Evy Wilkins
November 14, 2013

What is Influence Marketing and Why is it So Important to Your Business

hand working businessThe reason people say, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is that human relationships are essential for getting things done. People open the door to new audiences, people connect you to others with similar interests and it’s people who get us to believe, decide and choose.

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is the process of identifying, researching, engaging and supporting the people who create the online conversations that impact your brand, programs and products.

The origins of influencer marketing

Before the internet came along and let us communicate in a one-to-one fashion at massive scale, there were very few people who could reasonably help or influence us. Now there are many people who can potentially open doors for us, collaborate with us, inform and convert us.

However, reaching more of the right people has gotten tricky given the pure volume of content and complexity of channels. That why influence marketing is starting to take root.

The next questions are: what value can these people bring to your organization and who exactly are they?

It’s all about relationships.

Influencer marketing can help you achieve most marketing objectives: generate leads, change perceptions, drive awareness. But it’s not as simple as getting people to be your megaphones. That won’t work.

It’s about finding opportunities to build relationships with people who touch your potential customers in some way. These are the people who will help you achieve more, with less. If you earn their trust, you will be invited into those new audiences you crave.

Influencer marketing is not a one-off event. You can’t blast online influencers with a generic message and expect to see results. The success stories you hear about are from organizations that spent time creating relationships with the people who matter most to them.

Who matters most to you?

To succeed in influencer marketing, you must recognize that influence is contextual. Without context, there is no influence. Your influencers depend entirely on what you are trying to accomplish.

Context depends on things like:
•    topics you care about
•    your intent or goal
•    the timing and location

These elements are different for everyone. So your influencers will be unique to you. To identify your influencers, start with your goal and work backwards.

What do you do with influencers?

Once you know who your influencers are, you will begin the process of engaging with them and finding ways to support their work. There are many opportunities to align your marketing and influencer strategy so you can build authentic relationships.

The key is to remember that you are building a relationship. So you can start small (sharing their content, commenting on their blogs) and work your way up to more collaborative activities (interviews, guest posting).

Understand that your influencers care more about their audience than they do about you and your product, so find ways to help your influencers support their audience.

Like any good marketing strategy, influencer marketing is not any easy fix. But it is powerful. As people continue to interact on social channels, it will become increasingly more important for marketers to focus on relationships because that’s how doors get opened.

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Evy Wilkins

Evy Wilkins (@mainwilk) is VP Marketing for Traackr, an influencer marketing platform, which is used by some of the world’s largest brands including EMC, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Thomson Reuters and more than half of the top 50 communications agencies to drive successful social programs. She just produced the Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing & Influencer Strategy, which explains five ways you can collaborate with influencers to produce meaningful content for your customers.

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