5 Ways to Use Influencer Marketing


Eric T. Tung

The term ‘Influencer Marketing’ can mean different things to different people, and can sometimes be narrowly defined as one particular type of influence marketing. A brand might be constraining itself by only considering one type of influencer marketing, when others could be used to supplement it. Here’s a quick rundown of various methods of influencer marketing, from the least involved to most involved for influencers: 

Marketing From Influencers: Use Them for Trending Info

Whether you use simple tools like Twitter Lists, or something more thorough like Traackr, you can learn quite a bit from your influencers. What are industry experts predicting for the future, or what are the trends being talked about currently among influencers? Even without contacting influencers for input, you can gauge industry trends just by seeing what influencers are talking about and then adding to the conversation with your view. Not only will you find that your viewpoint will add to the natural conversation around the topic, but you’ll provide great SEO for others looking for more information about it.

Marketing Through Influencers: Give Them Exclusive Access

One key aspect of influencer marketing is making them feel appreciated, and part of that is offering them exclusive access to your events or influencers. At Ned Lamont for US Senate in 2006, our campaign communications team worked closely with political bloggers locally and nationally. We offered access to the candidate, and even issued press announcements and daily schedules to bloggers as well as mainstream media. By offering bloggers daily announcements and exclusive access, we helped create or inspire content.

Marketing To Influencers: Giving Them Free Stuff

When thinking about influencer marketing, most people think about free-stuff marketing. That is to say that a company will offer free services or products to influencers for review blogs, videos and social shares. Ford gave away 100 Fiestas in Europe in 2009 and in the US in 2013 to celebrities, bloggers and reviewers to increase awareness of the new vehicle. Influencers spent between six months and a year and produced tens-of-thousands of pieces of content. Some sources quoted a 60% market awareness of the vehicle before it was sold. (Disclosure: I am a member of the Ford press fleet program where I review vehicles for them, typically for a week.)    

Marketing With Influencers: Set Up a Social Influencer Program

A step beyond offering influencers exclusive access is to formalize a social influencer program. At BMC Software, our customer connect team uses an advocate hub to help customers interested in supporting BMC. Tools like Social Toaster and Addvocate help by offering pre-approved messages and social posts to influencers and employees to share on your behalf. With a  formalized tool, it’s much easier for influencers to share company and product information without fearing they are sharing unreleased information prematurely. 

Marketing Through Influencers: Guest Blogging

Perhaps the most time-intensive option in influencer marketing is guest blogging. Just like I’m writing this blog post for TaylorMade Solutions, your company can also recruit guest bloggers interested in sharing their perspective on the issues. They can help you create content and share the information with their audiences, while you can provide them an outlet and platform to reach new audiences.

Whether you’re just getting started in influencer marketing, or you have been working at it for years, it’s always a good idea to take a step back and see what other ways you might be able to improve or expand your program. While most people think of free-stuff or guest blogging as influencer marketing, there are many more options to engage and work with influencers for your mutual benefit.

About Eric T. Tung: is the top-ranked social media professional in Houston and was recognized as a top 33 global social professional by Forbes. Eric is a national speaker and consultant in social media.  Eric’s experience includes communications, marketing and sales for Apple, Dell, Applied Materials and Newell Rubbermaid, and he is currently the full-time social media manager for BMC Software.


Why Influence Still Matters

When you are about to make a purchase, what do you do? If you are like me and most people, we do some research and then based on what we find, we…wait for it…we ask our friends, colleagues and family what product or service they use. This my friends is influence at its best. In fact, it is the precursor to social proof.  We feel better knowing that the people we trust and respect would: 1) share their experience with us and 2) recommend a product/service or, conversely send us running for cover because of their experience.  And, this is why influence still matters.  

For brands then, this really is at the heart of the matter. More specifically, it is at the heart of the people who manage the brands and plan, plot and strategize how to influence buyer behaviour. Ultimately these same people want to understand how to influence others. Influence is not new. Dale Carnagie knew this back in the 1930s. In fact, his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” was published in 1936.  Still a good read by the way!

While wanting to influence is not new, what has changed is primarily how we go about influencing. There is now more of a focus on influencing influencers. This area of marketing is of particular interest to me, and many quite frankly, because of the potential for significant changes to consumer behaviour.  But the question remains: how do you influence and influencer? Here are six key principles of influence according to Dr. Robert Cialdini to consider:

  • Reciprocity
  • Commitment and Consistency
  • Social Proof
  • Authority
  • Liking
  • Scarcity

When it comes down to it, these six principles really make sense.  The only thing that I would add to this mix is patience. When building an influencer program or relationships, it is key to remember that Rome was not built in a day.  After all, working with influencers is about relationships and it makes complete sense that there is some give and take (reciprocity), commitment to the relationship and consistency.  After all, how do you feel when your “friend” only reaches out when he or she wants something?  We already know that social proof is very positive based on our insistence of asking people we know about products/service. We also like to know that people we trust, people who have authority, will guide us in the right direction. Additionally, we are influenced by the mere fact that “others” like something. You know the feeling..everyone is getting the new iPhone so you kinda feel like you should too. And, finally scarcity is very important in influencing someone. Again, relating back to the iPhone, think about how it feels to be on the pre-order list. Specifically think about how you feel when you have that new iPhone way before your friends. You know that feeling. You feel really special and important. That of course is the ultimate in influence!

