By Drew Neisser.
Dive into the topic of influencer marketing and suddenly you will find yourself with a clan of converts — an extended family, if you will, of purveyors and seekers of influence. Recalling Faye Dunaway’s infamous (“My sister, my daughter”) wail in the classic movie “Chinatown,” at any given moment a marketer could be on either end of the influence exchange. The same goes for service providers and bloggers.
Such is the case with Tami, Kelly and Teresa, all of whom I interviewed recently in preparation for our “Engaging Influencers” panel at the upcoming Social Media Insider Summit. Not surprisingly, these three ladies have all run successful influencer programs. What may not be as obvious is that they are also influencers themselves, a fact that each ascribes to making them better at their jobs. This duality of roles was a bit of an epiphany for me.
Let’s start with Tami Cannizzaro, global director of social business at IBM. Tami has orchestrated a highly successful program around IBM’s Smarter Commerce conferences, which in its second year included 25 influencers who in turn generated almost 300 million impressions and trended on Twitter. During this period, Tami has worked hard to build personal relationships with the influencers and, in the process, became one herself. Explains Tami: “Sharing your passion is perhaps the secret ingredient of a successful program — you will get out as much as you put in.”
Kelly Tirman, Enterprise Social Business Strategist for Wells Fargo, is in the process of launching an influencer program for the bank after getting her start as a mom blogger while helping to build up Walmart’s Global eCommerce activity. Kelly is very clear on the dual value of being an influential blogger while also preparing influencer programs. “As I blogged, I formed friendships… It was actually those relationships that taught me what I needed to know.” She insightfully adds: “Technology changes fast; it is the power of your tribe that keeps you all ahead of the curve.”
On the agency side, Teresa Caro, senior VP, social and content marketing for Engauge, has helped clients like Wells Fargo, Food Lion and Rachael Ray Nutrish plan and execute influencer programs. In the process, Teresa has also become an influencer herself, co-authoring smart studies, informing panels and showing her clout on Twitter. Among her many insights, Teresa advises making a long-term commitment, as “it is time-intensive to identify and ramp up your influencers.”
Now, allow me to cover my roles in all of this, hopefully with a minimum of self-aggrandizement. As a blogger, contacts like Tami, Kelly and Teresa are essential for obtaining great content. As an agency chief, my writing helps me be smarter — and hopefully, a better advisor to clients. And as a so-called influencer, at least in the eyes of IBM (thanks, Tami!), social media service providers seek to engage with me, thus helping my cause on all fronts — and of course, setting the stage for moderating opportunities!
Lest you miss the point of all this — if you want to run an influencer program, consider jumping into this world as both a seeker and a purveyor. As a seeker of influence, you will need some kind of currency to exchange and it need not be cash. Because Tami and her team at IBM “actively promote [their] influencers throughout the year,” those influencers return the favor (this article being another case in point.) As a purveyor, be open to all kinds of value exchanges, the best of which are the relationships you build with likeminded peers.
Final note: Recognizing that these 600+ words only scratch the surface of what it takes to run an effective social influencer program, feel free to join us in Squaw Valley on August 22, and in the meantime, check out my interviews with Tami, Kelly and Teresa, now on TheDrewBlog.com.
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