One of the most effective types of digital marketing is influencer marketing. This is because people trust the recommendations made by third-party sources and well-known personalities more than the brand itself. So, what exactly is influencer marketing and how can you make use of it for promoting your brand?
What is Influencer Marketing?
In the traditional marketing landscape, we would see our favourite celebrity or athlete promoting a brand’s products on a billboard. In this digital age, though, the concept of influencer marketing has involved.
Nowadays, influencer marketing is about sponsoring well-known personalities on the social media who make use of brand products and promote a brand online. In essence, an influencer acts as an ambassador for a brand with the same idea as a celebrity endorsement. Now though, the endorsement is done through the social media and has a much more organic feel to it.
In a nutshell, influencer marketing can be defined as the process of looking for, identifying, and engaging with influencers. The key benefit of making use of influencers for marketing is that they significantly improve the online exposure of a brand. You will be surprised by how influencers are able to market and sell your own products better than you can!
Statistics show that people are 5x more likely to make a purchase when recommended by a social influencer than from any other traditional form of marketing. A recent research by Twitter also shows that 49% of customers seek the opinion of social media influencers when they have to make a purchase decision. Most importantly, 40% of Twitter user stated that they made a purchase just because of an influencer’s recommendation tweet. These impressive numbers show how effective influencer marketing can be for a brand.People are 5x more likely to make a purchase when recommended by a social influencer. Click To Tweet 40% of Twitter user stated that they made a purchase just because of an influencer’s recommendation tweet. Click To Tweet
Now that you understand the importance of influencer marketing, let us take a look at how you can make use of it for promoting your brand.
1. Discover Influencers
The first step towards influencer marketing is to look for the right influencers for your business. So, who are these influencers? They are not the individuals that just talk about your brand online. Instead, influencers are the individuals who can influence people by what they say, what they recommend, and what they share.
Depending on your industry, you might have hundreds or thousands of influencers but the question is: how to find them? Through social listening, of course!
Social listening is defined as the process of reading, analyzing, and understanding what your target audience is saying about you, your industry, or your competitors on the social media. With the help of social listening, you can find out who has been talking about you and what are the latest trends in your niche industry. More importantly though, social listening can help you find digital influencers for your brand.
Ideally, you should be looking for someone that is:
- Talking about your brand.
- Talking about your products and services.
- Sharing your content.
Once you have shortlisted the candidates suitable for becoming your brand influencers, look out for these three main points to further refine your search:
- Relevancy: Is the individual interested in your brand? If they post about your brand, will their followers find it credible or will it be out of context?
- Reach: Does the individual have a good following? Influencers are a part of the social media communities and often have a large social following. However, some influencers (known as micro-influencers) can have a small social audience but yet still be effective. These are individuals who directly influence the purchasing decisions of your customers. For instance, experts who are sought out when the target audience is looking for recommendations.
- Impact: What is the perception of the audience about the individual? Are they thought to be authoritative or knowledgeable? Can they persuade the people in their networks to take a decision?
It is important to mention that when you are searching for influencers, you should know exactly what to look for. Think about topics that influencers in your industry would talk about. Think about the content that they would like to read and share. Think about the various keywords (or hashtags) that they will use when talking about your topic of interest.
For instance, if an influencer is into search engine marketing, they are likely to use the hashtags like #sem. When you look for these hashtags on Twitter or Facebook, you will find all the influencer’s conversations regarding the topic.
Remember: Before you start working with influencers, you need to start thinking like one.
One of the most effective methods for finding influencers is to search for hashtags that are relevant to your target industry and then find posts that have very high levels of engagement. This process can be automated through the use of social listening tools such as Mentionlytics.
2. Ranking Influencers
Once you have found influencers for your brand, the next step is to rank them according to their performance. Every influencer is not the same. The key is to find the influencers who can offer the highest value to your brand.
The engagement metrics that you need for benchmarking influencers are the number of likes, shares, favourites, retweets, and pins. Other than this, any other action that measures how a follower is engaging with the influencer can be counted towards the ranking of the influencer.
The number of followers is another useful metric that can be used to determine the popularity of an influencer. However, fake profiles and bots on the social media can boost the follower counts without a guarantee for engagement. Therefore, we generally tend to minimize this metric when ranking influencers.
When sorting out your influencers, it is always recommended that you take these factors into consideration:
- Sentiment: Has the influencer sentiment attached towards your brand or target audience? Is it positive or negative?
