My today’s interviewee is Stephanie Robbins who is going to speak at the upcoming Influencer Marketing Days on “how to educate and guide an influencer to get active consumers to your site versus an interesting story staring your brand.”

Question: While the concept is centuries old, influencer marketing became the “buzz word” only a couple of years ago, and advertisers’ interest in it is only getting stronger. What do you think about influencer marketing?

Stephanie RobbinsStephanie: Tools, such as WordPress, created an opening for influencer marketing to explode into a channel to be reckoned with. This explosion coincided with an increased emphasis on engaging content. Brands quickly recognized that this third party content represented more organic and authentic communication with consumers. As such both the demand (from consumers and brands) and supplies rose at the same time to produce an effective, one on one marketing tool.

With the ease of entrance for influencers, niche influence marketing became more prominent. As many companies transition to a ‘long tail’ marketing strategy, niche influencer can reach and connect at a level of intimacy not previous seen in traditional marketing. This intimacy provides a level of authenticity that consumers yearn for during the decision making process. As companies learn to harness the power of the niche marketing, it is only natural these same companies seek the value of authentic voices in the form of influencers.

Question: What’s the biggest misconception you’ve seen brands have about influencer marketing?

Stephanie: Many brands do not see influencers as business people. These brands treat bloggers as though free product is the only inventive for promoting a service or product. Their influencer communication does not recognize the influencer business acumen. The result can be a condescending and non-authentic start to a relationship that will not flourish.

Question: What top 3 mistakes should advertisers be aware of as they look into getting their feet wet in/with influencer marketing?

Stephanie: The first common mistake is not having a comprehensive strategy. It is important to have clear business objectives and tactics in place prior to reaching out to influencers. A haphazard approach will not only make a horrible first impression but will yield poor results as well. The second common mistake is lacking tracking mechanisms to effectively measure the campaign results. Lastly a top and common error is not maintaining and nurturing the relationship after the initial campaign. Influencer marketing is the purest form of relationship marketing. Brands need to ensure the influencer is kept appraise of new launches, promotions and branding.

Question: What is the biggest overlooked influencer marketing opportunity, in your opinion?

Stephanie: The power of small niche influencers is often overlooked. The number of views and engagement may be smaller but driven sales and engagement are often times higher.

Question: With 2017 just around the corner, what would you recommend for advertisers to consider implementing as soon as Q4 is over (a New Year’s influencer marketing resolution of sorts)?

Stephanie: Consistent and professional outreach to new and existing influencers with a solid integrated marketing strategy in place should be a top priority. Never stop looking for the next emerging influencer that can be a perfect fit for your brand. These new and existing relationship take time. As influencer marketing continues to mature, it is essential to dedicate time and resources to the growth of this marketing channel.

Developing a thorough resource center for influencers is a great resolution for 2017. An influencer resource center can include:

  • Product and brand FAQs
  • How To videos for inserting reporting tools
  • Current and upcoming promotions
  • Approved images and videos
  • FTC disclosure guidelines

Question: What do you believe to be the biggest challenge that advertisers face in terms of influencer marketing, and what steps can they take to overcome it?

Stephanie: A challenge right now is determining the influencer’s true reach. With tools falsifying engagement and followers, a brand can easily be deceived. It is important to look beyond the numbers and investigate the quality of the engagement. Is the influencer resonating with consumers or simply providing deals and pretty pictures?

Question: Give us one main reason why marketers should attend Influencer Marketing Days.

Stephanie: Influencer Marketing is a buzzword and on a superficial level can appear ‘easy.’ However, it is anything but easy. Attending Influencer Marketing Days provides the strategy and tools to run a successful campaign with a solid ROI. Influencer Marketing Days provides the opportunity to learn from others mistakes without experiencing the pain of trail and error.

Question: If you were to leave brands with one piece of influencer marketing advice, what would it be?

Stephanie: Go deep. Go deep with your analysis of the influencer before and after the campaign. Go deep with the level of strategy, materials and education you provide influencers. And most importantly, go deep with your reporting tactics, review and follow up.

 Stephanie Robbins at IMD

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