Content Marketing, Social Media, Travel

Collaborating With Online Influencers: The Process So Far…

May 18, 2017 - 0 Comments - by:

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Last month we got the green light from a client to roll out a fresh influencer strategy. Having worked directly with bloggers, journalists, and individuals with a strong social following for some of our other brands, we were keen to pursue the opportunity for more sustainable, tiered brand building tactics.

In this article, we’ll be talking about how we framed the strategy and the first set of results that surfaced. As a side note, the project is still underway so the information we can reveal at this stage is more of a preview of the bigger, albeit a noteworthy account of how to set up your own online influencer project… And the hurdles and challenges you may encounter at each step of your journey.

What did we set out to achieve?

The premise of the task was simple: invite local influencers to sample the client product in situ. The product being a physical pass for entry to multiple tourist attractions in major cities in Australia, Asia, Europe and Africa. We looked straight to the benefits of saving on cost, use for multiple attractions, and bolt-ons for skipping queues as angles for enticing our influencers and setting up a narrative. We then moved on to defining short and long term goals:

Short term goals:

  • Creating new and unique content material about the client’s product
  • Publishing of content material on external website with back-links
  • Social engagement and user actions
  • Traffic to client’s website

Long-term goals

  • Raising brand awareness of the product and service
  • Building and nurturing relationships with local and mainstream influencers

Metrics should be set for each outcome to assess the value of the campaign.

What it means to the client

For Indago, we wanted to reach out to influencers who could spread messages about our client’s product and service to support the business strategies it had in place; furthermore, allow the client to gain a presence on digital platforms that would have previously felt forced and unnatural.

We know that consumers trust endorsements from a third party more often than a brand itself. An influencer is the middle man connecting your brand with your target audience without the cold sell. Because of the context of the endorsement being sincere, there’s an extra element of trust that gets passed on.

Although it’s easy to view blogger collaboration projects as sugar coated link building methods, there’s more to it than that. Link acquisition is a by-product of brand building and serves as a linchpin for traffic and engagement to the client’s website. When all those components come together, the results can start to look interesting.

How did we go about it?

Research:

On this occasion, we were fortunate to have two influencers approach us to kick-start the project. Knowing exactly who the participants were before we mapped out the process shaved several hours off research time. Usually, our research process will involve vetting each candidate based on a scorecard system using the following criteria:

  • Domain authority
  • Trust flow and citation flow
  • Frequency of content published on website
  • Website audience
  • Location
  • Relevance to client industry sector

Tools like Buzzsumo and Buzzstream can help move things along quicker, both of which include features for monitoring popular content about your industry sector and the top performing influencers by industry sector. Not all contact information is readily available so it pays to cross reference the findings with a manual search online.

I recommend carrying out a web scrape regardless to bolster your list of influencers with those that rank for high value keywords but aren’t factored into the algorithm of the tools mentioned here. A healthy list should contain anywhere between 10-500 names and contact details, refined by the criteria above to help you prioritise who to contact first.

Communication:

Start with an email pitch to the blogger. Get everything down in writing and set the expectations clearly so they can confirm whether they can fully commit. There should be no grey areas here, the client needs convincing that the output from the participant is a fair trade for the cost of the product or service they are giving away.

Ask the influencer for their availability and agree on when milestones should be set, particularly if the request involves them visiting an attraction or event rather than reviewing a product at home. Keep tabs on their progress and ask to be informed of any bumps in the road. The client should know what’s around the corner based on the level of detail you are providing through regular correspondence.

What happened next?

We stored all records of the project within two main document types: working data sheets and communications templates, both to serve a separate purpose:

Database:

Build a master spreadsheet using either Excel or Google Sheets for storing the details of each blogger or media influencer you’ll be targeting. Include a breakdown of tabs for the following: personal details; website details; transaction details; and metrics (once the review goes live). Keep the original file for internal use only, deliver a shortlist to the client for each project.

Communication Templates:

Two or three variations of an email pitch are generally enough to cover all scenarios. The wording should alter depending on the industry sector of the influencer’s website, or the goal which you have in mind. A social media guru will need guidance on choice of hashtags and timing of posts, whereas a travel editor may want to know how much detail about the product to write about. Each template used should be signed off by the client.

We started the blogger collaboration project with two influencers, both went the extra mile in writing up their experiences online and producing a suite of visual content assets, such as photos, and video footage. Product shots were executed well and the brand was referenced on social media as requested.

Shown below is a snapshot of the write up on the influencer’s website. Credit http://www.viviyunn.com.

viviyunn

And here is one of the many social media posts we received on behalf of the client. You can follow her on Instagram @viviyunn_

@viviyunn_

Did results meet expectations? 

Based on the results from the participant above, the short-term impact was evident, and a clear indicator of the value that comes from investing in a collaboration with a blogger. The outcome ticked boxes for each objective we set out to achieve: one or more pieces of content published, backlinks to the client website, referral traffic and social engagement.

Because we took a staggered approach rather than a mass push with multiple influencers, we know that one result alone won’t move the needle for rankings or website visibility at this point in time. This sets the tone for what to expect form a campaign on a much larger scale involving an entire team of influencers, when we’re ready to upscale and evolve.

What’s next?

As the strategy evolves our tactics and tools must allow us to repeat results more frequently, and push for higher quality. The next phase of the project will therefore involve the evolution of our network of local and international influencers within our custom database and communications tools.

Moving forward, the tool will require its own form of content marketing to connect with influencers, using case studies such as the outline above. The project should sell itself as a mutually beneficial exercise for all parties involved, from both the client and influencer’s perspective.

The framework will allow Indago to pitch opportunities directly to the database in a time efficient manner and develop its own sub brand for influencer relations. This focus will help strengthen the portfolio of specialist areas Indago is already known for, such as SEO, SEM and Web Design & Development.

If you’re looking to take your brand to the next level by initiating an influencer strategy and need some advice, then don’t hesitate to get in touch. Alternatively, if you have a successful blog or strong social media following then we may have opportunities to suit you too, so introduce yourself!