Getting Influencers to Spread Your Brand’s Messagelenakhalid
Influencer marketing is the process of connecting with influencers ie. people who have large followings in certain niches and can affect opinion – to increase the visibility of your own products or services. The idea is to identify and build relationships with those VIPs, who might be consultants, analysts, advisors, venture capitalists, subject-matter experts, bloggers, reporters or others with large networks on social media. They might be your own employees or customers.
“Influencers are individuals or groups that have a sway over your audience.They are trusted sources for information and have a means to communicate with a large amount of people.”
– Amanda Maksymiw, content marketing manager at Lattice Engines, California.
Not only do consumers respond to the recommendations of those they trust, but these influencers have the ability to create a larger impact than advertising. They can provide a real-life demonstration of their experience with your brand, resulting in authentic visual marketing.
How can you connect with the right influencers for your brand, while motivating them to spread your brand’s message?
1. Identify the right ones.
Create a list of 10 to 20 people with whom you aim to cultivate relationships. That number is manageable for direct communication. Where do you find them? Your own executives might have relationships with such people. You can use Google to identify people who are writing about topics relevant to your business, or search social media to see who is participating in or leading conversations there. Attend industry events to meet potential influencers in person.
Your customers can help, too: Ask them what blogs they read, who they follow on Twitter and what they consider their best sources of information. You might also search online using free services such as Followerwonk, which can uncover influencers on Twitter, or tools that search more broadly, including BuzzSumo, Traackr, Appinions, GroupHigh and Little Bird.
The first temptation is to go after big names and those who have huge followings (and who can blame us, as marketers we are used to thinking in terms of maximum reach).
The danger in this is that Big Name Influencers have large followings, but those followers do not typically share much in common, other than an affinity for the influencer. Most won’t pay too much attention or give much credence to a Big Name Influencer’s mention of a brand. Perhaps we all remain a bit jaded by “celebrity endorsements” knowing the celebrity is paid to recommend a brand.
One thing we know : Inauthenticity kills trust.
The influencers you want are those who value the trust they build with their audience, have a niche following of people that care about a topic related to your brand, have a high level of engagement with their followers and post more than just promotional content.
2. Build a network before you need it.
Identify and engage with luminaries in your industry long before you have a request. Building trust requires time and investment. You need to take the mindset that you are cultivating a relationship, not a transaction.
“The time to start creating relationships with influencers is long before you actually need them. That way, when the time comes to work together on a project, there’s already some familiarity and credibility before the ask.
While it is tempting to choose only well-established influencers, keep in mind that by helping up-and-coming influencers become more influential, you will gain their loyalty throughout their entire career. Select a mix of emerging and established influencers and create a plan to get to know them and help them build their brand as they build yours. This might take the shape of sharing their posts and visual content, featuring them on your blog, introducing them to those you know who might help them build their reputation, giving them credit for ideas, including them as guest speakers at your conferences, etc.
3. Have a goal.
At the very least, have a general sense of purpose. Are you looking to build brand awareness, generate leads, improve engagement? Also: What would you want the influencer to do? What will an ongoing relationship mean to your marketing and reputation, and how will you measure that?
“Depending on your goal, you may want to engage or target different types of influencers”
4. Make them shine
The premise of influencer marketing is that you provide a benefit in exchange for the influencer promoting your brand. Be creative and remember that authenticity, trust and mutual benefit are the keys to a successful influencer marketing program.
One of the best ways to inspire influencers to share your brand’s message is to give them brand experiences.
This may take the form of VIP events with early or exclusive access to pre-launch products or services, invitations for beta testing, samples of products with an invitation to create user-generated content (for example, inviting influencers to share a photo or video of them using your product or discussing their experience), and bringing the influencers in as “consultant” on your marketing team.