Who in the world is Bob Lefsetz? Arguably, he is one of the most influential and controversial writers in the music business, someone who made his name through digital rants and whose circle of influence reportedly includes hundreds of followers, including pop stars.
Mr. Lefsetz is just one of many, many examples of niche influencers: those well-connected individuals and experts who have large social networks and an increasingly important role in spreading content. They could be bloggers, industry analysts, academics, association, thought leaders, trendsetters, consultants, financiers, regulators, journalists…the list goes on and on.
Influencer marketing is all about zeroing in on the individuals (or groups) who can inspire, sway or somehow affect your target audience. By focusing on these key influencers, rather than markets as a whole, companies can germinate seeds of ideas, products or services with often hard-to-reach audiences, thus inspiring potential buyers. Influencer marketing can be more authentic than traditional marketing, sparking positive word of mouth, creating brand lift, influencing the action of consumers – and in a best-case scenario, it can even cause your message to go viral.
Here are a few tips to help you get started in influencer marketing:
1. Identify your influencers. Determine an influencer’s R-Rating (which involves reputation, reach, relevance and resonance.) Some factors to consider: What is the size of their social impact? How familiar are they with your brand, and can they speak authoritatively on your behalf? Are they an expert on the market you serve?
2. Use influence measuring tools as a starting point. With the growing popularity of tools like Klout, Kred and PeerIndex, a new wave of influencer scoring based on social media analytics, has emerged. But there is more to online influence than a number. Sure, these tools offer insight, pointing what direction to head in, but other factors such as blog readership, audience, offline activities, reputation, subject matter, etc. are critically important, too, and nuances like these can’t always be measured.
3. Create a content marketing strategy. Before you start building relationships and creating some buzz, you must first know what you’re buzzing about. As you build relationships with key influencers, develop a solid content marketing strategy, as well as an understanding of how the chain of influence works. Start to spread valuable news, conduct demos, set up meetings, share videos – these are all ways to get influencers to write a blog post or article about your brand. In addition, you can invite influencers to write guest posts at your company blog, share their information across your social media accounts, etc.
4. Listen, listen, listen. Keep your ear to the ground. Influencers can help increase sales and awareness within your target markets, and they can also help field test products, ideas and initiatives. In short, influencers can become your best advocate, but make sure you’re listening to what they say through their bullhorn so you can keep tabs on their point of view. Invite and respect an influencer’s opinion, even if it’s not always completely on board with your brand’s – consumers will appreciate the authenticity.
5. Automate your influencer marketing program. Forget those cumbersome Excel spreadsheets to track influencers or manage profiles. Influence marketing can eat up valuable resources, so consider automating your influence marketing program. An automated solution can allow you to identify influencers in bulk, as well as facilitate the initial outreach to them across social media platforms. We’ve long stressed the importance of delivering the right content at the right time, as well as reporting and measuring impact, and all of these tasks can now be accomplished efficiently and effectively with marketing automation solutions.
With the right strategy, influencers can become brand loyalists, adding to your campaigns with valuable word-of-mouth marketing via their social networks. Is it time for you to start influencing the influencers?