As part of a bigger marketing strategy, an influencer community is one of the most effective brand marketing tools around, both for the B2B and B2C markets.
From sharing updates by your business to growing brand advocates around your products and services, utilizing an influencer community can also help you gain valuable feedback from the people that matter most – your customers.
However, to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of your community, you need to continuously grow it, and make sure you’re looking at the relevant data to manage the growth.
Setting Success Goals for Your Influencer Community
Before any growth can be achieved, you need to determine what success looks like for your influencer program. Depending on what you’re hoping to achieve, different goals will need different metrics.
For example, if you’re merely looking for brand awareness, any success metrics set would look completely different than if you were looking for sales or lead generation.
Similarly, if you were looking for feedback around a new product, your success metrics for that would look very different than if you were looking for a white paper download.
Knowing your goals before starting any influence marketing campaign makes it easier to identify if you’re on track, or need to make any adjustments. Some basic goals might look like the following.
Brand awareness goals
- Visits to website
- Likes/shares of blog posts/videos
- Social media follower growth and interaction
- Increase in search terms around your brand
Sales/lead generation goals
- Newsletter sign up
- White paper download
- Contact form submission
- Product specification page
- Landing page visit from paid ad
Your own specific services/products will determine what your exact goals look like, but consider the basic ones above as a good starting place.
Knowing What Data to Look For
Once you have your success metrics defined, and your campaign is live, it’s important to monitor the ongoing success – or lack of – to ensure you’re on track and, if not, can make any relevant changes needed to correct course.
This is where data gleaned from analytics comes into play. Whether it’s website analytics like Google or Woopra, or social media insights from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, data can play a huge part in making your influencer campaigns or communities as successful as possible.
From identifying which parts of your website drive the most inquiries/leads, to seeing the opportunity for growth though additional platforms, analytics deliver the kind of data you need to build on early successes.
An example of using data to grow an influencer community can be found in Sensei client, ECHO USA. This outdoor power equipment manufacturer works with Sensei on the influencer community, ECHO Means Business, built to offer tips and advice for green industry professionals.
As the community grew, both on the forum we created on the EMB website and through the social media channels being used at the time, Sensei noticed a growing amount of traffic was on mobile devices.
This made perfect sense given the audience – lawn care and landscape professionals, as well as arborists and hardscapers. Given these pros are working in the field for the majority of the day, any website or social media use by them would be on their phones.
This led Sensei to develop a dedicated mobile app for the community, which has since been described as “Facebook for the lawn care industry”. Since launching the app, downloads and installs have grown exponentially, and the engagement of the community has gone through the roof.
It has also enabled the sponsor, ECHO USA, to garner invaluable insights about their products and the industries they build them for, as well as the behaviours of the pros that use them.
Recognizing the Next Generation of Influencers in Your Community
Like any online community, whether it’s B2B or B2C, members will come and go.
It may be that the community no longer meets someone’s needs; or they’ve changed focus on what they do; or they simply feel it’s time to move on.
To keep a community vibrant when this happens, you need to always be on the lookout for people who can take the “leadership role” inside your community, especially if it’s an influencer who decides they want to leave (here’s our post on all the types of influencers).
Again, this is where data becomes so effective at identifying and replacing community members who can lead when it comes to growing the community, engagement, interaction, and more.
Whether your influencer community is built on a website you own, or on a social platform like Facebook, look at the data available to you to help you make informed decisions when it comes to influencer identification.
- Who drives a lot of the conversation?
- Who do members interact with the most?
- Who jumps in to answer questions from fellow community members?
- Who offers consistent feedback and solution improvement ideas?
- Who are members consistently recommending to new members to follow?
Don’t restrict yourself to just your community, though. Potential influencers can be found online through a mix of search and social listening tools.
- Set up search terms around your brand’s products or services
- Set up secondary terms for both positive and negative viewpoints of these products/services
- Identify whose name comes up constantly in these discussions
- Monitor their accounts for a while to determine consistency and quality of the advice they’re giving
- Once satisfied the person could be a good fit, reach out and ask if they’re interested in being a part of your community
By keeping your community fresh with new voices and leaders, the longevity of it will be much more than if you allow it to become too stale.
Measure, Rinse, Repeat
The success of any influencer community comes from three core areas: members, content, and relevance. Each are important on their own, but the three of them combined is where the real value of any community comes from.
- Members. Treat the community like you would any part of your business. Keep things professional, have clear guidelines on do’s and don’ts, and reward those that bring the most value, both to you and the community at large.
- Content. Keep the content fresh, engaging, informative, and relevant. Ensure that member posts add value to the community, and aren’t simply self-promotional for their own products and services.
- Relevance. Ensure the community stays on track to deliver the value that members expect. If a community is about classic toy collectibles, for example, then posts about what’s hot in the fitness industry will be off-point.
Once you have these three tenets in place, use the data available to you to see who the valued members are, what content is driving the most engagement and feedback, and how relevant both members and content remain long after their initial push.
An influencer community can be key at delivering important insights for your business – make sure you’re getting the most out of it by putting the most into it.