SMW Presentation Recap: Engaging Influencers & Developing A Successful Online Earned Media Program

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Earned media is a term typically associated with traditional public relations professionals attempting to place client news in major news outlets.

However, social media practitioners are taking the tried and true practice of media relations and giving it an online spin using influencers.

Partnering with influencers can be a valuable and important piece of a brand’s social media activity. They can tell compelling stories about your company or steer prospective customers and brand advocates to your services.

social@Ogilvy’s Liz Caradonna recently spoke with Eric Huertas from CDW at Social Media Week Chicago about best practices for influencer engagement. Liz and Eric shared a number of tips and strategies on getting an influencer campaign off the ground to deliver meaningful earned media results:

1. Establish a Clear Objective

Before embarking on any influencer program, ask yourself why you are doing it. Do you want to increase share of voice? Maybe change consumer perception of your brand? Or, do you need to attract new customers? All can be achieved with influencer programs, but be sure you know exactly what you want to produce before building and implementing your campaign.

Also, always establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) before and during your programs so that you have clear metrics for measuring the success of the influencer program.

  • CDW’s objectives for its influencer program were to engage influencers to create expert user-generated content about CDW’s products and services and to increase authentic online conversations about CDW as an IT solutions and services provider.

2. Identify the Right Influencers

While this may sound a bit obvious, it’s a strategy that is often overlooked. It’s important to take a clear and deep look at influencers across different mediums and marketplaces (online and not) to identify who are the people that are influencing your customer’s purchase decisions. Using tools like Twitter lists, Klout and Radian6 can help you identify and narrow down your influencer targets.

  • With CDW’s specific objectives, they needed to leverage technology influencers with strong reputation and expertise and partner with them to develop content that highlighted the company’s solutions capabilities.

3. Create Value for Influencers

It is vital to establish a value exchange with influencers. They are often times going above and beyond for your brand, so it’s important to provide them with something unique that they can share with their constituents. The value exchange must be something that they will benefit from and will be meaningful to them. Think about creating a one-of-a-kind experience for influencers that they can share with their followers.

  • CDW invited four tech influencers to spend a day at CDW’s headquarters, giving them exclusive, “behind-the-scenes” access to the company’s warehouse, configuration center and Technology Experience Center. This brought CDW’s offerings to life by showing influencers first-hand all that that company does, while giving them value in the form of visibility and exclusive invites and content.

The CDW program led to increased impressions, social engagements and link clicks. CDW also benefited from the in depth and detailed influencer posts about its solutions and services offering, meeting the objectives that the company set for the program.

We are seeing more companies— both B2B and B2C— exploring new and creative ways to reach target audiences through influencers and online earned media. It’s something that more clients are working with us on, and seeing success.