When you hear the word influencer what comes to mind? Kim Kardashian? Peyton Manning? When you think about using influencer marketing for your business do you immediately think it would be cheaper to run a 5-second commercial during the Super Bowl? Let’s look at what an influencer is and how you can employ influencers into your 2020 marketing mix .
Definition of Influencer
First, you need to realize that we are all influencers at some level. Your children are influencers of what you buy at the grocery store. You may influence your coworkers or social media audience to try an app or software that you recommend. The number of followers that show under a profile pic does not define an influencer. An influencer is someone who can persuade a group of people—large or small–to take action.A micro-influencer is someone who has authority in their field but may not be a celebrity. Like the woman who runs a large networking group in your city, or the mom blogger who has several thousand fans reading and engaging on her blog but not millions…yet. The outdoor enthusiast or local tennis star that has a great following on social media but isn’t selling a course or product…yet!
Identifying the Ideal Influencers for Your Brand
Who are your ideal customers? Have you really spent the time identifying them specifically? If so, here are a few questions to answer to start identifying your ideal influencers:
- Do you know what other products, services, and places your ideal customers love?
- Who are the leaders in your industry that people trust that may not even be selling anything?
- Who is writing informative or educational articles that people share but who are not directly competing with you?
- An example I will use is in marketing our coworking space, The Village. My target audience is entrepreneurial women and small teams working remote. They are 30-55 years old. These women are attending networking events for entrepreneurs, they follow blogs about working from home or working on remote teams. Many juggle working from home with raising families and may read Colorado Parent’s Magazine.
Building Relationships with These InfluencersThere may be times you need to just pay for an influencer to promote your fitness product or a big launch. There are websites to help you identify, select and measure the success of the campaign. Some of the sites show the fee that the larger influencers will charge. Most paid influencers will have a page on their website showing their fees and what you will get for that fee.You can check out sites like Social Bakers and Upfluence to look for those higher-paid influencers, but I want to talk about those micro-influencers who just might make a bigger impact for very little, if any payment. Let’s look at the steps to establishing a relationship with your list of influencers and incorporating them into your marketing strategy.Find each of your influencers on the social channels you want to attract your customers. Connect or follow them and read through several of their posts. Don’t look like a scary stalker liking and commenting on every single post but select a few that truly resonate with you and post a thoughtful comment. We love using emojis in the comments to get the comment to stand-out (other than the flame and 100% ones which just scream SPAMMER).I may sound a little like the character played by Will Smith in the 2005 movie, HITCH but some of you may need a “dating expert” to be very specific with you. So after commenting on a few posts, wait a day or two and then send a DM to each of your target influencers, not to introduce yourself and talk about how awesome your product or service is, but simply to thank them for sharing helpful or interesting content and give an example of something in their post you really found helpful or interesting. [more on being LIKEABLE here]Watch their feed for interaction and engagement. Who is engaged with this person? Are they the type of people you have in mind as your ideal customer? Pay attention to the types of conversations your influencer prospect is having. Is he or she mentioning other products? If you spend time courting an influencer and all of their fans are not your ideal customers, you are barking up the wrong tree.
What to Pay Your Influencer, If AnythingKeep engaging daily or at least a couple times a week, so you are coming up on their radar. If they have not already replied back to you or thanked you for all of your interaction, send a second DM asking if you can send them something to get their opinion or thoughts. Let them know that you feel, based on their expertise, their input would be so valuable to you.Based on their response you may find that sending a product or goodie basket is all you have to “pay” to have them talk about your brand. You can also offer an affiliate’s commission to your influencers, in which case you will want to set up a program to track that on sites like Share-A-Sale, GumRoad, or other affiliate programs that make this easy for you to track and payout commissions.Whether you pay commission or per blog post they write, be sure to use reporting to track how much traffic is coming from this influencer’s site and how much in sales. You want to make sure your time spent courting them is worth it and aligns with your business goals.
Be In It for the Long HaulWhile this process may be much more time consuming than just paying an influencer to pitch your product, it is much more sustainable. Often a paid influencer will mention you once or however long you are paying them, and it can come across as inauthentic. If they are being paid, they will also have to disclose that, causing their audience to see it as an ad, not a true endorsement. If you focus on building a sustainable and mutually beneficial relationship with your influencers you could live happily ever after!