Influencer marketing is getting a lot of attention from tech-savvy brands, but it also appeals to old-school companies that rely on word of mouth. Social media is the new word of mouth, after all, and influencer marketing drives word of mouth in a new way.
Word of mouth, according to the 2015 Nielsen Trust in Advertising Survey, is still the most trusted influence on consumers globally. 83% of consumers surveyed trust the recommendations of friends and family members. Next up, at 70%, is your brand’s own website. At number three, with 66% of consumers reporting that they trust it, is online information from consumers.
Next up comes press, including newspaper articles, and then all forms of traditional advertising trailing behind. In fact, of the 13 paid ad channels included in the survey, only one increased in trust rank since last year — 9 decreased.
When you consider that plenty of consumers consider their favorite blogger or social media connection a friend, you can see why influencer marketing is growing.
But getting started with influencer marketing is not always as easy as it sounds. Here’s how to approach this increasingly popular marketing tactic.
Plan the message.
Influencers are not ad publishers — bloggers and social media stars who cross over that line and begin publishing identifiable ads quickly lose their influence. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t influence the message.
Decide what you want to focus on and communicate that to your influencers honestly and naturally. “We want to make people aware of child labor and how our products give consumers a chance to choose not to support child labor,” you can say. “We hope you can help.” Or, “We want to share how our fitness wearables encourage busy moms like you to make your own wellness a priority. We think that your involvement will get that message out to women who need it.”
Note that the messages focus on the bigger picture, the loftier goal the products can support and the influencer’s role as a representative of that bigger goal. “We hope to sell more widgets and we will give you a free widget in exchange for a positive review” will be much less effective.
Be sure to ask for a link to your website, too, and specify the page you’d like to see a link to.
Find the right influencers.
Identify people who speak to the people you want to speak to. Check out their followers, sure, but also read their content. If you want to sell camping gear to highly adventurous young backpackers, you need a different voice from the company that wants to sell camping gear to families who go car camping once a year at their local KOA.
If you’re looking at bloggers, look for an authentic voice speaking to your target market, and look at the quality of their blogs and blogging:
- Does the page load quickly?
- Is the design appealing and polished?
- Is the quality of the content — words and pictures — high?
- Do they post frequently, at least several times a week?
- Is there a reasonable number of ads on their page (not more ads than original content), and are the ads well presented?
- Do they get comments, and do the comments fit with your target market?
- Do they respond to comments and engage with their community?
- Do they promote their posts with social media?
- Does their domain have a good number of links?
It takes time to identify the right people to reach out to. But it’s worth it. Influencer marketing takes more time and trouble than buying ads, but if it’s done right in can provide value far into the future. Putting in the time and effort up front can help.
Make it easy for your influencers to support you.
Provide the products or services you want the influencers to write about. Give background information and a way to reach you if they have questions. Treat your communications with them as an effort to build a relationship, not as transactional communications.
In fact, plan to build relationships with the individuals who work well with you. They’re not employees, but they may be good choices for a number of campaigns and products far into the future. Keeping in touch between the times when you want to ask them for something can be a good investment.
It’s good to remind people, too. If you’re expecting a review and you haven’t seen it after a few weeks, contact your influencer. Bloggers often have a lot of items to review, and can lose track of your product. They’re not obligated to review your product, but when there’s a large stack of items to review, it’s often the squeaky wheel (i.e., the brand that sends friendly reminders) that gets the grease.
Track your results.
We find that a spreadsheet showing names, addresses, URLs, and reviews is the handiest way to keep track of influencer campaigns. You can then track visits to your website from the reviews, use of coupon codes, and other metrics and identify the most productive influencers for your particular needs.
As always, planning your campaign ahead of time and making sure that you have some way to track it is the key to knowing how well your campaign performs.
Contact us to discuss strategy for your digital marketing campaigns.