Halfway through 2017: where’s your influencer?

3rd Aug 2017

Forbes predicted it, and here it is. Influencer marketing is blowing up this year.

Millennials have been ignoring ads and throwing market after market into a panic. But no more biting your nails trying to figure out how to market to that slippery demographic--the solution has arrived!

Consumers are turning away from traditional advertising and towards social media for cues on what to buy. In fact, 49 percent of people say they look for influencer recommendations before making a purchase.

And on the company side? An overwhelming 98 percent of businesses who have marketed through an influencer say the same thing: it is working!

What is an influencer?

The quick backstory: a social media influencer is basically an online mini-celeb. Maybe their travel-themed Instagram has 40K followers, or maybe they have a popular YouTube channel about fashion and beauty.

The value of an influencer is that they already have the captive attention of a niche market. If you’re making rucksacks especially designed for gap year backpackers, imagine what it will do for your sales if that travel Instagrammer mentions your product!

Influencers make it their livelihoods to build their own personal brands. Followers of the influencer, oftentimes, are really aspirants of the lifestyle and brand that the influencer represents.

If your product fits in with the influencer’s brand identity, they might be excited enough about it to shout you out.

So how do you find an influencer?

Run some quick searches on your socials for hashtags related to your niche. For your rucksack company, #travel might be too broad. Try #wanderlust, #livingabroad, #gapyear and #vanlife to start with.

You’ll start to see pretty quickly the who’s who among influential travel posters.

Click on some profiles and look at their numbers. The trick is not to get impressed with a high follower count. That’s not always best.

Instead, try to get a feeling for the level of engagement. Are they getting a lot of likes and comments, compared to how many followers they have? Are they responding to comments regularly?

Traditional celebrities like Kim Kardashian may have hundreds of millions of followers, but their engagement rates are usually comparatively low.

An influencer with fewer followers but a higher percentage of engagement is more powerful, because they have a stronger command of audience attention.

Best of all is a micro-influencer, who is seen as an authority in their niche, and has a small but extremely engaged following. These may be authors or experts in your subject who are not household names, but are known in your industry.

Make a short list of influencers and micro-influencers you find who are engaging your target market.

Collaborating with influencers means building real relationships

This is where it gets tricky. Influencers, like most people with a pulse, don’t like being cold called (or inboxed) with a direct request for endorsement. They’re not salespeople!

Many are willing to do paid endorsements, with the caveat that they must disclose to their audiences when a post is sponsored, for legal purposes.

But more often than not, an influencer and their audience prefer to get involved with something new and exciting that promotes interests they care about.

Get creative with an inclusive project

In other words, instead of coming up with a product for them to endorse, think of a project for them to be involved in.

What if they invite their audiences to post the craziest thing they’ve carried on or in their backpack while traveling, with the hashtag #backpackerscancarryanything?

What if you invite your influencer to the field when you do durability testing? Or crowdsource a print design for a limited run model with a graffitied look?

Be creative, think of something fun and engaging, and users are more likely to jump onboard.

Remember, though, this is an international game. Even if you’re not a travel company, you might need to localize your content if your influencer reaches a different cultural demographic.

Leveraging the power of influencers

The power of influencer marketing is that instead of marketing to everyone and hoping your message reaches your niche, you have an ambassador to contact your niche directly.

They also carry credibility with their followers, so their word is exponentially more effective than traditional marketing.

And, just to reiterate a very important point, they can reach that millennial market that has been slipping right through your fingers. Get on your socials now and find an influencer who can deliver your brand to their public!

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