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Using Influencers to Pivot your Marketing & Comms Strategy

There is an unprecedented global shake-up in traditional marketing happening right now. As our ability to hold in-person events, conduct field marketing and offline relationship building is constrained, many marketers will have to find innovative ways to create compelling campaigns and deliver crucial outcomes around awareness & demand generation to their businesses.
This guide will outline how you can harness the power of key influencers, thought leaders & content creators in your space to drive those results. From new ways to share thought leadership content, suggestions on how to pick the right influencers to collaborate with and specific tactics for building relationships with key influencers & peers in your network, we hope this will provide valuable advice to help you deliver against targets.
These frameworks are drawn from Onalytica’s best practices for influencer relations, employee advocacy & digital marketing. if you want to know more, don’t hesitate to contact your Onalytica Customer Success Manager.

1. PLANNING

There are a range of activities you can consider to overhaul traditional approaches in favour of influencer collaborations. Influencers have engaged audiences on your key topics which they can use to promote & enrich your key messages.

Below, we’ll outline activities you can run live and those you can use to bolster and expand your efforts to drive brand awareness, lead generation, social selling, employee advocacy & account-based marketing outcomes.

What activities can I run with influencers instead of live events?

Online Panel Discussion

Any panel discussions you had planned can still go ahead in digital format. There are many online solutions available to help you hold a panel-style discussion with a moderator, panellists & attendees viewing live or on-demand. Influencers can be invited to participate or moderate these panels as they would in person.

They can promote the panel to potential attendees beforehand and use their expertise to enrich the discussion.

Objectives this helps drive: Brand Awareness, Key Reputation Drivers, Lead Generation (if gated through sign up)

Livestream

Major speeches like keynotes can still be viewed by a remote audience by livestream. You can organise to have speeches which influencers were due to deliver streamed for the audience to watch live or on-demand. Bear in mind that live views might be limited, but recordings can still perform well in the following days.

Objectives this helps drive: Brand Awareness, Key Reputation Drivers, Lead Generation (if gated through sign up)

Live Demo

If you have any new products launching at an event, consider setting up a live demo with an influencer. Set up a briefing beforehand to talk them through the product and give them access for a few days to let them get familiar with it. Then set up the video conference to share the demo live & on-demand. The influencer(s) can use their industry knowledge & experience to highlight key use-cases and lend an outside perspective to the demo.

Objectives this helps drive: Product Awareness, Lead Generation (if gated through sign up)

Localised Meetups

Where safe to do so & in line with government advice in your area, you can consider hosting meetups in local offices to allow activities like networking to take place on a smaller scale. You can invite local influencers to host or participate in panel discussions, give a speech or run a product demo.

Objectives this helps drive: Brand Awareness, Key Reputation Drivers, Lead Generation (if gated through sign up)

How will you keep the audiences engaged?

To combat some of the distractions and potential fatigue from more online events, have a plan in place to keep audiences engaged throughout your online event. Done right, their impact can be spread over a much longer period, driving audience engagement & lead generation for your organisation. Influencers can have an important role in this, offering audiences a different perspective to your brand with industry expertise & skilled content creation.

Gamification & Audience Participation

One of the key advantages of online events lie in the opportunities to make the audience part of the conversation. This mostly requires only a little added effort & planning to execute but can greatly increase meaningful engagements like sharing the content with a colleague or subscribing to your marketing database.

Influencers can help run these activities and encourage their audiences to participate in the event if you involve them.

Many livestreaming tools will have functionality for the audience to send questions – if they’re not directly involved in the event itself, influencers can field queries from the audience while a live event is ongoing, adding their own commentary.

Holding a live chat directly on a social network like Twitter or LinkedIn can be a useful way of drawing more people into the discussion. All you need is a dedicated hashtag, and anyone will be able to join in the discussion. Once your audience see others form their network engaging, they’ll be more likely to join in.

Another tool as your disposal is the use of interactive content like quizzes. Viewing a session remotely can involve a while waiting for the session to start, or gaps between speakers. Aim to fill those gaps with a task the audience can complete themselves – consider offering prizes for winners to inject a bit of competition.

What other content can I create with influencers?

