With over a billion tweets shared every two days, your customers are quickly overwhelmed by information – and your marketing message is easily lost in the noise. Obviously, marketers must find a way to make sure their content reaches their target audience, and the answer lies in one of the oldest-known marketing techniques – word-of-mouth.
The value of social influencer marketing cannot be underestimated – in fact, it should be a standard part of your content distribution strategy.
Recently, we covered why you need to use social influencers. This time we’re talking about the tactics you need to reach and employ them.
There are two influencer marketing approaches you need to consider when drawing up your social strategy – the ‘easy wins’ and the ‘long game’. But what are they, how do you reach them, and which should you target?
Connecting with social influencers: the easy wins
Rich content contains references and statistics from a broad range of sources, and wherever possible it should acknowledge the original author. Once published, your influencer marketing campaign should include provisions for sharing content with these named.
Typically email notifications yield the best results, but when contacting well-known industry experts and celebrities, remember that your message is just one of a very long list of things they need to attend to. Pushed for time, there’s a very good chance that your email will be ignored.
You should also seriously consider making contact via social media, or at least @ mention named sources when sharing links on Twitter. This provides some context about your asset and makes it super easy for the named recipient to re-share. Every retweet increases the potential reach of your campaign.
This is the easy win approach because of its simplicity – you really don’t need to do much to make contact with potential influencers. As you create your content, make sure to collect the email addresses and social media handles of anyone you quote – or even just the authors of any articles you link to.
Once you reach the publication and promotion stage, add a task for sharing your content with those individuals. With any luck, they will help spread your content to an audience receptive to your products and services.
Playing the long game
Connecting with social media influencers can also be a strategy all of its own. Building relationships takes time, even in the social media age – and it is often through these relationships that the most fruitful influencer marketing is realized.
Obviously, this approach is more labor-intensive. First, you need to identify individuals who are relevant to your niche; people who are not only interested in your products and services, but who have a social circle of like-minded individuals. These are the people with whom you need to start building relationships.
Just because this relationship-building is part of your wider social media strategy doesn’t mean it must be conducted purely via Twitter or Instagram. Take the opportunities to network at trade events to meet with these people face-to-face, humanizing your brand and making the connection genuinely personal.
With established professional relationships, it is much easier to share content via email or social media. Because your influencer knows that your content is relevant and of interest to them, they are much more likely to re-share, possibly with their own comment to add further value for their followers.
Beauty blogger and YouTube star Jessica Harlow was chosen by the department store chain J.C. Penney to help run a Periscope giveaway called “Get Your Penney’s Worth”. A simple game allowed promotion participants to win gift vouchers for the department store, broadcast live on the internet. What makes this particular promotion interesting is the fact that Jessica has “just” 45,200 Twitter followers. However, her interest-focused audience was a good fit for the J.C. Penney brand and the promotion an overall success.
Other brands have boosted their profile by inviting social influencers to “co-create”, building and sharing assets that are mutually beneficial. Clothes retailer ASOS sends vouchers to influencers, inviting them to make a purchase and then share a review of the product with their followers.
ASOS has long been considered a pioneer in influencer marketing, notably by exclusively targeting “micro-influencers”. These more ‘ordinary’ people have networks that are for more tightly engaged – and are much cheaper to engage than a mega-celebrity.
How to choose your social influencers
It’s important to realize that follower count is not the only indicator to consider when identifying influencers to target. Even if he did decide to retweet your content, Justin Bieber’s 23 million followers are unlikely to be interested in computer software (or any other “grown up stuff”) – an instance where influencer marketing would be completely wasted.
The decision by Nike to offer footballer Cristiano Ronaldo a $1 billion lifetime contract does make sense, however. The vast majority of Ronaldo’s followers are interested in sport – Nike’s core business. Any social media recommendation of Nike content made by Ronaldo is likely to reach Nike’s target market.
Although these mega deals with mega-celebrities grab the headlines, the best fit for your brand may be on a much smaller (and cheaper) scale. Makerly found that Instagram influencers with between 10,000 and 100,000 followers have the largest impact when it comes to brand reach and engagement – far fewer than 23 million.
Instead of obsessing over raw follower count, you should take a more data-driven approach, putting the skills you’ve already learned about social listening to the test:
1. Search social media
Search Twitter and Instagram for hashtags that relate to your industry, and business pains your product/service solves.
2. Identify influencers
Once you know how people are talking in your industry, the next task is to see who is doing the talking. What do they say? Who do they engage with? If you had to pick ten people to connect with, which would you choose?
3. Ask for recommendations
Use your existing customers’ knowledge too. Who do they trust? Who do they ask for recommendations? Do they have any brand advocates?
With so much data out there, you will need a tool to help you filter through the noise and to track the progress of your relationship building efforts. This is where a social media listening tool is a must.
Which tactic should you be using?
If your business is serious about influencer marketing, you should be using both types of influencer marketing to maximize the spread of your content. Adding another stage to your content distribution strategy to contact named sources is relatively straightforward, easily built into your next campaign.
Building a pool of trusted influencers takes longer however – it may take several months to establish strong relationships. You may not be able to leverage these individuals in your next campaign, but you should set aside the resources required to begin identifying influencers and making the initial contact on which you build.
You should also remember that there’s nothing wrong with aiming low. You should always aim to connect with individuals at the center of focused, social networks because their degree of influence is far greater – and therefore more useful for spreading your brand message.