Influencer marketing involves partnering with individuals/websites that are well-known and respected trend-setters and thought-leaders in their niche, and having them discuss your brand (or its products/services) with their community of fans and followers.
The key word in this definition is “discuss,” because one of the things that makes influencer marketing so powerful is that it isn’t perceived as marketing in the conventional sense. If target audiences (i.e. the future customers you want to reach) perceive that influence marketers are nothing more than hired shills, then their credibility will be damaged; possibly beyond repair.
For this reason, the most valuable and effective influence marketers (as individuals or websites) maintain a certain independence. Yes, they will typically disclose somewhere in their write-up/video that they were asked to share their views, or that they received a free product or service offering. But they won’t turn into spokespeople who gush like members of an infomercial panel; nor do you want them do. As mentioned, their currency is their credibility. Most of what they share will probably be positive. But be prepared for the occasional criticism (even if you don’t feel it’s deserved).
With this being said, influencer marketing is indeed worthwhile and should be part of the game plan. As noted by Social Times, influencer marketing is powerful, cost-effective, “organic” (i.e. it’s native advertising vs. interrupt marketing like an ad or commercial), targeted, trackable, and can help with SEO (more mentions/shares on social media and in blogs can significantly boost search results).
However, influencer marketing isn’t a shot in the dark “spray and pray” exercise. It’s a strategy, which means that there are rights and wrongs, do’s and don’ts. Generally, here’s what to keep in mind:
- Choose influencer marketing partners carefully. Make sure they have a connection to your target audience. Read several of their posts/articles to get a sense of their style.
- Understand that there’s no such thing as a free mention. Find out what any prospective influence marketer wants in return for putting your brand in their spotlight. Sometimes they’ll want a product or service. Other times, it could be they want you to buy advertising. There’s nothing wrong with this exchange, provided that it’s transparent and fair for all parties, and will pass the smell test for your target audience.
- Don’t hit the turbo button and start getting a big dose of influencer marketing love all at once. Build out an editorial calendar so that you can cast the widest possible net at the least amount of spend. Generally, you’re going to get a lot more traction having 10 posts/articles about your brand spread out over a year, vs. getting 10 in a month.
- Be prepared to support and enhance all of your influencer marketing coverage with supporting online and inbound marketing strategies. For example, when your brand is featured by a credible third party, you want to spread the word through your channels right away – not weeks or months later. You may even want to send out a press release.
At Leap Clixx, we help clients take advantage of influencer marketing by crafting their customized game plan, and taking care of all the details – including reaching out to prospective thought leaders and getting them on board. To learn more, contact us today and schedule your free consultation.
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