As a business owner, you strive to grow online, increase your competitive position, engage your audience, promote your offerings, and ultimately generate leads. Clearly, this is challenging. However, you are also a consumer, and as a consumer you often get annoyed with the commonly invasive, spammy pop-up advertisements are thrown at you when all you want to do is read up on a new product of interest. So, is there a path to follow that accommodates the challenges while minimizing the interruptions and spam?
One path that can address both of these is known as influencer marketing. In this post, we will be providing a brief series of lessons as to how influencer marketing can potentially add incredible value to your business.
Lesson #1 - What Is Influencer Marketing?
First off, let’s define an influencer.
In our definition, an influencer is an individual that has built a substantial following on social channels and blogs, and whose opinion regarding certain topics is so well grounded and respected, they are viewed as an authority within a specified industry or niche by their audience.
Today’s consumers would much rather do research on their own and get informed on a brand, product or service by someone they trust (i.e. someone that has influence) rather than listen to a company boast about themselves. Thus, influencer marketing is the act of leveraging the influence of these industry leaders to enhance the exposure of your brand.
Lesson #2 - How Can Influencer Marketing Help Your Business?
Someone doesn't become an influencer overnight. It is not a light switch. It takes a sustained effort, with a high level of visibility over months or years sharing valuable insight that ultimately creates trust with their audience. Thus, an influencer is heavily invested in the asset they've created. It is valuable!
Here's some of what an influencer has the ability to impact:
- More visibility - Drive traffic to a website, blog or social presence
- Drive lead growth and sales - Use their audiences to amplify lead and revenue generation
- Generate social proof - Positive reviews, endorsements, and even simple shout outs
Not only do they have an ability to impact their own audience, they can have a great impact on their audience’s network as well (which constitutes a whole other untapped resource in itself).
So, how can this help your business? Simple,they have built and established trust with the audience you seek to connect with. If you are able to gain access to their audience, you can immediately reap the benefits that the influencers have taken years to build. Keep in mind that influencers don't simply hand over their audience to anyone. You need to build relationships with them and it is critical to form relationships with those that are a good fit with your brand.
Lesson #3 - How To Select Influencers That Have A Good “Fit” With Your Brand
Factor #1: Industry Relevance
The first, and probably most obvious, factor for determining a good influencer-brand “fit” is industry relevance. Keep in mind that you do not need to have an absolute match in niche or target audience, but a degree of relevance is required for there to be a value gain from your collaboration.
Factor #2: Audience Compatibility
The second thing to look out for when deciding if a certain influencer is a good “fit” for your brand or product is audience compatibility. You must have a solid understanding of how your audience behaves:
- How they seek out information
- What topics do they usually like to read about
- What language are they using
- What kind of blogs do they prefer
- What kind of social media “personas” do they like and follow
Keep in mind however, your audience will play a major role in determining your choice of influencer, but so will the influencer’s. More specifically, their followers must be compatible with your offering; it must appeal to them, and potentially solve a pain, need, or interest they may have.
Factor #3: Influencer Activity
The next element to focus on is influencer activity. It is important that an influencer is regularly active on his/her social channels and blog, seeks out involvement in conversations, and responds to audience comments and questions.
Factor #4: Follower Engagement
The fourth element when seeking for an appropriate “fit” is engagement. It does not matter how large of a following an influencer has, if their audience is not engaged, their message will have little effect and collaboration will be pointless. Remember, influencers do not force themselves upon an audience like a company’s elaborate advertisements. It is their audience that chooses to follow, listen, and engage with their (the influencer’s) content.
Factor #5: Influencer Reach
Finally, despite not being as significant as engagement, you still need an influencer to have a substantial reach to really leverage word of mouth. As an SMB you should target influencers ideally between 10,000 and 100,000+ followers.
Lesson #4 - Where To Find The Ideal Influencer
There are numerous ways to find an ideal influencer for your business.