- Affiliation: Is the influencer affiliated with another company (such as your competitor) or are they creating their content independently?
- Experience: How experienced is the influencer in your target industry?
- Reach: How big is the influencer’s following? How many people can they influence?
- Impact: How persuasive is the influencer in their network? Do people value their recommendations and thoughts?
Working with Influencers
You have now found the right influencers for your brand – what is the next step? Contact them and let them know that you are grateful. This is the starting point of building your relationship with the influencers.
An influencer silently contributes to your brand but when you thank them, you show that you acknowledge their contributions. Let them know that you admire their expertise, passion, and the time that they have spent talking about your brand. Make them feel like they are partners in your venture.
The next thing that you need to do is to encourage them to contribute more to your brand. This does not mean that you force the influencers to talk about you, you should never be pushy! Remember that it is very easy to convert a brand advocate into a brand detractor. You should always approach influencers in a friendly manner.
Here are some good ways of getting influencers to talk more about your brand:
- Engage them whenever you launch a new product, service, or feature. Ask them about their opinion and this will eventually lead them to write about it on the social media.
- Provide them with an incentive, even if it is something as small as a discount. A gift, giveaway, promo, or even a loyal member status are good ways of giving back to these influencers.
- Encourage all types of content – it does not have to be restricted to blog posts only. Anything from a YouTube video to an Instagram photo can be helpful. Just make sure that the influencer has a good following on the platform.
- See the places that they are engaged with and whenever possible, make sure that you engage there, too. Whether it is a Google Hangouts conversation, Twitter chat, or Facebook group, be present to make sure you stay close.
- Having conversations over email is fine, but if you want to raise the bar, take it offline! Meet them somewhere in person and discuss their importance to your brand to instil a sense of loyalty in them.
Partner with them. Take extra care of them, treat them just the way you would treat your brand ambassadors. This is because influencers are people that will talk about brand even when you don’t ask them to. Sponsor them, pamper them, and make them feel special.
4. Sponsor Giveaways
Once you have developed a relationship with an influencer, the next step is to sponsor free trials and product giveaways by leveraging on the influencer’s social media reach. This is much more effective than traditional social media advertisements because you are reaching out to an organic audience. This guarantees a higher rate of conversion for your brand.
The higher conversion rate is because you are moving from the unresponsive engagement channels to responsive engagement channels. Since viewers know the social influencers and are strong supporters of what they say, they trust their recommendations and judgement.
Therefore, when these influencers recommend or giveaway a product to the audience, the customer automatically moves down the buying process. In some rare cases, social influencers can push consumers through the entire funnel i.e. from the problem recognition to the actual purchase, everything is taken care of by a single post from the influencer!
5. Repay Influencers
The last step for influencer marketing is to provide the brand advocates with the incentive that they deserve. Unless you are providing some sort of compensation to the influencers, they are not doing everything to help your brand, but instead to help their network. To change this, you can simply offer them something that they value.
Influencers thrive on helping their network with helpful information and genuine content. Whatever you offer to them depends on how they work and what the task is. They can accept or reject your offer depending on their preference.
What you need to understand is that there are different ways of compensating an influencer. The type you choose depends on the personal preferences of a particular influencer. There are primarily three ways in which you can compensate your influencers:
- Financially: This will depend on you and your influencer’s discretion. In the case of freelancers, this is the most common method for compensation.
- Giveaway/Discount: A good substitute for money could be a valuable giveaway or discount to one of your products or services. An influencer appreciates this and is more likely to talk about you because of it, as well.
- Moral: A promise of sharing the influencer’s content on your network or helping them out with their content production could also be offered to the influencer. Sometimes, influencers will find it offensive that you have enough money but are still choosing to not compensate financially. Therefore, moral incentives should be offered when the influencer is genuinely uninterested in financial compensation or as an added incentive to a giveaway or financial stipend.
Using social listening for finding who is influencing your target industry is an investment that is worth making. The potential return of investment from influencer marketing is unmatched by any other traditional mode of marketing. While it can be difficult to find brand influencers and partner with them, remember that once you find the right influencers, it will boost your brand’s online presence and lead directly to improved sales for your organization.
A tool such as Mentionlytics can help you cut through all the nitty-gritty details of the social listening process and help you determine exactly who your influencers are, what their ranking is, and how you can use them to add value to your brand. It automates the process for you so that you can focus on working with the influencers rather than on how to find them.