If you’ve been an avid reader of our blogs over the past month, you’ll now understand why it matters, what it takes to become an influencer, and why financial services marketers should consider taking the brand’s influencer plan offline.
The changing media landscape and the growth of social networks means everyone now has the ability to curate, create and publish their own content. After all, this type of approach helped Donald Trump generate $2 billion worth of free media in just one month during his election campaign.
Trump may be an alpha influencer but not even he was born as one. Just like companies such as Virgin, Red Bull and Edelman, which built their own community leaders, perhaps your best influencer is already part of your organisation.
And we know brands and individuals are looking at this. Google Trends data reveals a surge in searches for influencer marketing.
But typing “how to...” into a Google search reveals high interest on how to go about becoming – or creating – an influencer.
Just as your traditional financial services PR and media relations strategy would have seen you identifying inhouse spokespeople to provide media commentary, setting yourself up with an inhouse influencer is all about setting criteria, clarifying messaging, and then developing their personal brand within the parameters of the overarching communication strategy. Look for engaged and engaging employees within your organisation, all of whom can speak to different topics, and drive the conversations with your target audience.
Effective communication in the finance sector is still about understanding your audience’s interests and providing information that is useful to them. Your influencer’s personal brand voice needs to tread the line between being true to who they are (authentic), and in line with your company branding. Importantly the content they share should be interesting to the audience you’re trying to target.
If the influencer doesn’t already have a multi-channel presence, they need to start building this pronto.
- Profiling through traditional media relations (opinion pieces, market commentary, interviews and so on)
- Writing blogs for your website or as submissions to other well-read websites
- Attendance at industry events - Whether as a speaker or an attendee, your inhouse influencer can further engage with target audiences by tweeting throughout the event, tagging other influencers and using relevant hashtags. And if your influencer can work with other high-profile executives at the event, or outside of it, their network will grow
- Building an organic network on social channels.
As with your PR and content marketing plan, it’s important that the influencer is consistent and stays on message if they are to become a thought leader. A good way to proactively manage this is to build a content calendar. This should include timing for differentiated and useful content aligned with your influencer’s main topics/ themes, while leaving room for contributions to relevant news stories as they trend.
The more successful blogs, tweets and status updates share an opinion. Engaging in a debate (within L&C boundaries) is a great way to keep your audience interested. Likewise, the influencer needs to engage with others and share their content: it’s all about finding a balance between the influencer talking about themselves and your product and building a relationship with others.
With your inhouse influencer(s) up and running, track return on relationships, and measure what drives the greatest audience participation. Use this to shape your strategy. In the end, being an inhouse influencer is about being nimble and motivated to serve your audience.