Influencer relationships can be hugely beneficial to your marketing strategy. Studies show that almost half of Twitter users rely on influencers for recommendations and around 40% making a purchase as a direct result. And when you combine your brand with influencers, the results are even better – purchase intent can increase by 5.2 times when consumers are exposed to tweets from influencers and brands. So how can you incorporate influencer marketing into your campaign strategies? Here are seven ways to build successful influencer relationships.
1. Establish what the relationship looks like
Influencer marketing is a non-promotional tactic where brands can focus their efforts on thought leaders instead of directly on their target market. The reason for its effectiveness is that it leverages your reach and expands your audience which increases the likelihood of engagement. Whether it’s link building, digital PR or gaining social coverage – building the right relationships is key.
Influencer strategies don’t have to be limited to celebrities who are paid to talk about your products or services though, it can also be earned by utilising existing relationships with high-profile customers who are already recommending your brand. There are a few ways the brand-influencer can work:
• The brand develops content with the intention of the influencer sharing it with their followers, resulting in the brand reaching a wider audience
• The influencer creates and shares the content with their followers, expanding the reach of the brand while maintaining authenticity
• The brand shares content that the influencer participates in creating, which increases the brand’s credibility with their existing followers, attracts new viewers and gives the influencer access to a wider audience.
• The influencer temporarily takes over the brand’s social account, offering the same results as the previous point but on a bigger scale because of the “must see” aspect.
2. Use technology to find the right people
Finding key influencers in your industry can be a challenge but the process is made a lot easier through the use of social listening technology – it’s kind of like online dating for influencer marketing.
When you’re shopping for a social listening tool, find one that not only searches the major networks like Twitter or Facebook but also blogs, forums and other online discussions that are taking place. You also want to be able to incorporate sentiment tracking technology that will let you see if the posts you’re finding are positive or negative. Through social listening tools, you can find people who are already mentioning your brand, products or services, talking about your target market or competitors, and sharing your content.
Hootsuite is one of the tools that can help you track activity on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Foursquare, and WordPress.
3. List your deal-breakers
When you’ve determined the type of influencer you’re looking for, it’s useful to list out the specific criteria they should have based on your budget, audience and the needs of the campaign. For example, you want an influencer who has engaged followers, is relatable and relevant to your target audience, who responds regularly to their community and has a tone and style that works well with your brand.
4. Define your expectations
There’s no benefit for either party to asking the influencers to just do what they want when promoting your brand, so it’s better to define what you’re hoping to achieve in advance. If you’re too vague with your expectations, it could result in content that doesn’t fit well with your brand which wastes both your time and the influencers. It’s also important to identify the main KPIs to help you define what a successful campaign looks like for your brand.
The easiest way to avoid this issue is to clearly define what you expect from the campaign – what type of content do you want the influencers to create, should the message be framed in a particular way, is there a certain story you want their photos to tell? Whatever you have in mind, be clear when you’re communicating with them – it helps them create content that allows you to achieve your goals while still giving them creative freedom.
5. Invite your influencers to collaborate
Influencers are much more likely to share your content if they were involved in the process of creating it, so invite them to collaborate on the campaign. From webinars and guest posts to interviews with experience or specialists, there are numerous ways to engage influencers in the co-creation of your content.
Bear in mind the time required to create content, not just from your but your influencers, so when you’re in the early stages of establishing a relationship with them, don’t ask too much. You can supplement content with advice or tips from relevant influencers, but you can also take a different approach by compiling smaller pieces of content contributed from various influences for a longer form article. This will take less time from the influencers on an individual basis which makes it easier for them to work with your brand on the campaign.
6. Talk about something relevant to your audience
With the right relationship, influencers can serve as a catalyst for word of mouth on a bigger scale. It’s far more effective than paid advertising and, if the message is right, it will even have a positive impact on the perception of your brand, purchase rates and market share. Consumer-to-consumer word of mouth can account for as much as 50% of all purchase decisions, particularly for first-time or pricier purchases – it’s one of the biggest manipulators of consumer behaviour at each stage of the buying journey, as well as affecting the retention rate of these customers.
7. Boost credibility through your own channels
A relationship is a two-way thing, so it’s beneficial to all involved if you give your influencers a boost. Cross posting content from influencers on your brand’s social channels helps to cement the collaboration and builds trust, as well as benefiting both the brand and the influencer. It can help to boost engagement rate and expands the reach for both parties, so when you partner with an influencer be sure to share their posts on your own social channels, irrespective of the potential disparity between follower counts. Make a point of requesting detailed reports on the reach and engagement levels from your influencer for each of the posts within the campaign, so you can analyse the data and track progress.
Nurturing influencer relationships is the key to making this a successful part of your brand’s marketing strategy. Don’t assume that influencers will immediately cooperate again just because they’ve worked with you once – continue to share their posts, maintain the communication and stay on their radar. The more genuine and mutual the collaboration, the more likely it is that influencers will be interested in giving back when the time comes to develop another campaign.