Influencer marketing is an interesting form of promotion that has been around in one guise or another for a while, yet has seen major changes in recent years due to modern digital communications such as social media and live video streaming. In essence, influencer marketing is where you create content that will appeal to people who are considered to be influencers in a certain industry, then deliver it in a way that will appeal to them and encourage social sharing.
This is usually in one of two formats: the influencer, such as a CEO of a company or a thought leader in your target sector, assumes the role of either a buyer/customer or a third party. The former is where they give honest, emotional, first-hand insight into your product, service or brand following personal experience of it, and the latter is where they promote it in a more traditional way, such as through their own business or in a value-added fashion, for example, a journalist, consultant, blogger or reviewer giving their analysis.
Before social media, an influencer might have talked about the features and benefits of your offering through written publications (newspapers, magazines) as well as at face-to-face events (networking sessions, workshops, talks). Whilst this still applies and can prove quite lucrative for your business, influencer marketing has been taken to a whole new level thanks to the wonders of social media, blogs, video testimonials, webcasting, and other digital tools.
Let’s take an independent bistro as an example. Whilst sharing photos, menus, and updates on the company’s own social media channels is highly recommended, the audience will probably grow quickly at the start before leveling out at a more sluggish rate of acquisition. However, if you approach an influencer, such as a popular food blogger or trusted journalist, and invite them to enjoy a free meal in exchange for coverage, the result is bound to be a fresh influx of new followers, online engagement and, most importantly, visitors to your establishment.
Influencer marketing works with every type of industry, from small start-ups and innovative inventions, all the way to large firms and household brands. Below are a few tips for getting it right, no matter what the size or nature of your business.
Plan your objectives, fine-tune your content and ensure that your messages are clear, concise, friendly and mutually beneficial.
- Define your audience. Just because someone says they’re an influencer doesn’t mean they are – check through their follower base in case their audience is largely composed of obviously fake or unsuitable accounts.
- Use social media to its full potential. Influencer marketing is about starting conversations and creating long-lasting relationships, so begin by commenting on influencer’s posts, referencing them in a blog and tagging them in your own content where appropriate.
- Remember that it’s a two-way street. An influencer can give you access to their audience, which is amazing, but you have something to offer them too. It could be something as simple as a free drink whenever they visit your bar, joining you as a guest on your podcast, providing them with complimentary ad hoc services, or anything else that fits your business offering and their specific needs.
- Spread the word! If the influencer is talking about your service or product on their social media channels, make sure to share the content both now and in the future, make it a feature on your website, and use key snippets wherever possible. For instance, a glowing review could be added to email signatures, promotional materials, signage and anything else that your customers come across.
When done properly, influencer marketing can help to take your business to the next level. Having said that, the nature of social media is that it’s fleeting, with an influencer’s recommendation quickly lost amongst subsequent posts. That’s why you need to develop an ongoing relationship with each one and reach out to others on a regular basis that suits your schedule, goals, and budget.