Influencer marketing has been steadily gaining steam over the last few years, and now more and more marketers realise the value that influencers can bring to their business.
If you can tap into the vast following social media influencers have gathered, then you can extend the reach and growth of your brand exponentially. But if you’ve never dived into influencer marketing before, it can be difficult to know where to start.
So today, we have 5 tips to help you make the most of your efforts.
What’s The Difference Between An Influencer And An Advocate?
First things first – most business owners have heard of the term ‘brand advocate’ before. But when they then hear the term ‘influencer’, they get a little confused. What’s the difference, and does one matter more than the other?
Thankfully, it’s a fairly easy difference to remember. Every brand no matter how small, has its advocates – but not every brand has influencers. To help clear things up:
- An Advocate is an everyday person who loves your brand and is willing to share that love and positivity with their friends, family, colleagues and network. An advocate could be a customer, an employee or even someone you don’t know who identifies with your message. Advocates are willing to put their reputation on the line to support you and are generally grown naturally.
- An Influencer, on the other hand, is a well-known figure in your market who can influence the buying decisions of your potential customers. They have a strong presence on social media, widely-read blogs, popular YouTube channels and a large following. If your brand can form a relationship with them, you have the potential to share content, cross-promote and collaborate with them and reach their wide audience.
Advocates are fantastic things to have, and you should always try to nurture more of them. But influencer relationships are something you need to actively pursue, and 2019 is the year to do it. So, if you’re planning to give it a go, we have a few tips for you:
Tip 1 – Know Your Objectives
Like anything in business, you shouldn’t go jumping into an influencer relationship without having a plan in place first. The most important part of which should be understanding what you want to get out of the influencer relationship.
This will help you understand what types of influencers you want to approach, how to approach them and the methodology of that relationship. Ask yourself questions to make sure you’ve covered all theses bases. A few things to consider include:
- What can you offer the influencer to provide real value, and motivate them to work with you?
- Who will be responsible for working out which influencers are right for your brand?
- Who will manage those relationships?
- What do you ultimately want from those relationships?
- Where is the best place to engage with them?
- What are they passionate about?
- What kind of following do they have?
If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend starting with the result you want and working backwards.
Tip 2 – Do Your Research
Indeed, becoming an influencer has become a popular career choice in certain in industries, which is why it’s even more important to do your research before you approach any influencers.
Research shows that 69.4% of influencers were inspired to get into influencing for the revenue-generating opportunities. Luckily there are a few ways you can spot a ‘hustler’ influencer. The biggest tell is to look closely at their social media accounts: not just the number of followers they have, but the interaction their posts get.
Often influencers who are just looking for the money will have bought followers, so while the numbers may look impressive, the interaction is very low, since most of the accounts following them are fake.
But as a business, you want to make sure you’re connecting with someone who respects your values and genuinely has a passion for the market. A true influencer knows their value, and doesn’t need to shout about it. And if you do your research, you can easily weed out the hustlers.
Tip 3 – Engage On Social Media
Social media influencer marketing has been gaining a lot of traction recently, and we expect that to continue into 2019. So, once you’ve decided which influencer or influencers you want to work with, you need to reach out to them.
Time and time again, social media has proven to be the ideal place to start a dialogue. But we recommend you do this slowly, instead of just contacting them out of the blue and asking them to work with you. Instead, start a slow engagement plan. Some of the things this could include are:
- Commenting on their posts
- Sharing their posts
- Compliment them on the material they share from their blog/video
- Cite them in your own marketing efforts – like blog posts
- Tag them on social media
- Include a compliment in your post, such as ‘Check out our new blog with some great insights we learned from Influencer X’
It’s not a quick process, but over time the influencer will start to take notice, and this will open the door to a conversation, which in turn can lead to a collaboration. While you’re waiting for this to happen, you can monitor social media for mentions of your brand to see how you’re progressing.
There are plenty of social media listening tools available, which can alert you to any mentions of your brand online and help you nurture these relationships a little quicker.
Tip 4 – Understand The Value You Offer
Once you’ve identified the influencers you want to work with and started to engage with them, you’ll be gearing up for ‘the big ask’ — the moment you ask them to collaborate with you. But working with influencers is a two-way street.
Just as they can give you the value of access to their network, you need to be able to offer them some value by working with you. This might be allowing them to guest post on your well-read blog, interviewing them on a podcast for your brand, or promoting them to your own followers. Influencers love to talk about what they do, and interviews give them a new platform to promote themselves and what they care about.
It’s free advertising for them, and a great way for you to provide value. If you sell products, it could be a case of sending them free products to test and review for their audience (which is very popular in the beauty and personal care industries). Whatever you choose, you need to make sure that you can offer them some value in return, and a new platform to reach a new audience.
Tip 5 – Go For Long Term Relationships, Not Quick Wins
This is another way you can tell the ‘hustler’ from the true influencer. When you start talking collaborations, the hustler will always want to do a quick exchange for cash. They will post your blog and share it for a fee, and that will be the extent of it. But this kind of relationship isn’t sustainable, and won’t give you the long-term benefits of an influencer collaboration.
A true influencer relationship is one that’s nurtured over time and is mutually beneficial. So while it might be tempting to go for the quick win, it’s never really worth it. The good news is that nurturing an influencer relationship becomes a lot easier if you’re using something like an all-in-one CRM system, where you can gather and store incremental information about your influencers as you learn it.
Noting their interests, passions, areas of expertise, and any other data you want to store is valuable. Doing this allows you to tailor your conversations and really develop those relationships.
Influencer marketing is still a fairly small sector, but we expect it to be explosive over 2019. Already, brands are starting to see the value in having public figures representing and promoting their business, and that is only likely to increase.
Influencer marketing can work for almost any industry – it’s just a case of choosing the right influencers to work with. If you would like to know more about influencer marketing, or get some tips to get started, just get in touch with us today.