The main goal of online marketing, and any marketing for that matter, is to drive people to take action. Whether it’s buying a product, sharing content, attending an event or any other action, companies are always striving to get consumers to interact.
You can do that through great copywriting, clever advertising and plenty of other proven strategies. But one of most effective ways to get an audience to take action is through influencer marketing.
What is Influencer Marketing?
An influencer is someone who has an active following and can move their followers to take action. This could be through their blog, social media, a YouTube account, email list or any other platform that gives them the ability to reach people.
Influencer marketing involves connecting with influencers to build a mutually beneficial relationship.
Some of the benefits companies get from influencers are:
- More credibility
- Access to a larger audience
- User generated content
- Social influence
- New leads and customers
Instead of having to sell your brand to consumers, influencers become the friend that introduces you to their inner circle.
The benefits influencers get depends on the relationship, but they could include:
- Free products or services
- Free products or services to give away to their audience
- Monetary compensation
- A sponsorship
- Exposure to your brand’s audience
All parties benefit from influencer marketing, which is what makes it so powerful.
Why Influencer Marketing?
Tomoson conducted a study to see the potential value of influencer marketing. Some of the key findings included:
- Businesses make $6.50 for every dollar spent on influencer marketing.
- Influencer marketing is the fastest-growing method to acquire new customers.
- Influencer marketing is the most cost-effective customer acquisition method.
- 51% of marketers acquire better customers through influencer marketing.
- 50% of marketers use influencer marketing to generate leads and sales.
- Blogging is the top platform for influencer marketing.
- 59% of marketers plan to increase their budgets for influencer marketing.
As you can see, not only is influencer marketing effective, but it’s on the rise. The question is, how do you get started?
What Makes A Good Influencer?
The first step is identifying your influencers. Just because someone has a following doesn’t mean that it’s the right fit for your brand. Look beyond the number of followers on Twitter or likes on their Facebook page. You want to know who their followers are and match that against your target demographic. You’ll also have to consider the influencer themselves. Is he or she the type of person you want to be associated with your brand?
Here are some of the key traits of a good influencer:
- Authentic: Good influencers genuinely believe in your brand and what you stand for. That authenticity shines through when they mention you in blog posts or Tweets, which connects with their audience.
- Active: How often do they publish content on social media or on their website? The best influencers are constantly putting out content so they stay fresh in their audience’s mind.
- Engaging: When people mention them on social media, do they reply? When an influencer frequently has conversations with their audience, it shows that people are interested in what they’re saying, which will benefit your brand.
- Expertise: Getting a recommendation from Dr. Oz carries a lot more weight than a recommendation from someone with no experience in the health field. Part of the makeup of an influencer is being an authority figure. You want to work with influencers that people within your industry respect and look up to.
- Leadership: A lot of social media users tend to jump on bandwagons and follow trends. A good influencer is someone that can get topics trending instead of just following what everyone does.
It can be helpful to look for niche influencers. These are people within a subgroup of your industry. For instance, if your company sells toys designed to stimulate children’s minds, your first thought might be to find mommy bloggers that have influence. However, you could drill down even deeper to look for mommy bloggers who have children with learning disabilities. The more targeted your influencers are, the higher quality your leads will be.
Where to Find Influencers
Now that you know what to look for, the next question is where should you look? There are blogs, networking events and plenty of other ways to find influencers. But social media is your best bet.
Influencers gravitate to social media because it allows them to connect with their audience and is generally the “hub” they conduct most of their activities from. There are a few different ways you can find influencers on social media and ensure you have the best outreach as possible.
A great way to find influencers is through Buzzsumo. Within this, you can start a search for keywords relevant to your industry or company. The tool will then show you content that has been highly shared on social media containing the keywords you enter. Alternatively, you could do a search for a popular blog post from one of your competitors. For our demo purposes, we did a search for “children learning disabilities” and found this post that seems relevant.
Then, click on View Sharers. This will show you the people who have shared the post on Twitter.
