Without a doubt, influencer marketing has become one of the primary ways brands are generating buzz through the right channels, in the right way to the right audience. The interest in the phrase“influencer marketing” has grown by 500% in the last year and brought in 75% ROI, according to a recent Grapevine study of around 150 influencer marketing campaigns.
Despite its rise in popularity, many brand messages have recently come across as insincere or obvious pay-to-play schemes. This month, the FTC cited that Microsoft, Lord & Taylor and Warner Bros misled the public for failure to inform customers and consumers that certain social influencers were paid to promote the brand.
While paying influencers to promote your brand is unavoidable, there are ways marketers can craft more sincere and meaningful influencer campaigns that build a strong advocate community. Here are a few tips to help ensure your next influencer campaign is not just successful in the short term, but meaningful in the long term.
Know the difference between influencers and advocates
Creating a meaningful influencer marketing campaign starts with finding the right influencers. Advocates may not have a large volume of followers or high engagement rates, but they have lots of enthusiasm and appreciation for your brand. Whether you pay them or not, advocates will surely rep your brand and talk about your product the way you’d want any influencer to do.
An easy way to find the right influencers is to craft a persona or outline the kind of influencer you’re looking for by asking yourself questions such as: Where are my influencers located? How old are they? How often do they engage? What kind of content do they post? What are their most popular posts? Where to they go to research the kind of software or product I’m offering? Be specific. Targeting influencers this way, instead of focusing solely on reach and follower numbers will help guide you towards more meaningful interactions with right-fit social users.
Even Scott Disick can screw up influencer marketing, so be sure you can identify true advocates from social influencers looking to make money.
Seek to offer value or collaboration in addition to pay
According to a study by Crowdtap, 44 percent of influencers said that they prefer working with a brand, only if the opportunity is relevant to their audience, it provides a unique experience to them or they personally like the product. Before you embark on the influencer marketing journey, ask yourself - what will my influencers get out of this other than money? How can my product provide real value to their audiences? This AdNews article brings up a great point that social influencers are essentially great content creators, so what can you offer to help them create quality content for their audience?
Consider each influencer's social channel and how your product or service and fit into it to help tell a bigger, more impactful story. In the end, this will drive more qualified leads and create true brand ambassadors instead of just shovelling in traffic to your site.
Reach out to influencers in a personalized way
I equivocate contacting influencers to pitching media. Before you contact them, make sure you’re aware of the kind of content they post, which recent posts you like. Always be clear on why you’re reaching out to them.
As a business professional, don’t you typically try to find common ground before talking about your product with a new or potential client? Or seek to establish a face-to-face relationship first by taking them out for drinks or lunch or jumping on a video chat? The same rules apply with influencer marketing outreach.
Kyle Ingham, founder of The Distilled Man, told Forbes, “Every week, my inbox is full of impersonal brand pitches—obvious ‘insert name here’ cut and paste jobs. So the most refreshing thing is when brands take the time to thoughtfully comment on my site and show that they truly understand how their brand would genuinely be a good fit for my audience.”
Engage with influencers first on social media or see if influencers are attending a particular event that you’ll be at. This personal touch will get potential influencers excited about your brand. Most importantly, it will create a level of mutual trust.
Without question, influencer marketing continues to drive brand awareness and create strong social advocates. To stand out among a crowd of spammy social natives and create a meaningful ecosystem of social influencers, brands must think about who they are targeting, what they are offering and how they're reaching out to social enthusiasts.
Do you need help building out a meaningful influencer marketing strategy or just have some basic questions? Contact me.