We were talking during a business development call about the advantages and approaches to what is commonly called "influencer marketing," and how a consumer brand might incorporate it into its social media strategy.

The Limitations of Most Influencer Marketing Strategy Implementations

Ingluencer-MarketingPut simply, influencer marketing involves a brand attempting to engage with individuals that have attractive, targeted audiences the brand hopes to reach with its marketing messages. The potential influencers can range from celebrities - either the "real" or the "Internet" type - with large audiences to experts and personalities attracting audiences with shared interest in particular subject areas.

My comment was the way we see brands approach influencer marketing, the strategy and execution is typically woefully lacking.

Too often (at least based on the inquiries The Brainzooming Group receives), the initial engagement comes via email or Twitter right when the requesting brand expects help and support. There's an assumed interest in devoting time, effort, and attention to promote a book, app, or event simply based on the presumption that whatever the organization is pitching will be interesting for your readers.

The Right Way to Build Mutually-Beneficial Relationships

Contrast that with the initial and ongoing interaction we've had with Stephen Lahey of the Small Business Talent podcast. Stephen, who is the recognized number one Brainzooming fan, started actively sharing Brainzooming content within his network several years ago.

After some time, he reached out to talk on the phone months in advance of starting his Small Business Talent podcast. It was a two-way conversation about both our businesses and aspirations, including his plans for the podcast. That and subsequent conversations turned into a request to be a guest on the new podcast at a mutually convenient time.

Our relationship has grown into multiple appearances on the podcast, creating completely new, three-part Brainzooming content for Stephen's audience, and regularly commenting and sharing new podcast updates. In addition, we have regular calls that continue the discussion about our business strategies. And all the while, Stephen remains unbelievably generous in sharing our content daily with his audience across multiple social networks.

The thing is that's not an exclusive relationship Stephen has with Brainzooming. He's doing the same things with other past and future podcast guests.

That's what building an engaged network of supporters is all about.

The challenge is though, it takes planning, it's not immediate, it's not quick, and you couldn't easily hire an agency to implement the strategy for your brand. Brands thus default to what passes for influencer marketing, thinking they can check that box off the social media strategy list.

7 Lessons for Improving an Influencer Marketing Strategy

If you want to pursue relationship building and engagement (as opposed to simply influencer marketing) here are our seven recommended lessons:

  1. Don't make your initial contact a request for someone to do something for your brand.
  2. Go beyond electronic communication to engage personally and actually TALK with each other.
  3. Start by GIVING something to the individual you want to build a relationship with so you have done something for them before you ask them to do something for your brand.
  4. Have a variety of ways for the individual to engage so he or she can pick something that fits their aspirations and needs.
  5. Introduce the individuals you are targeting to one another and others within your network to create stronger connections.
  6. Do as much of the work for them as possible to increase the likelihood they will share your messages.
  7. Concentrate as much on elevating their stature as your brand's stature because doing so will in turn increase your brand's exposure.

These recommended lessons are harder than a slapped together influencer marketing strategy. They’ll actually work to create long-lasting relationships with your brand, however.

You decide what strategy makes more sense for your brand. – Mike Brown


Want to Learn More about Small Business Talent? You can find Stephen Lahey and his online resources at www.smallbusinesstalent.com (subscribe to the podcast and find more of your ideal clients using The SmallBusinessTalent.com LinkedIn Power Checklist® - it's free).


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