Your advertising is being ignored.
And customers are frustrated with media ads interrupting their everyday lives. So, they turn a blind eye to your advertisements.
Consumers would rather listen to a celebrity or even a well-known blogger talk about your products and services.
This is the rise of influencer marketing. Buyers desire organic conversations from those they admire.
“Credibility means trust, and a natural way to earn an audience’s trust is to seek influencer advocates to help amplify your content,” says Inc. contributor Ilya Pozin.
Perhaps it’s time for your small business to try influencer marketing.
What Is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing focuses on using industry leaders to drive your brand’s message.
Instead of marketing directly to your target audience, small businesses hire influencers to spread the word about their products or services.
This type of marketing isn’t a new trend. Brands have been using this technique for centuries.
“The idea of using someone else’s celebrity and/or credibility to help boost awareness or trial of products and services has been part of the marketer’s toolkit since at least 1760, when Robert Wedgewood of Wedgewood China began using endorsements from members of the Royal Family to boost pottery sales,” writes Jay Baer, president of Convince & Convert.
What makes it so unique today is the power of social media. Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat amplify messages from influencers. It also gives the customer a chance to connect directly with the individual.
Moreover, influencer marketing activates word-of-mouth marketing. According to McKinsey, word-of-mouth is “the primary factor influencing between 20 percent and 50 percent of all purchasing decisions.”
Customers aren’t impressed with your banner ads or direct mail flyers. They want to receive information from a trusted source.
Influencers, like local bloggers, subject matter experts, and authors, can talk with your target audience on a deeper level.
Your 30-second TV commercial might not resonate with the buyer. But a guru in your industry posting a tweet about your services can potentially send leads to your website.
Here’s an example of Chris Brogan, a popular marketing consultant, tweeting about Staples.
— Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan) March 28, 2016
Influencer marketing isn’t a new business strategy. However, when executed properly, it can produce positive results in this digital economy.
The Benefits of Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is more than just another tactic in a marketer’s toolbox. It satisfies your customers’ needs, in return adding money to your bottom line.
Research shows that influencer marketing is the fastest-growing online customer-acquisition channel. It beats organic search, paid search, and email marketing.
For every $1 spent on influencer marketing, businesses earn $6.50. And the top 13% are earning $20 or more.
In addition, marketers report that they acquire better customers when implementing influencer marketing. This means buyers possess a genuine interest in their brands and are more willing to make a purchase.
When you collaborate with influencers, you’re introduced to a new set of consumers. Some may have no prior knowledge of your brand.
“You can reach people your brand might not otherwise be able to reach. Ad blocking and numbness to advertising and marketing are big issues. People trust those they know (experts, peers, and folks they’re connected to on their social networks) more than advertisers, so influencers can play a role there,” writes Michael Stelzner, founder and CEO of Social Media Examiner.
Small businesses should take advantage of influencer marketing. It has the potential to reduce costs and increase revenues.
Selecting Your Influencer
The people you associate with your small business matters. You don’t want to ruin your brand name. Use business acumen and common sense when selecting a potential influencer.
Identify influencers based on how they align with your brand’s mission and values. Do some preliminary research by following them on social media.
What are they saying? How do they interact with their fans?
When you’re comfortable, contact a few influencers. Find their email addresses on Linkedin or with the tool Email Hunter.
Be cordial and straightforward in your communications. State your purpose and the value of the potential partnership.
“Although influencers are their own business, the majority aren’t businesspeople. Too much corporate talk can scare them away, and it’s best to arrange a face to face meeting/Skype call as soon as you can,” explains SocialChain’s Anna-Marie Odubote.
As negotiations begin, consider how to compensate influencers.
“When it started out, it was all unpaid, because people viewed it as more PR-focused than media-focused,” said Rustin Banks, co-founder and chief product officer at influencer marketing firm TapInfluence. Now, “each of these influencers is a media channel, and media channels need to be compensated.”
While free products may be enough for some influencers, most prefer monetary compensation. Agree to an amount that will satisfy all the parties involved.
Take the time to locate a suitable influencer for your company. And agree to a compensation package that works for everyone.
Campaign Execution Matters
A market research firm found that “84% of global marketers expected to launch at least one influencer marketing campaign in the coming years.”
Stay ahead of your competition by developing an effective campaign. Experiment with different types of collaborations. Here are a few:
1. Sponsored Posts
Work with influencers to create a sponsored blog post. The post can explain a current problem facing your customer. And the solution can be your brand’s services told from the influencer’s point of view.
On the technical side, sponsored blog posts support your SEO strategy. The backlinks will help drive traffic to your site.
2. Social Media Takeovers
For a more interactive experience, host an influencer takeover on one of your social media accounts. It’s like a short-term celebrity endorsement.
For instance, the influencer can share exclusive posts on your Instagram account. The individual will promote your content and direct followers to your landing pages.
The timeframe depends on your goals. The takeover can last for two hours or one week.
3. Brand Ambassador
Let influencers be an extension of your brand. Your target audience will value the partnership because they respect the influencer’s opinions.
The goal is to transfer that built-in influencer credibility to bolster your brand’s image. For example, LuLulemon Athletica uses influential members of the yoga community for their brand ambassador program.
Also, consider developing long-term relationship with influencers. It helps build a stronger connection. And reinforces brand recognition amongst your customers.
“Working with an influencer more than once ensures that an influencer’s brand mention is authentic and trusted by their network which results in more engagement for the brand…we advocate that brands foster an engaged network of influencers so that they can run campaigns with an pre-existing, happy database of influencers,” says Kristen Matthews, director of all things digital marketing at GroupHigh.Three #InfluencerMarketing strategies: sponsored posts, social media takeovers, and brand ambassadors. Click To Tweet
Many small businesses will be diving into influencer marketing. Lead the pack by executing different campaigns.
Learning by Example
Influencer marketing centers around engagement. So, the best way to learn is to see real-life examples in action. Check out the brands below.
1. NatureBox teamed up with Rachel Parcell, the blogger behind Pink Peonies, on a sponsored blog post.
2. Castrol collaborated with top tech YouTuber Austin Evans on their #VirtualDRIFT campaign.
3. Snapchat influencer Evan Garber did a takeover of the U.S. Open Tennis Championship account.
Now, it’s your turn. Use these examples as inspiration for your next campaign.
Drive your brand’s message with influencers. Leverage their influence to bring awareness to your products.
Select an influencer who exemplifies your brand. Execute a strategy that meets your customer’s expectations. And don’t be afraid to learn from industry leaders.
Start your marketing campaign. Influence your customer.
Establish your own brand’s influence with a spectacular website from HostGator.
Shayla Price creates and promotes content. She lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology, and social responsibility. Originally from Louisiana, Shayla champions access to remote work opportunities. Connect with her on Twitter at @shaylaprice.