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How to Maximize Influencer Marketing with Neal Schaffer

Influencer Marketing Neal Schaffer

Influencer marketing has been vastly misunderstood. 

It’s not just celebrity accounts with tons of fake followers. 

It’s your customers, your employees, and your peers who are influential experts in your industry. These influencers have followers who are primed to hear your message. 

In an era of declining organic reach, collaborating with influencers gives you access to high-value content and greater exposure for your product or service. It allows you to cut through every social media algorithm and reach your ideal audience. 

In this episode, marketing expert and author of The Age of Influence, Neal Schaffer, discusses how you can use it effectively.

Show Topics

  • Rank with expertise
  • Understand the value of influencer marketing
  • Fill in the gaps before using influencer marketing
  • Collaborate with content creators
  • Post content your followers want to read
  • Involve experts to build credibility

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Key Takeaways

04:55 – Do it your own way

Neal said his punk rock roots have informed how he approaches marketing. It’s all about doing it yourself.

“I think it’s saying, well, why can’t I rank on the first page of Google? All this other stuff, there’s a brand name behind it, but the content ain’t that great. I can do better. So it’s having this aggressive that, I don’t have to listen. I don’t have to do things, as I’ve been told. I can reach greater heights by doing it my way. If everybody is zigging, I zag. And that to me, there’s also this ethos, one of my favorite bands, this is like real niche band. They were called the Minute Men and the leader of the band, the bassist, Mike Watt, after most of their live performances, he would say, go out there, create something, be an artist, start a band. It was this whole do-it-yourself environment that he was preaching. And that to me is also part of this like punk rock, do it yourself, right? You don’t have to have a fancy camera to start a YouTube channel. I started my podcast literally on my iPhone using the voice app, which limited me to eight-minute episodes, because that was the extent at which it could record.”

16:55 – Everyone needs content

If you want to get discovered by search engines, you need content.

“If you look at marketing today, every company wants to grow. Even nonprofits want to grow. So whether you’re for-profit or non-profit, you have a mission. Part of the mission is in being able to serve more people or serve more businesses, what have you. Post-COVID acceleration of this digital transformation of how we consume things in the media we watch. There’s three main areas that we consume digital information. One is social media. So you can’t just ignore it. Another one, believe it or not, is email. Email is still relevant. And part of it may be on texts, but it’s still primarily email. And then you have search. And whether it is Google or whether it is YouTube or whether it’s Apple Podcasts, whether it’s Amazon, the single universal unifying thing about all this, it requires content. Now, whether you call it content marketing or not is another story, but content is the lifeline of digital. And we are all digital and we are just using digital for more and more things in life. So I think that for that reason, content is a universal necessity.”

24:00 – Repurpose content for the medium

Don’t just repost the same content on every channel. Curate and optimize your content for the different mediums where it will live.

“There’s one blog post I’m working on now. So it’s about types of influencers as a keyword. And I said, look, there’s only two types of influencers out there. You either have those that like, know, and trust your brand or those that don’t. And so the name was ‘these are the two main types of influencers.’ And when I go into the search results, I’m ranked 12th or 13th, but everyone ahead of me is like, these are the eight types of influencers. These are 11 types. So it’s like, okay, you want me to play the game? This is my punk rock roots. I’ll play the game. I’ll I’ll outdo you. I don’t necessarily need to have 15 or 20 or 25. But if that is what Google is determining what people are engaging with and looking for when they do that search, then I need to optimize my content for that. It’s not about what I think, it’s about adapting to the search engines. It’s writing for humans, but it’s understanding search intent and the way that the search engine results is giving me the data of the smartest people in the world at Google and their algorithms. It’s telling me what people are looking for. So I’m going to take that knowledge and I’m going to do better. So that’s a great example of really respecting each type of content, each medium for the medium, and optimizing for it. Instead of just trying to take something and use it everywhere.” 

27:59 – Rank with expertise

Neal teaches his clients that creating content about your area of expertise and sticking to it is the best way to rank.

“It’s something I teach my clients, which is you are the expert in something. And what happens is all these HubSpots and everyone, they want to gain your market. They’ve already maxed out the potential of their own major keywords, and now they want to branch out into others and they want to own other spaces. But since you’re the expert in this space, you should own it and you can write better than anything they can because they’re just hiring content writers who are doing research on the internet. And they’re limited by what’s already out there, is my opinion about all that content that we see out there. But you have your own experiences and you know it deeper and better. And every one of my clients that has taken that approach has actually been able to work their way up the search engine rankings and actually outperform websites that have much higher domain authority. Because there’s general domain authority. True domain authority is about what domain. What is your specialty? And I think Google does look at that, what you’re an expert on.”

32:02 – Understand the value of influencer marketing

Influencer marketing has been misunderstood. It’s not about paying lots of money to celebrities to share your product. It’s about collaboration.

“It’s really when I started to dig through it, that I realized that it’s a concept that people just misunderstood. Marketers were miseducated on the potential, especially with declining organic reach. Truly collaborating with influencers, it gives you access to content. It gives you exposure to your content, and it really allows you to cut through every algorithm that every social network has. There’s so many benefits, but people still think, oh, I don’t want to pay. I don’t want to spend money on people that have all these fake followers or influencers are expensive. And they miss the fact that some of their customers might be influencers, some of their employees might be influencers. And maybe it’s my B2B background and seeing the growth of employee advocacy and all this. And wanting to interview influential people on my podcast because I knew they’d share the show and that’s all influencer marketing. It’s not just Instagram, it’s all these platforms and all these mediums. And once I saw that, it’s like, okay, I need to share this because this is something that can be so valuable to so many companies.”

33:07 – Fill in the gaps before using influencer marketing

After Neal published The Age of Influence, he realized how many companies were trying to take advantage of influencer marketing before having the basics in place.

“I published it the day California went on lockdown and I had all these companies reaching out to me. They wanted help for influence marketing, but I realized that they still had gaps. Like, wait, you don’t have a website and you want to do influencer marketing? Or you want to do influencer marketing, how are you going to convert these people into becoming customers? You don’t have an email list. And I realized that there were a lot of digital infrastructure pieces that people were missing or companies were missing because they were going off to the sexy influencer marketing. So that’s when I realized, okay, yes, we can do influencer marketing, but there are other things you can do that might be more effective. Or you don’t even have a social media channel, you want to work with influencers. You should probably have a social media channel. It’s going to help you work with influencers actually to show them that you’re real and credible. Actually that book led me to this next stage, which is everything digital and social, it all has to work together, especially with the pandemic and how much we’re accessing digital across all these different areas.”

37:22 – Collaborate with content creators

Brands need to tap into the content creators they already have as their customers or employees. 

“Influencer marketing is a subset of the creator economy. And these are all the same people, the creators. Influencer economy is only like the brand collab part, but really what you’re looking at is people that can reach the people that you want to reach, at the heart of it. So these are people that, because they talk about knitting all the time and they have 2,000 followers that just follow this person because of all their knitting advice. Well, if I sell knitting supplies, I’d love to have that person somehow talk about my brand. And what’s really interesting is I’ve worked with companies where we’ll use an email appending service where they have a customer database and we’ll try to find social media profiles. And they already have bonafide people in the six figures of Instagram followers that are their customers that they’ve yet to tap into. So when I wrote my book, I thought the issue with all these companies and the way they approach influencer marketing is they’re chasing the vanity metrics. They’re chasing number of followers and the people with a lot of followers are charging a lot of money. And they’re promoting brand A today and brand B tomorrow. Instead of looking at people that already like, know, and trust them, looking at your customers, looking at your followers, looking at people who engage with you on social media and yes, looking at your employees. And if you want to go through these people, you’re going to find people that have a thousand followers on​​ Twitter, 2,000 followers on Instagram. And if they talk about things that are natural to what your company does, then you would want to find a way to collaborate with them. And when they talk about you, it’s going to come from the voice of authenticity because they’re already your customer.”

41:53 – Post content your followers want to read

Social media engagement comes down to providing your followers with the content they’re there for.

“A network like Twitter, they follow you because the content you publish. So if you’re publishing content about content marketing and go in to your followers and look at the bios. I do this often with Twitter, I audit my followers and it’s like marketing, PR, communications. There’s a fair number of writers, authors, entrepreneurs, but they’re all following because of the marketing advice that I’m giving them. And therefore, if I talk about a tool, I know what’s going to resonate with them. So if I start talking about punk rock and what bands I recommend, it’s not going to resonate with them. So I think that the influence always has a relevance filter. Why are people following this person? It’s not about the number of followers. It’s about why they’re following. What content do they engage with? And that’s really the key thing.”

44:42 – Involve experts to build credibility

Whether it’s getting expert quotes for your blog articles or using a celebrity in your advertising, influencer marketing is all about lending credibility.

“It gives you credibility by tapping into experts. And you’re hoping that the expert shares it with their audience, which they often do. It’s a win-win for everybody, for the audience, for you and for me. So yes, it is a type of influencer marketing as I define it. And podcasting is a great example. And this is an example of companies, oh, we want to do a webinar or we’re going to do our annual event. Let’s bring in a top-notch speaker. That’s influencer marketing. You might have to pay for that person to speak, but you’re bringing in a celebrity who gives credibility to your product. So it it’s all tapping into other people’s influence for credibility, for amplification and what have you. It’s all the same concept. It’s the same reason why before social media, you used celebrities when you wanted to have TV commercials. It’s the same reason why people hired Mark Twain to sell cigarettes. Babe Ruth was selling cigarettes back in the day. I talk about this in my book, the history of the historical foundations of influence, but it’s been around since way before social media, the concept.”

50:44 – Delegate content

As your business grows, you can’t do all of the content creation on your own. Find help and processes that let you delegate things.

“When you’re the CEO, you have to delegate, you can’t do it everything. So, like I said, it’s always getting back to, if you’re the CEO, you’re at a strategic level. You’re not going to writer every blog post and that’s okay. It’s the same reason why, it’s really interesting, if you listen to a lot of podcasts, Pat Flynn is now taking more of a backseat to his podcast. Jay Baer, just announced on Social Pros podcast he’s taken a back seat and I get it. You cannot be personally involved with every single piece of content you create and it’s okay. Now, when I publish on my Instagram or on my social media, it’s coming from me. It’s still me. But it doesn’t mean that every piece of content you do, as long as you have the quality control in place and it represents you. And that’s where I have instead of spending two hours on a blog post, I can spend 15 minutes now. Podcasts, I don’t care about audio editing. I don’t want to learn it. I record it, send it out to my friend in Serbia. He gets it ready, I upload it, done. I even have someone, I have an assistant who will, I’ll write the first paragraph of the show notes and she does the rest and she’ll manually edit the transcript. I don’t need to be lost in the weeds.”

Did you miss our event on Finding & Hiring Subject Matter Experts?

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Finding & Hiring Subject Matter Experts
Alex Birkett

Alex is a co-founder of Omniscient Digital. He loves experimentation, building things, and adventurous sports (scuba diving, skiing, and jiu jitsu primarily). He lives in Austin, Texas with his dog Biscuit.