We can split the Influencer Programs into two – Earned influencer marketing and Paid influencer marketing. Earned marketing stems from unpaid or preexisting relationships with influencers — those who are natural brand advocates. For example, Patrón has a lot of influencer advocates for its tequila; these people drink the liquor regularly and endorse the product because they enjoy it. On the other hand, you have the paid arm of influencer marketing, in which brands employ the Kardashians to tweet about their products or services.

In today’s post we will focus on earned influencer marketing. Below are some fundamental steps to building a campaign:

  1. Identify potential earned influencers.

Identification of natural advocates is the foundation. Not all companies produce a cool tequila that Tom Cruise drinks in his movies, yet many brands make the mistake of skipping this step and immediately spending money on paid influencers before considering natural options

Think about it this way – there’s one thing that influencers like almost as much as money — and that’s more influence. When both members of this influencer partnership have equity to offer, natural brand advocacy occurs (or at least offers brand greater leverage in negotiations). We should constantly identify influencers to add to a list of targets, from tech influencers to beauty bloggers, plenty of existing lists offer prominent prospects

  1. Begin to build own influence first.

Strategies for building own influence span the spectrum. For example, we can invite influencers to speak at an event we are hosting with an audience that shares similar interests, or we can mention or quote them in content we are already creating and distributing. Then when influencers write, tweet, share, or speak, it’s natural for them to mention us as a brand they support and that supports them.

Perhaps the best example of a brand that has successfully done this is HubSpot. By leveraging content relationships with influencers such as author Seth Godin and entrepreneur Jonah Peretti, HubSpot built an event, INBOUND, that provides those influencers with a platform to speak while using their name recognition to get people in the door.

The idea of influencer marketing is simple, and the key is mutual benefit. Advertising budgets are moving towards easily disseminated and unblockable media. But before we rush to spend time and money on a strategy we’re unfamiliar with, now’s the time to start building our own influence and audience that will offer value to potential influencers. Earn media until we can’t any more, and once we plateau, consider the paid sector. But, as always, scale efforts – a poorly tended strategy is not a strategy at all.

Inspired by an article of John Hall, CEO of Influence & Co., a company that specializes in expertise extraction and knowledge management that is used to fuel marketing efforts


Author: Ganesh Iyer