1. BRAND STU2MARKETINGDIVE.COM
here is so much great content
available on the Internet today to
help consumers make decisions.
Unfortunately, the content you work hard to
create about your company, products and
services is buried in it. How do you break
through the noise? How do you ensure your
customers and prospects know who you are
and why your products and services are better
than the competition?
Consumers trust inﬂuencers more than they
trust the information coming from a brand.
According to the Edelman Trust Barometer1
2016, people trust academic or industry
experts or a person like themselves more than
they trust the CEO of a company. Inﬂuencers
also have a large network of people and can
easily and quickly spread your content and
story further and faster than you might be able
So how do you ﬁnd the right inﬂuencers and
get them to work with you? And how do you
make the most of those relationships once
you’ve established them? This playbook
will look at some examples and offer expert
advice on working with the right inﬂuencers to
improve your PR and content marketing.
People trust academic
or industry experts or
a person like themselves
more than they trust the
CEO of a company.
Edelman Trust Barometer 2016
Inﬂuencer marketing has been a critical
piece of digital marketing strategy since the
beginning and it shows no sign of diminishing.
It is a way to partner with people in your
industry -- bloggers, journalists, analysts,
thought leaders, industry experts, social
celebrities and so on -- who are willing to share
your story and promote your products and
services over social and digital media channels.
Partner with an inﬂuencer.
2. BRAND STU3MARKETINGDIVE.COM
inding the right inﬂuencer is not
simply about ﬁnding the people with
the highest number of followers on
Twitter, YouTube or some other social network.
So what do you look for?
According to Mark Fidelman, Managing
Partner of Evolve!, Inc., an advertising
agency specializing in brand management
and marketing strategy, you want to look for
inﬂuencers who are on the same channels as
your customers and show high engagement.
It’s not about
Fidelman suggests that different social
channels are better than others when it comes
to ﬁnding high-value inﬂuencer relationships.
For example, he says that YouTube subscribers
are better than Twitter subscribers because
YouTube has greater SEO value. YouTube
videos are emailed out to subscribers, and
they are available forever (or as long as they’re
on your YouTube channel). While it certainly
offers its own beneﬁts, Twitter, says Fidelman,
is ﬂeeting and unless you do it 50 ﬁfty times a
day, it won’t deliver much SEO value.
It’s not just about the right channel, though.
The best inﬂuencers have credibility and
integrity, says Debra Lavoy, CEO of Narrative
Builders, a consultancy that builds narratives
3. BRAND STU4MARKETINGDIVE.COM
that convey the power of your business,
product or idea. Do the inﬂuencer’s interest
and expertise align with your market and what
you are selling? How many people refer to and
share their work or social posts?
The right inﬂuencer will know your market well
and be able to tell and share your story in an
authentic way, not simply rehash your brand
words. An inﬂuencer who is willing to sell
anything to anyone is not an inﬂuencer with
whom you want to associate.
Key steps to connect with
the right influencer:
• Listen on social media for keywords,
trending hashtags and topics related to
your market, and get to know potential
influencers based on what they talk about
and/or where they work.
• Look for communities or groups on social
channels that center around topics that
relate to your brand and identify their most
• Research media sites that talk about your
market/industry and look for bloggers
and journalists who cover your market
• Search across blogs, media sites, and even
competitive websites to find analysts,
bloggers and journalists you might want
to reach out to.
• Prioritize your list of influencers by
number of followers and how much
content they share. Determine if these
influencers talk about other brands in your
market (not only what they say, but how
they say it).
Know what social channels your
customers and prospects are use, then look
for influencers who know your industry well.
Look at reach, but more importantly look for
expertise, credibility and integrity in how
they communicate and share content.
While the number of social followers isn’t the
most important factor, it does matter. Reach
and popularity are not the same things as
inﬂuence, but they play an important role in
how well an inﬂuencer can spread your story.
While this information can be found through a
manual process, keep in mind there are media
intelligence tools available that will make it
easier to sift through all the channels and
4. BRAND STU5MARKETINGDIVE.COM
ou’ve done your homework and
found the right inﬂuencer. Now how
do you get them to work with you?
Your ﬁrst contact with a potential inﬂuencer
should not be about you, but about them.
Comment on one of their blog posts or articles;
share their content over social media. Show
that you’re informed about them and that you
understand what they talk about and do. The
key is start slowly building a relationship of
You can then approach them about covering
you. There are many different approaches to
working with an inﬂuencer.
Some inﬂuencers are paid. It’s a common
practice, particularly among celebrity
inﬂuencers, analysts and others. Lavoy says
the dynamics are different between a good-
will relationship and a paid relationship. If you
are paying an inﬂuencer, be certain they want
to work with you, and will invest themselves in
Some inﬂuencers aren’t interested in money,
but would accept other incentives, such as
free versions of software, sample products,
paid trips to conferences and so on. Still other
inﬂuencers are interested in gaining exposure
for themselves through working with your
5. BRAND STU6MARKETINGDIVE.COM
Partner with inﬂuencers to share or create
new content. Invite them to co-author a paper,
participate on a panel, contribute quotes
or blog posts, perform and write a product
evaluation, and more.
