As the saying goes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. In the online world, this might be even more true. When we talk about influence marketing, we usually mean the process of identifying and developing relationships with influential people. Building strong relationships with people who have influence over a target audience of buyers can result in their helping you to create more visibility for your products or services.
What’s great about influence marketing is that it can be used as either a standalone method or a way to strengthen your other marketing efforts.
This time, we decided to discuss some best practices and benefits of influence marketing with our SEMrush Chat participants and our special guest. We were very excited to have Shane Barker as our guest expert. Shane is a digital strategist, a business consultant, an influencer and an author.
Let’s move on to the first question!
Q1: Everyone is into influence marketing. How can a company stand out and get noticed by thought leaders?
It’s crucial to connect with and develop long-term relationships with leaders in your industry. It can be difficult for your business to thrive without being noticed by thought leaders. But they are in high demand and pursued by many other people who want to get their attention.
How can a company stand out and make thought leaders notice them? We asked our chat participants to share their best practices. Our guests helped us compile a list of five important techniques to attract influencers’ attention to your company.
First of all, you’ll have to do some research to find out where you can find thought leaders. “[A company can get noticed by a thought leader] by doing some research and building a relationship,” explained Rachel Howe @R8chel_Marie. But you can’t just reach out to them without having any background. By this I mean that if you are an expert at something and you can somehow help the influencers you’re targeting, you can leverage your knowledge to make them notice you. You have to be visible and your message have to resonate with them. You should learn more about these people, find your connection points, and focus your efforts on building relationships with them. “Develop a relationship. Don't rush it. Help them; hopefully, they'll help you!” said David Rosam @writingforseo.
Shane Barker shared some great tips on developing relationships with thought leaders in his article.
Join groups on social media platforms
All thought leaders have their preferred social media networks. Social channels provide great opportunities to connect with people. Find out which platform your target influencers use most of the time. Follow them, locate and join groups on social platforms to better connect with influencers.
Also, don’t forget to comment on their social posts and blogs. “Get on their radars!” recommended Miles Technologies.
Add value to your relationships
Many people approach thought leaders with a specific request right off the bat. But if you can’t provide them with something valuable, why should they do something for you? Influencers receive a lot of requests. If you want to stand out from the crowd of those who are trying to connect with thought leaders, you need to offer them something of real value. Maybe you can share an article they might enjoy or introduce them to your professional connections. Thinkabout what sort value you can offer them.
“Provide thought-leadership content of your own that is industry targeted and audience focused. Do content curation,” recommended Annaliese Henwood @MktgInnovator.
Choose the “right” influencers and align yourself with them
It’s important to choose a trustworthy influencer whose values and ethics align with your values and ethics. By aligning yourself with thought leaders with the same beliefs, it will be much easier to develop strong, genuine relationships with these people.
Be honest and genuine
Last but not least, you need to be honest and authentic. Make sure your product/service is high quality. Your relationships and partnerships with influencers should be based on genuine interest, value, and respect.
Finally, don’t forget to continue to foster and nurture your partnerships. It’s not about conquering new heights and forgetting about previous goals, it’s about building and developing relationships.
Create an outstanding product, help thought leaders, add some value to your partnerships and always be honest and respectful.
Q2: Is influence marketing relevant for every industry?
Influence marketing can be a part of your marketing mix. But is it relevant to every industry? And are there any businesses that can’t successfully apply influence marketing to their overall marketing mix?
We asked our chat participants to share their opinions.
Our special guest believes that influence marketing can work effectively for businesses in any industry. You just need to make sure you’re targeting and building relationships with the right influencers. He recommended using specific platforms, like Thuzio, Markerly and Find Your Influence, which will help you segment relevant influencers.
Indeed, when it comes to successful relationships it’s all about finding the right partner. If you choose your influencers based on their sphere of interest and the audiences they can influence, you can build relationships that will be beneficial for both you and your partner.
John Hughes pointed out that influence marketing is about people, empathy and topics. You must clearly understand the goal of your influence marketing campaign and look at how your targeted influencer’s focus and interests aligns with your business. Do research and learn more about them.
Medium Blue made an excellent point, saying that a healthy, reciprocal business partnership can be helpful for any business – without exception.
Word of mouth has long been a powerful marketing tool. We all believe recommendations from people we trust, and influencers maintain strong relationships with their audience.
Let’s sum up!
As you can see, our chat guests believe that you can find influencers in every industry. With the right approach and the right partners, influence marketing can be an effective tool for your arsenal.
Q3: Who are micro-influencers and what are the benefits/opportunities of working with them?
It seems that everybody is talking about micro-influencers today. But there’re still some misconceptions about who these individuals are and what benefits working with them can bring.
Let’s find out our chat participants’ opinions on the topic.
Shane Barker explained that micro-influencers are individuals who have a smaller social following, but who can be of real value to brands. They may not be top-level social media influencers, but they are well-known and significantly respected in their industry.
