4 Simple Steps to Make Influencer Marketing Work for Your Business

There comes a time when every marketer faces the challenge of how to build brand credibility – which is especially important in a marketplace that increasingly uses social media as a way to reach customers.

For many businesses, the answer is to build an army of influencers who will provide your product the positive word-of-mouth it needs to stand out among competitors. And if you think that this isn’t necessary, here are some stats to consider:

  • Word-of-Mouth directly influences of 50% of purchases decisions
  • 81% of customers are influenced by their friend’s social media posts
  • 89% of costumer testimonials were considered the most effective content
  • 25% of search results for the world’s 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content published via social media

With impressive figures like that, it’s little wonder that companies are looking to include influencer marketing as part of their promotional mix.

So how do you go about making influencer marketing work for you?

Here are four simple steps.

1. Find the Right Influencers for Your Product

Remember that brand influencers are usually well-respected individuals who utilize social media and personal interactions to build word-of-mouth marketing opportunities.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that they have massive following on their social media platforms, but rather they’re credible due to their expertise in a particular subject.

When considering an influencer, there are three things that you need to evaluate.

  • What is the potential reach of the influencer? Again, this means more than the just number of Twitter and Instagram followers that person has – you need to also assess how active they are with them.
  • Who is their audience? You need to ensure that their main audience closely matches your target market.
  • How important does your product or service fit in with their area of expertise? Make sure that your business would be relevant to their followers to increase the impact of your marketing dollars.

If you’re not sure where to begin, you’re in luck – tools like BuzzsumoKlout and Little Bird are designed to provide companies of all sizes with a means to identify and evaluate potential influences based on a number of factors. In addition, you can also reach out to businesses like Massive Sway that seek to match bloggers with companies looking to get a social boost.

2. Treat everyone like a VIP – Well before You Need Them

Once you find the right influencers, you then have to undertake the important task of building a relationship with them.

Yuo should approach this with the view of it becoming a long term relationship – before you ever ask them to go out and promote your brand, you need to be willing to invest in them.

You can offer your newly selected influencers anything from time and attention, to more tangible things like samples or invitations to exclusive events. The idea is to increase your brand recognition while making all of them – whether they’re an established celebrity or an up and comer – feel special and part of your brand inner circle.

3. Keep the Relationship Fun

Throughout this process, you have to remember that the relationship should feel natural and fun, as opposed to forced and static.

This is important not only to the influencer, but also to their audiences – you want your customers to see these influencers as trusted friends who are speaking positively about their experiences because they want to, not because they have a corporate obligation to do so.

If you lose that credibility, the main power of word-of-mouth marketing goes with it, so it’s important to maintain a friendly, engaging relationship.

4. Build a Community to Keep the Conversation Going

Once you have that initial connection established, consider creating a space for influencers and their fans to share and interact about their love of your products and services.

This can either be done by setting up a unique site that gives your influencers a chance to share content, or an online community forum or group.

A Business Doing Influencer Marketing Right 

The beauty of influencer marketing is that it can be easily applied to companies of all sizes – all it takes is leveraging the right influencers and staying on message.

One startup that has been receiving a lot of coverage for doing so is Bevel – if you’re not familiar with Tristan Walker – you will be soon. He’s the founder and CEO behind Walker & Co Brands, which is a company that creates shaving and skin care products designed to meet the unique needs of men of color.  Within the last few months alone, his subscription shaving system has been featured everywhere from the Los Angeles Times to Time Magazine.

To grow his company, Tristan decided to reach out to prominent influencers were popular within the African American community, including the hosts of shows like The Read and The Black Guy Who Tips podcasts. He invited these influencers to try his shavers, which specialize in reducing ingrown stubble, common among individuals with coarse or curly beards. In exchange for their free product use, he asked them to share their honest opinions, as well as providing listeners with exclusive discounts. In addition, he created a thriving community on his website (Bevelcode.com) which features everything from barbershops to interviews with entertainers such as NAS.

As a result of his efforts, there has been increasing buzz around his products. There’s also been buyout rumors from larger hair care companies such as Gillette.

Article Written by Bryan Kramer of Social Media Today