What is an Influencer?
Influencer marketing has existed for many years. It is similar to the traditional paid marketing strategy where you use a celebrity to endorse your product or brand to the masses. Due to the emergence of social media and its strong impact on digital marketing, influencer marketing has developed. More so, the network of people you can tap for marketing has expanded beyond your traditional Hollywood celebrities.
If this is the first time you’re using this strategy to expand your business, it is good to note that being popular is different from being an influencer. One major observation on consumers today is that they rely on fellow consumers to decide what and what not to buy. An influencer is an expert in a particular niche or product category who has a large number of organic followers (i.e. real people in your target market).
An influencer also has credibility with this audience and the potential to attract more followers, and to create a real impact on their buying decisions. What you are looking for is a leader who drives authentic engagement from these loyal followers.
Influencers can be social media personalities, respected professionals, or even third-party website or blog owners in the same niche as you. You can easily recognize them through the sheer number of engaged followers that they have online.
The Importance of Influencer Partnerships
Celebrity endorsements as a marketing strategy has significantly lost its authority through time. Customers want to build real relationships with other people with whom they can relate, not untouchable people or faceless companies who appear interested only in the money that they can make. Using big names to advertise products when there is really no connection between them is a red flag for today’s customers. Hence the rise of influencers, who close that gap with a personal touch.
Influencer marketing brings a lot of potential to your business for extending your reach and increasing your sales in the most efficient way. Instead of trying to convince millions of people to buy your products through posting photos, articles, and links to your social media pages a few times each day, why not reach out to one person and let them do the talking for you?
Influencers have an established network of followers who trust what they do and say. When you align your marketing efforts with an influencer, these personalities become an extension of your brand, and a very effective one at that.
From personal experience building FreeeUp into a leading freelancer marketplace, here are 3 proven approaches to landing influencer relationships:
1. Add Value First. Combine Content Marketing with Influencer Marketing
Content plays a key role in the marketing of any brand. However, no matter how great your content is, if it does not reach the right audience, your strategy is failing. That is why influencer marketing can be an even greater advantage when combined with your content and SEO.
This content can be used to break the ice when introducing yourself to influencers, and show them the true value of your brand and how serious you are about filling a consumer need.
Experts in every field often know and interact with each other. More than writing about trending topics on their own blogs, they comment on other experts’ blogs. They love to share their insights with different audiences and learn from each other to contribute more value to their own audiences.
If you want to create an initial relationship with these leaders, you can offer to write a guest article for their sites. Most often, this strategy works in B2B (Business to Business) relationships within the same industry. It helps them with free content that can boost their SEO and content marketing efforts.
By adding value first, you are showing an effort to find something of value to offer upfront before you make a pitch. A well-thought out introduction that leads up to a collaborative opportunity is the right way to start a strategic partnership.
2. Get Your Network Involved
Most likely, the reason you are thinking about trying out influencer marketing is that you want to get in front of the right people. To reach them, you need the right influencers on your side.
Your niche may have several influencers, depending on your focus and the level of expertise you need. Your goal is to reach those who are at the top of the chain.
Start by building relationships with valuable people you interact with every day. As you gradually create an online presence in your industry, you can reach out to other influencers (whether starting or established) to establish new relationships that can benefit the growth of your business.
You can opt to streamline your influencer marketing campaign by using an Influencer Marketing Network – an online database of every possible influencer for your brand. If you believe that finding the right influencer is critical and you want to speed up the process, this is a good investment. Otherwise, it can be much more practical as well as more effective to work your way up and build your own network.
Whatever tools you use, make sure to reach out to your network first. This is anyone that you’ve worked with, influencer or not, and ask them if they know of any influencers who would be a good fit for your business. Apply approach #1 and always lead with an add-value first introduction.
3. Create an Online Presence in Podcasts
Podcast hosts are high-value influencers. They carry the same authority today that radio jocks, news anchors, and vloggers (video bloggers) have had over time. Podcasters reach thousands of avid listeners every time they air a new episode. Podcasts are a valuable form of content marketing for businesses which can attract many potential customers.
Podcast hosts engage their audience by sharing interesting content (whether alone or with guests) and allowing the exchange of ideas through audience participation in comments and emails. Hosts as influencers offer long-lasting, valuable content to businesses. It is an exciting and fast-growing marketing medium that even the most prominent influencers are known to use to engage with their followers and other influencers.
Moreover, it will be exceedingly helpful to your influencer marketing campaign to work your way onto popular podcast shows in your niche. An in-depth, 30 minute talk with the host is more than enough to start building your own relationship with their audience. A step above building a brand following through an influencer, getting interviewed on a podcast allows you to give a real face to your brand and to introduce your story and offering directly.
Influencer Marketing Works
Influencer marketing is all about building relationships, which is always a gradual process. You must work to create a positive impression on the influencer first and always look to add value. When you gain their trust, you open up the chance to make a connection with their loyal followers.
There are many types of influencers. Depending on how they do business, they may or may not take payment for advertising your brand. Even if they do, you can be sure that they won’t take you on just for the money – it’s their reputation, their bread and butter, on the line.
If you put your time and effort into building fantastic influencer relationships, you will have developed powerful marketing through known personalities who are willing to share your brand with their hard-earned audiences. This investment is well worth it when you consider what you’d have to put in on top of time and effort to build your own loyal audience of thousands.