March 28, 2022 Content Chat Recap: How Brands Can Collaborate With Influencers For Content Marketing

A #ContentChat header image featuring an array of flowers with a box overlay. The box contains text that says today's topic is how brands can collaborate with influencers for content marketing, with guest Neal Schaffer.

Influencers can help marketing teams achieve a range of goals—like increasing their brand reach and strengthening trust in their community—but influencer marketing engagements require an informed strategy to drive the most value.

In this #ContentChat recap, the community joins Neal Schaffer, digital social media marketing speaker, consultant, and author, to explore how brands can collaborate with influencers for content marketing. In the below chat recap, you’ll learn:

  • How to find the best brand influencers
  • Ways to collaborate with influencers for content marketing
  • Solutions to common hurdles with influencer marketing

If you’re looking to learn more from Neal about partnering with influencers, download a free preview of his book The Age of Influence and buy your copy through his site.

Q1: How do you define an influencer in a content marketing context? What qualities does an influencer exemplify?

An influencer is anyone who has access to a community that your business would like to reach and the ability to drive action from that community.

A1 But “influencers” aren’t just on Instagram – they are everywhere, and in many B2B industries they include your customers and often your employees. #contentchat

— 🇺🇦 Neal Schaffer | ニール・シェーファー|夏廉 🇺🇦 (@NealSchaffer) March 28, 2022

A1 So my recommendation is to throw away that “cringy” perspective of influencers that you might have and begin to think of them as people (who are often content creators) who have access to a community that your business would love to get in front of. #contentchat

— 🇺🇦 Neal Schaffer | ニール・シェーファー|夏廉 🇺🇦 (@NealSchaffer) March 28, 2022

A1: As a B2B content marketer, I define an influencer as a person who my audience trusts as an expert who is able to drive their cultivated audience to action in support of my brand. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 28, 2022

Influencers can help B2B brands create and amplify content.

A1: Influencers can help in your #contentmarketing efforts primarily through helping you create content and/or amplify content. #contentchat

— 🇺🇦 Neal Schaffer | ニール・シェーファー|夏廉 🇺🇦 (@NealSchaffer) March 28, 2022

I’m glad you mentioned amplification. I’m always surprised how frequently the content amplification piece isn’t explicitly included in influencer marketing agreements and SoWs. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 28, 2022

A1 An influencer is a person whom my target audience already know and maybe trust, which could endorse me in exchange for a reward, thus potentially making sales easier and less costly #ContentChat

— HAGGLETHIS.COM (@hagglethis) March 28, 2022

Thought leaders often make great influencers.

A1: In our strategy, an influencer we work with must be someone who demonstrates thought leadership and expertise in sales, marketing, entrepreneurship, etc. Their content must be consistent and up-to-date ~Julie #ContentChat

— Nimble (@Nimble) March 28, 2022

A1 Yes! Thought leaders are prime examples of influencers because of the inherent influence that they possess in their industry! #ContentChat #InfluencerMarketing https://t.co/GcCvfJsflN

— 🇺🇦 Neal Schaffer | ニール・シェーファー|夏廉 🇺🇦 (@NealSchaffer) March 28, 2022

As do customers.

Your best customers are poised to become your BEST influencers and brand advocates. So true. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 28, 2022

And other brand advocates or partners.

True. It’s also true that your most valuable contacts may not be customers. People that refer you, or otherwise advocate for you, can drive a lot of revenue. #ContentChat

— Tod Cordill (@todcordill) March 28, 2022

Absolutely, partners too..often they play a big role in converting prospects to customers by showcasing the benefits of a business. Low hanging fruits as they say in #B2B. #ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) March 28, 2022

Think through your customer journey and the various spots that an influencer could help your target buyer.

Yes, the secret is in thinking holistically about “influence” – most companies do this when they map out the customer journey, so adding in potential intersections with potential influencers is a great exercise to do that will uncover potential centers of influence. #ContentChat

— 🇺🇦 Neal Schaffer | ニール・シェーファー|夏廉 🇺🇦 (@NealSchaffer) March 28, 2022

Shruti recaps the elements of an ideal influencer:

A1. In B2B where I am from, an influencer is someone that
👉Is trusted
👉Has credibility
👉Has enough Klout in the market👉as the word goes influences buyer decisions
👉 Practices what they preach#ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) March 28, 2022

Q2: Why should brands consider partnering with influencers for content marketing?

Influencers lend credible perspectives to your content, strengthening trust in your brand and helping you get in front of a new audience segment.

