Influencer marketing is not at all a new marketing strategy, but the tactic has gained traction quite rapidly on social media in the last year or so. The words of those that the public has grown to love and respect go a long way in boosting recognition for products and services. And what better way to get those recommendations out in this day and age than via social channels? Savvy consumers tend to steer clear of advertising because they no longer trust these types of messages. A thumbs up from a renowned celebrity appearing in their feed, however, will be paid due attention.
Two things combine to make influencer marketing a powerhouse strategy. First, no form of advertising can yet compete with word of mouth. Second, social media is where everyone is at these days. This is why leveraging social media influencer marketing can increase brand awareness and raise conversion rates by as much as 50%. Once your influencer marketing campaign is off the ground, word is also likely to spread even further as other fans share the posted recommendations. That’s free marketing right there, which can give your sales another boost. In 2016, social media influencer marketing became an established form of promotion. In 2017, it is set to blast through the roof with 50% of brands signifying intent to dive into influencer marketing campaigns.
Influencer Marketing Explained
Influencer marketing is a strategy that relies on the popularity and authority of a known figure in a certain industry. A social influencer is an authoritative figure who has gained standing in social circles. There are many such online celebrities who have gained a solid following and actively engage fans on different topics. They do not necessarily give full product endorsements or testimonials about specific services, but may work in mentions from time to time in their daily updates. Being an influencer is linked to a certain charisma, and people flock to such magnets and almost cling to their every word.
More than just gaining exposure, influencer marketing gets your product or service in front of targeted audiences and associated with the big names that will draw conversions. It isn’t the type of direct advertising that has become such a huge turn off. It is the guy next door’s favorite online talent just sharing his thoughts on this or that with everyone tuning in to see what he has to say. Consumer reviews have already proven to be a huge factor in purchasing decisions, and having an influencer leave a similar comment on any one of the many popular networks is a powerful thing.
Putting good money into influencer marketing may seem like a frivolous investment at first glance. Interests shift faster than the sands of the Sahara, and social media trends follow. Influencers know this, however, and so fiercely guard their audiences. They want to make sure that they never sell out because they know that as soon as they let their genuine voice slip away, their fans will quickly follow. They must keep the experience organic to survive, and brands can ride this trend for as long as the world appreciates authenticity.
Integrating Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is, simply put, finding the right pull for your push and investing in getting those mentions for your brand. You can get started on making it an integral part of your marketing with the following steps.
Set Goals Aligned with Your brand image and larger Strategy
Every successful brand has a closely guarded image and well-maintained message. Set your goals for your influencer marketing campaign so that they flow seamlessly with your content strategy and positively build your brand’s reputation. Influencers can help boost product launches, generate hype for events, create and promote new content, and turn bad PR around. If you are working in any of these areas in your current strategy, you can begin your search for the right influencer to carry it out.
Identify and Locate Your Influencer
The best social influencer for your specific goals will have a sizable audience composed of the perfect set of individuals for your offerings and the level of credibility that you need to achieve your targets. Your influencer will have an authentic voice that supports your image and evidently attracts and keeps the attention of your target market. He or she will also have a consistent presence on the best channels for your desired audience. You will be able to see and feel how much trust the audience places in your prospective influencer, and gauge the potential impact from there.
To find such influencers, you will need to get on social networks and do an active search. There are a few types of software available that can make the search easier, but a manual search will allow you to follow leads that a machine would miss and to get a real feel of how your prospects move within their spheres of influence. Remember that influencer marketing revolves around word of mouth, so when you find one or two that you like, ask them to point out a few others who might work for your campaign as well.
Make Contact and Offer Value
When it is time to reach out to social influencers to form relationships, you should always make direct contact. Using an agency might take less of your time, but this is part of that old advertising system that influencers and their followers stay far away from. Get in touch directly to show your sincerity. Just as you would with a fresh sales lead, be honest and personable, avoiding the sales talk and focusing more on learning about them. From there, you can learn what drives them to do what they do, and be able to offer them real value in exchange for their help.
Keep Track of Progress
Influencer marketing falls within the realm of native advertising, but this organic approach can still be monitored. Even if you are just using a simple spreadsheet to take note of posts and updates about your brand and offerings, you can keep an eye on what is happening and how it is helping you reach the goals that you have set.
Take It a Step Further
Once you have formed stable relationships with key influencers, you can level-up your influencer marketing campaign by inviting them to post on your social channels. This will firm up the connection between the authority and your brand. It will also help you gain more followers on your business accounts.
Since influencer marketing is still a relatively open area as businesses continue to test the waters, you can make a big splash and net a good number of big fish for a small fee if you act quickly and start making influencer marketing part of your marketing strategy today. Influencer marketing is has not reached its saturation point yet, but marketers are catching on and companies will soon be competing for the best names to speak for their brands. Now is the time to get in the game and capture these powerful movers before they establish ties with the competition.