How an Influencer Marketing Plan is Developed and Implemented

Many people have grown cynical toward advertising. The say it shows up in every conceivable place, makes ridiculous claims, plays to our most base instincts, and crowds out things that are more interesting and essential. In a world that is saturated by advertising, it is hard for them to trust any of the claims that marketers make.

This cynicism is often eroded when recommendations for products come from friends or family members. A trusted recommendation comes with more credibility than an advertisement. That is why, according to Netpop research, 79% of social media users use these sites to find information and recommendations about products.

Advertisers realize that they can use the power of social media and other Internet tools to market to their customers indirectly. When they can encourage people to talk about and recommend their products online, these advertisers gain a unique advantage over their competition.

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing involves marketing products and services to those who have a sway over the things other people buy. This market influence typically stems from an individual’s expertise, popularity, or reputation. Marketing to an audience of influencers is similar to word of mouth marketing, but it doesn’t rely strictly on explicit recommendations (See also Word-of-Mouth Marketing).

Influence can come from a wide range of places. Any person, group, brand, or place could potentially be an influencer. For example, celebrities are often used to market products because they are highly respected and highly visible. When a celebrity uses a product, the maker of that product gets exposure and the respect that comes from a celebrity endorsement (See also Marketing with Celebrities).

Bloggers have become important influencers because they are seen as authentic and have loyal followings. When a blogger recommends a product it seems more trustworthy than traditional advertising. By using influencers, companies can avoid much of the cynicism and skepticism that is directed at straight forward marketing messages.

This form of marketing is unique because it appeals to the needs of the influencer rather than the customer. Companies must give influencers respect and form open and organic relationships for the influencer to endorse a product. This might include giving the influencer access to a soon-to-be released product, or inviting the influencer to visit the company in person.

The only major drawback of influencer marketing is that it isn’t as controllable as traditional marketing. While some influencers only add to the positive image of a product, influencers who encounter legal trouble or fall out of the public light might negatively impact a product’s chance of success. Marketers must prepare to deal with negative fallout if the influencers they use misrepresent or reject their products.

Examples of Influencer Marketing

  • Redwood Creek Wine – The winemaker created a social platform called Blaze the Trail that helped to position the brand as one committed to sustainability and natural living. The platform features in-depth information about wine making and included Q&A sessions with wine makers. By providing a wealth of information about the wine in the context of the brand’s desired image, Redwood Creek was able to control the message that influential wine drinkers would spread.
  • La Cense Beef – In order to educate consumers about the benefits of grass fed beef, the meat producer set up a website with information about the movement and sustainable agriculture in general. They also reached out to foodie bloggers that have sway amongst gourmet meat buyers. By making it easy for bloggers to research and write about the benefits of La Cense Beef, they were able to spread the message about their brand.
  • Barilla Pasta – The company sent out “Test Kitchen” packages that contained pastas, sauces, and any other Barilla products recipients would need to host a dinner party. Those same recipients then cooked the food, served it to their friends, and uploaded real photos of the gathering to a website. This was a way to organically spread the word about Barilla pasta. The photos that were submitted were used to create authentic looking advertising that featured real Barilla customers.
  • General Motors – The car maker set up an exclusive web site whose access was limited to “GM Insiders.” These were customers that had a deep knowledge, history, and affinity for GM’s many iconic brands. The website featured exclusive news, offers, and sneak peeks. By catering to this passionate segment of their customer base, GM was able to encourage them to talk up their cars to friends and family.

How is an Influencer Marketing Plan Developed and Implemented?

The first step an an influencer marketing plan is to set goals for the campaign. Typically, goals for influencer marketing are often less about increasing sales and more about increasing buzz and public awareness. Before any influencer is contacted, a company must define their goals in measurable terms, spelling out exactly what they hope to accomplish.

After establishing goals, the company will then need to identify the influencers they want to contact by researching demographics and target markets. Simple searches of Google and Facebook can reveal who has influence over consumers. For example, a search for cars would return results for car blogs, automotive reviews, and enthusiast websites. Market research firms offer services that help marketers determine who their customers are most influenced by. The company will need to decide how many influencers they want to target and then select those that best meet the goals of the campaign.

Companies will then start analyzing where their influencers gather, who their audience is, and what kind of message they are spreading. Carefully studying the influencer’s preference makes them easier to reach out to later. When the company is ready to contact the influencer, they will communicate through social media or some other informal means. The goal is to form an organic relationship that is not based entirely on endorsing and selling. Influencers who are treated with respect become genuine advocates for the companies they write about.

Marketers should revisit goals every few months to track the success or failure of the influencer program. If a plan is not having the desired effect, companies must reach out to new influencers in different ways. The influencers who remain effective will need to be courted so that they continue to support the company on their blogs and websites.

Read more at: