Amanda Maksymiw: Top 5 Influencer Marketing Misconceptions

Top 5 Influencer Marketing Misconceptions

Don’t Let your Influencer Marketing Program Get Hung Up

Lately I have been thinking and reading a lot about influencer marketing. I’ve spent the last three years or so focusing on OpenView’s influencer marketing program and helping our portfolio companies implement and improve their influencer programs. I’ve spoken to some brilliant minds in the space about the topic over time, too. But for some reason I still see companies holding off on getting started with influencer marketing. What is the hang up?

My Take on the Top 5 Influencer Marketing Misconceptions

It’s all about the number. I am not the first one to bring up this point, and I will certainly not be the last. With the growing popularity of tools like Klout, PeerIndex, and Kred, it is really easy to get caught up in the numbers game. Ex: Steve Roberts has 10,000 Twitter followers — he is our top influencer. It is important to remember that there is more to online influence than just these numbers. I agree that these tools do offer some insight (at least directionally), but there are several other factors to consider such as blog readership, audience, subject matter, offline activities, reputation, etc.

Audience size is everything. Sure someone could have a few thousand followers and blog subscribers, but what does that really mean? What is the makeup of the audience?  What do they care about?  Jay Baer tackled the topic of audience vs influence in a recent blog post in which he highlighted an example of Wilson Leather sending Chris Brogan a leather jacket for free. While it is true that Chris has a huge audience, he doesn’t really have influence or sway over leather jackets. This wasn’t a targeted influencer marketing effort, and I imagine that it wasn’t wildly successful for Wilson. To beat this misconception, do your research to ensure your pitches target the right influencers with the right audience.

It takes a lot of time. Just like in dating, it takes time to develop meaningful relationships. But influencer marketing doesn’t have to take a lot of time if you set it up right.  It is all about staying smart and focused. Several months ago, I offered five quick tips to help you get started with influencer marketing without being overwhelmed. Here is another practical tip to get started quickly: Research and build a list of the top five to ten influencers within your company’s space. This list could include bloggers, thought leaders, company executives, etc. Release the list and reach out to each influencer explaining why you are recognizing them as an influencer. This recognition really helps to open the door. When you reach out to them, try to see if your influencers are interested in creating any content with your brand. It could be as simple as a Q&A or guest article. This is really a simple way to get on the radar of your influencers and start building the relationship.

You only have one shot. There is a thought that you only have one shot to tell your story and break through to your influencers. While it is true that the pitch is INCREDIBLY important (read some tips to improve your chances here), it is also true that you can make more than just one. More often than not, you are not going to receive a response when you reach out to or pitch an influencer. The silent rejection is completely normal and it doesn’t mean you should stop your outreach! But when you do continue, be sure to target your pitches.

It’s just another database. In several blog posts I have referred to managing a database of influencers. That is because I have utilized Salesforce.com to help me organize and manage my contacts. Luckily David Fine of Influencer50 helped point out that it is a huge mistake to treat your influencers as just another database for you to mass-market to. Influencer marketing really works best on a one-to-one level and you shouldn’t follow a spray and pray strategy.

What influencer marketing misconceptions have I missed?  Where are you getting hung up?

Originally published 18 June 2012 on the OpenView Blog. Amanda Maksymiw is a Senior Associate at OpenView Venture Partners and can be followed on Twitter @amandamaks.