Marketing Strategy

Influencer Marketing: The Missing Link in Your Content Strategy

A solid content strategy is a powerful tool, but what would be possible with a little influencer marketing sprinkled into the mix? How can a “thumbs up” from a respected expert on social media change how people perceive your brand?

Turns out, it can make a huge impact.

Thought leaders are one of the missing links when it comes to getting more traction with potential clients. Why? Because they’re already part of the online conversation that brands want to join.

“B2B marketers reported trusting thought leaders 10X as much as they trust websites or corporate blogs (41% vs. 4%).”

As a practice, influencer marketing involves asking key industry leaders, potential buyers, or third parties to help spread the word about your service or product.

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When you stop and think about it, the shift toward trusting the voice of an influencer (vs. the brand itself) makes perfect sense. Now more than ever, we tend to tune out ads.

This also means that brands need a new way to build trust without sounding like they’re always tooting their own horn through ads and marketing content that’s being ignored.

So in 2016, how can your brand benefit from the equivalent of a “Colbert Bump” through influencer marketing?

Incorporate Marketing Influencers into Your Content Strategy

Influencers already have the power of persuasion, and they can act as a virtual high-five for your brand. They also have the eyes, ears, and trust of the connections you want to make.

And shaping relationships with influencers is definitely catching on in the business world. According to Adweek’s Social Times 2015, 60% of marketers plan to boost ad spend for influencer marketing in the following 12 months.

This all sounds great, but how can you be strategic about bringing influencers into your B2B marketing mix?

Blend Influence with Content for the Win

The glare of brand star-power aside, it’s important to add influencer marketing into your content strategy in a reciprocal way that flows over time.

Here are some ways to approach influencer marketing for your B2B brand:

1. Choose an influencer who makes sense for your target market, has a core audience on key social channels, and has a strong connection to potential clients with a budget.

Not sure what kind of influencer will fit your needs? Create a profile for them and map out the key characteristics you’re looking for, including their reach, experience, and personality.

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2. Complete hashtag research to get clear on the keywords that potential customers are using (so the influencer can use the same keywords in social media outreach).

You might also even discover some potential influencer connections through your research process.

3. Tag influencers on social media while sharing content packed with value-add insights, and gauge their reaction.

4. Generate content ideas before approaching a specific influencer, and be prepared to share what you can offer for their efforts.

Will you be piggy-backing on something the influencer is already doing? Are you going to reach out for a product review? Does it make sense to include them as a subject matter expert (SME) in content on your blog? Or will the exchange be something simple like link sharing or a testimonial?

The most important thing to keep in mind is how willing they are to share your content with their followers.

5. Create an editorial calendar to strategically release and prepare key content while keeping all teams within the organization in the loop.

A marketing content platform like Kapost can help streamline content development and track the impact that your influencer marketing is having.

6. Don’t approach an influencer when you’re already under the gun, or to boost a marketing campaign as a last-minute quick fix.

Take it slow and build a genuine connection through a social media platform or email in a way that’s friendly and low-key. When trust is built up, express why collaborating would be beneficial for you both.

7. Connect with influencers who are selective about what they share with followers.

If you collaborate with a thought leader who’s sharing insights on similar brands, your brand is likely to get lost in the noise of their social feeds.

Don’t bank on a chance encounter with an influencer. Instead, figure out how they align with your content strategy, and then—and only then—add their star power to the mix.

And remember: while online traction and “going viral” is powerful, your influencer marketing should have the ultimate goal of turning leads into customers. Just be prepared to handle a potential wave of new business from your efforts!

Katrina Pfannkuch

About Katrina Pfannkuch

Katrina Pfannkuch is a creativity consultant specializing in writing, editing, strategy & coaching. She's a bit of a data nerd & loves seeing how pieces of the informational puzzle come together to paint a creative picture. Catch Katrina & her insights on kick-starting creativity at @creativekatrina on Twitter.