Influencer Marketing: 4 things you need to know

Photo by Voyagerix/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Voyagerix/iStock / Getty Images

« Influencer Marketing » sounds like the new marketing buzzword these days. In a lot of minds, the expression conveys they idea that you can have famous people promote your product for you and bingo, your sales are going to explode. And yes, wouldn’t it be nice if a YouTuber with 3 million subscribers shared their love for your brand?
The reality is quite different though, so let’s clarify what Influencer Marketing is, and how it really works.

Influence: it happens everywhere.

While it’s true that the Internet has given anyone the power to spread their message, Influence is as old as our consumer world is. If you grand-mother received old bread from the local baker and told all her friends around a cup of tea, there is a good chance that bakery would lose some business. We all influence the people around us, positively or negatively. Look at anyone who just got their new car, they want to convince everyone that their car is the best in the world.

So when we talk about Influencer Marketing, not everything happens online. Giving consumers an incredible in-store experience, for example, can start up the influence process.

Influence: it’s not a game of numbers

For decades, marketers have thought in terms of big numbers. We wanted the TV programs with the biggest audience, the magazine with the most readers… because we felt that the more people we would talk to, the higher the chance our customers would be in that crowd. But today, we have access to very powerful targeting tools. Working with Influencers who are active within one particular topic already guarantees that their followers are part of our target market.

Of course, we’re still tempted to prefer a YouTube Channel with 2 million subscribers instead of 200.000 because, hey, the more the merrier. But in reality, what really create influence is passion. And a very passionate community of 10.000 can leverage your sales in a much powerful way than a community of 1 million that gets pitched a new brand every week. Plus, “smaller” Influencers will sometimes be more accessible or open to collaborations.

So, think quality over quantity, here.

Influencer Marketing: it’s not free

If you have ever run a blog or a YouTube channel, then you know how much work it is to brainstorm idea, think of a concept, create all the content, edit and promote it. For a lot of online content creator, their hobby keeps them as busy as their full time job.

Please don’t think that because you give them a free product, you’re entitled to all that good work for free. If there were anything efficient and free in marketing, we’d know it.

Influencers marketing deserve a compensation for their work as much as you do. Of course, budget will vary a great deal depending on many factors. And for smaller bloggers or YouTubers, sometimes they will be happy to exchange content for a product they really like – but you should not assume that it is the norm and you can get away with that in all your Influencers Campaign.

Influencer Marketing: it’s a relationship game

If you want to start working with influencers, you should start building relationships with them as of right now. Make no mistake: this is a business. And in any business project we rather work with people we know and trust. So the sooner you start talking to people and building relationships, the better. They will be much more open to hear about your next campaign in the future.

Why and how you should create a content calendar

There are many things that can feel overwhelming when your company is making its first steps on social media. How do I budget? How am I going to measure success? How long before I see results? But there is one practical question that seems to be daunting to every marketer: what am I going to post? Social media channels suddenly look like monsters that need to be fed constantly. Leave them alone for a few days and engagement drops, making them look like deserted cities. And that is one scary view.

So how do you go about this? How do you decide what to post? 
Well, first of all, here's what you should NOT do: start drafting posts immediately while hoping for the best. It might feel faster but trust me, it's not. Good social media content requires good planning.
I'm going to describe a few steps that should help you literally fill in the blanks.

Work in batches of one month.

More power to you if you can do more than that, but let's start with one month. 

Increased productivity.

Working in batch makes you more efficient, because you get in the flow. You might spend the first 5 or 10 minutes staring at the page or screen, but once the ideas start coming, you'll see that the list gets longer very quickly. You will then fill in your content calendar in no time. 
A lot of people decide to make their content calendar a weekly (or worse, daily) thing, but trust me, if you were to add up the time spent, it would come up to much more than an monthly session will last.

Faster approval/review.

Chances are your content plan needs to be approved by someone. Or by many people. This process usually takes a lot of time, especially as this task might not be as high a priority for them as it is for you. Going through the approval process each week is draining for everyone. Your colleagues will feel that they are at it yet again, and you'll spend a lot of time chasing them around for feed-back.
Making the approval of your content plan a monthly affair, is making them and yourself a big favor.

Create a monthly content calendar.

You need a template.

Wether you work digitally or on paper, spend 20 mins creating something that you will be able to re-use again and again. Personally, I rather do this step on paper, with a whole month printed on an A4 page, in landscape view (even Microsoft Outlook will allow you to print that out). This way I get a global vision on the month to come.

Sometimes, paper just gives you a better helicopter view than digital.

Sometimes, paper just gives you a better helicopter view than digital.

Start filling in.

There are many many things happening in a company that can be good material for a social media post :

  • Is your company attending a conference, as an exhibitor or with a speaker, or even just to visit? Highlight those days in your calendar.
  • Are there any special promotions that sales has developed? Your clients will need to know about it. Even if you shouldn't be too sales-y on social media, sharing a good deal every once in a while can be good.
  • New product launches are probably worth some teasing, as well as a proper announcement.

In short, discuss with your colleagues from sales and marketing, but also from HR (hello, recruitment events ?) and mark down every piece of news that could be shared with your community.

You are creating your own content, right ?

It's 2016; if your company is not creating any content yet, we need to talk.
But for now I'm going to assume that you do produce content, and of course it should be promoted. Write that down in your content calendar as well. I bet by now, it doesn't look as empty anymore.

What with the spots left blank ?

When you worked on social media strategy, you determined what channels would be used and at what frequency. There is a high chance that you're posting on Twitter much more than on Facebook, for example, since the life span of a tweet is so short.

So now you can really see what is missing in your monthly content calendar. Do I have enough for 3 Facebook posts a week? Can I come up with 2 new tweets every day to supplement the ones I repeat? If the answer is no, then it's time to move on to your next tool...

Content Curation.

It might be really hard to feed the social media monster on your own when your company is not producing enough content. Luckily, it's ok to fill in the blanks with... content created by others - the one condition being that this content will serve your audience, and that you add your personal touch or comment to it. 

So, go tap into your reservoir of saved interesting posts or videos, and use those to fill in the blanks.

Pro Tip: use post-it notes.

If you're working on a paper content calendar, then it's obviously a little bit more tedious to delate and change things than on a digital version. Unless you use small post-it notes! Simply write every element on a separate post-it, and place it on the day where you intend to post it (no pun intended). Then if you need to move things around, simply swap the post-its. 

Get your monthly content calendar approved.

Writing the social content for the whole month, creating the graphics that go along with them, and scheduling your posts is going to take time. So if there is anything you should change, it's better to hear about it as early as possible in the process. Getting your general content calendar approved before you start writing will help you save time. For one, you shouldn't hear down the line that half of it shouldn't be talked about on social and that you need to find 8 new ideas. And secondly, you will notice that the writing process is definitely faster when you already know the topics!

Work in progress

Work in progress

Are you using a content calendar already? What is your experience with it? Share it in the comments! 

The calendar template used in the pictures is a creation of Fran Meneses, Illustrator