A2 If brands are just creating and promoting their content in-house, they miss out on the potential for including expert perspectives as well as the amplification of said content. #contentchat

— 🇺🇦 Neal Schaffer | ニール・シェーファー|夏廉 🇺🇦 (@NealSchaffer) March 28, 2022

A2 when you partner with the right influencer you gain expert created content and access to a whole new audience segment—their engaged community. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 28, 2022

A2: It’s a very powerful and effective way to get your brand in front of the right audience. There’s so much less guesswork ~Julie #ContentChat

— Nimble (@Nimble) March 28, 2022

Another touch point for brands to be discovered, have presence on platforms they’re not active on, be seen by new demographics, have new content created for them that they can use elsewhere, receive feedback #contentchat

— Irina Graf (@themiceblog) March 28, 2022

Podcasts and guest blogs are common ways to partner with influencers.

A2 It is why interviews are so popular on podcasts and guest blogging – including roundup posts – are so popular in the blogosphere. I don’t recommend you merely mimic what others do, but understanding the concept can be a game-changer. #contentchat

— 🇺🇦 Neal Schaffer | ニール・シェーファー|夏廉 🇺🇦 (@NealSchaffer) March 28, 2022

Regardless of the content partnership you explore, influencer collaboration will increase your likelihood of creating great, community-focused content.

A2 Think about it: With every influential voice you add to your content, you are increasing the chances of a better final product as well as the potential for the influencer collaborator to share that content with their audience. #contentchat

— 🇺🇦 Neal Schaffer | ニール・シェーファー|夏廉 🇺🇦 (@NealSchaffer) March 28, 2022

A2. Brands should work with influencers for #contentmarketing to;
👉Reach the right audience
👉Drive trust
👉Built credibility by collaborating👉 Understand pain points of the audience better
👉Bring relevant solutions#ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) March 28, 2022

Q3: What are some ways that brands can engage with influencers for content marketing?

Content curation is the first step in building relationships with influencers, according to Neal. This also helps you see which influencer’s content resonates best with your audiences.

A3 I believe that #contentcuration is the first step in building relationships with influencers. It’s free, requires no commitment, and gives you a feel for if/how the influencer responds. #ContentChat https://t.co/bk6nZv58ob

— 🇺🇦 Neal Schaffer | ニール・シェーファー|夏廉 🇺🇦 (@NealSchaffer) March 28, 2022

Content curation is a fantastic way to start building a relationship with influencers. It has the added benefit of helping you see whose content resonates with your audience. #contentchat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 28, 2022

A3: Any way that communicates that you appreciate that influencer’s content! We like to curate their content and include them in our blogs to really put the spotlight on them ~Julie #ContentChat

— Nimble (@Nimble) March 28, 2022

Webinars, podcasts, ebooks, blog posts, in-person events, email marketing, and live-streamed video chats are all viable influencer marketing ideas.

A3: I’ve worked both as an influencer and with influencers on webinars, podcasts, ebooks, blog posts, and in-person events. So many possibilities! #contentchat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 28, 2022

A3b a favorite recent project was where I interviewed influencers and ghostwrote blog content for their byline. So much fun! #contentchat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 28, 2022

A3. Engage with influencers across multiple channels in multiple formats;
👉Blogs/Podcasts for top funnel engagement
👉Thought leadership articles for in-depth insight
👉 Opinion pieces for SME advice👉 Social media for brand awareness
👉Emails to nature TA#ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) March 28, 2022

Good job showing how influencers can help in all stages of the #CustomerJourney.

Just a mention from an influencer can instill a large amount of trust. #ContentChat

— Tod Cordill (@todcordill) March 28, 2022

Live video conversations/fireside chats on social media are a great, low-budget way to partner with influencers, too. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) March 28, 2022

Absolutely! Choose your influencer(s), pick your medium, and hit the record button!!! #ContentChat https://t.co/78MGJ7lhAf

— 🇺🇦 Neal Schaffer | ニール・シェーファー|夏廉 🇺🇦 (@NealSchaffer) March 28, 2022

Q4: How can brands identify relevant influencers to engage with?

The go-to people in your industry are a starting point for building your influencer list. Research popular podcasts, events, blogs, and social media channels in your space to see who your community follows and engages with.

A4 Who are the go-to people in your industry? They are the ones speaking, podcasting, YouTubing, blogging, and are active in social media. Doing searches will uncover a lot of people you can be collaborating with. #contentchat

— 🇺🇦 Neal Schaffer | ニール・シェーファー|夏廉 🇺🇦 (@NealSchaffer) March 28, 2022

Yes to all of this!

On the speaking front, industry conferences and events can help you find influencers. Check out the agenda or speaker lineup to build a list of people to research. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) March 28, 2022

Your influencer should align with your brand value and topics. An ideal influencer is already engaging with your brand.

Look for those who are already engaging with the brand and align with the topics that the brand is associated with, the more niche the better #contentchat

— Irina Graf (@themiceblog) March 28, 2022

Conduct social listening to see whose content your audience shares. Tools like BuzzSumo and SparkToro can also help you identify content creator influencers.

