How to Incorporate Influencer Marketing into Your Strategy
Want to rise to the top? Get someone to vouch for you.
Influencer marketing is quickly becoming one of the most effective inbound marketing strategies to date, but the concept can seem a little murky if you haven’t consciously engaged with it before.
To help simplify this phenomenon, try thinking of an influencer as the virtual friend that you turn to for advice, to help you when faced with a buying decision, or for insights into the latest trends in the areas that interest you. These virtual compadres are most often active and accessible on social media and blogs.
We instinctively seek these types of connections in our personal and professional lives because we all have a tendency to rely on those that we trust to help us make decisions, as opposed to an ad or piece of signage.
Think of it this way; if you were told you needed brain surgery, would you turn to a highway billboard to help you pick your surgeon, or would you seek out a recommendation from your trusted friend in the medical field? Hint: the second option is the safer bet.
While this is an extreme example, influencer marketing carries an immense amount of weight and can extend your brand’s reach to levels that are historically unheard of. This is in large part due to each influencer’s loyal band of followers, who trust the advice and recommendations provided by their chosen virtual friends. If you want to tap into that band of followers, then you need those friends to generate content and recommend you. This leads to increased traffic to your website and social media platforms, higher levels of content engagement, lead generation, and even direct sales of your product or service. Cha-ching!
Be careful, though. Just like in life, if you align yourself with the wrong people, you run the risk of diluting your reputation or putting yourself in a situation where you could be misjudged.
Here are a few tips to help you successfully incorporate influencer marketing into your strategy.
Make sure it’s a fit
As mentioned above, it is crucial to select influencers that closely align with your brand. It may be tempting to pool all of your marketing dollars to get a big-name celebrity to share content about your product or service to their millions of followers, but if what you’re offering is misaligned with their interests, that recommendation will fall on deaf ears. Try to make sure these three things are in line before choosing your influencer.
Mutual goals: Try to target influencers who already talk about happenings in your particular space. This will help insure that their followers will also be interested in what you’re offering. Choosing a beauty mogul to recommend your bookkeeping business is probably not going to have the impact that you were banking on.
Followers: Once you have pinpointed the influencers that align closely with your brand, take a good look at their followers. While you may be tempted to only choose people with an extremely high number, don’t discount the micro-influencer, who’s following may be smaller but way more eager to take action.
Loyalty and action: One of the reasons that influencers with a slightly smaller reach are so successful is because they are able to build relationships with their fans. This is not to say that an influencer with an insanely large reach can’t be successful, but it does make it harder to instill a sense of trust and to influence action. Key takeaway here: make sure the people following your target influencer are action takers, not just bystanders.
Now that you’ve pinpointed the influencer(s) that you want to strike up a relationship with, it’s time to court them. This is one of the most important parts of the process because if you come across as impersonal or “spammy,” they may disregard your request to connect and ghost you forever. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Win-win: Before reaching out, make sure you are offering something that adds interest or value to their business and network. Again, this directly coincides with making sure there is brand alignment between the two of you. Unless you provide an exciting win-win opportunity, generally in the form of an influencer campaign, the influencer won’t see the value and can very quickly turn you down. On the flip side, if what you’re offering is unique and makes good business sense, you’ll be well on your way to a mutually beneficial business relationship.
Personal, clear, & concise: The quickest way to the influencer blacklist is through templated emails. They are getting more correspondance and invitations than you can imagine, so if you want to stand out, then take the time to write them a personalized email.
One way to customize your email is to demonstrate that you have actually read or watched their content and see the value in what they are doing. Dedicate a few lines to something specific that they said and draw a correlation to why it resonated with you.
Once you’ve added a little of your personality, be sure to keep the rest simple and concise. Be clear in what your goals are and what it is that you’re offering. If your note is vague or takes too long to get to the point, you run the risk of losing their attention.
Follow up: It is not uncommon for an influencer to get bogged down and forget to respond to your email. Try not to allow yourself to become impatient; too many contact attempts in a short period of time can yield the opposite reaction from what you were hoping. If you haven’t received a response in a week, then go ahead and send a brief follow up. If after two follow up attempts you still haven’t received a response, then it’s time to move on. They may be too busy or maybe they’re just not that into you, but don’t let this discourage you. You can’t win them all.
Nurturing the relationship
Now that you’ve connected with your chosen influencer and settled on your first campaign, it is important to consider the long-game. How do you build and maintain a meaningful and mutually-beneficial relationship?
Always keep your communications personal and your content highly relevant. Make sure your company follows them on social media and try to show a genuine interest in what they are working on instead of only focusing on what’s in it for you. This will allow you the opportunity to promote them as much as they promote you, which will reinforce the relationship.
Remember, people are no longer swayed by advertising and paid marketing tactics, they are turning to their networks and influencers that they trust. By using these best practices, you’ll successfully incorporate influencer marketing into your strategy and enjoy seismic growth in your followers, website traffic, content engagement, and sales.
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