What is Influencer Marketing?
“The use of people (employees, customers, third parties) to amplify business messages and drive desirable behavior among target audiences.” ~ Convince and Convert
Basically, Influencer Marketing (IM) is finding people with a large, loyal following who likes your product or service enough to share your social media posts with their huge followers. It’s product endorsement, but the one big difference is the influencers are not paid. It’s word-of-mouth marketing on steroids.
Who would you believe more? The obviously paid celebrity spokesperson claiming in a commercial that a hamburger is the best ever or the celebrity taking an impromptu selfie at your restaurant enjoying the best burger he’s ever had.
The latter one, right? A paid spokesperson will say what they are being paid to say. However, if someone truly likes your product, they’ll rave about it to their fans and followers. That is marketing and branding GOLD.
But how do you find these influencers?
Twitter is a good and easy place to start. That was my strategy with a client who offers parenting classes. Find the mom bloggers. There are thousands of them all over the world. I searched for bloggers who tweeted using hashtag #PositiveParenting because that was the parenting philosophy that my client used in his classes. Within that category, I also looked to see where they were located and how many Twitter followers they had. We were specifically looking for mom bloggers with 10,000+ following. Believe me, they’re out there.
Acting as my client, I followed them on Twitter and as soon as I did, they were notified of a new follower. The idea is to get their attention and hopefully intrigue them to follow back by:
- Having a fully-branded, good looking Twitter profile page. It’s all about first impressions — you have 7 seconds to catch someone’s attention online. You need to make it good and they need to instantly know exactly what you have to offer.
- Having a link to the website. Furthermore, your website should be fully functional to convert visitors into leads.
- Posting relevant content of interest to the target audience. If you’re not tweeting why should they follow?
- Retweeting their relevant content — they’ll be notified and you’ll garner points.
- Mentioning (tagging) them when sharing their content from outside of Twitter. If you come across an article or video they published and you shared it, make sure you tag them so they get notified.
Once they followed back — you have the start of a relationship. I thanked them and asked them to check out the free webinar. I also made note of them in a spreadsheet for my client. I added their website and how many followers they had. It was then up to him to reach out to them to offer them an opportunity to review the classes or be on their podcast.
When starting out, you must monitor your account to make sure you don’t let an influencer fall through the cracks. I like TweetDeck for Twitter (free). Another one that helps monitor all the major social networks is HootSuite (free to a point).
The idea is to get these influencers to like you and your content so much that they’ll share your content with their thousands of followers.
At the end of the each month, check your analytics. Twitter provides analytics free. They’ll even tell you which tweets got the most engagement: retweets (shares), likes (bookmarked) clicks and/or replies (comments). Make sure analytics are set up on Twitter first.
Twitter will also tell you who’s your most influential follower or “Top Follower”. In the graphic below, you’ll see one of Greater Phoenix SCORE’s top follower — over 1 million followers!
Twitter is great for exposure for both B2B and B2C businesses and because it’s so easy to connect with people, it’s where I’d start.
How to Identify Influencers
Just like you create target market personas, you need to develop IM personas. It’ll be different for each business. For the parenting classes, mom bloggers were the obvious choice. Yours might not be so clear. It’s not like you’re going to get J-Lo to start wearing your t-shirts with just one tweet.
Here are a few questions to consider:
- Who does my target market trust and follow? There may be several different ones, but not all them will be the right promoter for your brand. If the influencer’s followers are not interested in your product or service, there’s no use in pursuing them. For B2B, look for industry-specific influencers.
- Does the influencer’s follower demographic align with your target market? Just because someone has a lot of followers doesn’t mean they are your target audience. On Twitter, you can view anyone’s followers and see who they are. Would they buy your product or service?
- What is the influencer going to ask in return? Free products? Free service? Monetary compensation?
- Are their followers real or fake? Sometimes the person with 1000 followers has more clout with them and is more relevant than the one with 10,000 or more followers.
- How much engagement do their posts get? If their posts are shared A LOT, you’ll see lots of comments and likes.
- Are they easy to reach and will they be open to a working influencer-marketing relationship with you? Sharing is just part of it. If they’re going to be working with you for the long-haul, you’ll need to gently guide them on what to say, what keywords and hashtags to use, etc. Also, lay some ground rules on what NOT to say.
- Are they authentic? Besides their Twitter account, check out their website and other social media accounts. You want to make sure they are honest and credible before you spend time dealing with them.
- Is their expertise in industry real? Are they in too many different industries? You don’t want a “Jack-of-all-Trades” and a “Master-of-None.” Google them. Do your research.
- How active are they on social media? Are they on every day or once a week? Does it look like someone is posting on their behalf or is it all automated? Do they personally interact with their followers?
Going Past Free
Sometimes all it takes is one person with a lot of friends to help your brand take off. But sometimes, it’s not so easy. It may take a little more hunting. You may have to go beyond Twitter to LinkedIn if you’re B2B and Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest if you’re B2C. Each will have a different IM strategy.
What if after 3 months of trying it organically (not paid), you still haven’t found even one influencer? Should you spend money? Do you have the budget?
So is hiring an influencer not the same as a paid spokesperson? What’s it going to look like to the audience if they find out the endorsement is technically paid? That’s something you have to consider.
Influencer Marketing Resources
There are several tools out there to help you manage your influencer marketing campaigns — not all are free. (They do much more than just monitoring.) Which to use is up to you. Do they provide a time-saving service for you? Is it worth it?
Here are some of the reasonably priced ones to check out:
- noxinfluencer.com – for YouTube only
- commun.it – Twitter only
Influencer Marketing should definitely be part of your marketing plan. Yes, it will take some “sweat equity”, but it will be worth it.