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Influencer Marketing: How Your Peers are Doing It and Who They Recommend to Follow

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Influencer Marketing is all the rage these days, and if you read the experiences of these nine marketers below, you’ll see why. Businesses across industries are using influencer marketing to increase brand awareness, improve lead generation and boost sales. To understand exactly how it’s working out for them, I asked them these two questions:

Q1. How important would you say Influencer Marketing is for businesses? Could you cite an example of how you’ve used it in your business?

Q2. Which 2 content marketing influencers would you recommend following on social media?

I’ve accumulated a wealth of know-how through the exercise and would love to share it with you. Read on to get inspired ideas for your next influencer marketing campaign.

Anastasia SidkoAnastasia Sidko
Content Manager at SEMrush

“Well-established and effective relations can make a great impact on your business, all the more the relations with online influencers. These people have lots of followers in certain fields, and, what is more important, they have great influence on their followers’ opinion. It is proven that people are more likely to trust the brand that was recommended by someone they know and respect. So one of the most effective ways to reach the audience is by approaching an influencer in your niche.

A steady ongoing communication with an influencer based on sincere interest and respect may transform into strong partner relationship. Small and consistent steps do lead to fruitful cooperation, beneficial for both parties. Let’s follow these steps by the example of SEMrush.

SEMrush is starting its communication with influencers in the SEO space by inviting them to take part in roundtable discussions, give expert advice and interviews for our blog. Then we take small pieces of content contributed by different influencers and compile them into a large post. This is called modular approach, and requires minimum time from influencers and makes participation very easy for them. Then we constantly share their quotes in our social networks, introducing them and their work to our followers.

And later when it comes to more time-consuming collaboration opportunities – like an invitation to create content for our blog or host a webinar – influencers already know us and are ready to participate and share the event with their followers. As a result, interesting and valuable content is created, spread to the relevant audience by trusted specialists. Both SEMrush and our guest professionals expand their brand awareness.

Let’s take a particular example. For the series of interviews “SEMrush PRO talks” we invited a famous SEO expert Mike Moran. This was our very first approach to this person, and the form of interview fitted very well for the initial communication.

After the first connection was made, we invited him to closer cooperation as a special guest expert for the Twitter Chat. Mike shared this information in his Twitter, encouraging his followers to join the chat.

Time and consistency develop small relations into big ones. Now Mike Moran is taking part in many of SEMrush activities, such as webinars and Twitter chats.”

Influencers I’d recommend:

Jeff Bullas
Brian Dean

Kate HarveyKate Harvey
Content & Search Marketing Manager at Chargify

“Influencer marketing has been and is an integral part of our content marketing strategy at Chargify.
Today consumers rely on peer recommendations to make informed purchase decisions more than ever before. Influencer marketing takes the idea of personal recommendations and adds more value, particularly if you’re going to manage multiple social accounts.

What’s better than you saying your company rocks? An influencer in your industry praising and recommending your company.

After building relationships with industry leaders and experts, we utilized influencer marketing in our blog 16 Tips to Reduce SaaS Churn From Industry Leaders.

We reached out to each leader individually and rather than the blog being a compilation of quotes that can be found elsewhere online, each tip from industry influencers was shared directly with us (specifically for our blog post). The blog increased brand awareness and was part of our larger focus to share expert knowledge on important topics relevant to the SaaS industry and other subscription-based businesses.”

Influencers I’d recommend:

Neil Patel
Ann Handley

Steven MacdonaldSteven Macdonald
Digital Marketing Manager at SuperOffice

“For the SuperOffice customer service benchmark report, we used Followerwonk.com to identify the top customer service influencers and chose Shep Hyken as our target as Shep has an audience of 60,000 followers on Twitter and is considered the #1 customer service guru.

I reached out to Shep via email and asked him if he wanted to review the customer service benchmark report before the report was published. This gave him exclusive access to the study. We then followed up the email 3 days later to ask if he could share a quote we could use on the report, which he was happy to provide.

Once the report was published, I notified Shep, and he shared the report with his Twitter, Google+ and Facebook followers, which helped turn the report into the most shared piece of content on the SuperOffice blog. In 2015, SuperOffice averaged 268 shares per post. The benchmark report was shared more than 500 times! Through this kind of awareness, we’ve earned links from Forbes, Media Post, and Retail Customer Experience.

