The idea behind influencer marketing is nothing new. People have always looked to trusted friends and acquaintances for recommendations. In the digital age, the concept of asking a close comrade for a suggestion has morphed into the idea of turning to a favorite blogger or online presence. People still look to those they trust for advice on their purchasing choices. However, the broad online landscape now gives you the ability to connect directly with the influential individuals who are making the recommendations. Try using the following methods to get started with influencer marketing.
Craft Your Influencer Marketing Strategy
The first step to successful influencer marketing is creating a well-thought-out strategy. At first glance, influencer marketing may seem simple. Get popular posters to talk about your product and you’ll instantly gain a larger audience, right? To truly succeed with influencer marketing, though, you need to approach it with as much organization and forethought as any other type of campaign.
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Ask yourself the following questions:
- Who am I trying to reach through influencer marketing?
- What products or services do I want people to learn about?
- What is the desired outcome of my influencer marketing? Do I want to increase sales, gain new subscribers, or get more downloads for a white paper?
The answers to these questions will guide you toward the best type of influencer for your product, service, or brand. Influencers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are worldwide celebrities, while others have a much smaller but fiercely devoted audience. The number of people that an influencer can reach isn’t nearly as important as the quality of the leads. An influencer in the area of teen fashion will have a very different following than an influencer for gourmet cooking. Both are valuable in the right industry.
Target Top Influencers
A strong influencer marketing campaign will typically have between five and 20 influencers working on it. While you want to diversify your influencers enough to reach a broad audience, you also want to make sure that every person you’re working with is closely suited to your niche. To target the best influencers for your industry, you’ll need to dive in and surf the web like your target customer would.
Get to know your audience intimately. Build a detailed profile for the types of people that you want to reach. This should include the following details:
- Where they shop
- What blogs they read
- The magazines they subscribe to
- Which books they buy
- Their preferred social media sites
- How they engage with brands and influencers (Do they comment often? Are they avid “likers”? Do they browse posts quickly, or read through blogs mindfully?)
- What hobbies they’re interested in
- What restaurants, bars, or entertainment venues they frequent
- Which television shows they watch
- The radio stations they listen to
All these elements come together to help you define which influencers your key audience is likely to listen to. As you become active on the same blogs, forums, and social media groups that they use, you’ll begin to see some trends in the names that show up there. Top bloggers, vloggers, and celebrities can all become powerful influencers for your brand. The best influencers have high engagement levels with your audience. They get a lot of positive comments and likes. Their blogs and social media accounts have a massive following. Their names come up frequently within your industry.
Make a wish list of influencers in your area. You won’t get everyone on your list, but this will serve as your starting point for the next step of the process.
Make Initial Contact
Reach out and begin making contact with the top influencers on your list. Don’t begin with a product pitch or a request for a guest post. Start slowly, and engage by following them, commenting on their posts, and sharing their blogs.
You can also make a positive connection with your preferred influencers by featuring them in your own blog posts, thus introducing them to your existing audience and boosting their following as a kind of goodwill gesture. If your company sells cooking supplies and you’re profiling top chefs in your blog, make sure you include a few of those names on your prospective influencer list. Even if these individuals aren’t your typical top-shelf celebrities, you can give their reputations a boost while making a strong connection with them as you highlight their skills on the local cooking scene.
Keep in Touch
Keep in contact with your influencers for several weeks before approaching them for your marketing campaign. Throwing rapid-fire likes in their direction followed by a proposal for influencer marketing will come off as disorganized and desperate. Influencer marketing is all about building relationships. You need to build a strong, ongoing relationship with your influencers in order to get real benefits from the connection.
Formulate a Plan
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Once you’ve built a strong relationship with prospective influencers, you can approach them about working together. There are many ways that you can collaborate with influencers. These may include guest posts on blogs, influencer reviews, or product giveaways featuring your goods on the influencer’s site.
Fashion influencers may post a photo of themselves in your latest line. You can then feature these photos on your product pages, maximizing exposure for your relationship with the influencer. A tech vlogger might share a walkthrough of your new game. Then you can share this on your blog to increase traffic. Plan to commit several hours to collaboration with your influencer so you can come up with an approach that you’re both comfortable with.
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If this sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. The payoff for influencer marketing is immense, but it’s not without a significant investment of time and effort. This type of marketing can introduce your brand to a broad new community of followers when it’s done right. However, using the wrong influencer or choosing an imprecise approach can cause your entire campaign to fall flat. If you’re not confident about your own influencer marketing finesse, consider outsourcing these efforts to an experienced marketing team.
The concept behind influencer marketing is simple to understand. Though execution is a bit more difficult, it’s well worth the effort for the monumental payoff that influencers can offer.