How Your Brand Can Build Your Own Influencer Database

How Your Brand Can Build Your Own Influencer Database

These days, it seems like everyone is talking about influencer marketing. Regardless of when we were in the pandemic or now that we are out of danger, personal connections are as important as they have ever been. And as I’ve said more than once on this blog, personal connections are at the heart of influencer marketing. A good influencer can bring people who’ve never met in real life together around a particular common interest. In turn, they’re a powerful force in the world of marketing.

Because influencer marketing works so well, many businesses can’t get enough of it. As influencer marketing campaigns become a staple part of the marketing budget, it is increasingly important for brands to reach out to and develop relationships with the people who make it possible. In particular, micro-influencers and other influencers who rule social media platforms need a connection with brands to be effective in building word of mouth on networks like Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and others. What most brands need, then, is an influencer database to keep track and help manage all of their influencers as well as help activate them for always on influencer marketing.

Why do brands need an influencer database?

Why do brands need an influencer database?

In short, because keeping track of the influencers within your program can be difficult, and companies are working with more and more influencers. While there are many influencer marketing platforms that offer influencer databases that allow you to scale your search for various social media influencers, more brands are looking to take their influencer marketing in-house. This approach offers cost savings over the use of an agency or platform.

Furthermore, brands increasingly choose to work only with influencers that have some brand affinity with them. In order to do so, they should be creating an influencer database of customers, followers and others who have demonstrated brand affinity and effectively managing it for greater influencer marketing ROI. By doing this, brands are also able to work with new influencers sooner. With all the effort that influencer discovery requires, it pays to avoid having to find the same people over and over again.

What is an Influencer Database?

Strictly speaking, there are a few kinds of influencer database available. Some are connected to influencer marketing platforms, and these allow you to search and contact relevant influencers. Another kind of influencer database is a commercial software program or list that you subscribe to, and which is updated regularly by a vendor.

However, for the purposes of our discussion here, we are going to talk about something different. Instead, an influencer database is an internal Customer Relations Management (CRM) system that you have developed yourself. Unlike the typical CRM though, the people listed aren’t necessarily customers or sales leads. Instead, they’re influencers whom you have some kind of relationship with. They may, of course, also be customers or employees.

With that in mind, how can my company make an influencer database?

With that in mind, how can my company make an influencer database?

Simply put, the best way to create your own influencer database closely follows the steps you’d take to form one for customers and sales leads. The main difference is the nature of your relationship with them and, similarly, how you reach out.

Create a CRM to Store Influencer Data

Your first step to making your own influencer database is to have a place where you can store this data. One way to do this is to adapt your existing CRM software for influencers rather than customers. Create a special category for influencers that sets them apart and treats them differently from customers. This way, while you’re building a dedicated database you have somewhere to store the information. Another way to accomplish the task temporarily is with an Excel spreadsheet or something similar.

Then, turn your IT department loose on the task of customizing the influencer database to suit the different needs of influencer contacts. For instance, you’ll want to keep track of their social media handles and the target audience they appeal to. Many brands need to reach different segments of the market at various times, and it’s great to know at a glance which influencers to use.

Short of making your own CRM software, consider using a different one from your customer list. This is an economical option, because you’ll just pay the subscription fees rather than paying for development. In particular, check out a Social CRM like Nimble. These programs work differently from the traditional CRM, because they pull information directly from social media platform feeds. Not only does this provide targeted information, but it also updates information automatically.

Start With Your Current Influencers

Assuming you already have relationships with influencers, begin to populate your influencer database with their data. Depending on existing software, this can be an easy task or a tedious one. And of course, if you’re using an old-style paper system or Word document, it’ll take even longer. For especially big jobs, consider hiring a temporary worker that specializes in data entry from a local agency. It’s an added cost by the hour, but chances are it’ll be cheaper than using your own employees.

As you input influencer information, be sure to gather all pertinent information. Include all of the contact details, social profile URLs, account metrics, as well as statistics from past campaigns. With influencers who you haven’t used yet, include more information about their niche. You should also take their track record with other clients, if known, into account. This way, you’ll have all the information you need in one place.

Assign Different Priorities to Influencers Based on Past Performance

Assign Different Priorities to Influencers Based on Past Performance

Similarly to “ranking” customers based on their purchase history or brand loyalty, your influencer database should also assign priority to influencers. One way to do this is prioritize influencers based on performance. By tagging or scoring influencers differently, you can identify the ones who should be priority contacts when planning a new influencer campaign.

