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An increasingly popular way to expand the reach of your brand or to sell products is by partnering with an influencer, which is considered the fastest-growing method of gaining new customers by nearly a third of all marketing managers today.
Add to that the 40% of Twitter survey respondents who say they’ve bought something as a direct result of an influencer’s tweet and you’ve got a trend.
If you’re considering going down this path to brand building, here are some guidelines for success.
There’s no doubt that influencers, well, they influence people to act in a specific way. Before creating a partnership, or even approaching high-profile content creators, identify the reasons and goals for your influencer marketing campaign.
Is it to build brand awareness? To increase your traffic? To boost recognition of your brand within a particular audience?
Your objectives are what will define your strategy, your influencer outreach plan, and, ultimately, the success of your campaign.
When choosing an influencer to boost your online presence, make sure that you’re choosing the right target market. Does it makes sense to connect with someone who has a large audience of Millennials if your product is more appropriate for seniors? Should you engage with a mommy blog if your target market is single professionals?
You also want to make sure that you choose someone who’s well-liked and respected among their followers specifically, and the public in general.
Don’t choose someone who’s well-known for notorious reasons just for the sake of having a “celebrity.” It’s important to know who truly has influence with your audience – not necessarily the person with the most likes or followers.
Influencers don’t even necessarily have to be famous. They just need to have a large online following of people who trust their recommendations.
You’ve found an influencer with the right audience – now, how do you pick the right one and begin a solid relationship with them and differentiate yourself?
If you chose the particular person because they’re already a fan of your brand, you’re halfway there. But whether they’re already a fan or not, choose your interactions wisely. They’re popular for a reason, and any hint of inauthentic interactions or pandering will turn their base of followers off in droves.
Establish a relationship by inviting them to visit your corporate headquarters, asking them to participate in a worthy cause, or send them tickets to your next event. Again, the idea here is to differentiate your company or brand the rest of the field, most of whom lack a soft touch.
Everybody wants to know “what’s in it for me?”.
Highly sought after influencers are particularly hard to budge if they suspect that pushing a product or service doesn’t mesh with their own personal brand. You have to clearly demonstrate to anyone you approach what they stand to gain from partnering with you.
Are you offering money, free products, a level of prestige through association, or a way for the influencer’s following to solve a problem?
Your value “offering” doesn’t have to be transactional, either. Case in point: Gary Stevens, the founder of community-run research group HostingCanada.org, shipped maple syrup to a hundred journalists and PR specialists throughout Canada to try and get press for his community.
Influencers are inundated with aggressive, transactional pitches. Light-hearted approaches like Stevens’ are a way to break the ice and show that you’re interested in building a relationship, not just making money.