Some people are destined to be natural leaders. A good leader or influencer is someone who has an open mind and who listens to the opinions and suggestions of others. The relationship between a leader and a follower should always be one of mutual respect.
This certainly applies to business and marketing; the majority of modern businesses are attuned to what’s happening on the Internet and so have taken advantage of digital tools in order to empower both employees and their audience, ultimately spreading awareness of their brand. However, some businesses are facing problems getting their messages noticed online. Many businesses are struggling to cut through the increasingly noisy and cluttered atmosphere of the Internet. Too much “Internet noise” means many consumers have learned to ignore online ads and distrust seemingly forceful marketing strategies when the reality is companies are just trying their best to be heard.
If banner ads and other traditional media marketing strategies aren’t producing the results your company is looking for, it’s time to start leveraging industry influencers to help you grow your business and increase brand awareness.
Who Are Industry Influencers?
An influencer is someone who has a devoted and active following. Influencers are people who influence others to take some sort of action. They can be anything including authors, consultants, media figures, bloggers, industry leaders or anyone else who has a degree of influence over their audience. To identify industry influencers who might work for you, ask yourself: in the circle or industry that your company belongs to, are there company leaders that you follow or look up to? Or do you know any bloggers whose recommendations you’re quick to take action from? These are examples of influencers that you might want to get in touch with. Getting the attention of influencers and asking them spread your content will provide benefits for both parties.
Why Are Industry Influencers Relevant?
So why do companies need industry influencers? Consider these two statistics:
- 69% of customers will use the Internet as their main source of information over the next 5 years. This percentage is expected to grow significantly, thanks to the ever-growing use of mobile devices to access the Internet.
- A recent study from sports apparel giant Nike found that less than 25% of consumers trust most online advertisements. It is clearly important to realise that the success of an online marketing campaign depends on the company’s ability to build trust online.
This reinforces the point that online word-of-mouth advertising drives twice as many sales as compared to paid advertising and leads to a 37% higher retention rate. One sure way to drive sales and increase brand recognition is to identify and leverage industry influencers to communicate your brand’s message; an unofficial brand ambassador, if you like.
How Do Companies Find Influencers?
Finding the right influencers for your brand can take time, research and will most certainly involve trial and error. You need to find people who are active online and who are very willing to help and share your content with their own followers. A good place to start looking is popular blogs; look for bloggers and journalists who write about topics relating to your industry or business field. It’s also essential to approach people who are respected for their opinion and are a trusted authority that can add value to your content.
There are three main strategies used to find industry influencers:
1. Social Influence Metrics
Find industry influencers appropriate to your company using these metric sites:
- Klout. This is the go-to source for most social media influence measurements. It measures over 400 metrics from the top social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and WordPress. Klout also takes into account blog influence. This is a plus when you’re driving traffic to your blog and want to connect with other bloggers within your industry.
- PeerIndex. This one works similarly to Klout. Social media influence is measured based on the levels of user engagement across social media platforms. PeerIndex utilises its own algorithms to measure who is influential in a specific sector.
- Kred. A comprehensive website that lets you find key influencers, find intelligence about your competition and gain actionable insights. Aside from measuring social media platforms, it also measures outreach activity and provides you with this data in an accessible format. Kred’s outreach feature is very useful because it tells you how often influencers reply, retweet, mention or share content from other people.
2. Social Media Platforms
Learn to use social media platforms to find your industry influencers. While this method won’t provide you with comprehensive data like the above mentioned metric sites, you can still use these handy tactics to find your influencers.
3. Search Engines
You can also use search engines to find who’s involved in or writing about topics related to your industry as well as who’s using your keywords. Just like with social media sites you will not be able to analyse any comprehensive data, however, you will be able to expand your options to find more niche industry leaders.
Look for influencers who are highly connected with their audience and take careful notice of the number of shares they receive, references from other social media platforms and the kinds of comments they are receiving from their followers. These are all effective indications of the level of engagement an influencer maintains with their audience.
Keep in mind that many of today’s Internet users are wary of anyone who seems to have an agenda. To avoid this kind of suspicion from your audience, choose to work only with influencers who are genuine. It’s also wise to avoid using influencers who are constantly sending promotional tweets; followers may determine the influencer’s loyalty is to paying brands and advertisers rather than the audience. Remember, building trust is one factor that will make your brand or business successful.
Four Ways To Engage Influencers
If you want to build an effective influencer relationship, you have to put in the effort:
1. Make An Introduction
If you want to make influencers to promote your brand, you need to get on their radar. You can achieve this in a few different ways:
- Send out a quick email complimenting the influencer on a recent social media or blog post. You can also share a story about how the content has helped you in some way.
- Meet up with influencers at a networking event or industry conference.
- Leave a worthwhile comment on their most recent blog post.
- Share a piece of advice or a quote from the influencer on your own blog or social media site.
The approach you use will depend on the influencer(s) you’re trying to get in touch with. Some of the suggestions mentioned above may not be applicable to your situation, but whatever approach you take should reflect the supportive and genuine nature of these recommendations. Remember that everybody likes to hear good things about their work.
2. Be Helpful And Genuine
Although this article is about leveraging industry influencers, you should always keep in mind that your main goal should be a mutually-beneficial relationship between your brand and the influencer as an ambassador. The influencer should not feel that you’re taking advantage of their good will in order to boost your own brand and profit. From your very first interaction with an influencer, offer them something helpful and genuine.
You can offer a guest post that gives the influencer new subscribers or enhanced website visits. You can also share their Facebook updates or retweet their Twitter posts. It may sound like a lot of work for a little reward but remember, the influencer is doing your brand a big favour. If you focus on providing genuine help and interest in the influencer’s work, you can take your beneficial relationship to the next level.
3. Prove Your Worth
You can’t buy respect from anyone; you have to earn it. This is no different with your target influencer. You have to prove your worth, be diligent within your relationship and your influencer will be happy in the arrangement. Once your relationship with your potential influencer goes beyond simple, helpful favours, you have to be ready to explain your product and how it can benefit the influencer’s needs and the needs of their audience.
Keep in mind there’s no way to guarantee an influencer’s recommendation, unless you’re willing to pay for it. In some cases you may get a referral right away. Do your research and look for any opportunity to present the benefits of your brand to the unique needs of your influencer and their own audience.
4. Create Quality Content
This is a given for any online marketing strategy. If you want influencers to see what your company is about and gain an interest in your brand, you need to create quality content. Good content is what customers, fans and followers always come back to. Make content they will want to share so you can reach out to more influencers and a wider audience.
One important last note: mention your influencers from time to time in your articles or your social media posts! This will strengthen your relationship and build upon the foundations of mutual trust. Show their value by quoting them or sharing their content, letting them know the positive impact they‘ve had on your company.
Businesses and brands need to work hard to build trust with their target buyers. Finding and leveraging industry influencers will work in your brand’s favour, not only increasing sales but also loyal followers and industry contacts.