By Anna Ritchie published August 6, 2014

4 Tactics for Managing Your Army of Influencers

tin can telephone-person shoutingYou’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:

  1. Create a one-page outline of your program objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs).
  2. Develop an easy tracking system for your influencers and their content.
  3. Be meticulous about setting up simple processes and procedures at the get-go.
  4. 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).

blue arrows-breakdown-objectives-tools-tactics-KPIs

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.

example-influencer tracking

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.

For example:

  • Have a one-page blog process flow document that describes the necessary steps, from start to finish (including all necessary stakeholders)

example-process template

  • 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 complete toolkit, Influencer Marketing: The Latest Strategies, Templates, and Tools, for a simple 8-step process – including templates.

Cover image by Ryan McGuire-Bells Design via Gratisography

Author: Anna Ritchie

Anna Ritchie is a marketing and communications practitioner, focusing on social media, content marketing and Online Community management.You can follow her on Twitter @apritchie.

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  • aboer

    This is an excellent piece, and I agree with all of it, especially point four.

    But what it is in it for the influencer? Maybe that is point five: Make it worth the Influencers time to create something special.

    In order to get truly superlative results from influencers, you have to think deeply about the alignment between the author and the brand: not just how you treat them and the fair rate for their content, but also, what exactly is the upside is for the influencer in hitting a homerun and bringing their audience?

    Consider checking out this study on over 1000 influencers working over three years to create content with Intel, P&G, Williams Sonoma that is pretty eyeopening on what does and doesn’t work….

    • Anna Ritchie

      Thanks for your kind words, and for sharing this research!

  • Jyoti Chauhan

    Very interesting and informative post, I enjoyed your content. All four points are very useful. I visit this blog first time but I found it very interesting and bookmarked for future.

  • Jessie

    This was a very detailed post outlining important key steps. The way you explained it made sense. I will be looking to implement those points along with visiting frequently thank you for sharing.

  • Helen

    Very interesting, thanks Anna!

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  • Michael Femia

    It would be great if you guys could add CSS for print. Sometimes I prefer to kill a tree so I don’t have to look at a screen, and by default, I’m getting everything: comments, nav, and all. Thanks!

    • lkozak

      Thanks for the suggestion Michael! We have forwarded your idea to our IT team and are looking for better print solutions in the near future. Thanks again!