Cultivate Relationships with Social Media Influencers to Build Momentum Marketing
Marketing is hard work, and keeping the momentum on a product or service going has traditionally been a carefully orchestrated journey of actions and reactions. Thanks to the Internet and social media, however, a new kind of marketing has arisen: one that creates its own momentum. It’s called “influencer marketing,” and it involves building a loyal community of customers who will share your material with others alongside recommendations. This is an important community to cultivate: a study conducted by Nielsen in 2012 found that 92 percent of customers across the globe put more trust in “earned media,” or word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, than in all other types of advertising.
To create a great influencer marketing campaign, companies need to ensure their message is authentic and provides customers with value: make them laugh, inform them, give them an idea or make their lives easier. Social media is often the vehicle for influencer campaigns, but a mediocre message will go only so far. (Social media is a busy place these days, and it takes some effort to stand out.) While celebrity endorsements work well for some brands, it’s not necessary to have a pop star pitch a product. To create an influencer campaign, you first simply need to identify who your influencers are, according to CODA Concepts’ Angela Stringfellow writing for American Express’ Open Forum.
“Your first step in any influencer marketing initiative is to identify the thought leaders who have the most influence over your target market,” she wrote.
This can be accomplished through the variety of tools that exist to measure the reach of influencers in a business’ marketplace. Apps and software such as FollowerWonk, which provides Twitter analytics, or the popular Klout, which guides marketers through the process of creating shareable content, can go a long way toward identifying the best influencers to reach. Once you’ve identified them, you can monitor what they share and learn about them to determine if they’re a good fit for your product or service. From here, it’s time to make contact and start building relationships, according to Stringfellow.
“Instead of jumping into the deep end, start slowly by following them on social media, sharing their content, commenting on their blogs and engaging them in relevant conversations whenever possible,” she wrote. “Establishing a relationship of mutual trust is the key to successfully engaging your market's thought leaders as brand advocates.”
The next step, getting them to engage with your brand, is the most critical. There are a number of ways to approach this step. Ask them to review your products and provide quotes you can use in other marketing efforts. Form direct relationships with them, ask for their help and provide them with high-level content that will induce them to do so. It helps to keep your requests to a channel or vehicle that the influencer knows best rather than asking them to forge new paths for you.
“Ideally, you should target influencers with tactics built around the type of content they’ve engaged with in the past,” wrote Stringfellow. “For instance, if an active Twitter user with a massive following is often sharing links to articles he’s been quoted in, the odds are higher he’ll engage in the same manner with your brand than an influencer who's never shared brand content of any type.”
Not all your efforts are going to work. You may find only a few influencers at first who are willing to engage with you. But repeated efforts, particularly after successes, will pay off. Influencers may be able to recommend others, and just because this campaign isn’t right for them, your next one might be. Persistence will be the key toward building an influencer marketing program that creates its own momentum.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi