The most essential component of finding success with content marketing is attracting and engaging the right audience. Growing your audience takes time, but if you’re in a crunch and looking to carve out a presence immediately, you can use an extremely effective shortcut—influencer marketing.
What is influencer marketing? Influencer marketing is a form of relationship building in which you build camaraderie with important people who can bolster visibility for your products and services. Since this approach focuses on individual influencers with a wide reach as opposed to the masses, it can have an extraordinarily far-reaching impact. That person has the power to influence many, many more people than any advertising or content marketing you could ever produce. Not only that, but influencer marketing generates valuable trust for your business, since third party word-of-mouth validation from a trusted figure speaks volumes.
Getting started with influencer marketing Once you make the decision to move forward with influencer marketing, you must identify what exactly you want out of it. Are you looking for sales leads or content amplification? Is your main area of concern website visits, a larger email list, or building brand awareness? Figure that out first, as you cannot carry out a solid influencer program without the end motive in mind.
After that comes the fun part, in which you must identify anywhere from five to 20 influencers who could help you achieve those goals. They can be anyone from vloggers or noted speakers to those with a popular blog, podcast or website.
Choose your influencers based on their sphere of expertise and influence, and make sure that their values and motives align with your businesses’.
Not sure where to begin looking? Online tools such as Klout, Kred, Follower Wonk and Ninja Outreach are all good places to start.
Building a relationship Now that you’ve found someone that you want to partner with, it’s time to build a relationship. While it may seem daunting, all you need to lay out a solid relationship is to begin commenting on and sharing their content, along with re-sharing what they post.
After several weeks, it is likely that the your targeted influencer will recognize your name and brand. Now would be a good time to reach out and invite them to partake in an influencer marketing campaign with you. Some tactics include:
Writing a guest post for the influencer’s website or blog, which will allow you to showcase your knowledge directly in front of the influencer’s audience.
Interviewing the influencer for your own content. The influencer will likely share the URL with his or her followers, which will drive traffic to your site directly from the influencer’s audience.
Asking the influencer if he or she would include your product or service in a tutorial. For example, if your business sells CRM software, you can ask a customer success blogger to mention or link to your specific product when doing a tutorial on CRM software best practices.
Including the influencer in a “Top 20 Influencers in the X Industry” type of round-up or post. This is a great means to capture influencer attention, but ensure that you are authentic and genuine in your efforts.
Budgeting According to Augure’s “State of Influencer Engagement Report,” 69 percent or brands “rarely” or “never” pay their influencers. Although most marketers do not compensate influencers, as a small business advocate I believe it is in your best interest to do so. Many of them are small business owners themselves who deserve to be compensated for the time and effort they put into working with you.
If you find an influencer who will partner with you for free, thank them and run with it. However, I definitely recommend setting aside a small portion of your marketing budget to working with influencers, even if money is tight. A celebrity-level influencer will likely cost you thousands of dollars, but many micro-influencers work with brands and businesses at hourly or project rates. Check their websites for a rate or media card, so you can get an idea of their fees.
Influencer marketing can be very effective. By building relationships and determining the right budget, you can begin utilizing this marketing tool to reach the right audience for your small business.
Brian Sutter is the Director of Marketing for Wasp Barcode Technologies. He has been utilizing SEO and online marketing since 2006 to drive growth and reach new customers, and is passionate about educating and helping other small businesses grow their organizations with online marketing and great content.
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