Along with any recordings of live video sessions, there are numerous options for follow-up content to engage the target audience. Depending on the specific format of this content, it can drive a range of objectives from Brand Awareness to Demand Generation or Employee Advocacy.

Podcasts

Already a popular format in B2B marketing, podcasts offer an opportunity to capture audience attention outside of business hours. Podcast listeners are growing as a group, and (in the US) are more likely to be affluent. Surveys of LinkedIn users suggest that senior management & C-Suite executives are more likely to listen to podcasts.

There are 2 ways you can deploy this content format:

  1. Publishing your own podcast with influencer guests, either using the recording of a live conversation or in a dedicated recording.
    • Advantages:
      • The content is your own
      • You’ll have good visibility over metrics like clicks & listens
    • Challenges:
      • You might not already have a dedicated audience or necessary equipment & expertise
    • Top Influencer Types to use: Event Speakers, KOLs
  2. Appearing on an influencer’s podcast
    • Advantages:
      • Influencers will have an engaged audience on your key topics already.
      • They will also already have the relevant equipment & tools to run a podcast
    • Challenges:
      • You will lose direct visibility over the metrics, but you should be able to negotiate visibility & promotional arrangements with the influencer
      • You’ll need to arrange a spokesperson within your organisation who is confident communicating your key messages
    • Top Influencer Types to use: Content Creators, Professional Influencers

Objectives this helps drive: Brand Awareness, Employee Advocacy

Infographics

Infographics are very well suited to promoting your messages on social. They can quickly summarise key information, are easy to share & capture user attention on social platforms.

Research shows that visual content improves user retention of key messages and infographics in particular can drive up to 12% more web traffic.

With around 65% of B2B marketers making use of infographics as part of their content strategy, you’ll be one of many taking advantage of this compelling format. To drive this, collaborate with influencers who have a proven ability to drive a wide audience to content & include them in the creation of your infographic, e.g by adding a quote of theirs to the final content. By involving them in the process, you make the content far more share-worthy.

If your infographic is designed to promote something else, remember to share relevant image files, UTM tracking links & embargo dates ahead of time. With the right set-up, infographics can drive greater brand awareness & site traffic.

Video Interview

Given the choice, 59% of senior executives say they prefer to watch video than read the text version of content. Video interviews with keynote speakers & execs are a great way to take advantage of this, presenting your campaign messages in an easy-to-consume format.

Influencers can act as interviewers, asking your spokespeople about the context around your new product releases or their predictions for the industry. To really get the benefit of an influencer’s expertise, you should also ask them for their thoughts about the future of the industry and possible applications of your new technology.

  • If looking for influencers to interview: Industry Practitioners, Event Speakers
  • If looking for influencers who can interview your execs: Professional Influencers, Content Creators, Event Speakers

Objectives this helps drive: Brand Awareness, Employee Advocacy

Explainer Videos

These are particularly effective as a follow-up to any live demo or educational online events you’ve produced. Over 70% of Youtube users say they watch video to help solve a problem at work, home or study, so keep the content educational and focus on a challenge your target audience might be having. You can break the longer format down into smaller sections to provide a summary.

You should have influencers participate in the creation of the content, either using video skills, or as narrators/hosts.

With 54% of senior executives reporting that they share video content with colleagues on a weekly basis, harnessing skilled content creators to help deliver your messages can be a highly effective way to reach decision-makers.

If the videos are targeted more at practitioners, you can embed the content on a landing page with links to gated content or free trials to help potential users evaluate your solutions further.

Objectives this helps drive: Brand Awareness, Product Awareness, Demand Generation

Round-up blog posts

These should serve as short, digestible summaries of key messages from your event or campaign. Invite influencers to participate by having them contribute quotes to the article.

Use the guide below to work through the steps required to create & publish a blog post rounding up key insights from your event.

Objectives this helps drive: Brand Awareness, Site Traffic

Examples: Finastra, Cisco, Schneider Electric, IBM Tech for Good

Whitepaper, eBook or Research

High-value, evergreen content like this can drive results for your marketing organisation over a significant period. However, to make sure that content like this gets seen by your audience, you will need to ensure that it stands out from similar tactics your competitors are using.