A4: Who does your community follow and engage with? Whose content do they share? There are a few ways to get this information:
– Social listening
– Community surveys
– 1:1 conversations
– Tools like @BuzzSumo that can show widely shared content by topic #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) March 28, 2022

I’ll add @sparktoro as another favorite tool to help identify content creator influencers. #contentchat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 28, 2022

A4: Pay attention to what content other people are sharing and from who. Looking up hashtags and actively searching for new influencers is a great way to expand! ~Julie #ContentChat

— Nimble (@Nimble) March 28, 2022

Q5: What are the common hurdles of managing an influencer marketing program, and how can marketers overcome these?

Many teams do not know how to effectively partner with influencers and/or lack the budget to support these opportunities.

A5 The hurdles of an influencer marketing program are very similar to the hurdles that we all faced when beginning social media marketing: Lack of management understanding as well as lack of budget to engage. #contentchat

— 🇺🇦 Neal Schaffer | ニール・シェーファー|夏廉 🇺🇦 (@NealSchaffer) March 28, 2022

A5 At some point companies have to create a separate line-item for influencer marketing to allow to begin investing in collaborations. #contentchat

— 🇺🇦 Neal Schaffer | ニール・シェーファー|夏廉 🇺🇦 (@NealSchaffer) March 28, 2022

I agree. Adding to this, lack of the idea of breaking silos and task allocation understanding. #contentchat https://t.co/FoEMjGKeTJ

— Meenakshi Karanth (@meanymeen) March 29, 2022

It can be challenging to find influencers that align with your brand values.

A5 Of course, once influencer marketing programs begin, there are other common issues: Identifying the “right” influencers, measuring influencer marketing ROI, et. al. but getting started seems to be the biggest hurdle I believe. #contentchat

— 🇺🇦 Neal Schaffer | ニール・シェーファー|夏廉 🇺🇦 (@NealSchaffer) March 28, 2022

I agree. There is often a lack of internal agreement as to whom the right influencers are and what reasonable compensation looks like. So the influencer programs never get going. #contentchat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 28, 2022

A5: Finding influencers that fit with your brand. Sometimes the vibe can be a little off and it’s a lot of work to find the right people! Take note of what works and what doesn’t and document everything to really refine that process ~Julie #ContentChat

— Nimble (@Nimble) March 28, 2022

#InfluencerMarketing is like a marriage – it takes time to get to know each other and not everyone is going to be a perfect fit! #ContentChat https://t.co/MO1oJes2E0

— 🇺🇦 Neal Schaffer | ニール・シェーファー|夏廉 🇺🇦 (@NealSchaffer) March 28, 2022

So so important. The right person can make such a difference. While the not-so-right one can cause real damage. #ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) March 28, 2022

As can balancing your brand objectives with your influencer’s authentic voice.

A5 the biggest challenges in working with influencers is balancing the brand objectives with the influencer being allowed to be their authentic self. Too often brands have fuzzy goals or want content full of brand messaging. #contentchat https://t.co/CqmZceWZ6s

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 28, 2022

I haven’t experienced this but I have heard that there can be a lot of back-and-forth between the brand and influencer due to this balance ~Julie #ContentChat

— Nimble (@Nimble) March 28, 2022

I’ve definitely seen it. I’m not going to put my name in something that reads like a brand press release. And that’s not where I’d bring the brand value. #contentchat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 28, 2022

Influencer marketing ROI is often difficult to measure. At the start of any influencer marketing engagement, create a solid creative brief with clear metrics for success to get everyone aligned.

A5b creating a solid creative brief with quantitative metrics for success and a detailed statement of work are the best tools to get the brand and influencers on the same page. #contentchat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 28, 2022

I have faced issues with measuring and proving the ROI. While likes and shares are great, are we selling anything via this channel remains a question. #ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) March 28, 2022

If that’s the case, Shruti, you need to collaborate with influencers in activities that are further down in the funnel. If you can correlate #influencermarketing activities with your marketing funnel, you’ll find ways to better measure the ROI through better design. @ContentChat

— 🇺🇦 Neal Schaffer | ニール・シェーファー|夏廉 🇺🇦 (@NealSchaffer) March 28, 2022

That’s why you’ve got to use unique UTMs and offer codes with your influencers. #contentchat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 28, 2022

Example with picture: influencers need tools that identify them (codes), in addition to making them more effective. #ContentChat pic.twitter.com/eYHWG1YYwC

— HAGGLETHIS.COM (@hagglethis) March 28, 2022

Q6: Is the creator economy the next wave of influencer marketing or something completely different? And how do brands adapt their influencer marketing approach to address it?

A6 Somehow #influencermarketing got a bad rap, and even influencers didn’t want to be labeled “influencers”. So along the way, recognizing that most successful influencers are true content creators, the “creator economy” was born. To me, new term, similar meaning. #contentchat

— 🇺🇦 Neal Schaffer | ニール・シェーファー|夏廉 🇺🇦 (@NealSchaffer) March 28, 2022

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