In the digital-first era, marketing has evolved into a considerably different beast than it was even just four to six years ago. Trends change rapidly, and entrepreneurs and CMOs must be prepared to change with them.
Today we kick off a new article series about current marketing trends dominating the industry in 2017, focusing on one trend per week.
This week we focus on the importance and use of influencers in a company’s marketing strategies.
What exactly is influencer marketing?
On the most basic level, influencer marketing refers to a more non promotional approach to marketing, in which companies seek to get “thought leaders” outside of their company to become advocates for their brand, rather than directly marketing to their target audience. The hope is that by marketing through influential people, companies will not only be able to reach more people, but reach them in a more organic-feeling manner.
One could break influencer marketing down into two categories: earned and paid. Earned influencer marketing comes from either preexisting or naturally built relationships with influencers, who become advocates for your brand because you have earned it in some way. Paid influencer marketing, meanwhile, involves paying known influencers to advocate for a product. Celebrity endorsements are the most common example here.
How do I build an influencer marketing campaign?
Here are a few of the most effective steps to help you develop an influencer marketing campaign for your business:
- Identify influencers you want to reach: First and foremost, you need to determine who has influence with your target audience. These don’t have to be celebrities. Scour social media (especially Facebook and Twitter) to see who often partakes in conversations related to your industry, and who gets a lot of followers, shares, retweets or likes. There will be plenty of options available to you, as long as you are not focusing on too small of a niche.
- Build up your influence: It’s going to be difficult to build any sort of relationship with other influencers if you do not have a certain level of influence yourself. If you already have established some level of familiarity, it will feel far more natural when influencers advocate for your brand, whether it’s through social media, talks or other environments.
- Make contact: In some situations, you might be lucky enough where the influencers you want to target begin mentioning your brand or participating in your discussions of their own accord. However, most of the time, you are going to need to be the first one to make contact. For an earned, unpaid influencer relationship, you should build the relationship as organically as possible. Start by simply being a regular participant in the discussions they begin on social media and on their blogs. This will make you a familiar face to their regular followers. From there, you can actually make direct contact with the influencer to introduce yourself.
- Offer guest spots in your blog: One great way to connect with influencers is to offer them a chance to write a guest blog or article for your website. If you have already successfully built up some influence of your own, they will be much more likely to take you up on this offer. They may even offer to return the favor and give you a guest spot on their site. But by having someone who is influential in your field appear on your site, it both lends you some extra authority and also acts as a sort of tacit endorsement of your brand on the part of the influencer.
- Maintain the relationship: Whenever you have made connections with influencers, you should make it a priority to maintain those relationships through regular social media and blog contact. That will help you each to continue benefitting from the relationship you have formed.
Influencer marketing in the digital age has become a crucial way for brands to get ahead of their competition. Contact Viral Solutions for more information about how to proceed.
Content and Commentary: Copyright Viral Solutions 2017
Thomas von Ahn
Chief Elephant Slayer for Viral Solutions LLC
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