When you’re just starting out with your business, it can be hard to get eyes in front of your content. That’s where influencer marketing (connecting with influencers in your niche) can be highly beneficial. These influencers already have an established expertise and following, so building relationships with them can be just what you need to get that ball rolling.
Why should you focus on influencer marketing? The majority of consumers (92%) would rather make decisions based on trusted referrals and recommendations than rely on other sources. Word-of-mouth marketing generates 2x the sales compared to paid advertising. And, businesses make an average of $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing.
Identifying and Tracking Influencers
Not just any influencer will do. It’s important to take the time to find out who key influencers are in your industry, of course, but the issue many people overlook is the fact that who the issue many people overlook is the fact that who you find influential isn’t necessarily the same person or group of people your audience finds influential. This means going a bit further to find the people your audience follows online – but there are tools to help you get the job done. There’s no more guessing about who they may be; you can find and connect with them right away.
BuzzSumo is an influencer marketing tool that lets you find the most popular content about a topic, while also providing information on the author and publisher. You can look more into the types of content that author creates, or the publisher accepts, to get a better idea of how to approach the influencer with a story for the target publication. It’s also possible to see a list of the people who shared it. You can also use it to see the most popular content on a particular publisher, to ensure your story provides a unique angle.
Keyhole allows you to track hashtags so you can find relevant content and influencers. You can see conversations and top content, as well as who the influencers around the hashtag are.
Traackr is a premium influencer marketing and analytics platform that helps you find influencers, see social insights, and determine how to best connect with them. You can search for influencers, see trending content, and more.
Connecting with Influencers
Reach out to the influencers on Twitter, Facebook, or other social platform and start a conversation with them before you need them to do something for you. Keep in mind that top influencers get inundated with requests for help all the time – many reaching hundreds of requests a day, if not more. Without having an established relationship with them, it can be hard to get them to pay attention to you – let alone honor your request. Once you’re connected on social media, it’s time to move on to the next step – developing a strategy for engaging with influencers so you can get on their radar and cultivate that relationship.
Engaging with Influencers
Start sharing and commenting on their content. But, take the time to go beyond something like, “Great post!” and add real thoughts and insight. Find a balance, because sending out a single tweet isn’t going to be enough. It will get lost in a sea of posts. But, retweeting/sharing too much too often, comes on a little strong and spammy. Choose the pieces that you genuinely see value for your own audience.
When you take the time to comment on their content – make it stand out. Ask questions to start a dialogue. Provide additional information or examples. It’s even okay to disagree with what the author says, if you have a different point of view and can keep the debate effective.
What Do You Have to Offer?
Once you’ve established the relationship, it’s time to make the connection and ask for help. But – you shouldn’t just email them a sentence or two. First, take the time to think about what you want to get from the cooperation. Then, consider what you have to offer the influencer in return.
Do you want them to share your content? Do you want them to participate in an expert roundup? Be interviewed for a podcast? Whatever the case may be – you’re thinking about a long-term relationship here, so make sure it’s an easy single request. Once that goes well and you decide you want to continue working together, you can bring the influencer into bigger projects.
Can you offer them an exclusive trial of your service? A new version of your product? A blog post completely dedicated to them? Offer real value to the influencer and know what the offer will be before you contact them.
Making the Connection
There’s only one shot to connect with your influencer, so make the most of it. Skip the use of automated software on the first contact to avoid potential errors that will turn the influencer off. Make sure your subject line is compelling – influencers are busy people who won’t read everything. It has to be catchy to get their attention, but shouldn’t look spammy – that’s a signal of automated software. Tell the influencer what the email is about. Make the email itself easy to read. Keep it short and clear.
Break the ice with things you have in common – showing you’ve done your research on who they are and what they’ve done in the past. Be sure to use their name – research shows people love to see/hear their name. It also makes the experience more personal. Show a little flattery. Compliment their work and let them know what you like about them. If possible, show them what you’ve done to provide value beforehand, so they’re more likely to want to return the favor for you.
If you want, you can also invite the influencer to collaborate with you on content. It’s almost a surefire way to guarantee they’ll share it with their audience, since they had a hand in its creation.
Repeat Again and Again
After you’ve had a successful small project with the influencer, you can repeat the process again and again with larger projects or however you and the influencer see fit. Once you have a successful relationship with one influencer, it will be easier to build more with others.
Don’t be afraid to ask the influencer what you can do for them. Any influencer relationship should be both give and take – mutually beneficial. It’s the key to building a strong long-term partnership.
Photo credit: Adobe Stock
How are some of the ways you’ve been able to add value to your brand by using influencers? Please share by using the comments section below. Thanks!
4 thoughts on “Influencer Marketing 101”
Thanks Eric! You have some awesome tips here. However, which strategy do you think works best? Pitching a few influencer with huge massive following or many bloggers with average number of followers? Would love to know Thanks a lot!
It really depends on your brand and what you want to accomplish. Large influencers (100,000+ followers) will likely not post without compensation, which may be out of your budget. You also have to look at who their audience is – is that your target audience? Larger influencers may reach several audiences – like lifestyle, fashion, beauty, and fitness… but if you’re a company promoting detergent specifically for workout clothes, they may not be your best bet, because the lifestyle/fashion/beauty audience may or may not deal with workout clothes regularly. On the other hand, targeting smaller micro-influencers (~1,000-50,000 followers) will often exchange a product for promotion/review, without compensation. This allows them to give a real review of the product, which is more credible, and if they are fitness-specific, will reach more people in your target market.
Thanks Eric for the feedback! That totally helps.
Happy to be of service! Thanks for your feedback.