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How Manufacturers Can Take Advantage of Influencer Marketing – Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM)

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Social Media InfluencersBy  Thomas Armitage, Sales Executive, Site Seeker  — 
On LinkedIn, Microsoft has 16 million followers. Bill Gates has 35 million.
It’s a similar situation with Tesla. They have 13 million Twitter followers. While Elon Musk has nearly 6x that number.
Is it all that surprising?
People do business with people. And humans more easily connect with other humans. 
Over time, social figures have developed their own personal brands. They’ve found ways to connect with their audiences – oftentimes even better than the brands they’ve built.
This model isn’t limited to just business “celebrities” though. We’ve seen this play out with smaller brands, too.
Companies absolutely must invest time, talent and resources into promoting their brands online – through their website, through social media and through advertising.
But it’s time more organizations, especially those in the B2B and manufacturing spaces, better understand influencer marketing and how they can tap into folks’ personal brands to benefit their own.
Have you ever heard of the famous 90-9-1 rule
It shows that the majority of users on social media (90%) sit back and take it all in. They are viewers. They can be found within your impression and reach stats. For the most part, they are silent. 
A small population (9%) helps to promote and re-share material. This includes those that comment and engage. They are helpful in content distribution and can be identified within your engagement reports.
The smallest population (1%) is made up of those who create.
They are thought leaders, trendsetters and monetizers. They are responsible for the majority of the original material found on the web that is later engaged and viewed by the remaining 99%.
Within this 1% are influencers. 
Some have intentionally set out to create content with the hopes of doing paid promotions (i.e. creating content that sells, mentions, or reviews a company’s product or service). Others are just average, everyday users who’ve built online communities around them, based on the type of content they create, what they have to say, and who they are saying it to. 
Manufacturing marketers should tap into these influencers and have them create content on their behalf. 
Doing so allows your brand to use the backdoor to get in front of more relevant buyers.
Influencer marketing has been popular for years. 
Global brands like Adidas, Pepsi, and Dunkin all pay big-name content creators to get their names into the feeds of more followers.
But something’s changed in recent years. It’s no longer relevant to just B2C companies. 
B2B brands – like manufacturers and distributors – can also find success if the right strategy and right influencers are brought on board. 
It’s important to look beyond macro-influencers. 
Macro-influencers are celebrity-like creators who get big dollars for each brand mention. Consider the likes of Addison Rae on Instagram or Stevin John on YouTube. They have millions of followers and have turned their pages into digital cash registers.
But midsize companies – especially in the B2B world – would be hard-pressed to find those types of users relevant or worth the investment.
Instead, smart organizations are tapping into smaller, more niche influencers. 
These are what we call micro-influencers. They have a few hundred or a few thousand followers and are much less “influential” compared to today’s top-earners.
But more importantly, they have devoted followers around a certain niche. They create content regularly and focus their content on what’s going to resonate best with their audience. 
If you’re able to find them and negotiate a working relationship, it can be extremely beneficial to your brand. Specifically, if you are able to expose your brand to target audience members who might otherwise be difficult to find.
If you think you’re ready, here’s how you’ll want to build your influencer marketing program: 
1) Determine your target audience.
Hopefully, you have already conducted market research and have an excellent understanding of who your top buyer personas are. 
Remember, think about the type of person that leads to the greatest level of revenue for your company, or who is most apt to help spread the word about your brand’s products and services. 
2) Determine your objective.
What are you trying to accomplish with influencer marketing? 
Your objective is typically one of the following:
3) Identify costs. 
Similar to social media advertising, there are a few costs associated with an online influencer program. 
First, there’s labor (the time it takes to build and manage the program), creative work (some brands send brand-approved assets while others only provide branding guidance and let the influencers handle the content creation in their own personal style), and, of course, the direct costs (in this case, the dollars paid to the influencers on behalf of the sponsored posts). 
It’s best to run a social ad program first to create baseline metrics. That way, you know what’s fair market value for the results you’re after – like cost per thousand views (CPM), cost per engagement (CPE), and cost per conversion (CPC). 
Ads can help you identify what type of audience and content resonates best.
