Conveying trust and authenticity to your audience is a key component in gaining competitive advantage. An estimated 80 percent of customers say that authenticity is critical when they determine whether or not they want to follow a particular brand. Influencer marketing can be an important building block in conveying both of these messages to your intended audience. It allows you to tap into the power of an industry authority whose opinion the audience values.
Influencer marketing, as the chart below shows, is dramatically on the rise.
Last month the Wall Street Journal reported how Forbes is changing its business model to invite advertiser’s advertisers to pay for access to influencers across networks of journalists, academics and bloggers. This is a clear sign that influence has monetary value.
What is an influencer
An influencer is a person who is respected as an authority in their subject area. People listen to what they have to say and take their recommendations and suggestions seriously. They are regarded as informed and viewed as a leader within their industry.
Influencers will also have a sizeable audience of people who follow them to learn and participate in conversations. This audience often engages on social media, where sites such as LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter have offered people the platforms they need to build a personal brand with thousands of followers.
For influencer marketing to be effective for you, it is important to focus on finding one who has an audience that overlaps with your own target consumer. When you are able to successfully engage with your influencer, they will be spreading the message about your brand to others who are the most likely to be interested in what you have to offer.
It is important to go through a careful vetting process when finding the right influencer for your brand. Although technology can help spit out results, telling you which people have high numbers of followers, it is only by looking carefully at their content that you can gauge their authenticity and trustworthiness.
There are a number of different ways that influencers can help you spread your brand. Small actions, such as liking or sharing a post, can help lend some credibility to what you have to say. When a person with thousands of followers acknowledges your content, that can help get your material in front of countless people as it shows up on their own feeds.
You might also consider asking an influencer to mention you or your products and services on their channels. This does not have to be a formal recommendation, but it can be a shout out, an acknowledgement or other means of letting their followers know that you are available to help them with their problem.
Finally, influencers can help you by directly recommending you or providing you with the opportunity to post on their website or blog. With a formal recommendation, the influencer will be throwing their professional authority behind you, which will help to inspire their followers to learn more about you. Those who were debating about whether to use your organization may have the scales tipped towards you.
A guest post gives you the platform you need to directly address the influencer’s massive audience. One of the biggest struggles for many companies is attracting people to their blog. They might have fantastic ideas, but with a limited audience, it can be a struggle to get them noticed. When you produce something for an influencer’s blog, then you have the audience already in place and it is your chance to shine.
It is estimated that influencer behavior can produce 16 times the engagement rates of alternative marketing tactics, such as paid media. A study that looked at the impact of influencer marketing across a variety of industries found that brands saw an average earned market value (EMV) of $6.85 for every dollar they spent. The stronger the endorsement you can receive from the influencer, the more their potential impact can be magnified to persuade people to do business with your organization.
Putting influencer marketing to use
- Find relevant influencers who have an audience that aligns with yours. Use technology and research to learn about the influencers in your industry. Identify a few key players and examine them carefully to learn about their audience and how closely it matches your ideal buyer personas. Vet their quality and authenticity to make sure it will be a good match.
- Build a relationship with them. Once you know who would be a good fit for your campaign, you then need to focus on the relationship. No one wants to do favors for someone they just met, and being too forward, without establishing the bond first, can end up hurting your reputation. This relationship can be built by following them, sharing their content, commenting on their material and otherwise engaging them online.
- Show value to your targeted influencers. As you build your relationship, you also need to reflect on your ability to provide value for the influencer. For example, if you are adding a new product or service to your industry space, an influencer who recommends you early on to their audience can be credited with ‘discovering’ this incredible value. Even just providing content that regularly adds tremendous value for the audience can offer something for the influencer.
- Reach out and ask for more direct engagement. Once you have laid the foundation for a strong relationship with an influencer and they have been receptive to what you offer, you will then be in a better position to reach out and seek more direct engagement. You might ask for an endorsement or space as a guest poster, for example.
Influencer marketing is all about leveraging the human element in marketing– tapping into the power of the recommendation and what people are willing to trust online. In a world where people have seemingly limitless options when it comes to the businesses they can buy from and the resources they can learn from, communicating trust and authenticity are key.
Influencer marketing gives you the power to tap into this potential.