SEVEN TIPS TO FINDING AND WORKING WITH INFLUENCERS
While there isn’t an official number for annual influencer marketing spending, eMarketer estimates that marketers spent $570 million globally on sponsored Instagram posts in 2016 - which means the influencer marketing game is likely a several billion-dollar business. Although 92% of marketers who used influencer marketing in 2017 found it to be effective, it is still in its infancy, and brands are wasting a lot of money figuring it out.
News flash: You don’t have to spend a fortune to get influencers involved with your brand. There’s something special about building a relationship with someone who isn’t just in it for the money but is sincerely an advocate of your product. Not only will the relationship and resulting content be more genuine, it will also be more sustainable long term.
Know your audience.
Your messaging and website may be meticulously crafted, but none of that matters if you’re not targeting the right people. Without proper targeting, your message isn’t going to resonate and you aren't going to acquire customers. Similarly, you can work with influencers who have millions of social media followers, but if their audience doesn't fit your brand, their message won’t drive the leads or new customers you’re looking for from the relationship.
Every successful influencer marketing program starts with knowing your audience. You need to know their interests, what they do over the weekend, their income levels and the websites they visit during their spare time. Use that information to determine what kind of influencer to go after in your search.
After learning who your customers are, it’s not difficult to spot when an influencer’s audience doesn’t quite match your brand. For example, many of our customers are outdoors people. If someone from the beauty industry reached out to us, we would most likely not pursue the partnership.
Determine which influencer platforms will reach your target audience.
Although defining your target audience is an important first step, it’s also imperative to know what platforms (Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook) best suit your business strategy. For example, technology products tend to fare better on YouTube and blog posts because there is more opportunity to explain the product (Instagram posts can’t always convey the full functionality of your product and may not look pretty enough to drive engagement). Beauty and fashion products, however, do better on Instagram and Pinterest due to their natural propensity to image-centric marketing. B2B companies tend to do better with blog and LinkedIn posts.
Find your influencers.
Now that you know your audience and types of platforms to consider, you need to find your influencers. There's no better place to look than your pool of existing customers. Who has been a longtime user of your product? Who is already posting rave reviews about your product? Find them. They’re already advocating for you. Reach out and offer to let them test out an upcoming product.
As your brand starts to grow and people become more aware of your products, influencers will start approaching you. In the spring of 2017, our brand awareness began to skyrocket, and suddenly influencers were reaching out to us directly. This approach is great because you already have someone who is actively interested in your company and brand and knows how it fits with their audience. This makes the process much smoother.
Choose your influencers wisely.
Don’t say yes to anyone with a high social media following. Make sure the influencers are professional, create good content and share the same values as your company. Quality over quantity
For example, our brand advocate Billy Rioux reached out to us about doing a product review. After we learned more about him and his thriving YouTube channel, it was clear to us that he fit our brand story perfectly. Our customers are often DIYers that live and work in remote areas. Billy lives in an off-grid cabin in a remote location in Canada, which made him a perfect fit.
Get creative with collaboration.
People often approach influencer marketing from a simple sponsored post perspective, but there is so much more to it than that. Want an influencer to lend their expertise to your audience? Do a joint webinar or invite them to speak at an event your company is hosting. Want to show your influencers how much you value them? Help them make additional income by incorporating them into your affiliate program. If you think their story would be relevant to your audience, interview them and share their story using your platform. If you’re doing a giveaway, consider reaching out to influencers to have them share the news with their audiences. The possibilities are endless.
This is a mutually beneficial relationship. Support your influencer.
One of the biggest mistakes I see in influencer marketing is that marketers rely only on organic reach to reach their target market. For example, if your influencer is doing a blog post, don’t just have them publish and do nothing else. Share it on your social channels and even consider boosting the post. Do everything in your power to help the influencer succeed. It might take some time and effort, but the best influencer marketing is a symbiotic relationship between the advocate and brand. If you’re lucky, it will become a long-term relationship with more collaboration opportunities to reinforce that the influencer truly loves your product.
Remember, relationships come first and those relationships can create years-long partnerships, collaborations and even friendships.
Set expectations up front.
What are both you and the influencer hoping to get out of the relationship? Determine what success looks like to you and measure accordingly, whether that be in terms of sales, website traffic, social media engagement, increased brand name mentions or another relevant metric. Know what you’re hoping to get out of the interaction so that both you and your influencer can enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship for years to come.
Author - Jamie Elgie