Giving influencers access to content that has not yet been published is a great way to get their attention and offer the influencer something of value. And if you can get a quote and feature it, it will also increase their investment in the content, which means influencers are much more likely to share the content for you.

One thing I’ve learned is that Influencer marketing doesn’t end once the content has been shared. I followed up with a thank you note to Shep, informing him that the content was the most shared post on the blog, which he, in turn, informed me that he was working on a blog post of his own that referenced the key findings from the report.”

Influencers I’d recommend:

Shep Hyken
Oli Gardner

Erika GoldwaterErika Goldwater
VP of Marketing at Annuitas

“Influencer marketing is hugely important for business today. As buyers control more of the buying process than ever before and their access to information is basically unlimited, they seek purchasing information from a wide variety of resources, one of which is through influencers.

Influencer Marketing is critical in establishing a thought leadership dominance in your business space. Business leaders want to learn from the best, from experts in the field, and the more you are able to share business knowledge that impacts your industry, the more you become a trusted voice and influencer, and not seen as a marketer.

In our own business, we focus heavily on sharing content and social posts that are designed to engage our industry – and potential buyers – with information that speaks to their business issues and pain points. We don’t use social or blog sharing to promote the brand – we use it to help solve our industry’s biggest business challenges, and help others be more successful in their marketing strategy These efforts have made our company among the top 25 most influential B2B marketing brands, according to analysis from Onalytica, a global marketing research firm.”

Influencers I’d recommend:

Carlos Hidalgo 
Carla Johnson

Maxwell BarnaMaxwell Barna
Manager of Digital Content and Communications at RushOrderTees

“As a digital marketing professional and a social influencer (with blogs on the Huffington Post, Maxim, Cool Material, and High Snobiety to name a few) I can speak from the perspective of someone who is both an influencer and an in-house marketing guru.

The short response to your question is that Influencer Marketing is one of the most valuable pieces of marketing today. Period. According to B2C.com, influencer marketing is the single fastest growing online customer acquisition method out there right now. According to a Nielson study from 2012, a staggering 92 percent of consumers made purchases based on recommendations from solid and reliable influencers — leaps and bounds above every other type of advertising. That’s HUGE.

In my work with RushOrderTees—where we deal with everyone from massive multinational corporations (like Google, Amazon, HBO, etc.) to mom-and-pop shops and school organizations — we are always looking to leverage our brand and our awesome customers in order to attract more business. Why? Because we know full well that an endorsement from influencers lends credence and credibility to what we do and the products we manufacture.

And in my work privately, brands reach out to me everywhere, from my direct emails to Twitter, and even Instagram, to tell me about their product and try to get me to talk about it. Why? Because they know just how important my word is to their buying demographic – an endorsement from people like me actually matters.”

Influencers I’d recommend:

Brendan Lowry
Conrad Benner

Mark TyrolMark Tyrol, P.E.
President at Battic Door Energy Conservation Products

“At Battic Door Energy Conservation Products, we grew our e-commerce business by adding additional online sales channels. Starting initially with our website, we began adding online sales channels and grew our sales dramatically. We added eBay, Amazon, Rakuten, Sears, Homedepot.com, Walmart.com, Facebook, Shopify, and more. There are providers that enable retailers and manufacturers to integrate, manage and optimize their merchandise sales across hundreds of online channels. While it does take more set-up time, we preferred to set up our new online sales channels individually and by ourselves.

We developed a successful “Influence the Influencer” marketing program to drive awareness and traction for our business.

For several of our products, our customers are Home Builders, General Contractors, and Insulation Contractors. We reached out to Building Code officials and Architects to introduce our products. They, in turn, recommend and specify our products to Home Builders, General Contractors, and Insulation Contractors.

We understood that an influencer campaign is a long-term investment. We studied the market and determined there are 600k-800k new single family homes constructed annually. Even capturing a small market share % of those projects could grow our business exponentially. Therefore, the potential ROI (return on investment) was determined to be very high and we decided to proceed.

We executed our influencer marketing program by exhibiting at several trade shows and by direct mail. We exhibited at a Building Code Officials trade show and expo, and at an AIA (American Institute of Architects) trade show and expo. We did this for 2 consecutive years. In addition, we contacted Architects by direct mail with product literature and requested them to specify our products.