The first option you have is performing a manual search. Having already accumulated a list of “winnable” keywords for your content, you could perform a standard search on Google and social channels to see who is ranking the highest and driving traffic. While this approach will ultimately yield results, it is a very time consuming and copious task.
Buzzsumo is one of the best tools (and one of our personal favorites) to use for efficiently and effectively identifying influencers within your industry. The built in Influencer Search Tool is ideal for locating social profiles by either making use of specified keywords or actual content pieces. This in turn will allow you to find the creators along with the distribution channels they used.
Moreover, you will also be able to gather vital statistics enabling you to monitor and ensure that the rest of their content aligns with your company, your brand, and/or your offerings. Such elements are:
- The individual’s page authority
- Their domain authority
- Their follower reach
- Their re-tweet and reply ratios
- Detailed list of links the individual shared via Twitter
All of the above information can be exported and stored in a .csv or .xls format for future and constant reference.
Google Alerts is another great tool that can be used to find potentially compatible influencers. By setting alerts for keywords related to your niche or brand you will be able to spot who is writing about or mentioning topics within your industry. This essentially will allow you to not only identify influencers you may want to target in the future, but it will also help you spot bloggers already advocating you.
While the above are fairly sufficient for identifying potential influencers in your industry, there are a plethora of tools for you to explore including Twitter Lists, Little Bird, Klout, MozBar, Hey Press, and Inkybee.
Lesson #5 - How To Establish A Relationship
Follow and Engage
The most popular piece of advice circulating by experts is to religiously follow an influencer you are interested in. It is recommended that you:
- Connect with them via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and any other social channel they may be active on
- Like their posts
- Subscribe to their blog
- Comment whenever possible to generate visibility
- Add value by sharing their content.
- It doesn't hurt to be a purchaser of a service or product they offer
While all this is sound advice that should be followed, if the influencer in question has a very large and engaged following it may not be as easy to stand out.
Optimize your Approach
Think smart when trying to initiate a relationship
- Finding the social channel that has the least amount of “noise” to establish your presence
- Monitor the number and nature of comments in their various social channels and blogs, the kinds of questions posted (by the influencer and their followers)
- Gauge the influencer’s level of engagement in a particular channel, post, or topic.
This will help you better understand the behavior across the mediums used so you can optimize your approach.
Add Value with your Comments
As you may have been suspecting, comments are a great way to get the influencer’s attention but they need to be done right. Just as in writing an email, you do not want your comments to be very long and feel like spam. Conversely, you will want them to add value in the form of a question or insight presented in an efficient but effective manner.
Become an Advocate
Finally, become an advocate that will add value to their content as well. Remember relationships with influencers need to be mutually beneficial in order to yield positive results. Mention them in your future posts and even add links to their content, this will not only show that you admire their work but it will also provide greater exposure for them. If you would like to take this a step further, directly communicate with them, notifying them of your actions, and directly mention how you are a fan of their work. Do not be afraid to complement them, sometimes an ego-boost can go a long way.
- Influencers can add significant value to your marketing operations, leveraging the power of word of mouth influencer marketing can significantly enhance your exposure in a more affordable and less intrusive manner than you would have otherwise accomplished using outbound marketing.
- In order to have a good “fit” you must look for contextual relevance, audience compatibility, influencer activity, follower engagement, and substantial reach.
- Make finding potential influencers an efficient and effective process through the use of tools such as Buzzsumo and Google Alerts.
- Think smart when trying to engage with your targeted influencers and always remember you want your influencer to feel acknowledged, important, and rewarded through a mutually beneficial agreement, they are not just your tool to promote your brand.
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For more insight and reading on digital marketing, check out the links below:
- The Art Of Repurposing Content
- 5 Steps to Make Influencer Marketing Work for You
- Content Marketing - What Does It Really Mean?
- Video SEO: How to Optimize and Increase Traffic to Your Videos