Ideas for how to structure your marketing team to take on influencer marketing:
According to the 2019 CMO Survey, marketing leaders rate developing new marketing capabilities as the most important knowledge asset for their organization – outranking gathering market intelligence and training. This suggests what marketing leaders already know: the field of marketing is always evolving, and the pace of change has been and will continue to be supercharged by advances in technology, analytics, and social media. Why? Because such innovations enable marketers to connect with audiences in more spaces, and in increasingly targeted and personalized ways.
The modern marketing organization is anything but static, and the job descriptions of the people on your team change in step with the field. And with over 30 percent of CMOs planning to increase their team’s influencer marketing efforts this year as a way to connect with their audience, you might be wondering: who’s going to do all the work?
So much about influencer marketing builds on what has worked before. At its core is quality content, and developing meaningful connections and conversations with your audience. You can apply it to your full funnel, and structure campaigns to achieve a number of goals. (For more on influencer marketing as a practice, check out our ebook What Is Influencer Marketing?). But it’s precisely the broad application of influencer marketing that can make it so challenging to assign to a specific role or functional area.
To help you consider how your organization can do influencer marketing, here are five approaches we at Julius commonly see in our conversations with marketers at brands and agencies.
1) Partner with an agency or PR firm
There are agencies that specialize in influencer marketing that can handle all the ins and outs for you, like our partner Mediakix. And many marketing, PR, and digital agencies have added influencer marketing to their capabilities in recent years.
If you don’t have the bandwidth or expertise to run campaigns internally, or need support, this could be a great option for your organization. Working with an agency also has the advantages of tapping into the agency’s expertise on the practice and experience working with influencers in your industry and verticals, while potentially accelerating your internal team’s learning curve. That said, you’ll still need to think about who on your team would work with the agency on a regular basis.
2) Build IGC into your content and social media roles
Influencer marketing can sit primarily with your content and social media teams, especially when you think of it through the lens of influencer-generated content (IGC). Many influencers are experts at curated storytelling and creating content that appeals to their established audiences in multiple formats.
By engaging with influencers to generate content, your content and social teams can scale content production, generate more personalized content, and target particular audience segments. Additionally, your brand can repurpose IGC across your own channels in a way that works alongside the content your in-house team is creating, making IGC a cohesive part of your overall content strategy.
3) Have your internal PR team manage influencer marketing
An internal PR team can be a natural fit for identifying and managing a roster of influencer partners. They can work with influencers as part of a specific campaign, like a product launch, or for always-on programs to get your brand message in front of the market. Your PR team may even find that some of their established journalist contacts are moving towards becoming influencers themselves.
There are many aspects of the PR role that align well with being your go-to for influencer marketing on your team, from relationship management to processes like creating a campaign brief to being able to manage the dynamic nature of your brand’s message and content across the media landscape. If you’re considering putting influencer marketing on your PR team’s plate, listen to our Julius Profiles podcast on the PR Perspective for a closer look at how influencer marketing and PR intersect.
4) Organize influencer marketing as an extension of performance marketing
Performance marketing, growth marketing, acquisition marketing, digital marketing... whatever you call it, all these functional areas are about acquiring new customers. Your performance marketers are likely managing a sizable chunk of your marketing budget today, and like the tactics they’re currently managing, influencer marketing requires marketing spend. The spend comes through how you compensate influencers for their work, and also how you promote the content they create.
Promoting influencer content is a best practice for ensuring you get the biggest possible reach with your campaigns, and our State of Influencers Report 2019 showed that 38 percent of influencers report having their posts promoted through paid ads on social when they work with brands.
Having influencer marketing sit in performance marketing is a good idea if you’re looking at it as a way to bring in new customers to your business, drive ecommerce, or view it as part of your digital advertising mix to build brand awareness. That said, since many great performance marketers are at their best when digging into data and analytics tools and uncovering ways for you to optimize programs and spend, make sure they’ve got the creativity, “soft” skills, collaborative mindset to partner with influencers to generate winning campaigns.
5) Create a dedicated influencer marketing team
So we’re a little biased here at Julius, but we believe that influencer marketing is going to keep growing as a marketing practice, and fast. Why? As our digital landscape becomes increasingly fragmented with more and more ways for audiences to consume content, influencers give marketers a powerful way to connect with their audiences – wherever they are – in highly targeted, relevant ways.
Influencers are professionalizing, and as being an influencer becomes a viable career option for many, you can expect to see more influencers with curated content and audiences enter the field. This means more opportunities for you to find the right influencer partners for your brand.
Forbes reported that about 176,000 professionals held influencer marketing job titles at the start of 2019, essentially doubling in just over a year. If you go on LinkedIn today and search for jobs that include “influencer marketing” in the U.S. alone, you’ll see more than 2,500 open roles at every level of an organization, many with the specific title of “influencer marketing manager.” Others mention influencer marketing as a skill, including people from the teams mentioned above, and those performing functions like brand marketing or product marketing.
With influencer marketing touching so many parts of the marketing organization, it’s easy to see why having a dedicated individual or team become the subject matter experts makes sense. They can create your strategy, identify and collaborate with the right partners, and manage campaigns from start to finish, all while bringing in appropriate stakeholders along the way. Doing so will help your organization scale influencer marketing quickly, and fully realize the benefits of this effective way of connecting with your audience.
Just as there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to building your marketing organization, there’s certainly not one way to tackle influencer marketing. How you decide to structure your team depends on the combination of the unique individuals and skill sets you already have, the resources available to invest, and how the structure will help you balance influencer marketing with all the other ways your team contributes to your business.