Have you ever had a conversation with a friend where they were raving about some new restaurant they were eating at? Did they go on to say that you had to eat there, that they were probably going to go back themselves and that it’s the best restaurant in town? If so, congratulations! You’ve just seen influencer marketing in action!
While it may seem as though it’s something that’s cropped up relatively recently, that couldn’t be further from the truth. We’ve been using influencer marketing for quite a long time indeed. Whether it’s using celebrity endorsements, asking customers to “tell your friends about us,” or sending products to be reviewed by bloggers, the use of influencers in the promotion of goods and services is a well-established practice with a long history.
In fact, I’d say about half the business classes and seminars I’ve ever attended have featured some flavor of the age-old “satisfied customers tell one person, dissatisfied customers tell ten” adage. Influencer marketing is simply what we’ve long been aware of taken to the next level by the incredible ease-of-access offered by the Internet.
So where do you start when it comes to today’s world of influencer marketing?
It Depends on Where You Want to Go
As with anything, you need to understand and define your goals. For example, what sort of demographic are you hoping to convert? Are you looking to acquire hard sales, or just raise awareness of a product? What sort of budget do you have?
For example, if you’re on a shoestring budget then you may find that getting an endorsement from the hottest A-list celebrities a little out-of-scope. However, you may be able to afford popular Instagram personalities onboard if you’re willing to give them a free sample to use and review.
Further, know your product and who is likely to be following the influencers you’re approaching. A law firm, for example, probably won’t get much success in seeking an endorsement from a YouTube presenter who specializes in art and animation. Instead, they’d probably be looking more at acquiring testimonials and interviews from clients who had sought assistance from the firm in the past.
Keep Your Goals Reasonable
For this reason, it’s best to avoid the temptation to try and track down the biggest, most popular influencers you can find. While they’re certainly the most obvious places you could try to reach for, they’re not necessarily the most accessible — or even the most effective.
What you need is somebody with good reach and with good networking to get your message out to a large number of people with similar interests. Essentially, someone who has already established the exact audience your brand should appeal to.
This is where most of the work in setting up a good influencer marketing strategy comes into play. Ideally, you want someone who is actually relevant to the product you’re selling, as this will be reflected in their follower base, and who commands a wide enough following that it’s worth approaching them.
Remember as well that influencer marketing often snowballs. Influencers who create their own content, for example, will often also have shareable content as well. This therefore not only gets shown to their followers but will be shared with their contacts as well, reaching an even wider audience.
Try to avoid coming off too strong, as simply dropping a sales pitch in their lap will make it fairly obvious you’re using them as a means to an end. Instead, try to ease yourself in slowly by following their feeds, sharing their content and commenting on their posts. If you want to really get them to like you, do some mutual promotion of your own by sharing their content with your own follower base. This will help convince them that there are good reasons to start building connections between the two of you. Services like NeoReach can help you identify influencers that are a good fit for your brand and campaign, and make the process of finding and recruiting influencers easier, regardless of the scale of your campaign or the nature of your business.
If you find you have no choice but to directly approach an influencer, keep it friendly and make them an offer that has a clear benefit for them. For example, if you’re approaching a blogger who specializes in performs and women’s toiletries, offer them a sample basket and invite them to share their thoughts on a blog or video. People like free things, so it’s a good way to make a good impression.
Keep up the Relationship
If things go well, keep in contact with the influencer and make sure they’re always aware of your influencer marketing strategy. Remember as well that their first loyalty will be to their followers, not to you, so always keep them in mind as partners, not as outsourced employees. Treat them with the respect and courtesy that comes with it, and you should be fine.
Be sure to organize your strategy around them and their style of content as well. Make sure it occurs in accordance with their budget, format, schedule, and preferences.
Also be aware that, as this is a partnership, you must ensure they continue to benefit tangibly in some way from it. You can do this in a number of ways. Cold hard cash in the form of a regular payment or commission is one route, or if funds are tight, you can offer them free products or generous discounts. Influencers will also always appreciate efforts to boost their own visibility and traffic, so frequently sharing their content to your clients and customers is a good way to keep them sweet.
Keep this up, and you should have established a very solid working relationship with the best influencer marketing personalities on your corner of the internet!