There are a few different people on this list that could be influencers. Once you’ve narrowed your list, start going through each individual Twitter page. Some of the things you want to look for are:
- How often they Tweet
- What they Tweet about
- How much engagement their Tweets receive
Also look for the key influencer traits we discussed earlier.
Another method you can use to find influencers is by looking at your current followers. By using Sprout Social’s Trends Report, you can find out which Twitter users are engaging with you the most. If they’re already advocates for your brand, then taking the step to acknowledge them and work together will be much easier. There’s a chance that influencers have been right under your nose the entire time, but you just didn’t notice.
Last but not least, you can also do manual searches within different social networks. With this approach, look within groups instead of the entire social network. For instance, you might look at popular Facebook Groups or Google+ Communities. See who the top contributors are within these smaller niche groups to spot influencers.
Use a spreadsheet or CRM software to keep track of everyone you’ve found. For each person, you should record their:
- Social media profiles
- Contact information (email works best)
- A brief bio of who they are
After you’ve put your list together, the next step is to start the outreach step of influencer marketing.
Reaching out to influencers is one of the most important steps of this process. One poorly worded email and you could completely miss out on a big opportunity.
First, you’ll want to define a specific reason for working with influencers. Here are some of the most common ways that brands work with influencers:
- Guest blogging
- Content collaboration
Once you know what type of relationship you want to build, you can start cultivating it. There are two main approaches you can use:
- The Direct Approach: Directly ask to work with influencers.
- The Slow and Steady Approach: Develop a relationship first, and progress into working together.
A lot of experts recommend option number two. However, the first option can be just as effective and provides quicker results.
The Direct Approach
The first strategy is contacting influencers and offering them the opportunity to be an affiliate, collaborate on content or work together on any other project you have in mind.
Create an email template to use to contact people. The template should describe a little bit about your company, why you’re emailing the potential influencer and how partnering with your brand will benefit them as well. End the email with a call to action so they know what to do next. If you’re offering them an opportunity to guest post for instance, you could finish the email by asking them to submit some potential topics they’d like to write about.
The template is going to function as a general guideline for your emails, and you should customize it for each person. Explain why you’re interested in working with the person and what you’re looking for them to bring to the table.
Advantages of the direct approach:
- You get results quicker.
- There is less back and forth between your company and the influencer.
- The process is much easier to manage.
Disadvantages of the direct approach:
- Your emails can be perceived as spam since they’re unsolicited.
- You’ll have a lower success rate.
The Slow and Steady Approach
The first technique is quicker, but your success rate will likely be lower. Remember, influencers are contacted all the time by people who want to market to their audience, so they’re selective about who they work with. That’s why the slow and steady approach may be better for certain brands.
Instead of directly emailing influencers with your ideas, start by engaging with them on social media or through their website first. Reply to some of their Tweets or leave comments on their latest blog posts. This way they’ll start to become more familiar with your company. It will also show influencers that you follow them and appreciate what they do.
After a couple of weeks of engaging, open up the doors to start working with them. This could be as simple as sending out an email expressing interest in working together or even offering to send them some free products to get exposure for your brand.
Advantages of the slow and steady approach:
- You’ll have a higher success rate.
- It’s a more organic approach.
- You can get natural exposure, even if you don’t officially work with the influencer.
- Influencers will be more excited to work with you because they’re familiar with your brand.
Disadvantages of the slow and steady approach:
- It takes longer to get influencers on board.
- Your efforts could go unnoticed.
You can try a combination of both techniques to see which gives you the best results. Focus on building long-term relationships instead of being transactional.
The best part about influencer marketing is it’s easy to get the ball rolling. To refresh, here’s a simple rundown of the process: Define what you want to accomplish through influencer marketing
Decide how you want to work with influencers (guest blogging, review, content collaboration etc.)
Identify influencers that fit your brand
Reach out to influencers through the Direct or Slow and Steady approach Tap into the strategy that’s being used by top brands and start getting more exposure for your company!
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