white paper:

Also, I’ve collected a few cool and basic tools to help you with identifying influencers:

Alltop – Blog RSS aggregator organized by topic. Lists feature top blogs in each category edited by Alltop staff. Price: Free.

Klout – Score-producing, public face that measures an individual’s ability to move their networks to action. Price: Website score generation free. Company engagement requires custom pricing.

Technorati Authority – The original influence measure, Technorati’s authority score is a count of the unique sites that link to a given blog in the last six months. So comparing a list of blogs to one another, you can see which has the most unique websites connecting to it. Price: Free

TweetLevel – Edelman project that produces overall Twitter population list that can be filtered by influence, popularity, engagement and trust. Intended to measure a person’s importance on Twitter. Price: Free.

For more on tools, visit:

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