As the informational age continues to mature, more and more of the general public is turning a blind eye to traditional forms of advertising. Because of this, businesses and marketers alike have had to formulate new and innovative methods to reach these folks: Enter influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing leverages the status of highly influential individuals in various niches to reach specific audiences with a company’s message about products, services, or whatever else.
In recent years, thanks to the power of social media and digital connectivity, this form of marketing has become one of the most dynamic and powerful ways to expand a company’s reach and public awareness, boost organizational credibility, and spread the brand’s gospel far and wide. Yet many companies still ferociously struggle with taking advantage of this leading new form of marketing.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to influencer marketing, there surely is a secret sauce to getting these authoritative figures on your side and launching a campaign for the record books. Let’s check out some of the most important ingredients.
Ingredient #1: Understand Your Audience
While knowing your audience, their pain-points, and common characteristics, is massively important, we won’t spend too much time on the subject since this is the foundation of all marketing efforts. Do keep in mind, however, that if you are unclear on your audience, you will almost certainly select the wrong influencers.
To understand these folks in an intimate way, you must first understand your brand in the same manner. Who are you? What is your message? What key demographics would benefit most from your offerings? Additionally, one of the greatest and most simplistic ways to understand you audience is to ask them who they are. Send out surveys to gather information on age, gender, biggest frustrations relating to your niche, and so forth to gain a comprehensive picture of who you customers are.
Ingredient #2: Finding the Right Influencers
Once you know exactly who your audience is, you can really tap into the right types of influencers for your efforts. You probably already have an idea of who some of these folks might be, but you need to delve deep into this search to find the most effective people for your campaign.
Social is of course the easiest way to locate these individuals. Simply conduct a topic search and find out who is making the most noise and really leading the charge around the subject. Additionally, tools like Buzzsumo, Topsy, GroupHigh, and Klear are indispensable tools in your search for influential allies.
Scour every possible avenue of these tools to locate the best people for the job. Understand that this is no small undertaking and will take time to accomplish.
Once you have located your influencers, connect with them on social; follow them, re-tweet them, add value to ongoing conversations on their feeds. Really try to gain their attention in a positive way before reaching you with your requests. We’ll dive deeper into this portion of the campaign in a bit. It’s important stuff and requires its own section.
Ingredient #3: Understanding Influencers versus Advocates
Before you begin to connect with all of these people that you have meticulously hunted down, you need to understand that just because a person has excellent reach and discusses topics in your niche, that doesn’t exactly make them an influencer.
Influencers are those who are genuinely driving and shaping the conversations that are discussed, not just nodding their heads in agreeance. Additionally, these folks must be reaching the right audience for your needs; not just any audience will do. When trying to determine which category a person falls into ask yourself:
- Are they asking unique questions that have not been asked before or just repeating others?
- Are their topics genuinely original or are they carbon copies of various others’ work?
- Do their ideas and insights challenge the status quo?
- Are their followers interacting and engaging with valuable opinions and insights?
If the answers to all of these questions is ‘Yes’, then you have found yourself a true-blue influencer.
Ingredient #4: Make it A Community Effort
The best influencer marketing campaigns don’t just utilize a handful of highly influential people to do all of the heavy lifting; no, they more complex than that and create layers of influencers to reach consumers on various levels.
While targeting the big players is still essential, it is important to not overlook those you will need to play a supporting role. When it comes to influencers, there are three different tiers to consider, all of which play a vital role in your campaign.
Tier one influencers are the big boys; these folks have hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers who can push out messages even to the deepest recesses of the internet. Tier two influencers have a smaller, more niche following than tier one, yet their subscribers are dedicated and faithful to this person’s insights. Tier three influencer have a small audience typically consisting of less than 10,000 followers; these individuals are there to help supplement and strengthen the campaign’s overall message.
By adding these various layers of depth to your campaign, you are sure to reach a much larger audience than sticking to a single tier of influencer.
Ingredient #5: Build an Influential Relationship
Now THIS is the real meat of your efforts; the heart and soul of your marketing campaign no matter your niche, influencers, audience, or anything else.
Building a relationship with the influencers you have located will help ensure a smooth and fruitful endeavor and will establish connections that will last long after the campaign has ended. Do be warned, however, this is the most difficult (and rewarding) part of the process.
Influencers are obviously highly sought-after individuals and are therefore absolutely swamped with comments, messages, emails, pitches, etc. To begin to build a truly meaningful relationship with these folks you need to learn to cut through all of that noise, so email won’t be of much assistance here. The best avenue to reaching these people is through social media and their own personal websites.
You need to reach out by adding value to current conversations on their Twitter or Facebook feeds, blog posts, and anywhere else you can interject your two cents; granted your offer has value to them as well. Take conversations to new heights and in creative directions to really get people’s attention. Engage with their following as well. Show that you are not just interested in the influencer, but you are interested in the growth and well-being of their network. Once you have taken these steps and gained some attention, reach out with your pitch; you stand a greater chance of recruiting them for your cause.
Do keep in mind, however, that when you reach out it is paramount to display what you can do for the influencer instead of focusing on what they can offer your campaign. Again, this make you more likely of gaining a partner in your mission. Think about things that might be of value to the influencer that you can offer such as extending their own personal reach, getting them published in prominent and acclaimed publications, generous monetary compensation, or products that will be beneficial in their careers. You want to really get an influencers attention? Show them you genuinely want to help them grow just as much as they will help you grow.
If you do enlist the folks you connect with, your relationship-building efforts will carry on all throughout the campaign. When it comes to managing the campaign and all of the details that involve the influencers, you will want to make things as smooth and easy as possible for these people. Send emails that provide all of the pertinent details while making as few requests as possible. Ensure that you make good on your promises and always verify that these folks have all the information they need to succeed.
Even after the campaign has ended, reach out to confirm that they had a pleasant experience, if there is something you can help with, and see if they feel there is anything you can improve upon for the next time around.
Influencer marketing can be an unparalleled tool in the digital environment if it is managed correctly. And again, while there is no set formula or universal solution to this method, there is a foundation and common elements of all highly successful influencer marketing campaigns.
Think you need help finding a formula for your campaign? Call us at 760-262-4252 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can show you how to leverage the power of influencer marketing.