Another way to prioritize people in your influencer database is by the length of your relationship with them. For instance, you might have an influencer who always comes through for you, and has worked with you for a couple years. This person has almost become a face of your brand. Such an influencer would be priority one or its equivalent in your database.

Finally, consider brand affinity rankings. This one is especially good if your influencer marketing program is relatively new. It’s also useful for when you want to run an employee-only influencer campaign, and in similar situations. Influencers who haven’t been used before, but with whom you have a relationship, can also be scored this way. Keep in mind, more than one ranking option can be used.

Build your Influencer Community

Forming and managing an influencer database is more than simply cataloguing existing influencer relationships, however. Your database needs to be added to over time if it is going to remain relevant and up to date. Not only that, but as your business needs change, so should the contacts in your database. Fortunately, this is amazingly easy if you know how to do it.

Find hidden influencers.

Find hidden influencers.

Use tools to help you find your hidden influencers that are already part of your customer database, email list, or social media following. Many of us are used to doing this work manually, and it takes a lot of work. Although you’ll pay for such services, you’ll save more money in employee hours saved. Better yet, if you run the software regularly, you’ll automate many of your influencer database updates.

See who has existing brand affinity

Similarly, you can look for people who have existing brand affinity and add them to your influencer database. Brand affinity gives some people the reputation of being the more effective types of influencers, since they already care about your brand. Employees, for instance, might make the things you are trying to sell. Partners or executives directly benefit from the growth of your company. As these people are identified, add them to the database.

Consider a formal influencer program

Lastly, consider forming a strategic influencer marketing program.  Typically, this is a program that you develop specifically for influencers who already have significant brand affinity, rather than the ones who don’t. One reason for this is that influencers with brand affinity have a closer connection to your brand. Even though you are compensating them for a campaign, these are the influencers who may have talked about your brand for free. Even if it’s in terms of being a proud employee, this is worth something.

What’s so great about an influencer program? For one thing, it lets you do influencer marketing in a systematic, effective way. To some extent, it lets you be “fair” about how you compensate and evaluate influencers. At the same time, you’ll get a clearer picture of what works best. As influencers join the program, you’ll add them to your influencer database. If you’d like more information about this technique, check out my book The Age of Influence.

Regularly Reach Out to New Influencers

Regularly Reach Out to New Influencers

No matter how stable you think your business is, there’s always an opportunity to add new people to your influencer database. For one thing, influencers age and may experience a shifting demographic in their audiences. While this doesn’t make them less useful, it does mean you’ll need younger influencers to appeal to younger customers. Similarly, you might introduce a product line that’s geared towards a different segment of the market, such as a brand of expensive makeup developing a “budget” line.

However, adding to your influencer database isn’t enough by itself. Instead, you should treat influencers similarly to customers with influencer outreach techniques. Remember, even though you want to pay them and not vice versa, you’re still potentially asking them for a favor. Influencers lend their reputations and audiences to brands, so this service is more personal than a simple product purchase.

One way to reach out to influencers, of course, is by interacting with their content. Many influencers know that they are being noticed by brands from the “like” or “comment” on their posts. Engaging with product-related postings is a sensible way to show that you’re noticing the good work they do. Similarly, commenting on or sharing a more philosophical post or even something cool lets an influencer know you are interested in them and what they have to say.

Influencer outreach is more than just social media interaction, though. It can even get a bit more personal, such as messaging them to signal interest in how their lives and businesses are doing. While this will always be a “business” contact, it is similar to what sales professionals do to fill their sales pipelines. Keep at it, and they might agree to a new collaboration in the future. The better an influencer knows you, the easier it will be to get to “yes.”

Whether you’re new to the world of influencer marketing or your brand’s been doing it for years, a proper influencer database is essential. Unlike commercial databases, a proprietary listing of influencers is tailor-made to your company and its influencer marketing program. Even better, the influencers listed are people whom you have either used for marketing in the past or are potential choices for the future. This means that the information you collect is the most relevant available.

While making your own database may seem intimidating at first, I have shown that it really isn’t that complicated. An influencer database is simply a CRM adapted to influencers, rather than everyday customers. Some people, of course, will appear in both databases. Using a variety of automated tools and existing information, you’ll have a useful database in no time.

Once you have the database, the biggest challenge is keeping it current. For companies with a formal influencer marketing program, influencers will ask to join or leave periodically. In addition, all companies will find it necessary to add new influencers and discontinue using those who are no longer relevant or effective. By following the steps above, and a little bit of discipline, any brand can benefit from having an influencer database.

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Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.

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