Mid-level influencers, sometimes also referred to as the “power middle,” remain an untapped resource for many brands. Their power lies in the realm of audience loyalty because if you can get these individuals in your network, they bring their entire audience with them.
Think about influence and an individual’s reach on a spectrum. All the way on the left end of the spectrum are your pure influencers. They are the people like your mom, your best friend or your significant other who are your biggest fans. Their passion comes out when talking about you which leads to them holding an influential sway over those who they talk about you to. However, they often don’t have much reach so this influence doesn’t often go very far.
All the way on the right end of the spectrum are the individuals who have a lot of reach. They are people like celebrities who, with one tweet, can spread awareness of your brand to millions of people. However, their audience isn’t there to learn about your brand and their high reach doesn’t usually lead to action.
The most powerful tactic for your brand is to target and align with those who fall right in the middle of the spectrum—the mid-level influencer—who has the perfect balance of influence and reach. Mid-level influencers are primarily made up of bloggers, active social media users and your brand’s biggest fans.
More and more brands are realizing the power of the mid-level influencer and have seen success in reaching out to them and forming a relationship. From Proctor and Gamble sending influential moms free household goods in hopes for a mention to American Apparel using fashion bloggers as models for one of their catalogues —big brands are getting the “middle people” to talk and its working.
Are you ready to engage with mid-level influencers for your brand? Here are 5 ways to make it happen.
Be a Twitter Creeper
A mid-level influencer for your brand actively engages in topics that pertain to your brand. By using a social media monitoring platform (I use HootSuite) you can not only identify mentions of your brand but also tune in to conversations surrounding all of the keywords you associate with your brand.
For example, I follow blogger outreach and influencer marketing hashtags which allows me to join in the conversations and posts that go up using these tags. By doing so, I’ve gotten post ideas and then shared them using these hash tags which has attracted a few influencers to me and they’ve shared my words with their own networks.
It’s arguable that bloggers are the strongest spoke in the wheel of influencers. Technorati put out this research stating that 86% of influencers are bloggers. BlogHer’s research shows that 81% of the online U.S. population trusts information and advice they get from bloggers.
M/C/C used blogger outreach to harness the power of “mom bloggers,” one of the most sought after groups of mid-level influencers to grow Chuck E. Cheese’s social media presence and promote their gluten-free pizza. In fact, a few campaigns were done purely through social media and blog posts by the mom blogs that Chuck E. Cheese’s formed relationships with.
One of many bonuses that comes with blogger relationships is that bloggers tend to almost always also be on a variety of other social media outlets in order to promote their blog to success. Thus, by targeting bloggers, marketers are also often targeting active tweeters and Facebook posters.
Locating blogs that are a good fit for your brand can pose as a challenge. While the first priority should be finding blogs that are a very specific contextual fit, locating different social media followers and SEO metrics can be timely. You’ll find that picking a blogger outreach tool like GroupHigh is worth its cost in time saved!
Enlist Your Customers
Happy customers are some of your most influential brand advocates. Part of a good content marketing strategy includes engaging with current customers with surveys and other forms of customer feedback. So, you should be able to easily identify a good list of customers who you can empower as brand advocates. Here are some ways to take their customer happiness a step farther and propel your content marketing strategy forward:
- If the fit is there, ask them to co-create content with you.
- Ask them to be part of a case study about how they use your brand.
- Empower with great content so that they will want to share it with their own networks. This can be through information you give them or a post that you write.
- Incentivize them to create their own content that mentions your brand. Consumers trust posts from actual users of a product or a service way more than they trust posts from the brand itself.
Whenever I think about companies using their customers to propel their brand, Starbucks always comes to mind. They have a program called “My Starbucks Idea” where customers share their ideas and vote on the ideas they like. Starbucks then implements popular customer generated ideas. This is a win-win because these customers are going to become advocates now that they feel part of the brand and Starbucks gets free ideas!
Ford is running an interesting promotion that harnesses advocacy for their brand. Their Fiesta Movement program is enlisting fans to apply and the 100 chosen ones will get to drive their 2014 Fiesta before the rest of the world. These “chosen ones” are expected to generate a ton of content about their experience with the car. I have a feeling they are going to see good results.
Besides running promotions like Ford’s, it’s crucial to keep the advocates you already have happy so they keep the company love coming. Acknowledge their work on social media or even a blog post.
I’ve seen companies do anything from sending free items to hosting VIP events for their top advocates. My company has given free previews of upcoming features of our software. This has gone over phenomenally and makes these customers feel like they are part of the team. Not to mention their feedback is valuable to the evolution and success of our product.
Cater to the Narcissism that is Social Media
Part of the reason that social media has become so huge is that it serves as an ego boost. Who doesn’t like to see their words retweeted, shared, liked, pinned, linked to or plus oned? By stroking a few egos, you may see more engagement and positive mentions of your brand.
ModCloth’s social media team does a great job of encouraging and sharing fan generated content. Their customers often tweet pictures of themselves in ModCloth’s clothing and the social media team tweets back compliments. This encourages a lot of social sharing of their fashion looks.
Don’t forget that social media users and bloggers love to be one of the first people to share some awesome news or a cool new product in their niche. Use this to your advantage and empower them with inside information, a preview of something new about your company, etc. that you make available only to a select few influencers.
Twitter creeping, blogger outreach, keeping customers happy, empowering advocates and constantly adjusting social media strategies has my week filled to the brim. But, it works.
Do you have any additional strategies when it comes to engaging and targeting the mid-level influencer for your brand?