You’ve decided you need an influencer marketing program and have even sold it internally, securing budgets and identifying a team to assist. Everyone’s excited and engaged, and you’re ready to hit the ground running. But then it all starts to fall apart: Opportunities are missed, influencers are offended, and metrics are muddied beyond repair. Before you know it, the program has stalled or, worse, failed before it even had a chance to really begin.
All too often, the best laid plans for influencer marketing fall apart due to one simple assumption: that managing the influencers and their content will be the easy part. In reality, however, this can end up being the most complex and time-consuming aspect of your program.
There are a few simple tactics that can make a world of difference in helping you and your team stay focused while managing your army of influencers:
- Create a one-page outline of your program objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs).
- Develop an easy tracking system for your influencers and their content.
- Be meticulous about setting up simple processes and procedures at the get-go.
- Treat influencers like clients, not employees.
You may have noticed a recurring theme in the four tactics above: Keep it simple. Managing multiple personalities inside your organization is tough enough, but adding another 10 to 25 people (at least) from the outside? That can cause you to spiral into what I call the “blogging rabbit hole” — you know the one: full of impressions and follower stats, retweets, emails, and content revisions. The once “pet/pilot” project can become all-consuming, so my biggest piece of advice is to spend time and energy up front on ensuring the program can essentially, at some point, be self-sustaining.
Here’s a bit more detail on each of the tactics listed above:
1. Create a one-page objectives & KPI document
Strategy decks can become more complicated than needed. So I prefer a simple one-pager that quickly boils down your key objectives for your program. This is a helpful reminder — whenever things tend to spiral — about what you should truly be focusing on. If an activity or task doesn’t fall within the buckets you’ve outlined, save it for another day (if ever).
2. Develop an easy tracking system for your influencers and content
Initially shared in The Complete Guide to Influencer Marketing, the excel template below is beyond easy — it’s one document, one tab. Here, you can track each of your influencers and any of the associated stats you have about them — even their contact information. If you’d like, add more columns to help you track each individual piece of content and how it performed as well.
- Tip: Match the categories of data that you’re capturing here to your one-pager KPI bucket. You’ll have an easier time reporting on the stats that really matter.
Another helpful element of this tracker is managing budgets. If you’re working with influencers on a fee basis, keeping track of their monthly expenses helps you keep track of the budget quickly and easily.
3. Set up process and procedures
As humans, we have a habit of making things more complicated than they need to be. In reality, your influencer marketing program can probably be boiled down into a few process flows. Having a toolkit of templates can help you create, rinse, and repeat so that eventually your program can seem to run itself.
- Have a one-page blog process flow document that describes the necessary steps, from start to finish (including all necessary stakeholders)
- Have pre-written influencer outreach emails (don’t forget to personalize though! See Tactic No. 4 for more on that) and response emails so you’re not wasting too much time on people whom you’re not interested in working with.
o Tip: Amanda Maksymiw shared some fantastic templates you can utilize to make your outreach more efficient.
- Create an editorial style guide that you can distribute to your influencers which includes the accurate and formal names and spellings of your products, any necessary disclosures, key themes or highlights you like to feature on your blog, best practices for social posts, etc. I’ve always heard that this tool is more appreciated by your partners than you’d think (just be sure not to “enforce” this as much as “encourage compliance” with it — another point to be discussed in more detail below).
- Create a calendar of activities that you’d like to target for the year in one simple timeline format. For example: Pick dates for four webinars with influencers as guest speakers, supported by a blog series before each, followed by a Twitter party. Mapping these out can keep you from getting overwhelmed by the “big picture” and stay focused on your next steps.
4. Treat influencers like clients, not employees
This was by far the biggest lesson I ever learned about working with influencers. While there is always an “employee–employer” feel when working with paid content contributors or partners, at the end of the day influencers choose to work with you.
The very reasons you want to work with them — such as their unique writing style, established audiences, and strong online presence — are the very reasons why they won’t appreciate being too strongly managed. Each has a unique voice — don’t muffle it. Each might have a different approach to talking about your products — embrace it. And little things like sending them birthday cards, remembering their children’s names, or an unsolicited retweet/share of their content once in awhile (even if it has nothing to do with your company) can go a long way.
I’m fortunate to have some very close friends who started out as bloggers who worked with me (Note: not for me), and I learned that there were some things they knew a lot more about than I did, so the more I was able and willing to tap into that knowledge, the more successful the program became.
What are some things you’ve learned from working with influencers, or some tips on making it a manageable process on an ongoing basis?
Looking for more guidance on influencer marketing? Download our toolkit, The Complete Guide to Influencer Marketing: Strategies, Templates & Tools, which walks you through a simple 10-step process and provides three customizable templates.
Cover image by Ryan McGuire-Bells Design via Gratisography