This will also help you determine your budget and decide if influencer marketing is worthwhile as compared to traditional social ads.
Let’s say you normally spend $2/click on your social ads. If you invest $1,000 on influencer promoted posts and they bring in 600 clicks, that’s $1.66 per click. Great. It’s relevant clicks and less expensive than social ads.
Carve out your budget. And plan for the time and resource you’ll need to run the program.
4) Find your influencers.  
Influencer research requires sifting through social search and identifying influencers who make the most sense for your brand based on the audiences they cater to.
To find them, you’ll need to perform manual searches and look through the following:
Consider the following platforms to find your content creators: 
Log your findings into a spreadsheet, which will look very similar to a media list.
Indicate name, handle, platform, email, phone, audience type, topics they cover, follower count, average engagement rate, cost per engagement, cost per thousand views (CPM) and cost per post.
5) Select and contact your influencers. 
Narrow down your list based on the type of audience they serve and which ones see the best results from their posts.
Contact each with an explanation of your company, your intended goals and request more information.
The information you’ll need them to provide includes more details on their target audience, how often they post sponsored vs. organic posts, average anticipated conversion rate, cost per post and preferred method for being sent marketing assets or guidelines.
In comparing your influencers, you’ll want to find the best folks whose audience matches that of your target audience and whose going to drive the best results based on your spend and budget.
5) Run your campaigns. 
It’s go time! 
Issue a contract and agree to all the details.
Provide your influencer(s) with brand assets and instructions on when to post, how often to post, and what captions, descriptions and links should accompany the post (as per the contract). It’s okay for them to use their own style and voice, but you should have a final blessing on what’s going out – since it’s a paid promotion. They should indicate the post is an #ad as well.
As the posts begin to be distributed, track and measure the performance on a weekly basis. 
Start off with a 1-3 month test campaign, and then decide on which influencers you’d like to work with long term, based on the results.
Measurement is critically important to understanding if the investment in influencer marketing is worthwhile. 
Once the campaigns begin, you’ll want to gather metrics and analyze them specifically against the objective you’re after. 
Some of these metrics you’ll be able to gather on your own while others you’ll need the influencer to provide you (since they can only access from their backend).
Impressions: The influencer will need to provide you with the total impressions for each post published that references your brand or product. To calculate cost per thousand impressions (CPM), divide your cost by the number of impressions, and multiply by 1000. Compare your CPM against other digital marketing tactics. 
Engagements: Engagement rate is traditionally calculated by dividing the number of impressions by the number of engagements. Therefore, the influencer will again need to provide this to you. Have him/her send along the impression per post, along with the total engagements for each post. By dividing engagements against impressions, you can calculate the engagement rate. And by dividing the cost by engagements, you can calculate the cost per engagement. Compare your CPE against your organic and paid social media efforts. What’s the best investment? 
Conversions: Conversions and conversion rates can be calculated within your own website analytics tools. However, it’s important that you supply your influencers with custom-tagged links directing users to your website. That way, you’ll be able to measure this traffic separately from other general social media traffic. Conversions are the totality of all form fills, phone calls, purchases, and all other contact-gathering touchpoints. Cost per conversion is the total cost divided by the total number of conversions from the campaign. Compare your CPC against other lead generation activities and decide what’s giving you the best return on investment.
Nielsen says 33% of online users trust ads, compared to the 90% who trust their peers.
This is why influencer marketing can be powerful. 
Not only does it offer a potentially great opportunity to get in front of your target audience at the right price, but it can be a more effective mechanism compared to advertising since you’re leaning into the trust that’s been built by the influencer among his/her audience. 
It’s important that manufacturers and other B2B brands understand how they can insert influence marketing strategically into their already-running, ongoing social media and digital marketing programs. 
By engaging with micro-influencers and enabling them to publish sponsored content on your brand’s behalf, it can reap great, long-term rewards.
ArmitageThomas Armitage is a sales executive at Site Seeker. After holding marketing/PR roles at Sovena and Overit, Tom joined the Site-Seeker team in 2013. As a content writer, his pieces have been featured in Entrepreneur, MarketingProfs and PR Daily.
For more information, visit site-seeker.com
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