Even though influencer marketing has been around for quite some time, in recent years, the term has made it onto the hot list of marketers everywhere. With many consumers becoming increasingly “blind” to traditional forms of advertising, brands are struggling to find effective strategies for reaching their target audience. This is where influencer marketing comes into play, striking a nice balance between old and new while delivering your message in a way that your marketing team can’t do alone. Whether this is your first time hearing about influencer marketing or it’s something you’ve tried in the past with little success, in this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know.
Who Are the Influencers?
Blogging and social media (and without doubt, hashtags) have enabled individuals to express their knowledge and gain visibility within a particular niche, granting them a respected status within that community. Influencers may not have as much “breadth” of recognition as celebrities, but they certainly have the depth. The audience that they do have is highly interested in the knowledge and insights they have to offer.
Influencers can be anyone, anywhere, from bloggers and social media superstars to YouTubers and public speakers. Regardless of their industry or specialization, influencers all have one thing in common: trust. They have made it known over time and with quality content that they provide useful, unbiased, objective information about their specialization.
What Exactly is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is the new celebrity endorsement. Influencers are less expensive and more accessible, which is great news for small businesses, but big businesses use influencers too. Influencer marketing leverages the opinion of approachable, relatable experts in a specific niche to expand a business’s reach and credibility. For example, a yoga instructor might invite a popular mom blogger to a free prenatal yoga class, in exchange for a post about the studio on social media (that tags your handle) or for a spot in their “top ten yoga studios in [local neighborhood]” (that links back to your website). Or, a financial advisor might get quoted or even appear on a popular small business finance podcast.
Choosing Influencers for Your Business
Just because someone has a huge following doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a good influencer for your brand. While having a large following is one of the main factors, truly powerful influencers will also have credibility and an innate talent for sales. In this context, credibility is referring to the level of authority an influencer has as given by the target audience.
How much knowledge and expertise do they have on the topic and how much do their followers trust/respect their opinion? People are much more likely to listen to and trust the opinion of Bear Grylls on matters of outdoor gear than they would if he spoke about facial moisturizers. More importantly, people are more likely to be convinced of Bear Grylls’ high opinion of a pair of REI hiking boots than REI itself.
Influencers have the ability to sell their audience on the product or service they’re promoting because they truly believe in it. When partnering up with an influencer, you want to be sure their following not only trusts their opinion, but takes action after hearing it.
Why Influencer Marketing Works
Whether you’ve been trying every marketing trick in the book with little success or you need to gain an edge over competitors, influencer marketing can be a powerful tool for boosting your brand’s metrics across the board. To help demonstrate, below, we’ve covered some of the biggest benefits influencer marketing has to offer.
1. Actually Get Noticed
Influencer marketing is a great way to reach your target audience through a channel they are already turning to to get information. One of the greatest strengths of influencers is that their audience voluntarily became followers, meaning they’re much more open to suggestion and, you guessed it, being influenced.
2. Build Immediate Trust
One of the biggest challenges brands face is that of trying to convince consumers that their product or service is the solution to their problems. With influencer marketing, trust and credibility are built into the platform since information is coming from a source other than your brand or marketing team. This works wonders for your sales funnel by helping speed up the sales cycle of new prospects, meaning less time and resources spent breaking down “trust barrieres”.
3. Reach New Prospects
Even if you have strong brand presence on all of the relevant marketing channels, there’s always going to be portions of your target audience that get missed. Influencers have built their career around carefully curating a dedicated following of people that trust them. When partnering with major influencers in your niche, you’ll gain access to new sections of your target audience that you otherwise would not.
How to Get Started With Influencer Marketing
Start with Your Audience
As with most forms of marketing, influencer marketing begins with your target audience. The more you know about your audience, the more you’ll learn about what drives them to make decisions, and, ultimately, which influencer is best suited to deliver your message.
Have a Goal in Mind
Next, you need to come up with a game plan. What exactly are you trying to accomplish with influencer marketing? Are you simply trying to gain more brand recognition? Do you want to drive sales for a specific product or service? These are all essential questions you need to answer before moving another step forward.
Find Your Influencer
Once you have goals in place, the fun part can really begin: finding influencers. There are multiple ways to go about finding them, but the easiest, and probably fastest, ways to start building a shortlist is through social media and search engines. Dig deep and figure out who’s creating “buzz waves” in your niche.
Monitor Your Influencer
Now that you have your shortlist, it’s time to get laser focused and zero in on the ones that will best help you reach your goals. Monitor what they do and focus more on the quality of followers rather than the number. Just because someone may seem perfect at first glance doesn’t mean they’re the best fit for the job.
It’s also important to monitor your influencer so that when you do reach out, you come from a place of appreciation and respect for what they do, rather than of just asking for a favor. The more familiar you get with their content and their brand, the more personalized you can make your messaging. You need to be able to convey that you can benefit them too, but a quick glance at their social media feed will not provide you with insight into what their needs may be. Take the time to build up your knowledge of your influencer, as well as to engage with them on social media a few times first before reaching out to them.
As you may have gathered above, there is a certain etiquette when reaching out to influencers. Ultimately, you are coming at them with an “ask” but if you present it properly and offer value in return, you’re likely to get a warm reception. Be sure to connect their core values to your brand mission, and to focus on interacting with them as a person with a passion, not just an influencer with a large audience.
It may take a few tries since a lot of top influencers get pitched all the time, but, eventually, you’ll get one on the hook. Make sure you have a quality presentation and structured marketing strategy on hand so they can better visualize the direction you want to take things.