If you’re thinking about adding influencers to your marketing mix, but aren’t quite sure if you can pull it off, take a few minutes to read what Christine Vieira has to say. She’s the co-founder and president of Find Your Influence, a cloud-based automated influencer marketing program.

“The key to success is making sure you understand your audience, your strategy and who your influencers might be,” Vieira told CMSWire.

She added that influencer marketing isn’t just for B2C companies. “B2B companies are starting to see which influencers might make sense for them," said Vieira. "Their target clients are looking at blogs and reviews more so than a consumer, so they can use influencers to educate potential clients. It can truly make sense for any brand.”

What is Influencer Marketing?

2015-13-April-Christine-Vieira.jpg Before we dive into the influencer tips, let’s take a quick look at what influencer marketing is and how it can help brands. According to a Forbes article:

Influencer marketing can be loosely defined as a form of marketing that identifies and targets individuals who have influence over potential buyers. Influence isn’t just characterized by having a lot of followers. It’s also driven by expertise on subject matter and the relationship between the influencer and his or her followers.”

Unlike advocate marketing, which is recruiting your most vocal, enthusiastic customers to help spread your brand message because they love your brand, influencer marketers are paid by brands to spread that message to their followers.

When asked about the difference, Vieira stated that influencer marketing is “advocate marketing at scale.”

“You can help your base of fans talk about your brand, but how do you get in front of thousands of consumers?” she asked. “Everything is complementary. You need to focus on a variety of different tactics.”

She added that, although influencer marketing is not as authentic as advocate marketing, it works. “Influencers have impact on readers; those consumers do listen,” she said. “They are reading content on a daily basis. Influencers are really good about integrating your content into their daily content so it doesn’t look salesy or pitchy.”

3 Tips for Influencer Success

Now that you have a better understanding of what an influencer is, let’s get into Vieria’s recommendations for ensuring that your influencer marketing campaign gets you the results you want.

1. Understand Your Strategy

Vieira noted that influencer marketing typically falls within content marketing or social strategy, and that it takes six to 12 months to build strategy, create content at scale and get in front of people.

She also stressed the importance of aligning influencers with your content strategy.

“If you have a full content strategy, make sure influencers are integrated with it,” she said. “Send influencers a content calendar with top level topics, overall themes or strategies each month to ensure that the content they’re creating is in line with your strategy.”

2. Identify Your Influencers

According to Vieira, the first steps in finding your best influencers are to review their content to make sure it makes sense for your audience, and to find out who their audience is.

“It can be a cumbersome process,” she said. “There are networks and directories you can use – even Google. Look for influencers who are already talking about your product or industry, and who are talking to your target audience.”

Next, decide where you want to target your audience. For example, said Vieira, if you want to only target people on Instagram, it limits your pool of influencers.

Finally, come up with a list of your top five to 10 influencers, and get a couple of additional as backup. “Companies need to understand the authenticity and relationship that influencers have with their audience,” said Vieira. “Thirty to 40 percent of influencers decline a campaign because they have their own brand and it doesn’t fit. That’s what you want – to be authentic.”

3. Test and Optimize

Once you’ve chosen your top influencers, said Vieira, it’s important to set aside a testing period to ensure you have the right fit.

“Set aside a 3-month test and work with a couple of different influencers to make sure which ones resonate with your audience,” she said. “Analyze how your content is performing on a monthly basis, looking at who performs well for your brand, and who might not have performed as well.”

Vieira wrapped up by reflecting on just how far influencer marketing has come in these last few years. “Influencer marketing has evolved,” she concluded. “There are now true content creators across different industries, rather than using mom blogs as reviewers."

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by Breville USA.