Next time I will explore the six principles in more detail looking at specific examples and delve into the question of whether to pay or not pay influencers. 

Feel free to follow me on Twitter!

NOTE: this post previously appeared on InNetwork’s Blog.

5 Ways Sales Experts Use LinkedIn to Generate Leads

While my background is predominately marketing and PR, I have done my share of business development. I have also worked with some of the best business development professionals in the world.  While at CARIS and salesforce.com, I got to work with the best of the best.  And, the best part, I am going to share what I learned from working with the best with you.   Here are 5 ways that sales experts use LinkedIn to Generate Leads.  (Disclosure: while at CARIS, LinkedIn didn’t exist, but the sales practices did.)5 Ways Sales Experts Use LinkedIn to Generate Leads, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com

1.  Don’t be there just for the sale

This is the first and most important action that a person must plan for.  When doing business development, regardless of what tool, forum or event you are leveraging, don’t just be there for the sale.  While the terms relationship selling or relationship management has been very overused in the last few years, this is one that you can’t mess up.

When using LinkedIn, this becomes even more important as your activity is much more visible.  For example, joining Groups is a great way to not only expand your knowledge of a topic or industry, but also to prospect.  That being said, if you join a group and your only activity is clearly to sell “something” and then you disappear until the next time you want to sell “something”, you risk being called out and damaging not only your own creditability, but that of the organization that you represent.

Key Take-Away:  LinkedIn is not a short-term “thing”. It is a structured approach to building your network and developing a give and take relationship.  Successful sales people don’t just take, they find ways to give.  They also don’t pitch before the relationship is formed.

2.  Share, Share and Share

As a follow-up to #1, building networks and connections is about giving.  Sharing is a great way to do this.

The key for LinkedIn however, is utilizing it correctly.  It is not like Twitter or your personal Facebook or Google+ page.  You should not be sharing continually.  Instead, select one or two pieces of content to share with your network.  Be sure to share no more than twice per day and some days, only once.  Any more than that, and people will turn off your notifications.  You can also target certain groups and/or people to make things even more specific.

If your organization has its own blog, it is great to share content that will be helpful to contacts.  This can be a great source.  Another great source is to share content created by your prospects.  Pick really great information to share with your network.

Key Take-Away:  Be sure to share, but maintain a proper balance. Understanding how to use LinkedIn is key to this.

3.  Leverage SMART Methods to Prospect

Specific:  Check who has viewed your profile, Group Updates, review Announcements of Companies that you are following, view Alumni Groups and conduct searches using boolean operators. An example of the latter is:  CFO or Chief Financial Officer and Life Sciences. (use title variations and industry)

Measurable:  One of the best ways to get measurable results is through introductions.  If you have a connection, that you have built a solid relationship with that is connected to the person you want to meet, ask.  Be sure to explain how you want to be introduced and why.  Remember though to keep #1 in mind.  Build the relationship first.

Achievable:  When prospecting using a tool like LinkedIn, set realistic and achievable targets. If you are using LinkedIn properly, you won’t be able to connect with dozens of people in one day.  So, it is important that you and your management team understand what is realistic and what is not.

Relevant:  When reaching out to a prospect, but sure to use relevant information.  For example, if you noticed that they have recently connected with someone else you know, or changed jobs, cross check their profiles.  For the latter, LinkedIn will sometimes send out an update saying “congratulate” so and so, but they have really been in the job for sometime.  While it might be an “in” it might also appear that you are trying to hard to find a reason to connect.

Time:  Like relevancy, timing is everything.  Commenting or sharing a post from weeks or months ago, can demonstrate that you are a little behind the times. Of course, should something have occurred to make it timely again, like an update or some other advice that you can add, that is a good thing.

Key Take-Away:  Be prepared to understand how to use LinkedIn and leverage existing contacts when possible.

4.  Leverage Other Sources

Be sure to follow relevant conversations in other channels. For example, most industries have “lists” of top performers.  By following organizations/individuals on Twitter that put out these lists, you can always leverage this information to congratulate the person.

Key Take-Away:  Don’t rely on one source and one source only.  By judiciously following key industry people and developing Twitter Lists, you can keep up-to-date without getting bogged down in hundreds, if not thousands of Tweets or conversations.  However, remember the points above, particularly the point about when to pitch.

5.  Making a Pitch Matter

Of course we all want out pitches to matter and be acted upon, but that is not always the case, as we know.  Far too many people make pitches using LinkedIn using only the generic “let’s connect” message and then once you accept, they begin to inundate you with sales pitches.  Alternatively, they send you a long message about how they will change your world, without even understanding if you need to have your world changed.

When making that first connection, always use a custom message and offer something that is of value to your prospect.  This of course suggests that you have spent the time necessary to understand who they are and what it is that they need.  For example, if you see them asking a question in a Group and you know someone that can help them with their question, offer to make the introduction.  When you send a personal note to someone that shows that you put effort into the message, it makes a difference.

