Influencers isn’t even an actual word that’s included in dictionaries yet (unlike rather unsavory ones like “Twerk” — yes, that twerk), but it’s gaining a lot of attention. Specifically, a segment of inbound marketing called influencer marketing.
What in the World is an Influencer Anyway?
They’re hubs. They’re steering wheels. They’re gear shifts. To put it simply: they are the individual locuses of control that you can leverage to achieve maximum inbound marketing impact.
Within any network (like the network of your target market), there are specific hubs that influence all the other individual members of network. Engaging these hubs has more impact on the entire network than when you engage with ten thousand other individual members that aren’t hubs.
Basic example: your car. Your car is a network of parts, but even if you touch, tap, and tweak a hundred screws, bolts, and nuts in it, it won’t get you where you want to go. You need to engage with the steering wheel, the pedals, and the gear shift. These are your car’s (network) hubs (influencers) that dictate where it goes.
Why Exactly Influencers? Why Cherry Pick Specific Entities?
We went from outbound to inbound marketing because it was more cost-efficient to lure people into your sales funnel instead of reach out to them on your own. Current inbound marketing technologies allow 1:1 marketing — you can now deliver the right content to the right users at the right time, amid a flurry of other content that you own as well as external content. You achieve this through search (proper keyword targeting), engagement (relevant content offers), or external referrals (social media).
Luckily for you, influencers help consumers pick. And that’s exactly why you need to find and engage with your influencers. It’s like when you’re starting up a company and you need coverage. If, for instance, you can only choose to talk to a hundred small blogs to cover your launch or you can get coverage from three large ones — say VentureBeat, GigaOM, and Technorati. Which would you choose? The hundred blogs or the three industry influencers?
That’s why you should cherry pick specific entities — influencers.
Fishing for Influencers for Your Inbound Marketing
Every channel you pursue in your inbound marketing efforts will have monitoring tools. Every social platform has its own native dashboards and combining that with general analytic tools you should be covered, you’ll have all the data you need to track down areas of activities you can then designate as influencer entities.
If you find an influencer that’s been actively liking and sharing your posts, you need to build a relationship with them to fully utilize their potential. Every time you engage with them, you also gain some branding points from the rest of your followers.
A Common Pitfall to Watch Out For
They can be misleading if you don’t keep a close eye. You need to know if your influencers are influencing the right type of market and action. If your influencers are influencing lots of people but not the decision-makers and your inbound marketing campaign requires practical ROI, you need to rethink your approach or find the right influencers.
Influencer marketing is currently at an early stage — it’s where inbound marketing was about three to four years ago. But it’s growing rapidly thanks to the ability to gather big data and the capacity to make sense of all of it.