Social networks have added a new dimension to the way brands are able to reach their customers. However, with the increasing amount of noise on social media it’s becoming harder for brands to stand out. This is why having a successful influencer program is becoming so important. Brands that are embracing the influencer economy are beginning to see the benefits of collaborative campaigns, targeted messaging, and authentic engagement – which traditional digital advertising could never hope to achieve.
However, influencer programs are not the same as an advocate or ambassador program. While many may try to use the names interchangeably, to receive the full benefit from your program you need to understand not only how to communicate with your influencers but also how to properly structure your program. Below we have outlined the top four qualities that you will find in every successful influencer program:
1. Solid Goals
The first step when creating any strategy is defining your goals and structuring an influencer program is no different. You need to clearly understand what you realistically want to achieve. This can range from increased brand awareness to increased content output, but the important part is to keep it simple. If your program is centered around brand awareness and getting your brand in front of as many people as possible, you will want to have a lower barrier for recruitment. This way your program will have more influencers carrying your message and more people will see your message. On the other hand if you want more engagement and control over your message, it is strongly suggested that you work closely with a few top-tier influencers who you have a close working relationship with. Nothing can sink an influencer program quicker than having too many complicated goals.
2. Continued Engagement
As your program grows you will begin to see your influencers as an extension of your brand community, and like any community it is important that you have a way to keep them engaged. Whether this is newsletter, brand updates, or even best practices – you need some form of communication on a consistent basis. This serves a few purposes: First, they will know that they are not being ignored, nothing is worse and leads to faster churn in an influencer community than feeling like they have been abandoned. If you stop communicating with your influencers, they will not be there when you need them.
The second function is that they continue to be engaged and you are able to catch returning influencers if they have dropped off. Some influencers will leave, this will happen, but if they receive updates regularly your brand will not be able to leave their sphere of influence and when something catches their eye they will be right back on board. Keeping them involved is about more than just information though, remember that this is a perpetual community with the potential to grow for as long as it lasts – and you want it to be around a very long time.
3. Rewarding Recruitment
Whenever an influencer brings a friend of theirs on board it is important that you are able to take notice. One of the first notices an influencer should receive when signing up is some sort of incentive for recruiting other influencers. A major problem which many marketers and others overlook is how close knit the influencer community actually is, especially at the upper-tiers. These are people who not only learn from one another but also collaborate and build franchises with one another.
That is not to say that you have to have a paid incentive for these influencer referrals though, in fact it may just take a few words and one big name. It all starts with that initial relationship and rolls down from there. It works a lot like someone you know and respect suggesting a movie, restaurant, or Instagram account. As your community grows and grows there are plenty of opportunities to host special events such as meet ups, VIP experiences, or even acknowledgment on your social accounts. There are plenty of options available for rewarding your influencers, it’s just a matter of finding what works for your brand and being consistent.
4. Continued Optimization
As your influencer program continues to grow some parts of it may need optimization, such as how you recruit, some of your messaging, or even who your ideal influencer is. One of the most effective ways to optimize your influencer program is to pay attention to establish a dependable system for collecting influencer feedback. This will ensure not only ensure that your influencers have an open channel to contact you with their feedback, but it goes back to their continued engagement. All of this allows you as a brand to recognize the influencers who are willing to work closest with your brand and who are willing to give actual feedback as it relates to their experiences, which is valuable for any brand. In fact there are many brands who have internal tiers within their communities based on their own structure. If you find that there are these specific leaders within your community it will definitely be worth it to reach out and get them involved any way that you can.