Lifestyles of the Social-Media-Influential
Social Media influencers are like the many idolized faces on the Wheaties box convincing you to “eat your Wheaties, because they’re good for you!” These “internet celebrities” have a lot of clout in their respective markets, and are officially termed “influencers.” If you’re going to spend marketing efforts on successfully engaging social media influencers, there are a few ways to make sure you get the most of it.
“Influencers lend incredibly effective credibility to a brand, which increases the premium customers will pay. That level of quick authenticity with such a lucrative outcome can take years to build through traditional marketing.” ~Maurice Fadida of influencer agency, Rebel Way Entertainment
These days social media influencers rival friends in trust. Beyond product promotion via tweet or Snapchat story, the influencer market is all about gaining trust that converts into action. Twitter reported that close to 40% of users said they’ve made a purchase because of an influencer’s tweet, and the influencer market on Instagram is expected to reach $2 Billion by 2019. Successfully engaging social media influencers allows you to “piggyback on someone else’s follower base, either to reach a broader audience or to segment your efforts.”
Steps to Successfully Engaging Social Media Influencers
1 – Do Your Research
There are thousands of influencers to choose from, but not all are in your target market nor are their followers your potential customers. Look for relevance, reach, and resonance both in what they post on social media and what their followers post. Users can smell inauthentic influencers with spammy tactics from a mile away. Their tone and style should be genuine as well as consistent with your brand. And of course, the absolute best influencer is one who is actually passionate about your product or service.
2 – Accept That Size Isn’t Everything
Sorry boys, but this really is a case of the motion in the ocean over size of the boat. Know the difference between clout and Klout, and choose accordingly. A good social media influencer will have dedicated audience engagement with a proven track record for converting posts into action, not just a huge number of followers. In fact, a smaller, more engaged audience will be more valuable to your brand than a larger, disengaged audience. Most importantly, a good influencer should be able to provide data from campaigns similar to yours and not rely solely on impression metrics and follower count.
3 – Extend the Virtual Handshake
Don’t just ‘follow’ the influencer you’d like to connect with. Comment on their blogs, share their content, or send them an email. Before asking them to be an influencer for your brand, engage with them on their platforms without being self-promotional. They worked hard to be the face on that virtual Wheaties box, so offer a relationship that is mutually beneficial. If you can truly help their numbers before you ask for them to help you, they’ll be much more likely to say yes.
4 – Be All About That Strategy
Your influencer campaigns should still align with your larger content strategy and brand image, thus enhancing your overall brand reputation.
If you want something specific, make a suggestion, but do not be surprised if the influencer says no. Respect their judgement. Social media influencers did not just coincidentally build large, engaged followings; they know what their audiences want, and are experts on their followers’ needs. Murray Newlands, author of Online Marketing: A User’s Manual, says that “Paying an influencer to simply share your content won’t lead to the result you desire. Give creative license to the influencer so that he or she can introduce your brand authentically.”
To get the most out of a campaign, try a little more than just shared content or a link. Send your product for them to video an unboxing. Invite them to take over your whole account for a short time in a “social media takeover”. Sponsor an influencer-run contest or giveaway. But be sure that any strategy you use for an influencer campaign offers true value to your audience and theirs.
6 – Set Clear Expectations
While you should give influencers some creative control, be sure they understand your expectations. A clear contract is key. Make sure they know what you expect as far as times of day for posts, number of posts per platform, who owns any content created or distributed, and clearly define what “reach” means to you.
Also, make sure they are familiar with and know that you expect them to follow standard WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association) guidelines and FCC rules regarding influencer marketing. It is your responsibility to ensure the influencers
you hire use identifying language like “sponsored” or “ad” when posting about your brand. Be sure to include in any contract a plan for what happens if things go south (Fyre Festival, anyone?).
They should know what to expect from you, too. Commonly, brands can offer to influencers a boost in credibility, financial reward, invitations to networking events, introductions to unique communities, products, swag and more.
7 – Expect to See the Results
Before you sign a contract, you should see data of results from similar campaigns. And while your campaign is ongoing, influencers should be reporting performance. It is crucial to have regular updates so you can pivot if necessary before the campaign ends. Test and track your results to improve performance, just as you would with any other marketing tool.
“More than three-quarters of large brands that paid for influencer marketing didn’t know how to evaluate whether the money they spent on it provided a positive ROI.” ~ Gil Eyal, Founder and CEO of influencer platform HYPR.
Look for clear explanations of your KPIs (engagement is more important than reach and conversion is everything). Utilize UTM codes so you can track the efficacy of any posts with links, and always ask for screenshots of the data – from Facebook Insights to Google Analytics, you deserve to see what you paid for!