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Brands recognize the “I” in influencer in social media

Companies with social marketing plans are placing increased emphasis on the importance of brand advocates. Yet these brands must choose and manage their advocates carefully, ensuring that they fit into an overall strategy. To do this successfully, brands must first understand their target customer and define their overarching objectives, asserts Rebecca Wettemann, VP of research at Nucleus Research.

“Is your goal to advocate, to send people to your website for business, to improve recognition of the brand?” Wettemann asks. “Understanding the overall business goal is the right place to start.” For safety razor manufacturer Schick, those objectives were to bolster its presence among female college-bound students.

For its Back-to-School Savings campaign, Schick Quattro for Women Disposables asked Bows & Sequin‘s fashion blog founder and recent graduate Jessica Sturdy to share select dorm, fashion, and bathroom items with her blog readers and Schick’s Facebook followers. Sturdy was someone the brand’s target demographic could relate to, according to Joanna Di Domenico, brand manager of Quattro for Women Disposables.

“Over the years with the growth of social media, aligning with the proper brand influencer can make or break a program,” Di Domenico says. “Brand influencers today have such incredible outreach and can really help to grow a brand or campaign and get news out to the masses.”

But brand influencers are not for the commitment- phobic, Wettemann notes.

“The challenge is that you have to stay on top of them,” Wettemann says. “This is on an ongoing basis, cultivating the relationship, and lack of follow-up is likely to bite you.”

To avoid spreading brand influencers too thin, engage multiple influencers, advises James Gardner, VP of marketing at photo-organizing app Woven. Gardner says Woven hired two mommy bloggers—Audrey McClelland for her social footprint and Robin Birkel for her photography advice—to each provide content that complemented the other’s work.

“[Audrey] uniquely has her finger on the pulse of tens of thousands of moms. So when we quote her in a press release…people listen to her and they find that credible,” Gardner says. “With Robin, we much more leverage her as a resource on photography and how moms and parents can use their cameras to get better photos of their families and do more with them…. They both help our brand and give us credibility, but they work in parallel and serve different purposes.”

Gardner says McClelland’s Facebook page and blog posts were top-15 traffic drivers for Woven and that its traffic increased more than 20%, making the approach more efficient than search or referrals. Gardner says the social evolution allows marketers to get to know influencers on a more personal level and determine whether they’d be a perfect match for their brand.

“Social media…has allowed us to be more sophisticated in identifying influencers who would be suitable to work with,” he says.

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