Rachel Howe quoted Technorati, saying that “54 percent of consumers agree that the smaller the community, the greater the influence.” Eti Nachum also describes micro-influencers as individuals with around 10,000 followers or subscribers or less. He explains their huge influence by the fact that a large percentage of their followers are usually people they actually know. This means that their followers are more likely to trust them. He also points out that the more followers an influencer has, the higher their chances of attracting a large number of bots and fake accounts. Needless to say, these accounts won’t provide genuine engagement.
A3: "54% of consumers agree that the smaller community (micro influncers) have the greater influence." - Technorati #semrushchat
— Rachel Howe (@R8chel_Marie) August 31, 2016
Micro-influencers usually have a more focused target and resound better with their audience. They are usually more authentic than celebrities with their one million plus followers.
Micro-influencers have more personal connections with their followers, which is why many brands want to work with them. “Micro influencers appeal to the 'personal' aspect of marketing; they appear to be more authentic and tailored,” explained MNA Digital @MNAdigital.
Also, they are often more accessible and easier to reach. You can engage with multiple micro-influencers who will spread the word about your brand, rather than investing all your time and efforts into one celebrity.
Bill Slawski pointed out that, if you let them, micro-influencers can even become evangelists for your business or your clients; they can make sure that everyone they know knows that your product is the best.
Finally, Lauren Scarpa @LScarpa22 suggested that one benefit of working with micro-influencers is that they can help you bring your audiences together and have long-running campaigns.
Micro-influencers have more tightly knit communities, and they are easier to approach.
You can find out more on the topic in Shane Barker’s article “How Working With Micro-Influencers Can 10X Your Sales!”
Q4: How do you know if your influence marketing strategy is really working?
We’ve already discussed the benefits of influence marketing. But how can you measure the success of your influence marketing campaign?
Our guest expert believes that the proper metrics for evaluating your influence marketing efforts will depend on your business’s goals, but you can start with engagement, brand mentions, and sales.
Site-Seeker, Inc. also suggested determining whether or not your audience engagement has increased. Check if people started interacting with your brand more frequently.
Also, you can measure the results of your influence marketing campaign, by looking at your calls to action (e.g., likes, retweets, shares, comments, or signups). “When people like, retweet, reply, click on or otherwise engage with your content you're doing something right,” said Ecreativeworks @ECWseo.
You can also create custom landing pages to monitor your conversions. Nevertheless, Propecta recommended always focusing on your return on investment and avoiding getting sidetracked by vanity metrics that can be easily manipulated and don’t always correlate with real numbers.
Lauren Scarpa noticed that all these indicators are useful, actionable metrics for evaluating your influence marketing efforts.
Let’s see what we have so far.
And how do you measure the success of your influence marketing campaign? We would love to hear your thoughts!
Q5: What would encourage you to become an official ambassador for a brand?
A brand ambassador is meant to represent a brand in a positive way, increase brand awareness and personify the corporate identity. Shawn Fergus describes six key characteristics of a successful brand ambassador, like knowledge of marketing, an established online presence, a high level of professionalism, a passion for building relationships and the rest.
But what can convince a person to become an ambassador for a brand? We received some interesting answers from our chat participants.
Here are six key things that can encourage an influencer to become an official ambassador for a brand.
A true willingness to work with a brand
First of all, it’s important that the person loves the brand and the product. Besides natural leadership skills and a high level of professionalism, they should have a true willingness to work with the brand and support it.
A story that resonates with you
Only those who genuinely believe in a brand will be able to increase awareness for it and spread the word about it among their audience. To be an ambassador for your brand people want your brand’s story to resonate with their values and goals.
Kara Buescher @karabuescher
A5: I'd have to truly believe in the brand, so they must have an excellent product/service and story that resonates with me. #semrushchat https://twitter.com/karabuescher/status/771012800797929472
A brand’s culture, mission and vision
Every brand has a specific culture that comprises a set of values, beliefs and behaviors. A brand reflects its cultural values and beliefs both with its audience and internally. It’s crucial that a brand’s culture, mission, and vision match its ambassador’s beliefs and vision.
Positive, honest and “human” relationships
Everyone appreciates positive, honest relationships between a brand and its influencers. As we determined at the beginning of our chat, companies must be honest, and every partnership must be based on mutual respect.
Uniqueness and excellence
Many people will represent a brand that offers an excellent and unique product. If a company offers something specific and different from other brands in its niche, people will want to become influencers on behalf of this brand.
Finally, every relationship must be beneficial for both parties. Each member should offer something of value to their partner.
A5: A brand that shares same values as I do & gives me a reason to become one. Should be mutually beneficial. #semrushchat
— Rachel Howe (@R8chel_Marie) August 31, 2016
I would like to sum up with these words from our special guest on how he would decide whether or not to serve as an ambassador for a brand: “I would look at the products, their culture and who runs the company. It is important for [the brand] to be a good fit.”
It’s time to wrap up, but I think this was a great discussion! Thanks to Shane Barker and our other chat participants for sharing their expertise with us.
I hope the tips from this post will help you make your influence marketing strategies even more effective.