Influencers can help this in 2 ways:

Promotion – influencers have engaged audiences on their key topics and a community of like-minded thought leaders who interact & engage with their content. Publishing through their channels as well as your own is vital if your content is to be seen by as many of your target audience as possible. Social networks use signals like engagement and number of people in your network sharing something to decide whether individuals see it in their feed – the more times your content is posted, shared & engaged with, the better the chance people will see it.

[Tweet “50% of business leaders say they engage with content if the author is an industry expert]

Content Contribution – adding expert opinions into content makes it more credible to your audience. Influencers can draw on industry experience & knowledge of marketplace trends to draw original insights. Offer influencers early access to the content so they can add their own perspective. Your audience will be more likely to pay attention, and the influencers will be invested in helping to promote the content. If you have budget, you can ask a professional influencer to write a foreword & to appear in other promotional activity like a podcast or video interview with the lead author.

Objectives this helps drive: Brand Awareness, Demand Generation, Employee Advocacy

Examples: Capgemini, UBS, Mitie

Practical Considerations

Some of the tactics & collaborations outlined above may require some adjustments to your on-the-day planning. Below, we’ve outlined a few key areas to consider to ensure the day can run as smoothly as possible.

Conference & Broadcasting Software

Video conferencing is a vital way to connect with audiences & get your message in front of the right people. The list below is designed to offer some suggestions which can help you get started but is by no means exhaustive.

These online meeting solutions allow you to host audio & video conferences. Limitations might apply to the number of people you can host depending on your subscription, but there are upgrades available for all the above to host webinars or large meetings.
You can use these for smaller or exclusive events, embargoed briefings with execs or sync calls with influencers prior to collaboration.

This feature allows you to stream an event as it’s happening natively in LinkedIn. When you start broadcasting, many of your followers will receive a notification, allowing them to join the livestream. Once they’re online, they can ask questions & chat with each other.

To use LinkedIn Live, you’ll need to complete 2 steps:
  1. Apply to have the feature enabled. This may take some time as LinkedIn work through a large volume of applications, so plan well ahead & have an alternative ready. You can apply here.
  2. Subscribe to a video streaming partner service. LinkedIn has partnered with a number of third parties to enable you to “go live”. You can find the full list of verified tools here.

This is ideal for streaming a keynote, panel discussion, product demo or presentation.

Periscope is a livestreaming tool owned by Twitter. It is primarily designed to enable broadcasts from a phone but has some functionality for use through a web platform. You can find out more about Periscope functionality here. Periscope lets you add up to 3 guests to a livestream, making it an excellent choice for broadcasting interviews after a session or streaming a panel discussion.

Streamyard is an independent livestreaming tool compatible with most major social platforms. It is one of the approved partners for LinkedIn live and can also be used to broadcast on Facebook, Youtube & Periscope. Streamyard is well suited to hosting panel discussions, interviews or podcasts.

Ringr is designed to help you capture high-quality audio from calls. Its most common usage is for podcast recordings.

Audience Engagement Tools

During or before your online event, you might want to use additional tools to keep the audience engaged. This could involve conducting polls, setting up a quiz for attendees or adding a Q&A with the host or a third party, such as an influencer.

This solution allows you to launch polls & field questions from your audience using a unique code. You can deploy these to keep audiences engaged in between or before sessions.

Similar to Slido in functionality but can be integrated into a ppt. presentation more easily.

Kahoot allows you to launch quizzes quickly & easily. Designed for a range of settings like schools & conferences, the UX is very easy to understand.

Hosting & Monitoring

If you create an online forum for discussion or questions to the speaker, you’ll need to ensure that this channel is adequately staffed with people who can respond or pass the questions on. Relying on the speaker to do this is likely to detract from the quality of your event as they’ll be distracted while trying to present. It’s unlikely you’ll need more than 1 additional person to monitor the livechat/Q&A.

2. INFLUENCER SELECTION

What should I be looking for in potential influencers to collaborate with?

As with other kinds of influencer activation, think about the audience & skills you want an influencer to bring to your event.

If you’re running a live demo of a product, the influencer will need to have industry knowledge to add value to the demo. If your event has a wide-ranging appeal but needs greater promotion, the influencer should have a proven ability to reach an engaged audience on your key topics.

