How hot is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is now more searched for, via Google Trends data shown above in blue, than email marketing or social media marketing as a whole. Influencer marketing is the latest, the greatest, the hot thing that every marketer has been mandated to master. In this series, we’ll delve into three models of influence, and show how each model aligns to our budgets and timeframes.
Part 4: Influencer Management: Time and Budget
We’ve now identified the different types of influencers – explorers, advocates, and broadcasters:
How do we work with these different types of influencers for maximum impact and benefit?
Let’s begin with the two most common dimensions: time and money.
Explorers, being subject matter experts, require the most time in advance to work with. If we want them to truly understand and recommend our product, service, or brand, we must build in a significant amount of lead time for them to evaluate it.
Moreover, even the process of building a relationship with an explorer takes a great amount of time. Many explorers are busy people, busy being the experts they’re known for being, and demands on their time is high. We must be gently and politely persistent in their field of vision over a long period of time to attract their attention.
Explorers don’t necessarily require huge sums of money to work with them. Some will even decline payment. However, the tradeoff is that what we put before them must be truly exceptional, worthy of a subject matter expert. If we’ve got a product which is half the features and twice the price of the market leader, an explorer is likely to (politely) laugh us out of the room.
Conversely, if we have an offering which is truly groundbreaking, innovative, and beneficial, our explorers are likely to become our champions. They’ll want to use our product or service first, put it through its paces, and be part of the trend we set. That’s their nature as coolfinders and trendsetters. They want to know first what’s going to be next.
Advocates require less time than explorers to develop a relationship because that’s their bread and butter – building and developing relationships. That said, part of the challenge of reaching them is determining – through the data we explored in the last post – who adjacent to them could broker an introduction for us. Advocates work in a specific way, as hubs of their individual networks. If we struggle to reach one directly, we may have to invest time in reaching an easier node in their network first, then eventually asking for an introduction through that node.
Advocates may ask for compensation, especially if we’re working on behalf of a brand rather than as individuals. They can be instrumental in setting up a meeting, but could be party to that meeting. Expect to invest in connection-oriented social activities in order to make the most of an advocate’s connections and relationships. While the advocate may not ask us for a lump sum of money, we will be expected to bring our own connections (to help strengthen their network) or provide funded social context for them to provide benefit to their network (parties, dinners, events, tickets).
Broadcasters are accustomed to working with marketers and communicators, and thus can ramp up the fastest of any kind of influencer. Depending on their editorial calendars and/or broadcast schedules, we may work with an executive assistant or virtual assistant to choose a time period for our promotion on the broadcaster’s channels. For example, if we have an event coming up, we may be able to invite the broadcaster to attend the event and share from it, a common use case.
For use cases which do not require a physical presence on site, broadcasters are usually quite available; time is not their primary constraint.
If time is not the broadcaster’s constraint, money is. Broadcasters, due to their enormous reach, expect to be compensated in the same way as a premium advertising channel. I’ve worked with broadcaster influencers who expect six figures to show up at an event (plus first class travel arrangements), share some social content, and leave at the end of the day. For brands and companies who see value in a broadcaster’s specific audience, this may be worthwhile, especially if it’s an audience the brand has difficulty accessing using other, more traditional marketing methods.
For example, a broadcaster who charges $40,000 for an event but reaches 1.6 million of their fans operates effectively at a $25 CPM. This is not out of line with advertising rates on networks like Snapchat, Hulu, eMarketer, etc.
Choose Influencers By Time and Money
Our choice of which kind of influencer to work with will be governed by the time and money we have available. Consider influencers to operate similarly to search marketing; organic SEO is “free” of financial cost but takes months or even years to build up rank, reputation, and trust. Paid search engine marketing with PPC is the swipe of a credit card and the launch of a campaign, but in a competitive market, can cost millions of dollars to “win”.
In the final post in this series, we’ll talk about measuring the impact of the influencers we choose. Stay tuned!
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