A Beginner’s Guide to Influencer MarketingApril 26, 2016
As a modern-day social marketer, “influencer marketing” probably has a place in your everyday vocabulary. In fact, you may remember it being one of those “industry terms” that popcorn-ed into your daily conversations, and gradually starting rolling off your own tongue.
If you started championing “influencer marketing” long before you understood what it meant, you’re not alone. It’s a marketing buzzword that receives an endless amount of attention—and for good reason.
To get back to the basics, and to clarify its meaning to the lost souls who are still trying to figure out what “influencer marketing” is, here’s what it means and why it matters to you.
The Sun in Your Story
Remember Aesop’s fable about the wind and the sun? In a nutshell: The wind and the sun are arguing over who’s stronger when a man in a coat walks by. They strike up a bet to see who can force the man to remove his coat. The wind begins blowing furiously on the traveler, but the traveler simply pulls his coat tighter. The sun, in turn, shines his warmth on the man, and the man becomes hot and removes his coat.
If you’ve read Aesop’s fable, my “nutshell” summary is essentially the whole story – but beyond that, the story symbolizes how kindness affects more than severity.
In a similar sense, social marketing works best when your day-to-day interactions are warm and gentle, rather than forceful.
In other words, if you’re banking on winning conversions by inundating your audiences with cold, impersonal proclamations about your product, then you’re missing the value of social media and wasting a golden opportunity to build authentic, long-lasting relationships. Using the social tools that are at your fingertips, you can transform the way your audiences experience your brand.
Personalizing CX with Influencer Marketing
Any customer’s journey with your brand begins at his or her first introduction with you. Your influencers are the people who can provide that introduction. They are the friends of the people you want to be friends with – the mutual friend whose opinion you and your prospect both trust.
Influencers are not mere echoers of what you claim about your brand.
You employ them because they are the people who believe in your brand and genuinely want to help share your story (hint: if an influencer is not passionate about your brand’s product or mission, then he/she is likely not the right fit for you). They facilitate your brand’s growth by humanizing your message and sharing their own success stories as it relates to you, your brand, and their audiences.
By definition, influencer marketing is a strategy whereby you partner with these key leaders in your industry, or subject matter, to help promote your brand. But in practice, influencers do much more — they help you expand your network and get to know your audiences at ground level.
How to Get Started
Truth is, you can begin marketing with influencers at any moment of any day. You may be doing it already without even realizing it.
However, if you’re looking to be more deliberate with your partnerships and/or find influencers outside of your current circle, you’d benefit from using certain social media analytics tools (ahem) and tracking specific elements:
INTEREST – There are two parts to this one. (1) Your ideal influencer must share your interest, whether it be in work or conversation. By performing a quick hashtag, keyword, or brand mention search, you can easily identify people who are most vocal in your industry or topic. (2) Your influencer’s audiences must share their interests and actually listen to what they say. Zoomph’s proven ZPoints® algorithm weighs the volume and velocity of activity, engagement, and traffic that one (or more) social post receives to automatically measure a person’s influence in a given topic. In the example below, our engines ranked influencers on a leaderboard based on ZPoints® score.
Pro tip: Make sure that the engagement that your prospect incites from outside your target audience is strategically aligned with your goals. Though this extra attention may seem nice at first, it may distract from your mission.
AUDIENCE– Look beyond vanity metrics like follower count. Drill down on the actual personalities and makeup of your influencer’s audience. For example, if you’re targeting mothers for your upcoming Mother’s Day campaign, make sure that your influencer is not only a leader in your industry, but also has a fan base of mothers who can relate to his/her message and speak the same language. Other factors to consider: Where are most audience members located? Who do they associate with? What are their other shared interests? Knowing all these details will help gauge how deeply your message will resonate with them.
Our recently launched Follower Insights provide instant analysis one more than 80 million Twitter Followers at once, allowing you to understand trends within an influencer’s network.
REPUTATION – By connecting with influencers who will endorse your brand, your name, product, and/or service is associated with their reputation. All too often we see celebrities lose sponsorship deals because they do something that a brand does not support.
You can tap into your prospect’s reputation by monitoring the sentiment around his/her posts. Keep in mind that negative sentiment is not always reason for alarm. For example, if your influencers tend to make guest appearances, fans may be tweeting disappointingly about their absence at an event. Or, your influencer may have deliberately orchestrated negative reaction to become the most-buzzed-about-topic, much like Game of Thrones did with “The Red Wedding.”
Moral of the story: make sure to dig deep into the cause of sentiment. Don’t rush to conclusions after a quick glance at your sentiment charts.
For a full checklist of things to look out for, check out our blog on how to find your perfect YouTube influencer.
After you’ve identified individuals whom you’d like to court as your influencers, remember, once again, that your approach should not be forceful. A partnership only works if there’s mutual respect, trust, and organic enthusiasm for your brand.
When you approach your prospects, keep these things in mind:
- “Date before you marry.” Though your influencer may look good on paper, he/she may not have the personality or work ethic that jives well with your brand. Sparking up a partnership is like starting any relationship. You allow the relationship to develop, before formalizing anything. And you must ensure that both sides believe that the other is the right match so that endorsements are authentic.
- Don’t start off with a transaction. Treat your prospect like any client. Don’t simply rely on a rehearsed sales pitch to win their hearts. Rather, grow a connection over shared interests and two-way communication. Engage with their work over time. Ask for their opinions on certain topics, or even something that your company just did, to learn from them and to simultaneously introduce yourself. Keep it natural; understand that your strongest partnerships will crop up as natural “next steps” when the time is right.
- Understand their needs. A partnership isn’t all about you; you mustn’t expect to take, and not give anything back. Also, each influencer will have a different objective for partnering with you. One person may want access to your product, another may want more exposure, and still another may want money. Gauge their needs and see what you can offer them (and if you want to offer those things) before pursuing a formal agreement.
- Keep the momentum. After proposing a partnership and receiving an enthusiastic “Yes!” – continue nurturing your relationship by staying up-to-speed with what your influencer is doing. Always have a clear understanding of what you expect from each other. If you find that your relationship grows stale over time, determine what went wrong and if it can be fixed. No matter the circumstance, always be polite and grateful for your influencer’s support.