Every now and then, a brand will ask me to promote one of its products or events. Why? Well, I have a reasonable number of followers on my Instagram account – 6,396 at the time of writing, if you’re wondering.
Actually, it happened to me recently. A brand emailed me to ask if I’d be interested in promoting their fitness app in my Instagram stories after working out. This proved problematic, not least because I rarely work out. Anyway, it’s safe to say I passed on the offer.
I am (albeit to a very nominal extent) what brands such as this one consider to be an ‘influencer’. Since first posting on Instagram in November 2013 and steadily growing my audience, I’ve been lucky enough to attend events and receive some great products.
“ ‘Influencers’ have a regular, sizeable and engaged audience on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube,” Hajra Rahim says in her Telegraph article on how to use influencers in marketing campaigns.
Using influencers to promote your brand is the modern-day equivalent of word-of-mouth recommendations. As audiences, we tend to trust them more than brands (often the same brands they’re working for) and feel more personally invested in a product or message when someone we like is delivering it.
Commercial brands have well and truly cottoned on to the benefits of using influencers, so much so that we see people making (very successful and very lucrative) careers out of their social media channels. When Forbes decides to publish a list of ‘top influencers’ every quarter, you know things are serious.
However, these influencers aren’t only useful for product sales – they can help share messages, encourage attendance at events and ultimately, increase brand awareness.
It’s old news that the landscapes of traditional journalism and public relations are changing rapidly, and that we are now far less reliant on the mainstream media than ever. As communicators, we now have the ability to publish our own stories and reach larger audiences than has ever been possible.
Luckily, we’re no longer forced into a dead-end when journalists don’t show any interest in our story.
So, how do you find your influencers?
Finding the right influencer for your brand isn’t as simple as typing “influencer” into Google. There are specially designed tools that can help you track them down. Personally, though, I don’t think there’s a better alternative to some good old-fashioned online sleuthing, which leads me to my next point…
Do your research
“Spending time making sure that you choose an influencer with the right personal brand, audience demographics and social engagement is key to a successful campaign,” says Rahim in her article.
The best fit for your brand might be someone with 3,000 Instagram followers that live in your target location, not necessarily someone with 300,000 followers from all over the world. It all depends on your objectives.
Take the time to research your potential suitors. What’s their engagement like? Do they have tens of thousands of followers but their posts barely crack 30 likes? What kind of content are they posting, and how often?
The more you know, the better.
Don’t give a generic pitch
Once you’ve invested all of this valuable time and effort, don’t blow it by treating your influencers like clones.
“The whole meaning of influencer marketing is to drive conversations, so start by having one yourself,” says Simone G Rodney in an article that looks at how government can also win big by getting influencers on board.
Like journalists, influencers can receive scores of emails a day, asking them to push a certain story, message or product. That’s why the key to success when communicating with influencers is to make sure you tailor your pitch based on your research.
Luckily, it’s not rocket science. Put yourself in the shoes of the influencer and think about what’s going to appeal most to them and their audience. Clearly, pitching a fitness app to someone whose feed is markedly free from gym selfies could have been better executed.
Oh, and if you start an email off with a solitary “Hi!”, it’s pretty obvious you don’t even know the person’s name you’re trying to get to work with you.
Stop, reverse and do your research.
What are your thoughts on using influencers as part of your marketing activities?