When it comes to marketing, industry media seems to herald a “next big thing” every six months. This time it’s influencer marketing.
In a recent Forbes article, John Hall said, “influencer marketing is about providing product context and expertise through an inspirational person.”
Let’s think about that for a minute: “inspirational person.” That can be someone we know personally or in the case of millions of Americans, someone whose counsel is sought through social media. Rather than depending on companies to tell us about products, consumers rely on other consumers in the form of celebrities–movie personalities, bloggers and others with influence.
Influencer marketing offers businesses the ability to reach new audiences, establish credibility and build trust in their brand. A report by McKinsey & Company, a data gathering and analysis firm, says marketing-induced consumer-to-consumer word of mouth (e.g., influencer marketing) generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising, and new customers have a 37 percent higher retention rate.
The same report states:
…the digital revolution has amplified and accelerated its reach to the point where word of mouth is no longer an act of intimate, one-on-one communication. Today, it also operates on a one-to-many basis: product reviews are posted online and opinions disseminated through social networks.
There are a number of influencer social media options, each with a unique strength:
- Blogs: offer a wider demographic than YouTube.
- YouTube: reaches a huge number of people, aka potential customers.
- Snapchat and Instagram: a great way to reach millennials (Unfortunately, they don’t yet allow for tracking links, making it harder to measure results.)
In a second Forbes article on influencer marketing, Hall identifies two types of influencers. Earned marketing comes from unpaid or a “natural advocate” relationship while paid advertising, just as it implies, pays an influencer to blog or tweet about a product or service.
Although agencies like MediaKix help pair brands with paid influencers, Hall suggests small businesses (with limited budgets), pursue earned influencers first. Why would an influencer want to work for free? “…what’s often most valuable to an influencer isn’t a huge paycheck—it’s more influence,” writes Hall. “An influencer is only as valuable as the influence (they) have.”
The take away
In order for your business to convince an influencer you are worthy of their partnership, you need to bring something to the bargaining table. The partnership needs to be mutually beneficial. Before approaching an influencer, you need to create your own influence.
In order to establish your own credibility, you can write white papers or blogs referencing the influencers you’d like to partner with or host an event and invite influencers who have interest in reaching your audience members. By supporting and endorsing influencers, you create a natural, logical way for them to promote your brand to their online audience.