In the heart of many major metropolitan areas, you often come across street preachers – people who stand on the corner preaching religious message to passers-by. Sometimes they use a boom box to amplify their message.
While many people may hear what they’re saying, who is actually listening?
Now think of this in terms of your social media strategy.
You’re trying to draw people to your website or landing page on Facebook or Twitter. Many people hear the message, but how many are listening? The more people you can get to pause in their travels, the better chance there is to influence their thinking and decision-making about your product or service.
This is the importance of influence marketing.
The Basics of Influence Marketing
Think of influence marketing as a social media amplifier.
Obviously, you can shout your message only so loud using channels such as Facebook, blogs, and one-on-one contact. What would be better is having someone who people will stop and listen to – someone who has an established social media presence – do the shouting in these same channels for you.
This will take your message and have it heard by more people through a familiar voice – the influencer.
This isn’t just an issue of knowing the influencer. It’s about recognizing that influencers have noticeable social media engagement with their followers.
You may be able to broadcast your message through known channels to a certain number of people. But an influencer will probably reach more people who will listen. Why? Because an influencer has a larger audience, and that audience stops to listen.
There are three basic ways influence marketers can amplify your message:
- Writing a blog or article about you or your product
- Sharing information about you or your product
- Asking you to do a guest post on their website
Any combination of these three amplifies your message even more.
Getting directly involved in the influence marketing process is relatively simple. First, you make a connection with an influencer. Then you pay attention to how successful that influencer is in amplifying your message.
Not all influencers will have the same impact for every product.
Once you establish their levels of amplification, you adjust your marketing strategy to take advantage of the most powerful voices. You will need to continually monitor with social media analytics all your industry’s social media influencers as market conditions change periodically.
How Social Media Influencers Help Distribute Your Brand Message
One advertising concept that sometimes gets lost when dealing with social media is that the best form of advertising is word of mouth.
Peer conversations can be added to the mix, but they’re essentially the same concept. Social media is word-of-mouth advertising. This is important to remember when thinking about influence marketing.
Who people will listen to is critical in amplifying your message.
Generally, influencers are people who have an established reputation for being knowledgeable in their specific areas of interest, whether it’s formally, such as professionals or academics, or informally, such as people who have devoted a significant part of their lives to acquiring relevant knowledge and experience.
An old E.F. Hutton advertising campaign slogan that became famous was, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.” This is the ideal influencer.
A recognizable face in the media will immediately draw people’s attention when it is seen on television or a website. A recognizable voice heard on social media will have the same effect.
When your brand is positively connected to the voice, your message will be amplified.
According to one study, blogs are only behind retail sites and brand sites when it comes to influencing a buyer’s purchasing decision.
This means that choosing the right influencer can significantly impact more than who hears the message. The right influencer will turn the message into a sale.
Criteria to Consider When Searching for Influencers
Now that we know what influencer marketers are and how they can help us deliver our brand message, the question of finding influencer marketers needs to be answered.
Every business should have a unique brand message. Thus, we need to construct some criteria to guide you through the selection process.
Perhaps the most obvious and necessary consideration is whether the influencer is willing to work with you. The influencers in the greatest demand (celebrities) may be the least likely to be available to you. Try, but keep your social media strategy open to the possibility of working with power users and not always having the ideal selection of influencers.
Second, it’s vital that your influencers have a regular engagement with their audience in terms of activity, popularity and communicativity. This includes how often they post in social media and the amount of feedback they receive, particularly the number of comments they receive.
Third, monitor the content that the social media influencers distribute on their blogs and social media networks. Make sure that the content is inline with your brand’s voice and that it can support your social media presence by amplifying your social media signals.
The fourth consideration is how many social media platforms in which the candidate influencer is active. The important word here is “active.” Simply having an online presence is not an indicator of audience engagement. The more platforms an influencer is active in, the greater the amplification of your message.
There are other criteria to consider, but these are the most critical to maximizing your influencer potential.
How to Find Relevant Influencers for Your Brand
With the criteria established, now we can address specifics relating to finding influencers relevant to your brand.
The general rule for selecting influencers is not the number, but rather the focus of the influencer’s message. Don’t take a scattergun approach to selecting influencers because they don’t take a scattergun approach to their message.
The influence they have created is due to having a unique message that their audiences depends on. What this means for your brand is you need to dig deep to match the influencer’s message with your own.
Once you have achieved an opening and have started a relationship with an influencer, you must engage them where they are at. This is critically important. It means your message should amplify their message instead of your focus on promoting your brand.
Remember that the audience of the influencer does not yet know you or your brand. It is much more likely they will read about you inside the context of the influencer.
Another key to maximizing your newly found amplifier is to let the influencer’s audience tell your story.
This won’t happen immediately.
But once your presence is known in the sphere of the influencer, the influencer’s audience will begin to hear, listen, and repeat your message.
This is a natural process of social media. It’s also the best way to take the pressure off yourself to try and make something happen.
Remember, influence marketing is more about leverage than it is about effort.
The Importance of Influence Marketing for Your Brand
The significance of influence marketing is both in the numbers and in the marketing logic.
Word-of-mouth advertising is historically the best and most effective way to generate sales.
But social media and technology have created ways for you to amplify your message by using the leverage social media influencers provide. The goal is not to simply get people to hear, but to get them to pay attention to what you’re saying.
Creating a list of impact influencers requires some research on your part. You have to consider return on investment in any marketing strategy – social media is no exception.
Influencers have the ability to magnify your voice considerably, but your critical measurement is how your influencers turn your message into sales.
One final consideration.
The content of your message must be superior. If it’s not, you may find your influencers distancing themselves from you and your brand. The way influencers reach their level of importance is through quality content. Without that, you share the same fate as street-side preachers, bellowing out a message to which no one pays attention.