When trying to convince an inﬂuencer to work
with you, prepare a summary sheet about your
company including any impressive highlights,
your reach and engagement across social
media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram
and others), blog subscribers, newsletter
open and click-through rates and more.
Demonstrating that you can promote them
shows the relationship is a two-way street with
beneﬁts to both.
Fidelman recommends demonstrating that
the relationship will support something the
inﬂuencer is already doing. If the relationship
you want to build helps them further their
goals, they will partner with you.
It’s best to get an inﬂuencer involved from the
beginning, sharing your speciﬁc business goals
and getting their input.
Inﬂuencers can be leveraged throughout the
entire customer acquisition funnel. The key
is to determine at which point in the funnel a
particular inﬂuencer provides the most beneﬁt.
For example, the top of the funnel is about
building awareness for your brand. In this case
you’ll want to demonstrate thought leadership,
so look for inﬂuencers who are considered
experts in your market and bring them in to
help with awareness campaigns (a webinar, co-
authored whitepaper, advertising, etc.).
Demonstrate that the relationship
will support something the
influencer is already doing.
Mark Fidelman, Managing Partner of Evolve!, Inc.
6. BRAND STU7MARKETINGDIVE.COM
The middle of the funnel is where purchase
preference is formed and more details about
your product or service are desired. Here you
want inﬂuencers who can provide evaluations
of your product, write about your speciﬁc
market/product type and demonstrate why
your product is the best choice. It’s important
to remember that a good inﬂuencer will be
authentic and not force your product on their
It’s not all about you. Influencer marketing
requires an investment by both you and
the influencer, so it’s critical to demonstrate
what’s in it for them. Involve influencers early
on to take advantage of their knowledge when
building your campaigns, not just executing
them. Also determine where influencers
provide the most benefit at each point in
the customer funnel, and which influencers
can support that content the best.
7. Influencer relationships
are built over time, not
anaging inﬂuencer relationships
is not exactly like managing PR
contacts, but there are similarities.
Fidelman says that inﬂuencers are inundated
with requests, so developing a friendship will
be challenging. Typically an inﬂuencer has
a lot of interests and people tugging them
in different directions, which often makes it
difficult to hold on to them for the long-term.
He advises instead to look at inﬂuencers
on a project-by-project basis. Develop the
relationship around a particular campaign
and work with the inﬂuencer to ensure they
are successful. Do your best to maintain the
relationship over time but don’t expect it to
last forever. Fidelman says if you do it this way,
you’ll be able to build enough value around
your brand to have an impact.
Lavoy suggests some good ways to maintain
the relationship, including putting them on a
VIP list of new announcements, and treating
them the same way you would treat a valued
partner, advisor or customer. She also suggests
making an opportunity to meet in person.
Of course, if the inﬂuencer is paid, managing
the relationship is easier. Paid inﬂuencers are
required to do speciﬁc things to earn their fee,
so you can put tighter parameters on how the
relationship works and the expectations you
8. BRAND STU9MARKETINGDIVE.COM
It’s important to recognize that you don’t
control how the inﬂuencer speaks about
your brand. While you can provide guidance,
the inﬂuencer must be able to speak their
language, or anything they write will appear
forced. The key is to ensure the discussion is
always positive and ultimately enforces good
brand and product discussions.
Inﬂuencer relationships are built over time, not
overnight. Consider developing an inﬂuencer
funnel, similar to a customer funnel, where you
identify a number of inﬂuencers you’d like to
work with, then slowly engage with them and
build relationships over time. As opportunities
arise to leverage an inﬂuencer, you’ll have a
number of options available.
You need influencers to help spread
your story in an authentic and engaging
way, not just repeat what you say. While
some influencers have sustained influence
and reach, others will come and go. It’s
important to continually look for new
voices to help share your story while
maintaining relationships with long-
standing industry influencers.
9. BRAND STU10MARKETINGDIVE.COM
s inﬂuencer partnerships gain
momentum, how will PR and
Communications need to change to
Fidelman says brands will face a dichotomy.
They will have to decide to become a media
organization themselves and be inﬂuential,
which is what some are, or they will have to
partner with, or hire, inﬂuential people. Not all
organizations have the time, budget or focus to
become a media organization, but they can still
work with inﬂuencers as part of their content
The dividing line will be clearer though -- either
get lost in the sea of content and social media,
or work with people who already have a large
trusted community that can help you rise above
The future of influencer
marketing in 2016
Key takeaways for 2016:
• Prioritize the influencers you want to
work with based on who will have the most
impact in your preferred channel, or the
largest reach and influence.
• Develop relationships over time and make
it easy for influencers to work with you by
focusing on a specific campaign or group of
• Be sure to give influencers a degree of
control by involving them in the process
early on and giving them flexibility in
their approach to sharing your story.
• Remember that influencer relationships
are a two-way street. Clearly demonstrate
what you offer them in return for working
with you. This is a relationship, you do not
control them, but want to empower them
to use their channels and voice to further
your goals and theirs.