Paul Dobson discusses how he and his team at Citrix developed and grew their influencer program over the past year

At the top of my mind is always giving our audience the kind of content they want in the format they want. Paul Dobson
Back in December of 2018, Citrix Senior Director of Analyst and Influencer Relations Paul Dobson and his team began work on building out their influencer program.

According to Paul, they wanted to build their credibility to have important conversations about employee experience and the future of work.

“We wanted to talk to the CFOs and CEOs about that as well to make sure that they were aware of us,” he said. “So, we decided to start working with a number of influencers on the HR and line-of-business side, the tech side, then the C-levels side as well.”

Paul and his team started by working with their agency to understand the three things that would become the focus of their influencer program.

The first focus is social reach and amplification, to ensure their influencers are able to introduce them to new audiences. And, if they're talking about a topic that's related to Citrix's business strategy, that they're including the brand in a natural way.

The second is content. “We wanted to make sure these thought leaders were able to represent us via our and their content,” he said. “When they were writing about industry trends and topics, we wanted them to include us in those discussions from a direct relationship.”

The third piece is working with the influencers on onsite presences — including their May user conference, Citrix Synergy, where influencers talk directly with their tech and business audiences around key topics.

“At the past conference in Atlanta, our agency pulled together a scorecard of 25 influencers related to key areas,” said Paul. “Then, we collaborated with them to reinforce our marketing activities and the interactions with our audiences — both at the event and across the digital channels.”

Paul said throughout this whole process, they had to be true to where they came from and enter the conversations in an authentic way.

We wanted to make sure these thought leaders were able to represent us via our and their content. Paul Dobson
“We looked at where we were going, where we were, and where we wanted to go. For example, we'd like to focus on delighting employees with their experiences when at work. So, we talked to our HR team about the elements of a mutually-beneficial employee experience.”

According to Paul, technology was one of the contributors, so they decided to optimize and highlight their technological resources.

“We took our core strength and connected it to an aspirational goal,” said Paul. “Then, we identified influencers and worked with them to showcase the value propositions that mattered to both our existing and prospective audiences.”

Currently, Paul and his team collaborate with 15 influencers.

In this early stage, they started with awareness to ensure people were getting their name attached to Citrix and their target areas at a higher level.

“We had them involved in events, generating pieces of content and blogs, and doing interviews with our execs,” Paul said. “Then, we extended their participations down the funnel, involving them in webinars and pieces of content for the demand team. It's continually growing in a more seamless manner across the organization.”

Paul said their aim for next year is to have influencers appear at multiple stages during the customer journey throughout the funnel.

We took our core strength and connected it to an aspirational goal. Paul Dobson
“We want them to provide expert information at the top of the funnel,” he said. “Then, in the middle of the funnel, our audience will see them in these different ways across our channels. And finally, customers and partners will be guided by a trusted industry pundit during the decision-making phase.”

Now that they're a year into the program, campaigns are increasing by the day — across both the Citrix and influencer channels.

“For social media, I have what I call the ‘home and away strategies,'” said Paul. “60 to 70 percent of your content should be on your own platforms. And then 30 percent should be on other platforms. We've used our blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube, which we're revamping as a home for content as well.”

60 to 70 percent of your content should be on your own platforms. And then 30 percent should be on other platforms. Paul Dobson
He said they're also using TheCUBE — which is a new service for events — where they can embed their influencers into channels and have them host interviews with Citrix executives, customers, and partners.

Then, they have podcasts with certain influencers, videos on the YouTube channels of influencers, and Twitter chats with these thought leaders.

“At the top of my mind is always giving our audience the kind of content they want in the format they want,” said Paul.

Paul said the number one focus of their influencer program in 2020 is around impressions.

“We want to get Citrix in front of the eyes of a wider range of people,” he said. “We want people to know that we've revamped the organization over the years, and that we're now looking at a much more business-level conversation around productivity.”

Organizations should be looking to include influencers up and down the funnel. Paul Dobson
He said impressions will be a big part of their engagement, since it helps enable them to retarget their core audience with information — bringing them into the Citrix marketing mix in relevant and appropriate ways.

“In the first year, we were targeting impressions to get out to a wider audience,” said Paul. “That's met our expectations, and now we're building a stronger strategy around various parts of the funnel, with benchmark metrics to aim for — and hopefully beat — in 2020.”

According to Paul, Citrix has also been refining its marketing program from 2019 to 2020.

“From a content perspective, we want to make sure we're tying ourselves to the goals that the organization has set,” he said. “We want to make sure that we're evolving the discussions that we have with our influencers based on the overall industry happenings and discussions Citrix is involved with each day.”

Now, Paul and his team want to see where they are from a marketing perspective and incorporate influencers in a more integrated fashion.

It's not just about making sure that your agenda is filled, but that you're developing the relationship to get the most out of the influencer across the board. Paul Dobson
“We've managed to build a bank of internal case studies to demonstrate the impact of an effective influencer program on the business,” he said.

“In our recent management-level planning session, influencers were at the top of everyone's list. We think we'll be considerably sought after to expand this program in 2020 and beyond. We're even thinking of developing an influencer council, where they provide ongoing feedback about the way we're approaching the market and the messaging we're using.”

Paul emphasized the importance of learning from their influencers and deepening the relationship, as well as the way his team interacts with them.

“They're a very intrinsic part of our business, and we'll lean on their expertise,” said Paul. “Organizations should be looking to include influencers up and down the funnel. They can not only increase your impressions, but they can help you build business leads and long-term relationships.”

He also suggested having a plan for the relationship you have with your influencer.

“If you end up doing the same thing three or four times, it remains transactional,” said Paul. “So, you want to make sure you're doing something that's contributing to their business as much as it's contributing to yours. My advice is, it's not just about making sure that your agenda is filled, but that you're developing the relationship to get the most out of the influencer across the board.”

Paul Dobson has been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2018. You can connect with him on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter.