Have you heard of the term “influencer” ? They are individuals who are socially active with media, blogging and promoting. A great quote you should retain from Jay Baer says, “True influence drives actions, not just awarness”. With these people network marketing, plugging or even just mentioning your brand to their thousands of followers, it pretty much sums up their importance.
If you're not already convinced or want to know more, here you go:
Why Does Your Brand Need Influencers? Consumers trust recommendations from a third party more often than a brand itself. And it makes sense if you think about it in a more personal context. You don’t usually trust a person at a cocktail party who comes up to you and brags about himself or herself and spouts fun facts about his or her personality to convince you to be a friend. But you often believe your mutual friend who vouches for that person. An influencer is the mutual friend connecting your brand with your target consumers. When you align with an influencer, not only do they bring their audience, but they also bring their audience’s network as well. Because of the loyalty of their audience, an influencer has the ability to drive traffic to your site, increase your social media exposure, and flat-out sell your product through their recommendation or story about their experience.
Think About the Audience: Think about the audience. Actually, don’t just think about the audience you’re after, obsess over it. As a marketer, you already have a solid idea of the audience you should be targeting for your brand. To locate the ideal influence, you need to take it one step further and think about the types of topics, blogs, and tweeters that your audience would follow.
Who’s Doing It? While it seems that some companies don’t want to let go of their outbound marketing practices, fashion ecommerce sites are targeting influencers like pros. Many are reaching out to reputable fashion bloggers and sending them clothing and accessory items to be reviewed. The blogger then posts photos and writes about the garments, often linking back to the site where their audience can buy the items being reviewed.
What Defines an Influencer for Your Brand?
Context: Again, an influencer differs for every brand because, first and foremost, they are a contextual fit. This is the most important characteristic when targeting the right influencers for your brand. For example, Justin Bieber is known as one of the most “influential” social media users with his 37+ million followers. But, would his tweet about your software really bring in sales? Probably not, because 12-year-old girls are not interested in software. So, defining context is the key.
Reach: Of course, after we establish someone as being a contextual fit for our brand, we do want them to have reach so they can share their awesome content or positive recommendation in a manner that actually will be heard. If your online business sold clothes for “tweens,” then maybe a mention to 37 million girls from Justin Bieber wouldn’t be so bad after all…
Actionability: Influencers don’t force themselves upon an audience. They are an “opt-in” network. Their audience chooses to follow their blog or Twitter handle. Thus, their audience is engaged and is there to hear about the topic being discussed. Hence, the need for a contextual fit.
Give Your Influencer an Image
- Personality type: Decide if you need an activist, an informer, an authority, etc. to best promote your campaign or product.
- Genre: Pick one or two. Examples include technology, fashion, travel, marketing, etc.
- Niche: This can be two or three. In order to promote my own product, I usually target marketing and PR influencers, as my genre and my niches are firms writing about blogger outreach and influencer targeting.
- Topics: Pick a topic that your ideal influencer sometimes talks about on social media or their blog. You will be referencing this topic when you reach out and explain why the two of you are such a good fit.
- Type of reach: Is it site traffic you are after or social media followers? Is the influencer an active blogger? Do you have a visually driven campaign and need your influencer to be on Pinterest and Instagram? Is it tweets you are after? Whatever reach you think is best for your brand, narrow down the channels and the number of followers on those channels.
Where to Look for Your Ideal Influencer:
Social Media Monitoring: Brand advocates are the loudest influencers your brand will have. Not only does their audience follow them because what they write aligns with your brand but they also talk loudly and actively about how much they like your company. By tuning in to your social media mentions and blog posts about your brand, you will find influencers and advocates you didn’t realize you had.Research Hashtags: Identify the hashtags that your target influencers are using. For my company, I follow #bloggeroutreach and #influencemktg. By tuning in to the conversations surrounding these hashtags, I have not only identified active talkers in these categories, but I’ve also identified blog topics that I wrote to appeal to these influencers as well. Once you start finding influencers that seem like a good fit for your brand, I recommend putting them in a Twitter list so that you can organize and follow them most effectively.
Google Alerts: Set alerts for keywords pertaining to your brand to identify people who actively write about topics in your realm. You also should create alternatives for the name of your brand so that you can find posts and articles containing your mentions and identify advocates who already are in place.
Social Mention:Social Mention allows you to type in your company’s name to discover mentions on different outlets such as YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, just to name a few.
Blogger Outreach: Bloggers arguably are the strongest spoke in the wheel of influencers. This report from Technorati shows us that 86% of influencers also operate at least one blog. One of the bonuses of targeting bloggers is that they almost always are active across many social media platforms. When locating influential bloggers for your brand, start by searching for blogs in your genre and find the niche(s) by reading through the posts to determine if they write about relevant post topics. After making a list of the contextually relevant bloggers, then it’s time to locate their SEO stats and social media information to pinpoint the ones that equal the best reach for your brand.
Part 3: You Know What They Are and Found Them, Now What?
Encourage Content Creation: A true influencer of your brand is passionate about your product or service. And this passion shows through the bright white lines that appear on computer screens and it spreads to those who read their words, which results in many leads for your company! So your goal is to get as much content from happy customers live in cyber space as possible. Here are some ways to squeeze out consumer-generated content from the customers that you know already love your brand:
- In applicable brands, ask the customers to upload photos and videos of themselves using your product. If you offer a promise to share their uploaded content, I promise that the narcissism that is social media will consume them and you will have a lot of happy compliers.
- Incentivize user generated content with a product give away or discount on your service.
- Ask happy customers to answer case study questions and assure them they can approve your content before you publish it. I saw better response rates when I bribed my customers with gift cards because answering these questions takes up a decent chunk of their time.
- Participate in all forms of discussion forums. Google Plus communities, the comments section of your posts, and LinkedIn discussions are a great place to start. By engaging in discussions with your audience, you can use their posts or words as quotes and even blog post inspiration. You also can ask them to write a post based on their comment and publish it. I promise that when they see their words live, they’ll share it like crazy.
- Send out free products or a free trial of your software without any sort of prior commitment from the influencer. If they like it, they might mention you or write about you, recommending the awesome product.
- If the relevance is there, swap guest posts with them.
Compensate Influencers: If someone is going to spout good things about your brand, they need to be compensated. It doesn’t have to be financially, but it can be, though. The point is you want your influencer to feel rewarded, acknowledged, loved, important, or any combination of those.
Stay Informed: Just like any other marketing trend, influencer targeting will continue to morph and evolve. Kind of like how billboards became banner ads and banner ads became content marketing.
So get started finding influencers that fit your brand and really master network marketing.
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Image Source: Adam Tinworth on Flickr
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