The influence of social media is present in nearly every aspect of your lives…
Especially when it comes to business, where it is arguably changing the game each day. In the past, companies could use their influence to convert potential consumers through paid ads or some other marketing strategy. Social networks have changed all of that, which is best evident by the recent emergence of influencer marketing.
People no longer turn to companies to inform them about what they want or need. They look to other people, people whose influence and expertise regarding a certain industry is valued among the users. Take for example, YouTube vloggers. They have millions of followers, their videos have hundreds of millions of views, and companies are lining up to collaborate with them. And it’s not just YouTube. It’s pretty much the same story when it comes to Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.
As you can see, the focus has shifted to individuals, and people respond better to being addressed directly, as opposed to being served some marketing strategy by a faceless company. This is definitely the era of influencers, so let’s take a look at 11 ways you can make influencer marketing work for you in order to attract more visitors and boost your conversion rate.
1. Put your audience front and center
Since your ultimate goal is to convert your visitors into paying customers, it’s only logical to build your marketing strategy around them. This means you should literally focus all of your efforts into getting to know your audience first and anticipate how they might react. It will also help you figure out which influencers they would follow and the type of content they would prefer. That would also include checking out appropriate blogs, articles, tweets, YouTube channels, or forums.
People are more inclined to value the opinions of actual people, in this case influencers, instead of those of a company, because they are more likely to be genuine. They are independent third parties, unlike the companies trying to sell them their products.
"Building relationships with influencers can be a very effective way to reach your target audience in a more credible manner than simply buying advertising. With that said, "influencer marketing" is not an overnight process.
It starts with knowing who the most relevant influencers are in your industry segment. There are now a number of software tools available to help you do that. My firm Leadtail also puts out reports which are helpful if you're targeting influencers of the C-Suite.”
2. Decide what type of influencer you need for your campaign
Once you’ve figured your target audience, it is time to decide what sort of influencer would best serve your campaign. There are numerous aspects to consider when doing this, such as the tone with which the influencer addresses the readers/viewers. Depending on your niche, you may need someone who’s efficient at getting them to take action, or a thought leader, or perhaps even an industry insider.
Aside from choosing the niche, the topics, and the number of influencers you want to get on your side, you also need to decide on what sort of reach you are after. Is your goal to use influencer marketing to drive traffic to your website or blog, or do you want to strengthen your social media presence and increase your reach? This one is highly dependent on what you think is best for your brand.
"Once you've identified potential influencers, and you've vetted them closely for relevance (there is a lot of bad advice out there, and hundreds of tools designed to help you in this, not all of which are worth much), we're ready to address your two questions. I'll start with why it's important.”
3. Seek out influencers
After you’ve fleshed out the mythical beast that is your influencer, you can take steps toward establishing some sort of contact with them, and the best way to do that would be to pay attention to what’s happening on social networks. If you can manage to get an influencer to act as an advocate for your particular brand, your job is pretty much done.
While this seems simple enough in theory, in reality, you will have to work hard in order to line up your brand with the content that influencers are providing for their audience. Once you manage to pull that off, nearly everything else will fall into place by itself.
There is a flip side to that coin, too. You can use social media to find out which influencers are already spreading word about your brand, so you can fortify your collaboration.
"For Fanatics Media it's critical that we get to know the influencers because of three main reasons. First, we typically get 20-25% lower rates than the average agency. Second, they are more likely to go the extra mile for us. Third, they'll help our clients better position the product based on their understanding of the market. Once the relationship is established, everything becomes easier"
“Influencers are at the top of the heap when it comes to social currency. You aren't going to gain an influencer's respect unless you are participating in the same conversation circles, and actually adding value to the narrative. Once you catch their attention, you can begin a relationship by becoming a contributor on their website, and requesting their contribution to yours. We're all about promoting the heck out of their content when they contribute to our site through both earned and paid social media. The more you can amplify their message, the stronger that relationship becomes, and the more repeatable their contributions can be.”
4. Become a driving force behind content creation
We are not just talking about content you’ll create, but also about content created by influencers and readers alike. It’s very simple: the more content there is out there about your brand, the more visible it is, which means more traffic, better conversion rate, and more leads. Now, there are several different ways you can get influencers and readers to generate content for you.
For instance, everybody is on Instagram nowadays. You can use this to your advantage by uploading images of users using your product to your brand’s official Instagram account. Also, with YouTube vlogging being all the rage nowadays, you can give away stuff for free, or coupons, and receive a mention that way. Take part in Facebook and forum discussions, and publish some of the user-generated content through your official channels. They will love it. Carter Hostelley, CEO and Founder of Leadtail, expanded on his previous comment by adding:
“The next step is to get on the radar of these influencers. You can do this by following, sharing, and referencing them on social media, and getting introduced via your LinkedIn network.
Now it's time to establish and build a relationship. This comes from helping them first. Make them look good on social media, provide them with quality introductions, use and purchase their services, etc. Overtime, these influencers will be more than happy to recommend and promote your company's brand, too.
At Leadtail, we've also been successful in building strong relationships by collaborating with influencers in crafting truly unique content pieces… since influencers have the same challenge as everyone else in developing quality content".
5. Realize that paid ads have lost their mojo
There is only so much a person can take in terms of ad exposure before they have had it, and with people’s reliance on TV, internet, and social media, all of which feature ads, that margins are getting narrowed every day. Naturally, people respond to this exposure by getting used to the ads, and tuning them out, which renders them almost useless.
What you should aim for as a marketer is providing useful content for the readers, because that’s the way they are getting their information these days. Instead of having services and products forced upon them through ads, they turn to those brands which are more subtle about their sales pitches and which provide information they can actually use. Those brands are also more likely to have influencers promote their product.
