This shift in consumers' perspectives, combined with the growing use of social media, which makes word-of-mouth marketing spread faster and reach larger numbers of people than ever, has led to the rise of influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is the process of engaging thought leaders in your industry niche to interact with your brand. When those influencers share their, hopefully positive, experience with their followers, your business gets a boost of credibility and recognition among a larger portion of your target market. Although celebrity endorsements of a product or service through a tweet or Facebook post may be one of the most commonly recognized influencer marketing tactics, this is generally cost-prohibitive for many small businesses, which can't afford the tens of thousands of dollars per promotional tweet that many celebrities command. Fortunately, there are plenty of influencer marketing tactics that are both easily attainable and cost-effective for small businesses.
Let's take a look at the basics of an influencer marketing campaign.
Step 1: Identify Key Influencers
Your first step in any influencer marketing initiative is to identify the thought leaders who have the most influence over your target market. There area few tools that will make it easy for you to find these influencers, including Klout, which measures the reach of an individual??s Twitter account, and Peerindex , which can identify the influencers in your market segment and show you how you should engage with them. There are also tools, including such as BuzzSumo and Twitonomy, that help you identify the most-shared content in your niche, which in turn leads you to the influencers who created it. The criteria you'll use to identify the top influencers for your brand will vary based on the nature of your business and the target audience you??re trying to reach. In general, however, influencers should:
Step 2: Target Your List
After identifying the influencers, you should monitor their activity on their social networks, blogs, and other channels to become familiar with their voice and the type of content they typically engage with, as well as gauge the level of engagement they earn from their followers. This will enable you to narrow your list to the influencers who are the most active, relevant and influential in an area of interest to your target audience.
Step 3: Build Relationships
Now that you have a refined list of the influencers who are both actively engaged with your target audience and active and influential in relevant discussions, you need to establish a rapport and build a relationship with them. It??s tempting to skip this step and get right to the punch by sending off a blast email inviting everyone on your new influencer list to promote your content, but this method can be off-putting to influencers and end up having the opposite effect. Instead of jumping into the deep end, start slowly by following them on social media, sharing their content, commenting on their blogs, and engaging them in relevant conversations whenever possible.Establishing a relationship of mutual trust is the key to successfully engaging your market's thought leaders as brand advocates.
Step 4: Engage Influencers
After you??ve identified the influencers with the greatest potential to influence your target audience and started a relationship with them, the next step is getting them to engage with your brand. There are multiple methods for doing this, including:
One company that achieved early success using a strategy called Social Media 411 was the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). CMI attracted the attention of influencers using a systematic social-sharing strategy to promote influencer content alongside its own. To find out how other businesses have successfully used influencer marketing to reach their target markets, take the time to read about the creative tactics used by other companies, particularly those in a related industry, and adapt proven influencer engagement strategies to meet your own needs. Ideally, you should target influencers with tactics built around the type of content they??ve engaged with in the past. For instance, if an active Twitter user with a massive following is often sharing links to articles he??s been quoted in, the odds are higher he??ll engage in the same manner with your brand than an influencer who's never shared brand content of any type.
Step 5: Weed Out Your List
Not every influencer will respond to your first engagement attempt, but that doesn??t mean they're not willing or interested in working with you, it might just mean their schedule was overbooked that week and they didn??t have time to respond to your request. It also might mean that this particular offer wasn??t of interest, but a future one might be. So don??t cross influencers off your list after a failed first attempt; continue working on the relationship, and try using alternative engagement methods before eliminating them from your key influencer list. You should, however, cross influencers off your list if they repeatedly ignore your attempts to establish a relationship or specifically request that you not contact them again with requests to promote your brand. Likewise, influencers who engage with your content but fail to inspire their audiences to take the desired next step (email signups, downloads, followers,sales or whatever metric you??re shooting for) should be considered carefully in light of these results. If they're not pulling in the results you want, you maybe better served pursuing relationships with other influencers. When small businesses choose the right influencers for their brand campaigns and take the time to establish strong relationships, positive results are within reach.
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