The personas above represent the most common types of influencer which you are likely to encounter.

You’ll need to balance using professional influencers who can deliver proven results with industry practitioners who can amplify content to hard-to-reach topical communities on niche topics.

Onalytica Balance using professional influencers who can deliver proven results with

How can Onalytica help with this?

The influencer personas listed above can be found in the Onalytica Discover database. You can read more about how to find them in the platform in the help centre article on influencer personas.

If you have any questions on this, you can always contact your Onalytica Customer Success Manager, or get in touch with the team on success@onalytica.com

3. ONLINE RELATIONSHIP BUILDING

How do you create & deliver a value proposition online?

Pivoting to an online event should not affect your ability to deliver a quality value proposition. However, there may be some adjustments required. If you were planning to offer influencers networking opportunities with key execs, consider setting up an exclusive session to deliver the briefing by video conference under embargo before the same information is made public.

For ongoing relationship-building activities, you can continue to engage key influencers online, by responding to their content & sharing your thoughts with peers as you would usually. The best practice of inviting an influencer to a quick sync call before you finalise the terms of your collaboration still applies.

Onalytica create & deliver a value proposition

What can I do to engage influencers & peers online?

Onalytica Building relationships

Light touch engagement

Making sure you follow any influencers, peers or important audience members should always be the first step. Then make sure you’re getting notifications when those people post on relevant topics – speak to your Onalytica CSM about setting these up if you don’t have them already. Once this is done, you’ll be able to like or share content from the people most important to you regularly. These engagements are best used when you’re short on time and want to keep yourself top-of-mind with someone you plan to engage deeply at a later date.

Active thought leadership & engagement

The next step in this process should follow naturally from the lighter touch approach. To deepen engagements with influencers & peers, look for opportunities to share your thoughts & join discussions.

 

3 Top Tips for online networking & influencer relations

  1. Keep at least 80% of your content focused on your industry, not your brand
  2. Ask questions to encourage discussion and engage with responses
  3. Connect & follow people you engage with and tag them in future posts on the same subject

This can be as simple as commenting on an influencer’s post rather than liking it, or it can mean tagging peers & influencers in your own posts. Striking up a conversation not only helps you engage the person you’re addressing, but also offers an invitation to others interested to get involved.

 

Outreach & Sync

Once you’ve built relationships with your key influencers & peers, you can plan outreach for your collaboration. Think about the marketing tactics you’ll use and the ways influencers can contribute – have a few options ready for how they could be involved.

When you send the initial outreach message, make sure you know what you’ll offer in return. Long-term influencer relationships depend on your ability to help build your chosen influencers’ network and grow their influence. You can offer this by giving early access to new insights and products, exclusive opportunities to network with key executives & using your brand’s platform to amplify their voices.

Your message should clarify what your brand will offer and what the influencer will be asked to do, along with the potential scope of the future relationship. Aim to set up a sync call with the influencers so you can agree how you will collaborate – while limits remain on in-person meetings, this step is even more important.

4. METRICS

The metrics you use to determine the success of your new tactics should be driven by the underlying objective you’d like to reach. When you set up your online event & follow-up content, think about how you can accurately measure the impact influencers have on these objectives.

Some metrics can be captured by the Onalytica team, like social engagement & reach. For others, you will need to set up trackable links or landing pages to capture sign-ups. If you are setting any of these up, be sure to share all relevant content & links with the influencer in advance. They will be able to help drive performance of your campaign if you communicate the objectives clearly & give them the best possible chance of helping.

5. WIDER CONSIDERATIONS

User Experience is Key

Running an event online can bring new challenges along with the great opportunities it affords to engage audiences remotely & at scale. Make sure you test all software in advance & think carefully about whether your event will be engaging and shareable to audiences.

Keep it educational for best results

As many brands find themselves in a similar position of trying to pivot towards online content formats, there will be a temptation to try and win share of voice by talking about your products and services extensively.

However, the last few years have shown that this approach usually gets drowned out in the noise. The way to cut through is to produce high-value content which helps your target audience learn. Influencers are in a great position to deliver this, bringing an outside perspective to your messaging and bringing engaged audiences with them when the opportunity is right for them.

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