StrategyWith 2017 being around the corner, I have asked twelve online marketing experts to share with me their advice for brands and advertisers who are interested in leveraging influencer marketing in the New Year.

As a result, the below compilation of hands-on influencer marketing advice was born.

There are quite a number of pure gems in the responses received; and I am excited to bring them to you today (in no particular order and linking to each expert’s Twitter account as well as their company’s website).

Companies approaching influencer marketing purely as an adverting channel in 2016 should use the start of 2017 as the opportunity to approach inluencer marketing more strategically. That starts by being crystal clear about what the brand wants to be influential about relative to the solutions provided to customers.

Developing a strategy that incorporates collaborating with influencers, growing more influential as a brand and helping others to become influential will be far more powerful when implemented than simply shopping for YouTubers and Instagrammers to make social media content at $5,000 a pop.

Lee Odden of TopRank Marketing

Like all marketing channels, you need good data to justify your spend and resources. It is important that you have an attribution solution in place to measure all marketing channels, including influencer marketing. By leveraging attribution insights marketers can actually understand how influencers are driving value beyond social media buzz. Many influencers show up as introducers and influencers and if you measure them solely as closers (last click conversions) you may undervalue their contributions.

Todd Crawford of Impact Radius

Start looking for your advocates. Figure out who were your biggest customer cheerleaders in 2016 and start making plans for how to harness and amplify that passion next year.

Jay Baer of Convince & Convert

Review the disclosure practices of both the influencers you engage and the services on which they post. The platforms may have their own way of labeling comments from influencers. You need to ensure that those disclosures and legally sufficient.

Gary Kibel of Davis & Gilbert LLP

2016 has been a monumental year for influencer marketing; 2017 should keep that momentum going with an emphasis on measurement. Advertisers should ensure that their affiliate program provides them with total transparency into how affiliate supports and compliments their marketing efforts. Encourage influencers to use affiliate tracking so that brands can gain increased insight on conversions.

Through affiliate tracking and attribution, brands can see where influencers drive engagement. Even though an influencer doesn’t typically drive the last click, they are vital to the customer journey. Tracking is crucial to help brands understand that the influencer serves a valuable purpose in driving a sale.

Adam Weiss of Rakuten Marketing

Start now! Especially if you have a critical event in 2017, for which you want to use influencer marketing, don’t wait until you need it to do it. Use remaining budgets to get going in Q4, such that you’ve ironed out the kinks and are prepared to maximize your success going into the New Year.

Laura Smous of TapInfluence

There is a fair amount of opportunity in working with micro-influencers. We recently took a closer look at the opportunity here by running our own micro-influencer campaign: we engaged 25 micro-influencers to create content on Instagram, and found that we were able to achieve just as much, if not more, reach and engagement at a fraction of the cost of engaging 1 mega-influencer.

Kamiu Lee of Bloglovin’

Hire a community manager. Seriously, connection building is hard. You’ll probably be overwhelmed trying to squeeze it within your current team. Hiring an experienced community building professional will pay in the long run!

Ann Smarty of Internet Marketing Ninjas

Put in place technology and processes to properly track, measure, and scale your programs. We engage between 2000 and 3000 influencers globally on a monthly basis, and it’s a mistake to do it with spreadsheets. We use sourcing tools to discover new influencers (some custom and some commercial), we use Mediarails to manage our influencer relationships and campaigns, and we use Google Analytics to properly measure performance at the influencer/post level.

Max Ciccotosto of Light In The Box

Test CPA compensation with an initial pool of mid- and long-tail influencers.

— Lindsay Hittman of BrandCycle

Utilize exclusive codes with influencers who can reach key target demographics. Exclusive codes offer a commission on the sale, but that commission always goes to the influencer to whom the code is assigned, regardless of whether other publishers are in the clickstream. This inspires the influencer to create something that will truly go viral.

Greg Shepard of Pepperjam

In 2017, plan on spending time throughout the year reaching out to influencers and establishing relationships with them. Offer them the opportunity to work with you on smaller campaigns, send them a sample of your product and invite them to share their ideas with you. They’ll have more time to really dive into your product and your message when they aren’t handling the 2016 Q4 rush. When Q4 comes back around next year, you’ll have established a relationship and those influencers will be more apt to choose to participate in your campaign over the hundreds they have to say “no” to. Plus, their audiences will have heard of you throughout the year – so when it’s time to buy and they see your brand again, they are primed and ready to act.

In other words, my suggestion for a 2017 Influencer Marketing Resolution is to use the whole year to build relationships and communicate your message.

Rachel Honoway of Fress Press Media

So, there you have it… Hands-on influencer marketing advice from 12 experts who are closely involved with this potent type of marketing. Take heed, and allow their thoughts and ideas to help you shape your influencer marketing success in 2017.

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