Influencer marketing and influencer events are two topics that are becoming more and more present in digital marketing discussions. Why are influencers becoming such an important element of a digital marketing strategy? And how can we find the right influencers for our brand?
Why influencers are so important for your brand
People rely more on recommendations coming from a reputable source and trust less messages coming directly from a brand.
In many ways, this happens because people need to be reassured and guided when a transaction is involved, and the more we can trust the source of information, the more likely it is that we will follow its suggestions. In many business fields, from hotel or restaurant booking, to the sales of products and services, we rely on reviews and recommendations to make our choice.
Through social media and website pages, influencers have the power to reach a specific niche audience better than any advertising campaign, and with a much stronger impact on conversion rate. Also, the nature of the relationship between the influencers and their followers is such that a sort of domino effect happens when content is shared by the influencer. The loyalty of the followers makes the share more visible and their interaction with the influencer’s content expands its reach.
A link from a reputable source has also the double impact of increasing web traffic and organic ranking too. It has been now demonstrated that one of the most important factor in Google ranking algorithm is backlinks, and in particular the quality of the backlinks. An authoritative website pointing to our content will improve the ranking to the linked page and will drive traffic too. More recently social shares have also become an important ranking factor, so having the right influencer sharing our content on social media will also improve our SEO.
For a brand looking for more visibility, social media shares can increase traffic at a much higher rate than organic traffic and can establish a brand name in a shorter time.
As a result of this, influencer marketing (or influence marketing) is now a growing aspect of a wider marketing strategy. With this relatively new approach, rather than targeting our direct audience – which can require a bigger investment in terms of advertising or SEO – the focus is on those that can influence our audience and our potential buyers.
Who are influencers?
In the past, choosing the right testimonials was often the reason for a successful advertising campaign. Finding the right face, the trendy VIP or the personality of the moment was a marketing strategy followed by big brands to increase brand awareness and sales. Unfortunately, this was a very expensive marketing strategy that could be followed only by stronger competitors with huge advertising budgets.
This strategy is obviously still very common today, but marketing channels have changed profoundly and so have influencer profiles.
Internet and social media have change the rules of the game. We can still rely on VIPs to increase brand awareness, but there is a much longer list of influencers that can be even more effective for our brands at a fraction of the cost: social media influencers.
Social media stars are not necessarily famous people in a strict sense, but they are the most popular voices in a very crowded space: the internet. Bloggers, journalists, industry experts, but also very common people, who simply managed to gain visibility on social media in specific field and growing number of followers.
For many business product/service reviewers also represent an ideal influencer target, because people rely on reviews more than anything, especially on online transactions. This is why our own happy customers are the first influencers that we need to nurture: nowadays the business transaction is not concluded at the time of the sale, but after our (happy) customers have left their reviews, thus driving more people to our brand.
As we can see, there are several types of influencers and many of them can be useful for our marketing goals. How to choose the right ones is a more complex task, that can be simplified considering two main aspects:
- Who are the voices that you can trust in your industry?
- Who are the influencers that share content similar to your brand?
If we narrow down the list of potential influencers to these two essential elements, our influencer marketing strategy will be more successful.
How to find the right influencers and create an influencer marketing strategy
As we have seen, finding the right voices and those that shares values and content similar to our brand are the first most important steps to find a list of targets for our influencer campaign. In other terms, as we need to identify the buyers profile of our brand, in a similar way we need to build an influencer marketing strategy, that will lead us to
- Identify the ideal influencers
- Establish a connection with the influencers
- Encourage the influencers to share our content
- Reward the influencers
Building a list of influencers
The first point of call is surely Google. By adding the words blog or best blogger or top blogs to our target keyword (e.g. the niche in which we operate our business), we will obtain a list of blogs where topics related to our business are discussed. If we repeat the same search with the terms forum, or magazine, or website, we will be able to increase our list.
Social media can also be very useful, because this is where our influencers’ activity really takes place. Choosing the right hashtags will give us a list of the most followed social media profiles. This can be done on Instagram or Twitter or on any other social media channel where relevant topics are discussed. On Linkedin we can type a keyword in the search field and we will get a list of potentially interesting influencers, that – for the nature of this social media – are also likely to be rather good for B2B marketing.
A good tool to find the best social media channel for our campaign is Buzzsumo. On this tool, we can identify the most shared posts, who are the people sharing them and on which social media there is more interaction. A very powerful tool for influencer marketing strategy and influencer list building.
Once we have a comprehensive list of influencers we can narrow it down by selecting those that are the most trustworthy voices in our niche. This is a more difficult task – but an important step in our list building process- , and requires a thorough analysis of the influencers profile. Through this screening phase we will be able to identify the influencers that are not only contextually relevant to our brand, but also share our vision and goals. Ultimately, we will need to create a two-way relationship with the chosen influencers, and the more we have something in common, the likelier it will be that our relationship will bring the expected results.
Establish a connection with the influencers
There is no fix rule to establish a connection with the chosen influencers. All maketers have their own approach strategy. However, as a general rule, we should start interacting with our influencers, before we clearly reach out and ask for help. Following the influencers, or simply liking their posts or share their content is a good start. The second step would be starting a more real interaction, like making comments, in particular on their blog posts. Good bloggers rarely ignore a comment if it is relevant to their posts, not only because it is good for their SEO.
Encourage the influencers to share our content
After some interactions, we will have a better idea if the influencer can meet our marketing purposes. Only now we can approach them with a personal message, and the possibility of a positive answer will be higher. We should know by now our influencer’s tastes and opinions, and we could try and “sell” our brand. We could ask for content sharing, guest blogging, reviews or any other form of endorsement that we will need for our campaign.
Reward the influencers
A reward is not necessarily a monetary transaction. Influencers that get paid for their endorsement (or receive free products) often have less power to influence their audience, because they lose some credibility. Help them to reach their goals so they will help you to reach yours: this is more likely to be the best reward.
Influencers can be a powerful marketing tool, if you build a proper strategy, but as you can see, this could be a rather long process, that requires specific expertise. Live Consultancy has the capabilities and the experience to make this strategy affordable and effective in a much shorter time, having the opportunity to rely on long term relationships with various influencers in many a niche. Do not hesitate to contact us if you want to discuss your requirement or take a look at our ongoing projects, if you want to have a better idea of what we can do for your brand.