September 8, 2014
For many business owners, marketing is a necessary evil. Many have long believed the process is comprised of some secret sauce that, when mixed properly, magically produces revenues and happy customers.
Marketing, however, is not rocket science. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. In the old days, marketing was mostly about convincing (yes, brainwashing) people that their lives would improve by buying your product or service. That hasn’t entirely changed, but the practice itself has seen a huge boost in integrity and proven results.
Why? Because the Internet made it so. Thanks to social media and the power of a single voice in the digital space, brands that try to scam people trend on Twitter for all the wrong reasons. Consumers now have all the power, because they can immediately share experiences, good or bad, to the masses. This has forced all smart businesses to play nice, and to be honest about what they can and cannot do to impact our lives.
Yet the burning question still remains: how does one effectively reach one’s audience? In some ways, the Web has simplified this process – nearly everyone’s on it, after all. But with the immense amount of content, websites, blogs, and data, it’s hard to know how and where to focus.
That’s where influencer marketing sweeps in to save the day. This new marketing tactic embraces a viral, honest approach to spreading the word about any given brand. It elevates the social aspects of the web, and takes the grassroots elbow grease out of the equation. And it helps people who work hard to find an audience get the attention they deserve. In short, it’s one of marketing’s first win-win scenarios. It’s about time we approach marketing from the perspective that everybody benefits.
What is Influencer Marketing?
As a marketer, you likely have a clear idea of who you want to reach; the tough part is how. Rather than spending eons of time building an enraptured audience through endless content campaigns, influencer marketers find the folks that already have the engaging attention of their chosen audience.
Let’s use sports as an example. Raynforest, a brilliant new sports marketplace, and experts in sports influencer marketing, realized that brands love using prominent athletes to help promote their goods. Athletes, in turn, love getting additional attention for the hard work and accomplishments they’ve achieved. Raynforest, then, brings these two groups together for a mutual mission.
The basic steps of influencer marketing campaigns like those featured on Raynforest work like this:
- A company identifies its target audience
- The company then goes through the process of finding the influencers that have this demographic’s attention. These folks are bloggers, media members, social media mavens, and content creators that have already made a name for themselves in the niche they serve. They might be potential customers, or they might just be experts in the field.
- Once the influencers are identified and ranked, the company then establishes relationships with these folks in an effort to create a partnership. Content campaigns are formulated, elevating both the brand and the influencers.
Why does this work so well?
- Influencers aren’t asked to do any favors. They are either compensated by the brand, or receive additional attention and accolades – or both.
- Brands then get the benefit of the audience and credibility of the influencers that choose to represent them.
- Trust is the currency in the online space; if audiences already trust the people delivering information about your brand, they are volumes more likely to follow through with the marketing request.
Influencer marketing combined with content marketing is incredibly powerful in short-tracking your attempts to reach the exact audience you know is interested in your brand. If you play your cards right and establish genuine connections with your influencers, you have long-term brand ambassadors that have already proven their ability to reach the masses. It’s a marketer’s dream!
The Hardest Part of Influencer Marketing
By far, the toughest part of this process is correctly identifying your influencers. I could write forever on how to best manage this process, but here are a few key tips:
- Know your audience. Seriously. I can’t emphasize this enough. If you haven’t already identified exactly who your ideal customer is, spend the time and market research money to do so. Without this data, you could spend way too much time and money identifying influencers that aren’t in the right space or niche.
- Choose the category of influencer that can bring you the most movement first. It’s very possible you’ll have many categories of influencers, which means you can run multiple campaigns. Focus on one at a time. For example, if you’re a B2C business, you’re probably looking at a mixture of actual customers and media pros. Using Raynforest as an example, they may run an influencer campaign around sports brands, and then target top athletes from various popular sports. Each one is a separate influencer campaign.
- To guarantee incredible ROIs, turn to the experts. Agencies like Evolve Inc! have proven track records in not only identifying key influencers, but launching full-scale campaigns that create results in a just a few months. That’s another huge advantage to influencer marketing – do it right, and results come fast.
It used to be hearing terms like “integrity” and “win-win” associated with any marketing tactic felt like an oxymoron. Not anymore. Influencer marketing works because the public, brand, and influencers themselves all benefit. If you’re not yet considering this tactic for your marketing efforts, it’s about time.
Have you had any experience yet with influencer marketing? If so, please tell us about it!
Conscious online marketer, web executive, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney has been creating and fostering online innovations since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, influencer marketing, community management, lead generation, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and accomplished life coach. Learn more on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.