"The main reason that an influencer campaign can be so successful is that it rests on the ability of the influencer to obtain buy-in from the audience. Consequently, it is vital that you measure the sentiment regarding your businesses marketing message. Through evaluating the way in which your brand is perceived by your target audience, you will be better positioned to identify areas that may not resonate as well with your target demographic and adjust your marketing message accordingly. Along the same lines, you can also see which messages receive the most favorable reaction, giving you the opportunity to increase awareness around that message the influencer is delivering".
Ted Coiné shared another crucial bit of advice:
“People don't trust marketers (do you?). But people trust influencers by definition – that's what makes them influential. If you want potential customers to buy from you, then you have to get their attention in such a way that they're open to learning more about what you might sell them. Influencers are the key to that. You tie your brand as closely with your influencers as these people will let you, and mindshare opens up among a whole population of prospective customers whom you probably had no "in" with before. Mindshare leads to marketshare. The why of influencer marketing shouldn't be much of a question by now.
The how, though, is surprisingly confusing for most of the brands I've studied. That's why there is so little engagement with influencers currently in a brand's program – they're on the rolls, but they aren't doing much for your brand. That's also why turnover is so mindbogglingly high among influencers – they practically quit as fast as you can recruit them.”
6. Reward your influencers
While you have no legal obligation to do this, a little thankfulness goes a long way. If you have influencers spreading positive word of mouth about your brand, the smartest thing you can do is to give them yet more reasons to talk about it. How? You can reward or compensate them for their efforts.
You can give them money, although be careful with that one, not because of the cost, but because you want the content they put out about your brand to be as honest as possible, otherwise it just turns into a paid ad, and that approach, as we pointed out earlier, has largely ran out of juice, because users can spot it a mile away.
You can also give away free products, discounts, commission, or share their content on your website and even publicly thank them for promoting your brand. Remember, nobody asked them to do it, so the decent thing to do would be to thank them and respond accordingly.
"The best way to establish strong relationships with influencers is to start by helping them. Share their content. Like and comment on their posts. Re-tweet their quotes. And write 5-star reviews for their books on Amazon. It's really important because influencers have established not just authority but also massive social followings. So if you can get them to want to share your content as well, you can gain some nice organic and social traffic and engagement with your target audience. One note of warning: don't ask influencers to do you a favor before you've built a relationship. If you follow these guidelines, they will be much more likely to come and speak at your events or participate in your content efforts. And then try to earn their support of your content marketing efforts".
Yet more advice from Ted Coiné:
“The same thing that would make a top-notch customer service professional would make an all-star influencer program leader as well: empathy, and the honest desire to serve. Want to know what will best motivate your influencers? Ask them! In as many words. Say, "What would make this relationship a big win for you?
Then shut up. Listen. Take notes. And give your influencers what they told you they want! Note that this will have to include financial compensation commensurate with their influence and the services they provide you, but you're a professional: you wouldn't do it any other way.
Simple, yes, but extremely rare. If you can pull this service-first habit off, you will have your industry's most influential influencers eating out of the palm of your hand for years to come. In fact, their friends will line up around the corner to join your program.”
7. Think of influencer marketing as seamless advertising
As opposed to traditional advertising, which is focused solely on selling the product using not-so-subtle techniques, influencer marketing is more efficient because it places the brand, or a product, within a more organic context. The brand promotion is still there, but it’s not the only thing being offered to the readers. They are also provided with actionable and useful content they can read and apply the information they’ve received to solve their real-life problems.
Overall, it’s a lot more pleasurable and natural experience for the readers. It does require for some extra effort on your part, but it’s worth it, because you will earn their trust for real, and not through some convoluted marketing ploy.
8. Get involved right now
And we’re not just saying this to get you riled up, either, because influencer marketing is the fastest-expanding method of turning visitors into customers, according to marketers. Its growth is faster than that of organic search. Email and organic search have been around for a while, which means if you are looking for a way to aggressively, yet naturally expand your influence, influencer marketing would be your best bet, which means you need to strike the iron while it’s hot.
This, of course, doesn’t mean you should neglect organic search and email. In fact, you should use them, just as you would use every other method out there which can help you elevate your brand’s recognition.
9. Don’t be afraid to be wrong
We are not talking about overcoming your fear of making a mistake. We are talking about the wide margin of error you are allowed when it comes to influencer marketing. Let us elaborate. According to research, influencer marketing is currently the most cost-effective marketing strategy there is, with marketers being able to generate revenue that is several times larger than their investment.
This means you have room to experiment and figure out what works best for your brand, because you are very likely to at least break even. And if you succeed, you will have a bigger budget at your disposal, which opens up even more possibilities. This is the best time to get in on it.
10. Use influencer marketing to boost your SEO results
Although Google has changed its algorithms recently and shifted their focus to seeking out high-quality content, SEO is still a viable option. So in addition to creating content for your brand, you need to get both influencers and readers to participate in the process of content creation. The biggest brands in the world rely on user-generated content and social media mentions heavily, because it makes them more visible on Google. You can do the same for your brand.
11. Keep track of everything
One major advantage of digital marketing over its analog counterpart is that you can keep track of everything and use all that information to develop and fine-tune your marketing strategies. Not only can you immediately access every single post, share, or like, but you can analyze every single aspect of influencer marketing using software such as Google analytics, which is free, yet amazingly powerful. You can even monitor the demographic aspect of influencer marketing, and time of day/days of the week which have been the most fruitful in terms of visitors and shares.
Guest Author: Antonio is a New Jersey-based hopeless optimist who enjoys basking in the world's brightest colors. He loves biking to distant places and occasionally he gets lost. When not doing that he's writing for Edugeeksclub. He will be happy to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter
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