Key Take-Away:  As human beings we naturally gravitate towards individuals who show an interest in us.  Putting some effort into a pitch can make a difference between getting a meeting and not.

 Want to learn more?  Feel free to sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)

5 Ways Content Marketing is Essential for Top of the Funnel Sales Process

Content marketing continues to be one of the most important tools in the marketing tool box, and it should be.  After all, when done properly, content marketing helps drive leads.  Known as top of the funnel content, or TOFU as we affectionately call it in the business, why not take advantage of good content marketing?  Here are 5 ways content marketing is essential to your top of the funnel sales process:

3 Reasons Why Content Marketing is Important to Top of Funnel Sales, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com

Image courtesy of alanblume.wordpress.com

1. Buyers Want Content

Think about what you do when you want to learn about something.  Chances are that you hit the Web to research products, services, locations, etc.  The better the information that you find, the more informed you feel.  This is essential in terms of beginning of the buying/selling process.  When a prospect is in the beginning stages, that person wants/needs information.  Give them what they want and what they need.

And, chances are the prospect will develop a level of trust and/or connection to the source that provided excellent and educational content.

2.  Balance the Selling versus Informing

Again, think back to your own experience.  When you research something new as you begin your buying cycle how do you feel when you start reading an article or blog that appears to answer all your burning questions only to find out that it was a cleverly disguised sales pitch?  Well, if you are like me, you are probably annoyed and click out of the site.  The only time that I don’t feel that way is “if” someone has already won me over with great content AND they did so without being all salesy and pitchy.

The lesson here, is don’t make your content all about you, how wonderful you are and how much you can help someone or some organization.  Top of the Funnel Content that works best is content that is helpful, but generic in nature.  People get turned off by this.  TOFU is intended to move prospects from the top of the funnel down to the middle of the funnel, or again as we like to say to MOFU.

3.  Promote Your Content

So, you have figured out what content to create and you have balanced the salesy tone with useful information that prospects will and can use, but now what?  How do you get people to find and read your content.

You have to share your content of course.  You need to determine the right channels to use for your business.  Most businesses tend to focus on Twitter and LinkedIn Company Groups as the place to promote content.  However, don’t forget about Facebook Google+ and LinkedIn Groups.  Be sure to understand how each channel is used.  For example, if you use all of these channels, be sure that you are posting at the right intervals, using images and the right language.  Also, remember not to spam people.  For LinkedIn Groups for example, don’t just join a group to post your content.  Be sure to join appropriate groups and comment and like posts of others.

The goal of course is to bring your prospects back to your website and to ultimately move them down the funnel.  Finding the right channels and sharing will help you do this, provided you aren’t just pushing your own content only.  Remember to build relationships and contribute to the Group.

4.  Bring in the Experts

In addition to your own team of experts, reach out and create a Thought-Leadership Program.  Build relationships with the Thought-Leaders of your industry and share their content and ultimately determine ways that you can have them participate in your content.  A great way to leverage experts is through interviews.  They are very busy and agreeing to do a quick interview is often the path of least resistance.  The caveat of course, is building the relationship first.

5. Practice Consistency Patience

As mentioned in #3, the goal is to bring your prospects back to your website and to ultimately move them down the funnel.  It would be great if this happened immediately and with every post.  In reality however, this is not quite how it works. It does take time, consistency and patience.  Posting good content on a regular schedule is critical to your success.

When you combine these four practices, content marketing will make a difference in your top of the funnel sales process.  Want to learn more?  Feel free to sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)

The Sunday Brief (May 18, 2014)

Welcome to this week’s Sunday Brief.  The Sunday Brief is intended to share with you a few of my top picks from the previous week.  As I always say, sit back and relax with your favourite cup of Joe and enjoy! (If you have a fav that is not on the list, be sure to let me know).The Sunday Brief heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com

This week my picks are a little different.  I hope that you find them interesting and useful.

1.  Gavin O’Mally (@mp_gavin)’s Pinterest Raises Additional $200M To Turn Site Into Discovery Platform

Pinterest is still struggling to stand out from the rest and to expand its appeal beyond women.  There have been some advances, but based on this post, it would appear that they want to take additional steps to really stand out.  A good and quick read.

2.   The Definitive Guide to Using Content Marketing for B2B

@markfidelman shared this post of Pratik Dholakiya.  Content marketing remains one of the great unkowns for people.  In some cases it is warranted. I have unfortunately seen many people who know nothing about marketing or content marketing selling their services to trusting people.  In other cases, it comes down to fear or thinking that you have nothing to offer. This article helps you get past the latter.  A good and interesting piece.

3.  Agile Selling by @jillkonrath

This isn’t a blog post, but rather a book that will be released early next month.  Jill is one of the best known in the business for her sales knowledge and expertise.  In her latest book, Agile Selling, she doesn’t disappoint.  If you are in sales, this is a must-read.  Heck, even if you are not, but want to understand the importance of agility in our work environment today, this is an excellent read.

So, there you have it.  This weeks picks!  Let me know what you think, or if you would add anything to the list.

Want more information?  Feel free to sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)