If you hang around a social media marketer long enough, you’re bound to hear the term social media influencers tossed around in conversation. This is because social media influencers are the bread and butter to marketing strategies to help build valuable relationships on social media platforms.
For beginners, most social media managers prize their social media influencers because they drive engagement, discussions and word of mouth for your brand. However, you can’t simply deem someone an influencer just because they talk about your brand. Instead you need to clearly define the characteristics of your influencer, know where they’re going to be and how they can drive more value to your brand.
Here’s a quick shortcut to each section:
- Why Social Media Influencers
- How to Identify Social Media Influencers
- Building a Campaign Around Social Media Influencers
What Is a Social Media Influencer?
Social media influencers are those who can help your potential customers make a buying decision through social networking. Whether they’re a blogger, product reviewer, industry expert or a trusted source of information, your social media influencers are unique to your field and product or service.
For example, if you’re trying to find a social media influencer on grilling and barbecuing, you’ll want people such as:
- Food critics
- Those with popular outdoor cooking Instagram accounts
- Grilling bloggers who write for major websites
- Grill and barbecue pit builders
- Ribs contest judges
The best way to understand who a social media influencer is is to think about whose voice you’d personally trust if you were looking for a reason to buy or try out a service. Even a survey from Nielsen showed only 33% of consumers trust advertisements, while 90% put their faith in peer recommendations.
Why Social Media Influencers are Good
Like we mentioned previously, people simply tend to trust their peer recommendations over a company advertisement. Working with social media influencers is simply another step toward humanizing your brand. If you have an influencer who is a blogger and that person mentions your brand, his or her loyal audience will appreciate the their opinion. This is because the influencer has likely built a reputation on a blog, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for that certain type of content.
Here are a few more reasons why you should consider social media influencers:
Better at Reaching Core Demographics
More so than anything else, social media influencers are great at speaking to their core demographic. For some marketers, there has been significant success with the adoption of influencers over traditional marketing techniques, MediaKix reported. One area you can see this happening is with visual media.
The popularity of Instagram, Vine and YouTube has driven marketers to look for opportunities with newer social networks like using Snapchat for business. Some of this movement could be from the decline in television ratings in younger audiences where advertisers could typically thrive. However, the rise in social media has brands thinking of new ways to promote their content using the medium.
In 2015 a survey by Salesforce, the company discovered roughly 70% of marketers planned to increase their social media advertising budgets. Some of this spending is going toward influencers because of where they are and how well they can speak to their own audience.
— Peg Fitzpatrick (@PegFitzpatrick) February 22, 2016
Your best social media influencers are going to be the ones that share content that is in the same vein as your brand. You want to be in the same circle so it doesn’t seem like a stretch when you ask influencers to talk about your brand. Again, this idea usually comes back to humanizing your outreach and content.
Influencers Help Build Relationships
Some naysayers of social media influencers believe they aren’t as effective as working with brand advocates because they are short-term solutions. However, when you work with influencers, you build meaningful relationships over time while brand advocates can be short-term solutions. The worst thing you can do while searching for influencers is to rush the process.
At the same time, neither is a bad direction for your marketing, but you have to be sure which one to choose. Advocates are more likely to be your happy customers, while influencers are those who can reach direct audiences with their social media skills.
Like any relationship in your life, it takes time and dedication to build trust with someone. This same logic fits perfectly with your influencers. Additionally, you want to build toward mutually beneficial goals. Once you start to work on your influencer outreach, you can slowly start to understand what their goals entail. This will help you develop incentives for your influencers so everyone ends up happy.
At the same time, you don’t want to use your relationship building as a chance to remain neutral on every subject. More likely than not, your industry has a some debates over products, services or methods. There’s not reason to avoid the debate and sometimes, your influencers can be the ones who see both sides to the story.
For example, Jay Baer is a trusted voice in social media marketing, but his article completely disagrees with the ideas of this article, which is fine. There needs to be an exchange of opinions and if you want someone to agree with you, there’s usually plenty of influencers who are willing to talk about your product on social media in a good light. Get them to join your Q&A, LinkedIn discussion or Google+ channel to keep the conversation going.
Influencers Can Increase Your SEO Value
One of your main goals should always be to create awareness around your brand and increasing SEO traffic is a great way to do it. Snap Agency recently explained how social media influencers can help your organic traffic through some of the core factors of SEO. Here are a few ways social media influencers can help your SEO value:
- Higher conversation: The more people are talking about your brand, the likelier they are to share, post, comment or cite in a blog. All of these lead to higher organic traffic.
- Increased backlinks: A pillar to SEO is obtaining backlinks, which essentially help show the popularity and importance of your site. With links from those considered authorities or influencers in your industry, your site becomes more credible.
