Following on from Jeremy Anderson’s blog on target audiences, I felt it was important to cover the topic of getting connected. Accessing and convincing the right, yes I said the right influencers is paramount in the ever changing landscape we operate within. So here goes…
- What is an influencer?
Influencers are people who are active, authoritative figures within your industry who can help promote your company/ brand on both online (digitally) and offline (physically such as face to face) channels. They are also brand advocates and niche promoters who exist within your immediate or extended network and relevant to your operating industries.
- Why does your company need influencers?
Consumers trust recommendations from a third party more often than a brand itself. And it makes sense if you think about it in a more personal context. An influencer is the mutual friend connecting your product/ services with your target consumers. When you align with an influencer, not only do they bring their audience, but they also bring their audience’s network as well. Because of their loyal audience, an influencer has the ability to drive traffic to your business and increase your social media exposure through their recommendation.
With the fall of traditional outbound marketing, influencer marketing is becoming one of the most effective ways to attract customers and clients. Modern day consumers are self-sufficient and want to research a company on their own and hear about it from someone they trust, who has had a positive user experience.
- Think about your audience
Think about the audience. Actually, don’t just think about the audience you’re after, obsess over it. Focusing on the granular detail of your buyer groups will pay dividends allowing you to quickly identify the key businesses/ figures who supply the market including individuals and companies who dominate likeminded space (where the relevant crossover exists).
- What defines a relevant influencer in your market?
Context: An influencer differs for every company because, first and foremost, they are a contextual fit. This is the most important characteristic when targeting the right influencers for your company. For example, Justin Bieber is known as one of the most “influential” social media users with his 37+ million followers. But, would his tweet about your products’/ services really bring in sales? Probably not, because 12-year-old girls are not interested in that. So, defining context is the key.
Reach: Of course, after you establish someone as being a contextual fit for your company, the idea is to then piggy back their reach, so that they can share their excellent content or positive recommendation in a manner that will actually be heard.
Actionability: This is the influencer’s ability to create tangible results by getting the audience to act. This characteristic comes naturally when you target individuals that are in contextual alignment with your company ethos and have a far enough reach.
“True influence drives action, not just awareness"
- Where do you find them?
Unfortunately, there are too many businesses who happily stick to their comfort zone and operate in the circles that they are familiar with, achieving a minimal return on investment. I see this far too often, and sadly these are the owners who are struggling to generate a good profitable business. So please, think outside of the box!
Online: Social media monitoring is an effective way to staying informed on current issues and innovations within the industry. This includes the people who are driving these discussions, which will give you a clearer understanding on who the relevant advocates are and what platforms they are using to increase their exposure.
LinkedIn specifically is a fantastic tool to access key influencers through common contacts. By filtering your searches and focusing on key individuals who may have a similar purpose, you have an opportunity to find relevant introducers and make direct contact. However, this door opener is often ruined by business owners who send blanket messages with little thought on how they are able to add bespoke value to the influencer.
Offline: For those who have not entirely embraced the digital change, identifying relevant networking, local and regional industry events, roundtable discussions, seminars or workshop presented by key influencers can also be a route to accessing these individuals.
- How to communicate with them? Be prepared…
So, here’s the interesting part. You’ve identified the relevant influencers and now it’s time to research for common parallels where you can potentially add value to their processes. But before jumping the gun, give enough time to prepare your strategic move by considering the rules of engagement.
Create an organic relationship: Start to follow the influencer across all of their platforms and interact with their content/ them when relevant. This will help to establish an organic relationship and show general interest in the influencer before you get to paid opportunities.
Give first: We live in a market where there's far too many ulterior motives. We go in for the ask before we have any relationship at all. Follow them, attend their workshops and quite simply engage with them first.
Research for relevance: Before approaching these influencers, think of how you’re going to add value to their business and whether you can fundamentally service them. This is of course from a size perspective, paying close attention to what product/ service offerings are aligned to their company.
Deliver value: Consider what that influencer’s pain point is, and what value you can offer them. Think about what you can do for them that is of value to them. You have to demonstrate value and good faith to start building a relationship.