Influencer. It’s as straightforward as it sounds: a person who can affect or change an audience’s decisions. When it comes to marketing, “decisions” means buying patterns. That fashion blogger with 100,000 Instagram followers? There’s a good chance her followers want to know exactly where she got that dress she’s wearing. A smart marketer can leverage that influence through strategic partnerships with the right influencers.
“At its very basic level, marketing is about communication and building trust with the audience,” says Diane Diaz, a business and personal brand consultant and former regional marketing director for Newland Communities. “Influencers – because they are seen to be experts or knowledgeable in their respective arenas – have already built a level of trust with their followers, so they can help build a level of trust about a brand.”
Today, brands are frequently reaching out to and teaming up with influencers, thanks in part to the growth of social media platforms that allowed them to gain an eager audience in the first place. But just because a blogger has thousands of followers, doesn’t mean they’ll be the right influencer for a brand. There’s a strategy to finding a good fit, and once a brand has identified its potential new partners, it’s not as easy as just telling them to sell a certain item.
Diaz, currently a Course Director in Full Sail University’s Internet Marketing Master’s program, introduces her students to influencer marketing in her New Media Marketing course. Here, she shares advice for launching a successful influencer marketing campaign.
Find the right influencer.
Before a brand can understand which influencers are right for them, they need to understand exactly who their audience is. “Good online research and social monitoring in the beginning are going to set the stage for a solid influencer strategy,” says Diaz. From there, it’s important to vet an influencer to make sure they’re a trusted voice and a good match for a brand’s tone.
So how exactly to find those influencers? “Set Google Alerts and research hashtags on Twitter to see discussions happening around a certain topic,” says Diaz, “You can also use social monitoring tools like Social Mention to identify conversations about your brand specifically, which will allow you to identify potential influences who already know your brand.”
Make the initial connection.
“Start by building a relationship with the influencer,” says Diaz. “Connect on social media so you can get to know them better and they can get to know you. Then, once you’ve developed a relationship you can formulate a pitch to the influencer.” Building a friendly relationship is important, but marketers should always clearly disclose that they represent a specific company.
Figure out the logistics.
In exchange for their endorsement of a specific brand, influencers will typically want something in return, and these parameters should be determined from the start. “There should definitely be some form of compensation, but it doesn’t have to be money,” says Diaz, who also teaches the Digital Storytelling & Branding course in Full Sail’s Internet Marketing Master’s program. “It could be discounted or free product, or featuring them in some way in your online content. It’s about understanding what would be meaningful to the influencer.”
Work together to craft the appropriate message.
Influencer marketing is not having an influencer post information about a product and say, “This product is great, because they told me to tell you that.” Influencer marketing is most successful when the influencer’s message is passionate and authentic, and the influencer and marketer must work together to help craft that message.
“Marketers are relinquishing some control to the influencer, in a sense, but you want to help them along,” says Diaz. “Ask the influencers to share stories about themselves using your product or service, or share some other type of content about a specific aspect of your brand. Think about what it is you want them to convey and make it easy for them to do that.”
Full Sail University’s Internet Marketing Master’s program equips students with the techniques that brands and businesses need in order to engage with consumers in the constantly-evolving digital world. To learn more, click here.