I focused on grassroots or guerilla marketing when I first cut my teeth in the marketing space. My competitive advantage, the one I told clients, was my ability to target and work with influential people to spread a message in a targeted community. It seemed like every other marketing agency wanted to talk about creating ads so I zigged instead of zagging and focused on what I called grassroots marketing. This targeted approach to marketing is all the rage now. It even has a cool name - Influencer Marketing.
So what is Influencer Marketing. In its simplest form, Influencer Marketing is a form of marketing where you leverage influential people to distribute and share your message with their followers. This goes without saying, but I'll write it anyway - their followers should be the same people you want to reach.
Forbes predicted influencer marketing would explode in 2017, so you probably already have a program in place. After all, 84% of marketers were planning on executing at least one influencer marketing campaign this year. Let's consider some essentials you should think about in making the most out of your influencer initiative.
Influencer Marketing Basics
You likely already know that influencers are the people who are active on social media and blogs who can advocate for your brand and promote you with a niche, targeted audience.
Smart marketers research people online who have credibility with an audience they covet. This isn’t about just finding people with tons of followers. It’s about seeking out the people who have the right followers, and credibility with those followers.
In the best case, an influencer can increase your social media exposure, drive traffic to your site, and increase your sell through rate. For instance, by providing reputable fashion bloggers with clothing and accessory samples, a fashion company could bolster sales to relevant products. Or, a VOIP telecommunications provider could see an uptick in installs after one of its small business clients endorses its phone system setup and customer service online.
Even Nielsen acknowledges the power of the social influencer trend noting that 92% of global consumers trust “earned media” above all other forms of advertising.
What to Include in Your Program
With influencer marketing on trend right now, you have to work harder to make your program work well. What can you do?
Know your influencers. Research ideal influencers who not only fit your niche, but also have a personality type that suits your brand values. Know the topics that make them a good fit and have a clear idea of what your goals are for their potential reach. Spend a lot of time here. You don't want to end up like Reebok when they signed Rick Ross. No shade but did anyone really see this working. The brand values were misaligned.
Ongoing research. Finding a few influencers and calling it a day won’t work. Social media marketing moves fast. You need to use social media monitoring, hashtag research, Google alerts and other tools to find the right influencers to interact with on an ongoing basis.
Happy customers. The best influencer is someone who truly knows and loves your brand. So leverage relevant content from happy users and clients. When I was the Director of Marketing at VILLA, our approach was to work with customers to share our collective story. See what I did there. The story we shared wasn't just about VILLA. It was about VILLA and its customers on a quest to achieve a goal. Ok, I got sidetracked there for a bit. You can do something similar by encouraging user generated content by asking customers to upload photos and videos, offering product discounts or other incentives, sending out trial products, and participating in communities related to your product or service to find comments and quotes you might use in testimonials or to inspire blog posts.
Compensation. Sometimes giving influencers a social shout out can help them feel important. Giving away free stuff can work too. Some companies even offer commissions or financial rewards. But, these latter two can muddy the organic nature of the influence and could backfire for both you and the influencer.
Clear goals. It is difficult to quantify the ROI from influencer marketing. In fact, 38% of marketers say they are unable to tell whether influencer activity actually drives sales, according to a Rakuten Marketing survey. But, at the very least, if you have established clear objectives (Improve brand reach? Drive site traffic? Increase sales?), you can better identify the appropriate influencers and gauge your program’s effectiveness.
Ultimately, as is true for all digital marketing efforts, influencer marketing requires you to know your audience, brand voice, and do due diligence to find the right contextual fit for your business message.
Now, go ahead and influence others by sharing this blog post!