- Comments: Getting influencer comments on your site can sometimes be seen as a backlink in Google’s eyes, which means you get more traffic and brand exposure.
- Social media activity: Google looks at social media shares, posts and conversations to help determine the authority of your site or article. Getting your influencers to Retweet or share on Facebook can have a drastic effect on your SEO and organic traffic.
As social media becomes more of an authoritative figure for Google’s search rankings, you need to consider the positives of social media influencers to your overall brand exposure, awareness and site traffic.
How to Identify Social Media Influencers
You might be thinking, “Okay, great—I know why social media influencers are important, but how do I find them?” We like your eagerness, but before you can start interacting and working with your influencers, you have to do some research. For starters, here are a few different tools you can use to find the perfect influencer for your brand:
A tool that continues to help those find true influencers in their field is BuzzSumo. Through this content marketing tool, you can discover, measure and monitor content so you’re one step ahead of the game. BuzzSumo also has an influencers and outreach feature that is made specifically for finding the top writers, bloggers and publications in your field using the same keywords you’re trying to reach as well.
Remember that influencers are not just those who have a high number of followers. Instead, it’s more efficient to look at their total number of shares per article, post or social media post. Sadly in today’s social media world, followers can be bought very easily, which means that high audience volume might not mean much.
On the other hand, if an influencer’s articles receive a lot of engagement, shares and comments, you’re better off at getting them to do more for your brand than with someone who has a ton of followers. Buzzsumo helps you easily sift through influencers so you can better decide on who you want to approach.
LinkedIn is built specifically for helping you network with others in and around your industry. So why not use the social media platform to help find influencers? Social Media Examiner recommends you enter specific keywords or phrases within the search box to pull up second-degree connections and those who are directly related to your search.
Don’t be shy about reaching out to those who you feel would be great influencers. However, you don’t want to be too forward with what you want from them. Instead try some of these icebreakers on LinkedIn:
- Start liking their shares and posts before friending them
- Send a meaningful message about their content
- Ask them to join one of your LinkedIn groups (or join theirs)
- Let them know how you found them
- Explain you’d just like a moment of their time (value their time)
The worst thing you can do is sound robotic and dehumanize the conversation. Secondly, put some effort into your research and have something specific and nice to say about what they do. The last thing you want is to seem rushed and that you only want something from them.
As we’ve mentioned before, Twitter is a great space to find, interact and converse with your social media influencers. Twitter’s advanced search options give you a lot of opportunity to reach specific audiences or find those who are addressing niche crowds in your industry, Entrepreneur reported. If you need more help with advanced search and Twitter Search Operators, check out our cheat sheet here.
Twitter is great for moving content and measuring how much traction you gained from a specific post or article. Using Twitter management tools like Sprout Social have a huge benefit to finding trending topics and hashtags with your brand. Once you can determine the subjects revolving around your brand, you can easily search for influencers with these key topics.
Use Twitter’s data to help you make better decisions on how you’ll search the network for social media influencers.
Building a Campaign Around Social Media Influencers
Once you understand why social media influencers are important and how you can find them, it’s time to start constructing a campaign around them. When you get to building your campaign, you have to identify the goals you want to reach through your influencers you’ve found.
You can get influencers to interact with your campaign by:
- Guest blogging
- Sponsoring an influencer
- Becoming an affiliate
- Asking for product reviews
- Giving products to influencers
It’s a good idea to start by moving through the noise of standard advertising and to focus on creating a message your audience actually wants to hear, digest and eventually share. This is exactly where your influencers can help with your marketing process.
Use Influencers for Niche Audiences
Influencers have the ability to reach very specific audiences. Instead of you relying on thousands of followers, influencers will help you ensure people read and engage with your content. If you’re going after a niche audience, make sure your influencers know your plan and how they will interact with their followers.
— Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) February 1, 2016
Create Mutual Goals
Your social media influencers need to get something from working with you as well, so again, make sure you have mutually beneficial goals. It’s important that both sides of the party work to post content each day to help build awareness to each audience.
You can’t simply rely on one party to do all the heavy lifting when you’re working together. Map out each side’s goals and work from there. It’s also a good idea to work in the same social network groups so each side can provide insight to discussions and conversations.
Creating thoughtful and engaging content isn’t the easiest job on the planet. However, influencers can help you get your brand in the right direction. Remember to think about social media influencer relationships for the long run. Adam Heitzman, co-founder of HigherVisibility, explained that this means you need to stay in contact and maintain your side of the bargain.
It’s important to know that if you use or abuse your influencer relationships, it can come back to bite you and your brand in the worst way. With a little hard work, research and collaborative efforts, you can be well on your way to boosting your brand’s identity.
Think we forgot something? Feel free to add your own insights and start the conversation below!