Managing the influencer content stream is tricky. You need a content schedule, but it may be hard to enforce since your influencers don’t work for you. You also need to make sure topic generation is strong and follows a strategy, but that’s a challenge if you don’t have the expertise to generate topics. Of course, evaluation of content for flow and technical accuracy is a must.
Your best bet is to create topic categories like leadership, education, and product evaluation, and line up influencers to write pieces under each category. Ideally, you can have your influencers create a content runway ahead of product release, and then ask influencers to post at times that fit your schedule. Influencer content topic selection and curation is no small task. It takes a team to raise a content runway.
Building Your Influencer Marketing Team
Recruit a few influencers willing to provide content at a moment’s notice, like when something exciting or unexpected is happening in the world of your customers, so that the release is timely. You will also need several who will provide content on a regular basis, but with more notice. In addition to your influencers, you will need someone technical enough to review your influencers’ work for technical accuracy.
If you can’t hire a consulting firm to provide and manage influencer content, you can recruit technical people from within your company. Shoot for at least two engineers familiar with the product and application(s); that way, if one is busy, you have backup. If you are spearheading the influencer strategy, then you will create the schedule and keep influencers on track. You should also have a copy editor to catch grammar errors and typos. Keep the corporate brand input to a minimum. The power of the influencer campaign is derived from the authenticity of the influencers. Branding it up will kill the effectiveness of the campaign.
Allow your influencers to choose their own topics within a content category. You will have to engage some technical experts to review topics and content, but don’t tell the influencers how to write. Let them write what their readers like. You know that their style is accepted by their audience and your (future) customers.
Save the editing process for creating digital discoverability, and major elements like flow. Don’t worry if the content seems too technical, application-focused, industry-specific, or detailed. That’s what your customers want. Use your technical team members with subject matter expertise and detailed product knowledge to edit influencer content for accuracy.
Nurturing Everyone’s Talent
Your team may be bifurcated into three groups: the people who are responsible for processes such as recruiting and nurturing influencers, those in charge of scheduling and producing content, and the influencers themselves. Each subgroup is critical to your success, and it is a mistake to value them differently or manage them the same.
The person who can find and retain influencers will have the skills of an influencer themselves, as they are attracting and retaining people who don’t report directly to them or their organization. This requires both bravado and diplomacy and a great deal of patience. Supporting them so they have the resources they need to keep influencers interested and engaged will be an important part of managing staff in this position.
Your content delivery people also have a very difficult role. They are managing creativity but are measured on deliverables. They are responsible for a schedule. They probably don’t have a direct managerial relationship to your influencers, which means they are influencers too. They have to lead by persuasion. This requires a special skill set that values a different kind of creativity—the kind that allows them to understand individuals and craft motivating strategies on the fly. Keeping consistency in the requirements for your content production staff and rewarding their innovative approaches to meeting these requirements will be key in keeping this group motivated to continue to work on a schedule while dependent on people who may feel less of a commitment to that schedule.
Influencers may need a combination of a light touch with firm boundaries and lots of incentives that are geared to each influencer individually. If you put the right team in place internally, they will have the skills necessary to elicit and individualize rewards that keep each influencer interested and on time.
The Process is the Product
Despite the differences between your influencers and process managers, it is possible for them to act as one, provided you lead them as a team. Recognizing the different roles they play, recruiting and rewarding them appropriately, and keeping everyone’s eyes on a compelling goal makes up crucial the role of the person leading an Influencer Marketing Team. This leadership needs to exist in your company if you are going to effectively manage influencer content.