Content marketing continues to be a powerful strategy for businesses. And these days, many businesses have turned to influencer marketing to give even longer legs to their content. By definition, influencer marketing is “a form of marketing that has emerged from a variety of recent practices and studies, in which focus is placed on specific key individuals (or types of individual) rather than the target market as a whole.”
In other words, influencer marketing is when businesses work with influential people in their industry to produce content marketing that ultimately has a wider reach.
There is some confusion about influencer marketing. Some businesses think that as long as someone has a large social following he or she is an influencer. However, an influencer is really anyone who can assist your business in getting more clients. For some, this will be people with large followings, but for others it could be a small niche blogger who has built a great rapport with their readers.
At ShortStack.com we’ve partnered with a range of influencers and it has worked well for us. For this post, we turned to some of our top influencers and searched the internet for some of the top tips on how any business can get started on influencer marketing today.
Here are 10 experts’ top tips for businesses looking to get started in influencer marketing
Know the Difference Between an Influencer and an Advocate
According to an article from Michael Brito, an influencer is someone with significant social capital. They tend to have several thousand Twitter followers, RSS subscribers and Facebook “likes.” and they are frequently retweeted, quoted, interviewed, invited to speak at conferences and may even have written a book or two.
Influencers have a considerable amount of reach, hence all the attention that big brands give to them by seeding them with products before they hit the market, or giving them insight into the product roadmap. The relationship between a brand and influencers is usually built upon incentives.
An advocate is different. They may only have a few hundred followers and may not even blog (and many won’t know what an RSS feed is). The main difference is that advocates don’t need or want incentives. They will talk and talk and talk about the brands they care about, even if the brand completely ignores them. They are vocal, passionate and always give a brand praise both on and offline.
Do the Groundwork
When you want influencers to engage with your product or service you need to do the groundwork first to build a relationship with the influencer. Identify relevant influencers to connect with using tools such as Traacker or GetLittlebird and then focus on building the relationship. Think about how you can help the influencer. Share their content, promote their books, answer their questions. The more you can help the more they will want to help.
There’s a huge misunderstanding online when it comes to the term “influencer.” Most people labeled as influencers are really just popular. Influence is the ability to actually persuade someone into taking action. Popular people online often have built trust with their community and are seen as an authority – but may not be able to actually influence others to take action. If your target audience matches their engaged audience, the best tip I can provide is to work on a compelling and engaging story for the influencer to share and the action you’d like their audience to take when they share it. While the influencer may not be able to provide a personally compelling story, sharing one can make all the difference. A story that is relevant to the audience, combined with the trust and authority with the influencer, will push the most people to a conversion.
Know Their Beat & Make Them Shine
One common way to incorporate influencer marketing is featuring expert opinions on your blog and a winning formula for this ultimately brings value to your audience, the influencers you want to connect with and you. When you choose the right people, you end up with a win-win for both of you and that should be your ultimate goal.
The better you can understand the personal objectives of the influencers you are trying to reach, the better you can appeal to them when trying to engage them in your campaign. For example, if you’re doing an article on “Why Mobile Marketing Is The Future,” then your best place to start is finding people who are already championing that with their personal brand.
When you know the beat of the influencer you’re trying to reach, position your pitch so it’s clear what they have to gain from it and how that aligns with what they are already doing. As a side note, make sure you tell them some numbers related to your audience (traffic + email subscribers) and how you plan to promote the content that will feature them.
Don’t worry if your numbers aren’t ridiculously huge right away, the more important thing is that you’re honest, look professional and, more importantly, the influencer looks good in the final product.
The best way to attract the attention of a social media influencer is to engage with them in an authentic way: Buy their books, read their content, share their content, and send them “social signals” so that when you do want to reach out to them, you will know more about them and they will know more about you. If you’re simply looking for a transaction where you want them to do something for you, the alternative for doing what I recommend is offering them LOTS of money, and not everyone will accept your money if they don’t believe in you or your product anyway. Social media influencers are busy and also get contacted by LOTS of people. Use your social media savvy and genuine interest in their content to create a real relationship that will help you catch the attention of a social media influencer in a way that will help you create mutual value. After all, relationships must be based on mutual value, right?
Sabrina recommends that once you start getting responses from bloggers, don’t be afraid to communicate what sort of ROI you want to achieve through the campaign. Be nice about it but don’t be afraid to ask if they think your goals are achievable based on their past similar campaigns. This will also help you out when the campaign wraps, as you’ll be able to judge how well the campaign did based on your targets.
It’s also a good time to ask the blogger for her media kit so you can learn more about the size of her audience and past campaign success. The media kit should also give you a good indication of her demographic, which will further allow you to see if it’s truly in line with the one you’re trying to hit.
Make It as Effortless as Possible
When you’re asking someone else to get on board with you and your product, it’s best to lay everything out for them on a silver platter. Think of it as a partnership. We’re all busy people so the easier you can make it for an influencer to talk about you and your product the better. Whenever we partner with influencers we will do all of the hard work; pulling content, designing collateral, making emails, etc. and then we simply pass it on to the influencer to push to their audience. The most important thing you can do is recognize that their time is valuable (as is yours) and build a relationship that respects that.
Don’t Ignore Influencers with Small Audiences
In a guest post for Social Fresh, Jamie advises that an influencer doesn’t necessarily have to have a huge reach. If your goal is to create content to use on your Instagram account, using a brand advocate that takes amazing photos may work better for you than paying top dollar for a celebrity.
Once you have posted a new piece of content that an influencer has contributed to, be sure to e-mail that influencer to thank them for their work and to ask them to share the content with their audience. In his article on Convince and Convert Kevin also suggests that you might follow up with them in the days that follow to let them know if their content performed particularly well, if there are comments for them to respond to, or even to tee up another opportunity to contribute content down the road.
Address Social Media Compliance
According to Michaels’ article on influencer marketing, The FTC requires all material connections to be disclosed with a documented process. Disclosure information gives brands authenticity and transparency. Leading the way and making it possible for brands is CMP.ly, an NYC-based social media compliance and disclosure platform. CMP.ly provides coded url’s and badges which link back to unique disclosures.
Here’s a tweet that leverages the CMP.ly platform for Jamba Juice’s Ambassador Program: