What’s The Secret? A Guide to Understanding Influencer Marketing Ask an Expert

By Ruxandra Mindruta on August 3rd 2016

Amplifying brand reach. Gaining credibility. Saving dollars.

These are just some of many benefits of effective influencer marketing strategies. Consumers respond to the opinions of people they trust and they are often motivated by word of mouth rather than ads, as brand content is everywhere and consumers have started to become desensitized to it.

If collaborating with the right people in an organic way, there’s a real opportunity to increase share of voice and insert your brand into new audiences. For a better understand on how to achieve that, let’s do a deep dive into the specifics.


What are the differences between influencers and advocates?

Influencers and advocates are two separate terms, and their meaning often gets confused and used interchangeably.

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Your brand’s advocates are your super fans, who could be satisfied customers or just people who aspire to your brand.

Some brand advocates may even be your employees! They love your products/services talk about you on social positively on a regular basis and are happy to recommend you to their peers.

Advocates don’t necessarily have large volumes of followers or high engagement rates, but their enthusiasm and appreciation for the brand they support is genuine.

Social media influencers might not have used the product and they often get paid to promote it, whereas brand advocates use the service/product and don’t need to be given incentives to help spread awareness. As such, brand advocates are more relevant to the brand in the long run, as they are perceived as trustworthy and reliable by the consumers.

Ron Sela


What are the best ways for brands to identify influencers?

Depending on the industry and the specific influencer marketing goals, brands can utilize smart social intelligence platforms to identify influencers who are a great match for them.

A great example is Brandwatch’s new product, Audiences, which allows you search through a live database of over 200m Twitter users and filter them by keywords in their bios or tweet content, gender, account type, profession, interests and location.

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Additionally, staying abreast of the latest thought leadership pieces of content which relate to their sector is an intelligent way to discover vocal industry experts and start building relationships with them.

Not to mention an organic way to discuss the topics that matter, intelligently. Sharing interesting articles and tidbits about your industry on social is a great way to grow and engage your audience.


How should brands approach influencers?

Once you have determined who are the influencers you’d like to collaborate with, the next step is getting on their radar.

Be patient and take your time to build these relationships. You can start by reading their blog and expressing your point of view on that particular topic in a comment, engaging with them on social, or even introducing yourself at events if you get the opportunity.

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And there’s always an opportunity, so be bold and confident and get the conversation started. Aim to be helpful and put a premium on how the relationship with the influencer benefits them rather than your business.


What are the biggest issues around brands engaging with influencers?

The biggest problem or challenge when engaging with influencers is standing out from the crowd and getting them to notice you. Once you’ve managed to cross that barrier with a highly targeted, personal approach, the next challenge is getting influencers excited about your product and getting them to test or use it.

Another area of struggle is expecting immediate results. Influencer marketing is all about relationship building, and we all know that healthy, strong relationships require time and patience.

Brands that expect to control what influencers say, do and create, defeat the entire purpose of why influencer collaborations are so impactful. Rather than picking influencers solely based on popularity or their ability to create media, brands should research which influencers are aligned with the themes the brand wants to advance and then trust the influencer to create, collaborate and promote according to mutually agreed guidelines

Lee Odden

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Additionally, Misha Talavera explains that one of the biggest challenges is proving ROI – “brands are struggling to measure the return on investment of their influencer marketing, making it very hard to price influencers effectively”.

He continues: “a lot of brands focus on reach at the expense of authenticity and they spray and pray their dollars rather than focusing on building sustainable relationships with the right influencers.”


What is the secret to successful influencer marketing?

The secret to influencer marketing is relationships. Without meaning and a common interest, brand collaborations with influencers are nothing more than superficial ads. But when there shared values and mutual goals, influencer and brand collaborations take on a special kind of purpose that attracts, engages and inspires action amongst a community

– Lee Odden

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Choosing the right influencers to collaborate with is probably the most difficult and important task of an influencer manager’s job.

Here are some key tips to consider:

  • Relevancy is essential. When putting together your list of targets, ensure they’re likely to be interested in your products/services, to maximise your chances of hearing back from them and building long-lasting relationships
  • Track reputation and engagement levels. Go beyond numbers of followers and use advanced analytics tools to analyze the quality of their online interactions and the sentiment towards their persona, the content they share, etc.
  • Again, using intelligent analytics platforms, such as Audiences, track who a particular influencer has a strong impact on on Twitter. Could these Tweeters be potential customers/fans of your brand? If the answer is yes, then you will know for sure that influencer is a great match
  • Lastly, keep an eye on influencers’ online behavior and determine whether their values, social habits, shared stories, and preferences are compatible with your brand.

What does the future hold?

There’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to the future of influencer marketing. Its importance will keep accentuating, as increasing numbers of brands will understand its multiple benefits and significant impact on brand growth. 

Brands will be moving towards longer-term influencer sponsorships, similar to the brand ambassador model, yielding more authentic content and better results. New ways of measuring influencer campaign results will be implemented, whilst brands and agencies will be bringing their influencer marketing in-house, to get better prices and a direct channel of communication with their influencers.

Misha Talavera



Brandwatch Analytics

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  • Thank you for including me Roxy – this is a much bigger topic with far more strategic business benefits than most people realize.

  • Ruxandra

    It was our pleasure, we appreciate you taking the time to participate :-) It’s a very broad topic indeed, so there will be plenty of follow up articles!