You probably already know that one of the most trusted and effective types of marketing is reviews. Think about it: When you want to find a restaurant, you peruse the reviews on Yelp first, or maybe ask friends on Facebook (FB) for a recommendation. You do this because you trust others’ opinions more than a popup ad or billboard.
One of the most impactful types of marketing—and really it’s a hybrid between PR and advertising if you ask me—is influencer marketing. Similar to the trust that’s generated with positive reviews, influencers are perceived as friends to their followers, and therefore their opinions carry a lot of weight.
Simply stated, influencer marketing is the promotion of a product, service, company, personality or brand through people who’ve achieved a certain level of influence. In social media terms, that usually means they’ve curated a large and loyal audience on one or more platform.
Innovative brands know influencer marketing is a vital part of their marketing mix. Not sure where to start, though? I’ve created numerous influencer teams. Here’s my not-so-secret-anymore recipe to building your company’s list of influencers.
Step One: Curate Your Influencer List
All good cooks will tell you to prepare your ingredients in advance. Don’t take this task lightly! Finding the right influencers is important because you need to make sure they not only have a strong social media presence, but also that their followers match your target audience.
Think of this fit contextually—much like magazines or TV shows with specific demographics for advertisers to target, different influencers have specific audience demographics that you can reach. You need their audience to match yours.
There are many ways to build your influencer list. Public relations professionals already know they can use databases provided by companies like Meltwater and Cision. These subscriptions can be costly, though, especially for small businesses and personal brands. Even if you do build a list using a professional PR database, you’ll probably still need to augment it with grass roots solicitations.
In many cases, Instagram and other social media platforms don’t integrate with third party databases—meaning if you want to find influencers who are dominate on such platforms, the databases won’t be much help. Finding influencers yourself is often the best option.
Step Two: Make Your Network Work
Once you’ve created a list of influencers you want to reach out to, develop a method of communication that’s cordial and engaging. Like any professional type of conversation, you need to network with your network.
Build a rapport with your influencers. They are your partners, your team, your brand evangelists, and treating them with respect is not only professional courtesy, but is healthy for your business. Keep in mind, the world of social media influencers is small; you don’t want to tarnish your company’s reputation because of ineffective communication. In our recipe metaphor, networking with your network is like adding a pinch of sugar; it makes the process so much sweeter!
I spoke with Jenny Rieu. She’s a social media influencer who promotes fashion brands. Here is her advice to brands when soliciting influencers to partner with:
“As a social media influencer, I know my own brand, my worth and the partnerships I am willing to accept and share on my platforms. I believe that brands should keep in mind that a lot of us social media influencers have a strong sense of business and that we would like to be approached in a professional way. I have had several cases of brands disappearing after I sent out my rates and that essentially tells me that they aren’t professional.”
Step Three: Get Organized
Once you’ve curated your list, be sure to structure it like a well-organized kitchen. I find it helpful to keep notes for each of my influencers so I know their likes and dislikes, how they like to be communicated with, and what types of products they like to review.
In my profession, I help authors market their books, which means I work with book bloggers. I keep diligent notes on what types of books each of my influencers like to read. It doesn’t make sense for me to send them romance books if they prefer science fiction and fantasy. Just like you expect your team of influencers to connect with and know their audience, you need to connect with and know your influencers.
Step Four: Measure, Adjust, and Repeat
It wouldn’t be marketing if you didn’t have to measure it. Just like in baking, measuring is critical to creating the perfect recipe. Keep track of how your influencers perform so you can accurately determine the results of your influencer campaigns.
To do this, you may want to request they provide you with numbers showing the views or engagement on your posts. Or, if you use media monitoring software or have hired a PR agency who does, you can track your influencers similar to how you do your PR monitoring.
Decide if you want to measure your influencers’ performance on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. Use this data to make adjustments in your campaigns. Like with any form of advertising, you need to constantly tweak it to get optimal results.
Influencer marketing is a trend that isn’t going away. Embracing it now by using the right recipe, will set you apart from your competition and position your brand for future growth. Additionally, building an influencer team is fun! Enjoy interacting with and developing relationships with your network. The more you nurture them and the process, the more delicious your results will be.