As a direct result of our influencer marketing program, our sales have increased +50% in each of the last 2 years. We picked up dozens of new accounts that continually purchase products. Many customers tell us they were referred to us by their Architect or Code official, confirming the success of our influencer marketing program. By gaining awareness and traction for our products, we expect similar increases in the next several years.”

Melissa GosseMelissa Gosse
Community Outreach Specialist at CanIRank

“One example how I have used influencer marketing before is to get us featured in an interview. This all started with first connecting with the person who’s website I wanted us to get on. From my experience, I learned that the channel by which you first connect with them depends on a few factors: where are they most likely to see your message and respond plus where do you look most impressive.

If you are reaching out to them on Facebook where your company page has 3 Likes, you probably aren’t going to have the best luck versus if you messaged them via Twitter where your page has 1500+ followers.

Before jumping the gun though and messaging them right away. Take some time to marinate the relationship slowly. Like a few of their posts, share their tweets, comment on their blog – get your name out there so they start to become familiar with you.

Then, when you do go to pitch to them, they hopefully will remember the support you’ve already provided them. If you stay patient and keep your message genuine, you will have success in the influencer marketing world.”

Philip HickeyPhilip Hickey
VP of Marketing and Communications at Seriously

“Depending on the industry, influencer marketing can have a major impact in attracting and retaining new customers and giving your business a competitive edge. For example, it is becoming increasingly difficult for mobile apps and games to cut through and attract and retain new users.

At Seriously, we’ve executed a number of influencer marketing campaigns, working with some of the biggest YouTube stars and digital influencers like PewDiePie, Hayes Grier, and Rosanna Pansino. We have seen incredible results from these campaigns, which have helped us reach over 30 million downloads of our Best Fiends mobile game.

This past holiday season – one of the most challenging and competitive times for gaming apps to acquire and retain new users – we enlisted 20 of the top YouTube stars and digital influencers with different audiences, including PewDiePie, Hayes Grier, Rebecca Black and Markiplier for our “Race Against Slime 2” competition benefiting various charities. The influencers, with a combined following of over 100 million subscribers, raced in teams to win money for the charities of their choice.

Fans could also help their favorite team win by donating their defeated Slugs from the limited edition holiday levels to the charity of their choice. During the campaign, in less than two weeks, we added 2.6 million new downloads of Best Fiends, reached 2.1 million daily active players, and $250,000.00 was donated to charities including charity: water, Oceana, Malaria No More, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and more.

Additionally, we just launched the “World’s Biggest #MobileEggHunt” in which we have partnered with 10 YouTube stars including MyLifeAsEva and Teala Dunn who have hidden their specially designed eggs throughout the Best Fiends game and have released videos giving their fans hints on where to find them. Players that find all eggs in the Best Fiends mobile game can win a new fiend character or gold and diamonds.”

Influencers I’d recommend:

PewDiePie
Rosanna Pansino

Ken CollisKen Collis
CEO at TLK Fusion

“It is not a matter of what influencer is the most powerful but rather which influencer fits your brand identity. Which influencer will draw the most authentic and targeted following for your brand?

Example #1 Leaner Creamer was launching a B2C brand that was targeting females within the ages of 18-42 for their all natural, non-dairy coffee creamer that also serves as an appetite suppressant to curve cravings in between meals. TLK Fusion did some market research and found that a great target demographic for them were housewives. We aligned many of the Housewives reality series cast such as Lisa Venderpump, Lisa Rinna, Vicki Gunvulson, and more to talk about the product. Not only did Leaner creamer see an 800% increase in sales, but they have grown to now own their building and factory from starting in a small office.

Example #2 Naked Infusions Salsa is an all natural and organic salsa line now sold in Wholefoods, Sprouts, Kroeger and more. This success wasn’t always there. TLK Fusion utilized influencer marketing to help open up retail doors for the brand. Their core goal was to expand into brick and mortar but they needed help in building up the demand. We aligned the brand with over 30 influencers in the natural space to speak about Naked Infusions as their #1 choice for natural chips and salsa. We then compiled all the posts and were able to show retailers the demand for the product. We also utilized influencer marketing to help boost in-store sales by having the influencers talk about where you can buy the product.”

Influencers I’d recommend:

Jen Selter
Nicole Polizzi

Have you run an influencer marketing campaign for your business? I’d love to hear your story.

  • http://www.niksto.com/ Emmerey Rose

    Awesome article. Thanks for this amazing list of experts and for sharing their insights. Do you also have one for wordpress experts?