What Is Influencer Marketing? (And How to Make It Work For Your Business)
At it’s most effective, influencer marketing is a great way to gain new customers through social networks. Today, so many purchases are decided upon via word of mouth recommendations. Social proof is powerful, and working with influencers in your industry allows you to tap into that power.
It’s one of the many winning social media strategies that you can keep in your toolbox. But, since this style of grassroots marketing is so new, it’s also easily misunderstood and misused.
Influencer marketing isn’t just about eye-catching photos on Instagram coupled with product placement — it’s about building real relationships with influential people who know and love your brand. If the idea of working with influencers sounds intriguing, here’s what you need to know about building relationships with potential brand influencers.
Why does influencer marketing work?
The reason behind influencer marketing’s efficacy is quite simple: people trust individuals more than advertisers. For example, if someone follows a dog’s account on social media, and that account promotes their favorite dog food, the account’s followers are far more likely to trust that recommendation. The relationship has been built up over time.
Rule #1: Understand your audience
Before you try to work with influencers in your industry you absolutely must understand your own audience. Go beyond simple demographics, too:
Who are your customers?
Why do they choose to purchase from you?
Who do they follow on social media?
What are their biggest problems and pain points?
Create customer personas as you answer these questions and others. This information will help your business, and it will also be incredibly helpful for any influencers you work with.
Don’t attempt cold outreach with influencers
Because influencer marketing is all about relationships, that means you also need to understand the influencer and their brand. Follow their social media accounts and engage with the content. Read their blog and add insightful comments to the discussion.
When you reach out, the beginnings of an effective partnership will have already been established. Top influencers get regular solicitations from brands, so approach them as a person. You’ll be more memorable that way.
Only approach influencers with relevant opportunities
Some influencers will work with any brand as long as the paycheck is there. It’s not an effective long term solution — you want to choose influencers whose audiences would benefit from what your company offers, because those people are more likely to purchase.
Define the expectations around the opportunity you’re offering
On a similar note, it’s important to define the expectations of the relationship with the influencer:
Do you expect your product to be clearly visible in photos?
Would you like certain keywords or pieces of content to be used in captions?
Is it okay for the influencer to share a personal story that loosely relates to your product and how it impacted them?
How many pieces of content does the agreement include, and what types of content?
However, don’t be too strict in your guidelines. Influencers are known for their creativity — it’s how they grew their own brands in the first place. Agree on certain expectations that will guide the relationship, and then allow the influencer to do what they do best: reach their audience with relevant content.