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Does influencer marketing even work?

In this episode we discuss influencer marketing and ask the question, “Does influencer marketing really work?”

In short, Yes, per HubSpot and others — 80% of marketers say they work overall, and 89% say they work as well or better than other marketing channels.


How could an HR Tech vendor make it work?

Many do, so it’s definitely a workable model within this space. 

It will vary by your budget and by your pre-existing social and email evolution (more on that in a second), but the most successful influencer relationships tend to focus on a small team of influencers — say, 5-7. 

You keep it small and you engage with them around their content, their blog, their email list, their social media. What are they focusing on this year? 

If you look around the space at a guy like, say, Tim Sackett … each year his emails and his social presence are a bit different and has a different focus. Engage with them where they are at. 

Trying to do too much — i.e. bring in dozens of influencers — or trying to bend your will to their calendars and personas usually doesn’t work. It can work, sure — you are still paying them — but it won’t work as well. 

Small group. 


Remember that above all. 


What’s the hardest part of dealing with influencers?

The hardest part is the lack of a set economic model. If you work with Forrester or Josh Bersin, let’s say, there’s a specific rate sheet for almost every possible condition — on-site visit, webinar, email blast, guest post, etc. 

If you find 100 influencers within Work / HR technology, there are probably 90 different economic models they might pursue. That’s the biggest challenge, typically.

Also remember, even though you likely already know this: People who are willing to do stuff for free may seem great, because then you’re not paying for it, but usually people willing to do stuff for free have no idea what they’re doing or the output won’t be that great. 

It’s not always the case, but it often is. This is all a business. It’s a business to you and it’s a business to the influencers as well. Pay for people. 


What’s a realistic number?

This totally depends on where you are in-market. If you need help establishing your brand nationally, globally, or in specific geo — and if you don’t have a huge social presence or a big house list — then you end up spending more. 

It will vary by the “name-value” of the influencers you pursue, but it’s probably going to be a minimum $15,000 engagement — and that will likely only get you a couple of assets/resources published. 

If you’re a more established brand, typically you can go tighter and deeper with a small group, whereby they might even be using their name to do surveys and original research for you, then breaking down that research and talking to executives in the space about what it means. 

The projects might be longer and bigger, and you’ll still pay at least the above amount, but it might be tracked out over a bit more time. 


Three strong tips for working with the “HR Famous”

1. Ask your customers and prospects who they want to hear from.

Years ago, and we mean years ago, Tincup was working with an ATS. They wanted to spend about $250,000 with Gartner. Instead, he convinced them to send out a Survey Monkey to house a list of about 45,000 people. 

One of the questions was about who these people listened to around new tech in the space. Turns out all the big responses were people who, at that time, wrote for Fistful of Talent. OK. Now you can take $250,000 and move some of that towards ads, webinars, and engagements with Fistful of Talent and you’ll probably get more bang for your buck. It takes about 1 hour to create a survey, proof it, create an email, proof it, and hit send. 

Do that and see what you get back.


2.  Be open and forthcoming and cut through the BS.

Again, this is a business. People have done these deals before and they want to know what you are thinking, how you can help them, how they can help you, and what it will look like financially. 

Just approach them, say your customers and prospects clearly value them, you now want to work with them, etc. And just get down to brass tacks on the money and the scope and the time frame. Be open.


3.  Hit the targets.

It’s amazing how many times these deals get struck and then, two weeks later, the company comes back to the influencer and says “So, I guess you could do some blogs for us?” Know what the targets are. Blogs? EMails? IG? Webinars? Research? 

Define a timeline for the targets and a scope for the end game. Who is reviewing them? When are they being pushed out? Etc, etc. Treat this engagement like any campaign or project in-house — and hold the influencers to deadlines and topics and content ideas and all that. 

They’ve done this before. They know the drill.


The RecruitingDaily Podcast

William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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