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InfluencerMarketingBloggers, influencers, social media celebrities. Call them what you will, but influencer marketing is a passion of mine and working with influencers on behalf of a variety of clients is often my favorite part of any given day.

Each week there are countless articles on influencer marketing, including an endless stream of “how to” lists. This week however, a piece from MediaPost on how to meet influencers halfway caught my eye because it offered a few tangible examples of how enviable marketing machines like Macy’s are approaching these still somewhat unchartered waters.

The first key theme is mining data that matters. Smart influencer marketing campaigns dive much deeper than reach and make successful arguments for partnering with people who may have a significantly smaller reach (i.e., eyeballs) online, but a very active and loud set of followers.

Building off this data, I wholeheartedly agree with Macy’s approach of making a true commitment to influencers, rather than chasing a bunch of one-off executions. By using what they call a “score card,” I imagine they’re able to make well-informed decisions about how to interact with each influencer at any given point of the year, which becomes imperative for budgeting and ROI reporting.

A third and very critical point made comes from a Snapchat influencer popular with millennials. Shonduras reminds marketers that fans can tell if content is merely an advertisement that has been bought by a brand, or if a brand is a natural part of the conversation based on his personal passions and interests. I don’t know about you, but I sure as heck want my clients to fall into the latter part of this sentiment.

The key here is collaboration. Instead of measuring success by an influencer saying one or two key brand messages, brainstorm three or four brand “wins” and back out a variety of creative paths by which an influencer can still get to the same marketing end point. Collaborate and give influencers a lot of space so they can create honest, transparent content that is hopefully seamlessly integrated with other conversations they are having online.

As a closing reminder, “According to YouTube enterprise rights and marketing firm Zefr, 60 percent of marketers will increase spend on influencer marketing in the coming year, and 22 percent say it is a top-ranked customer acquisition tool.”

2016 is going to be a fun, sky-is-the-limit year for influencer marketing. How will you ensure you aren’t left behind?

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