Influencer marketing is a bit of a buzzword right now. With good reason. It can help planners expand their events’ promotional effort and overall reach over social media and other channels.

I first attended the Adobe Summit as part of Adobe’s influencer program in 2017. I was invited back in 2018, where I caught up with Rani Mani, head of influencer marketing for Adobe.

Mani said she invited three dozen influencers—also called social media insiders—to the 2018 Adobe Summit to share their experiences and tweet from the event.

There were some measurable goals in place to reach a certain amount of mentions and share authentic messages written in a conversational tone. The most important goal for Adobe was to extend the reach of the event beyond the venue.

How did Adobe find their insiders?

Mani said when the program started they simply looked to social networks and other digital channels and watched who was talking about or engaging in conversation around certain keywords.

Then the influencer team at Adobe connected with people who were driving conversations. They started engaging with them, inviting them to Twitter chats and events to build a positive relationship.

What kind of budgets are needed for influencer marketing?

Like many things in life, the answer is that "it depends."

Mani shared with me that you can certainly start on a shoestring budget. 

Finding influencers who have a connection to the brand and maybe would even attend a conference on their own are easy ways to maximize connections.

How does influencer marketing fit into the overall marketing mix?

Mani shared that it’s important to collaborate with other departments and maximize efforts.

One example at Adobe Summit was that influencers were seated with the press and leadership in the front row. The whole goal is to cover the event and share updates to the influencers’ relevant audience.

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By offering access and making coverage easy, the influencers can focus on the coverage itself—as opposed to standing in line and trying to find a good seat. It also makes for better photo opportunities!

Mani and her team have chat groups in place so everyone can stay connected during the event.

Wondering how to get started on influence marketing? Here’s a quick checklist:

  • Determine your goals! What are you trying to accomplish? Wider promotion ahead of the conference? Wider reach during the conference?
  • Determine your budget. Even a “shoestring effort” will need some kind of budget.
  • Identify potential influencers. Who is already active digitally? Who already participated? You might be surprised to find out that free registration is sometimes all you need to offer.
  • Set up a strategy call. Then discuss ideas with potential influencers. What are your goals? What are theirs? Figure out how you can make it work for your event and for their audience.
  • Develop a plan. Set the team up to succeed. Make sure they have a list of accurate hashtags, have room to sit down with their laptops, that there’s working Wi-Fi and other necessities.
  • Double-check your plan and then implement it. Make sure you have a way to report back on how things are going and leave room for adjustments. Share successes. Work together.

Mani reminded me that we should keep influencers as individuals in mind. Not everyone can and should do the same thing. Personalize arrangements to maximize the project for everyone involved.

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One final note: Make sure your influencers disclose that their posts are sponsored, per FTC guidelines. Often that simply means that they send a disclosure tweet once a day and add “#sponsored” to tweets.

Apply the concept to other channels as relevant, depending on your organization’s goals.

Christoph Trappe is director of content with Stamats Business Media, the parent company of Meetings Today.