If you’ve been reading digital marketing guides over the last few years, there’s a good chance you’ll have come across the term influencer marketing or influence marketing.
The way people talk about how amazing influencer marketing is can make it sound like a secret formula to marketing success, but what exactly is it and why does it matter?
Influencer Marketing In A NutshellSource
The challenge with influencer marketing lies in putting your finger on someone who’s a real influencer. And oftentimes, many marketers confuse it for celebrity endorsements—that’s not what influence marketing is (more about that here).
Sure, celebrities are influential, but that’s not the kind of influence influencer marketing is about.
Influencer marketing is about leveraging the power of word-of-mouth advertising by getting someone influential in your industry or niche to talk about your brand.
Examples of influencers are industry thought leaders, experts, and other figures of authority.Source
This is where celebrity endorsements and influencer marketing go their separate ways. Celebrities are about fame while thought leaders are about influence—the two are not exactly the same thing.
Why Do You Even Need Influencers?
There’s no denying that marketing has moved into the social media landscape. Your business can’t afford to be left behind, not when as much as 70 percent of brands are investing more resources in social media marketing.
And social media is no longer an afterthought to traditional media. For many businesses, it’s where the real battle for visibility and brand awareness happens.
The reason is simple: social media is more engaging. Customers want to interact with brands instead of being talked to, which is what traditional advertising has been about for many years.
Customers want to be informed, entertained, and delighted by brands instead of being asked to buy Product A over Product B. And this is where social media influencers do the most marketing damage. Because they have a pulse on their respective audiences, almost anything they say is treated as reliable and worthwhile information.
So, strategically partnering with the right personalities helps put your brand out there, leading to improved brand awareness and organic conversions.
People Trust Influencers More Than They Do Brands
These days, consumers trust information coming from third parties more than brands themselves—you’re probably doing this yourself.
Think of the last time you wanted to buy a product you knew next to nothing about. Chances are, you asked someone you know—a friend or family member perhaps—if they can vouch for a brand they can trust.
The same concept applies to influencer marketing, in that the influencer is the person vouching for your brand with their followers, who also happen to be your target customers.
Because of the strong relationship between the influencer and his audience, the influencer has the power to drive traffic to your website and social media channels, get you more views, and increase sales.
How Do You Spot An Influencer?Source
Although the concept of an influencer is a fluid one, these people are generally active on social media and almost always create content of their own, whether it’s on blogs, videos, webinars, or podcasts. And because of the great content they produce, their followers see them as reliable sources of valuable information.
What’s also important is finding an influencer who’s actually relevant to your brand (http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/5-tips-for-finding-the-right-social-influencers-for-your-brand/)
It’s not enough to simply work with a person who has thousands of followers. You want your target influencers to be a contextual fit with your business, so that every time they mention your brand and its products, there’s a high likelihood of it generating leads and sales.
For example, if your business is an automotive parts distributor, you would naturally want to partner with someone who’s a trusted name in the car industry.
Three Characteristics Of An Ideal InfluencerSource
An influencer to one brand isn’t necessarily an influencer for you. Again, it’s all about relevance.
For example, a mention by someone like Neil Patel would be incredibly valuable, but only if your business is a provider of some digital marketing service.
But if you’re a real estate company, like Darling Homes, his most active audience probably won’t be interested in your services. Sure, you might see a spike a traffic, but not sales. And sales are ultimately what you want. More about this in the third characteristic.
Influence and Reach
OK, so you found someone who’s a perfect fit with your brand. But does that person have the marketing juice to back it up? Will a mention of your brand actually be heard?
In other words, does that person have the kind of influence and reach worth investing in? If you’re selling beauty products, having an Instagram model on board might not be such a bad idea.
Finally, you want an influencer who’s not only relevant and relatively influential but also someone who can drive organic action.
This is the kind of influencer who generates inbound activity. In other words, it’s someone people choose to follow on their own volition
This way, you know the influencer’s audience is engaged and genuinely interested in what he or she has to say. So, if the influencer mentions you, their audience has a high likelihood of turning into your followers.
Locating Your Perfect Influencer
OK, so you have a pretty good idea of what your ideal influencer is like. The next task is to find one.
Not surprisingly, the first place you should look is social media. Start with a social media audit—are there any people with a social media following mentioning your brand? If not your brand, how about your products and services? Are these people using any relevant hashtags? What topics are they talking about?
Once you’ve found your target influencers, engage them with a follow or like. You can then propose a content feature in exchange for a product/service sample. Just make sure to take your time and build a relationship with influencers instead of just asking for a quid pro quo arrangement.
Closing Thoughts on Influencer Marketing
This quick guide should have cleared up any confusion you may have had over the subject of influencer marketing, and now, it’s off to the races. Outline your ideal influencer and start looking for someone who’s a contextual match to your business.
And remember, take your time when building relationships with influencers. You don’t want to be that guy at a trade show or conference that brags about himself to everyone he meets. Try to offer something of value so you can get a favor in return.
Oh, and don’t forget: you want your influencer marketing efforts to lead to revenue, not just awareness. Sure, awareness is important, but it should never be the final goal of any marketing initiative.