Omnichannel commerce | Marketing
Influence the Influencers
April 06, 2016
Influencer marketing—promoting your offering to individuals considered in the know among your target audience so that they can then spread the word among their followers—is nothing new. It's why fashion designers have long fought to clothe starlets for their red-carpet appearances, food brands sought out chefs to endorse their products and create recipes for them, and housewares companies vied to receiving the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.
But the explosive growth of social media has made influencer marketing simultaneously more important, more accessible, and more competitive than ever. As media become less mass and more niche, gaining credibility from influencers in your particular market carries more weight. And each market has myriad bloggers, v-loggers, Instagrammers, writers, editors, stylists, and pundits whose opinions carry weight among their followers.
So how can you use influencer marketing to promote your brand and products? Sysomos, a provider of social media marketing tools, offers the following suggestions in its white paper "Six Best Practices for Influencer Marketing":
1) Find influencers where you would most expect them—and where you wouldn't.
If you sell clothing and toys for kids, you'll want to check out the most popular and influential mummy blogs. If you sell halal food, you'll reach out to Muslim food blogs and cookbook authors. Sysomos recommends using tools such as Klout and Kred to help you determine not only the influencers with the most followers but also those with the most credibility and weight; after all, quantity of followers doesn't always equate to quality.
But as well as finding influencers among the obvious sectors, branch out among the less obvious. "For example, marketers at an interior decor company also check out fashion blogs, DIY blogs, and construction blogs, looking for interesting overlaps," Sysomos writes.
And don't limit your efforts to the best-known influencers. Everyone else is trying to gain exposure from them as well, so you might have better luck getting recognition from lesser-known and newer influencers.
2) Determine which of your existing customers are influencers among their circles.
When monitoring your Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social feeds, keep an eye out for fans who are especially active in a positive way: Perhaps they've touted your products in their posts or consistently pin your images or retweet your messages. Their sphere of influence may not be as wide as that of a top blogger, but among their smaller networks they may carry even more weight.
3) Recognise and reward influencers.
Just as many companies reward their best customers with perks ranging from discounts to exclusive early access to sales, you should also reward influencers—both those who have already advocated for your company and those you hope will do so. Create an influencer network, similar to a media list, and send those in it news of upcoming products and services, samples, demo offers, and the like. In effect, influencers are the media—social media. "Savvy marketers may also tap particularly dedicated influencers for feedback on new products or services—brand loyalists love to feel like they've had an impact," Sysomos notes.
4) Be personal.
A key difference in how you treat your influencer network vs your media list is the degree of personalisation. When reaching out to influencers, personalise your communications so that it's clear to them that you know exactly why they're passionate about your company and exactly which products or services they've loved (or loathed) in the past.
"Of course, influence online is a two-way street," the white paper adds, "and the savviest marketers strengthen their relationships with influencers who talk up their products by giving them a mention in return. A good practice is to pick 3-10 influencers a week and link to them on your blog or other social media platform."
5) Tailor the tactic to the platform.
This holds true for all communications with all customers and prospects, not just influencers. Your influencers may be more likely to repost messages on their Twitter feed than on their Facebook feed; they may use Instagram and Pinterest for communicating with their blog followers but LinkedIn and Snapchat for communicating with friends and family. You need to know which media and platforms your influencers prefer for which type of messaging.
6) Keep up with the social media conversation.
Again, this applies to your audience in general as well as influencers specifically. There are myriad ways to monitor social media chatter so that you can learn, among other things, the topics of interest to your audience, so that you can communicate with them more relevantly. You might find new ways to incorporate yourself in their conversations—just be sure it's a conversation in which you and your brand are welcome, or it can turn into a major social media fail and dissuade all those influencers you were hoping to persuade.