Influencer: a person who compels others to act or form an opinion.
Influencers, also known as brand advocates, have power. People listen to them, followers change their opinions based on what they say, and many consumers will buy, or not buy, based on what a trusted influencer says, or demonstrates, is a good product. It’s world-of-mouth advertising gone high-tech.
Leveraging the social media reach of an influencer within your niche is one of the fastest ways to get noticed on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or any other social media channel. It can even make your brand go viral. The trick is to find an influencer that your target market already trusts and pays attention to.
That doesn’t sound too hard, does it? Unfortunately, it’s like looking for the goose that laid the golden egg in the middle of a flock of turkeys.
You can now get an actual degree, an MBA no less, in social media, and they’re from accredited schools like the University of Southern California and Rutgers. Suddenly, everyone, whether they’re formally trained or just picked up their skills along the way is trying to be an influencer for pay, and very competitive, highly profitable niches are literally flooded with professional influencers, each one hungry to be seen as an authority.
So, how do you navigate these muddy waters? Here are a few tips to help you find the right influencer for your site.
Narrow Down Your Choices
Image via Flickr by Book Work Laser & Design
Most influencers participate in multiple social media channels as well as write for their own blog, but you don’t want to spread yourself too thin when you first start looking for an influencer. Think about where your target audience spends most of their time. Facebook and Twitter are fairly universal, but if images or videos appeal to your audience, Instagram or YouTube might be better places to look.
Now, it’s time to pick some candidates. Try these methods:
- Search blogs and social media to see who’s already talking about your brand. In addition to looking for your specific brand name, search for keywords, keyword phrases, and relevant hashtags.
- Create Google alerts for your brand and keywords to get a list of new content sent to your inbox daily.
- Use automated tools like SocialMention, GroupHigh or BuzzDash to help you find potential influencers.
Are They Really an Influencer?
Image via Flickr by edkohler
Having a lot of followers doesn’t make someone an influencer. Remember, an influencer drives action or changes opinion. Read through your candidate’s posts, think about how they interact with their followers, and ask yourself these questions:
- Do they make a post then disappear or do they interact with people who make comments?
- Do they have something new to offer or are they only repeating what everyone else has to say?
- Do their followers only like their posts or do they share them? What’s their reach?
- Are their followers talking about using or buying a product based on what they see on the influencer’s page?
An influencer with a midrange following might be better for your brand than a social media superstar. Look for someone who gives a piece of themselves with each post, who has created their own small community within their page, and who seems to really care about both their specialty area and the well-being of their followers.
Look for a Tight Fit with Your Target Market
Not every influencer will be a good fit for your brand. You want to pick one that has a tight fit with your target market. Otherwise, you could get a lot of exposure but very few leads or real customers.
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As an example, let’s say you sell automatic bread makers. You’ve identified an influencer with 10,000 followers who’re interested in making bread by hand. They debate the best kneading techniques, some grind their own flour, and a few work in artisan bakeries. If you work with this influencer, a lot of people will see your bread maker, but how many would really buy one? If they did, they certainly wouldn’t brag about it.
You’ve also identified another influencer with 5,000 followers. Most of the followers are time-challenged moms who want to make their family meals from scratch using local and organic ingredients when possible to save money and eat healthier. Bread is just one of the topics discussed, but a good, affordable bread maker solves a problem for many on this page.
In this case, the second option would be the better fit for your brand even though it has less followers. They would not only buy, they would be more likely to share.
Convincing Your Influencer to Work with You
Now that you’ve found a trusted influencer who’s a tight fit with your niche, it’s time to convince them to partner with you to promote your brand. If you have a great product that’s a good fit, it shouldn’t be too hard. Here are a few things to try:
- Free Products – Using our bread maker example, if your influencer likes your bread maker, they may talk about it, share pictures, and reference it when they post new recipes.
- Discounts or Giveaways for Followers – Used in combination with the last tip, this could generate a lot of interest and sharing.
- Commissions or Affiliate Programs – If your influencer is bringing in a lot of sales, there’s nothing wrong with rewarding their hard work.
- Guest Blogging – For sites or pages that are closely related, you could offer to trade blog posts to increase exposure for both brands.
- Pay for Their Support – This should be a last resort, but some influencers expect to get paid in cold, hard cash. You want more than a paid endorsement, so make sure they’re as passionate about your product as they are about the paycheck.
When talking to an influencer, let them know how special you think they are. Tell them how much you liked one of their articles, how one of their posts made you feel, or what you have in common with their followers.
Finding a good influencer to partner with can be challenging and time consuming, but it can also give your brand the social media boost you’ve been looking for to make your traffic and your sales soar.