By Lee Odden, CEO, TopRank Online Marketing
If you can find a way to solve multiple problems for your target audience with co-created influencer content and achieve high impact exposure, your brand will grow your own networks of influence. You will also expand your reach to new audiences and cultivate more specific influence as a trusted authority for what your customers buy.
To put this approach into action, there are five essential steps:
1. Set Influencer Marketing Goals
Much of the goals identification task for influencer content programs is about understanding what’s possible. Here are a few suggested goals:
- Change how the brand is perceived
- Connect with a new audience of buyers
- Support thought leadership and PR goals
- Support content, social media and search marketing programs
- Create relationships with industry experts
2. Topic and Content Type Selection
How does your brand want to be known? What information do buyers need to move from awareness to interest to inquiry?Topic selection is about being the best answer for those questions.
Understanding audience segments can reveal content types that resonate best based on platform and buyer preferences. Typically, there’s an anchor piece of content that’s robust like a research report, E-book or white paper. This is then supported by complementary content types such as blog posts, articles in industry publications, videos, infographics, or sponsored content.
3. Identify, Qualify And Recruit Influencer Participants
With a clear understanding of the key goals, topics and content, it’s time to find influencers that are already known as authorities in those areas. Industry participation should reveal the low- hanging fruit for influencer identification. Influencer discovery tools such as Traackr, Linkdex, GroupHigh and Followerwonk can be effective.
Once you’ve identified your key B2B influencers, it’s important to balance qualification according to metrics such as size of network, along with quality of interactions. It’s not enough for an influencer to be dubbed “famous.” They also need to be effective in their ability to influence change of perspective and likelihood to take action amongst their own community.
Create opportunities to engage with influencers to warm the waters, so to speak, before asking them to participate. Engage by commenting on their blog posts, connecting on social networks, getting introduced through mutual connections and being useful. Then, learn what they value before soliciting participation.
4. Create and Promote The Co-Created Content
Once you gain agreement to participate, it’s time to collect content. Usually this can be done via email, but you might need to do it by phone and transcribe the conversation. Understand that most B2B influencers are very busy, so make participation attractive and easy for them. They must see that a nominal effort on their part will result in a substantial return.
Provide information that will make it easy to promote the finished product too, whether it’s a report, and E-book or an infographic. Pre-write social shares, provide a preview and emphasize success.
Organic content promotion in general can work well with a hub-and-spoke model where the hub is the focal point for your content on a particular topic and the spokes are channels of distribution for engaging community and promoting content. Those channels are most often social networks, but can include email lists and paid promotion channels as well.
5. Optimize Content Performance
With content performance optimization, it starts with clear goals and identifying the key performance indicators or metrics that you will track to determine that your program is on or off track.
Establish benchmarks from the start and monitor post launch to determine trends and outcomes. Did the project help change the way your brand is talked about on the social web? In the industry? Were you able to connect with a new audience of buyers? Did the co-created influencer content serve as a resource for other marketing and PR initiatives? What could you do to improve performance?
Collecting content performance information will help you refine your approach in all aspects of working with B2B influencers to co-create content: from identifying influencers to the theme of the content to promotions.
For even more insight into this practice of B2B influencer content, I’ll be presenting on this very topic at the B2B Content2Conversion conference this year: Influencer Content: How to Win Buyers Hearts, Minds and Wallets with Content Optimized for Search, Share and Sales.
Lee Odden is CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, a Minneapolis-based digital marketing agency specializing in strategic Internet marketing consulting, training and implementation services, including: Content, search, email and social media marketing.