Influencer marketing is still a relatively new concept, but it has been proven time and time again to have a major impact on the way your audience views your brand. But how do you tap into an influencer’s audience, and how do you develop a long-term relationship with them in a way that benefits both of you?
What’s an influencer? An influencer is a person or an entity that has amassed influence over a large group, industry, or demographic. Usually, an influencer has a large social media following that they can leverage at any given point. Influencer marketing is a form of social media marketing involving endorsements and product placement from influencers, people, and organizations who have a purported expert level of knowledge or social influence in their field.
Reaching Your Audience Early and On a Budget
If you’re a smaller business looking to grow or a startup with a limited marketing budget, learning how you can tap into your target audience through an influencer can be one of the best marketing strategies to use. When it comes to building your audience, not only does it take a great deal of time, but it also takes money and research. For example, if you choose to use paid advertising to build your audience, you’ll have to put in a heavy amount of audience/demographic research, A/B testing, and advertising dollars before you start seeing results.
Rather than spending this kind of time and money on a limited budget to find your truest fans, tapping into the audiences of influencers already in your niche has proven to be a great shortcut. If you’re a small boutique that sells a specific style of hats, for example, and you manage to find an influencer online who is dominating the “hats” space online with thousands or millions of followers, signing a marketing deal with that person to do the marketing for you is a faster way for you to reach potential customers than many other marketing methods.
How to Start an Influencer Marketing Plan
Let’s take a look at a few ways to tap into an influencer’s audience without breaking the bank—and form a relationship with influencers that is beneficial for everyone involved. The thing that makes influencer marketing so powerful and advantageous is the fact that the relationship and trust already exist between the influencer and their audience. And that could be awesome for your brand!
1. Create an Influencer Marketing Strategy
Moving into influencer marketing for the first time requires the same forethought that any new marketing venture requires: a solid strategy. You need to have a plan before you even consider reaching out to any influencers online to work with your brand. If you don’t, you could end up paying out more than you end up earning back through conversions.
Take a look at your finances. What can you afford to invest in your new influencer marketing venture? What kind of return on investment do you need to see to make this new venture worth it? What are you going to do if things just don’t work out with a particular influencer? Begin researching the influencers in your space and take notes about which platforms they’re using, how many followers they have, and how that might relate to your goals. Pay attention to each influencer’s brand and image, making certain that it aligns with your company’s image as well. Do a little research on your industry’s sponsorship costs to find out what you might have to pay influencers in your niche.
What do you want your influencer to post on their social media about you? What kind of content do you want them to create, and how often do they need to mention your brand? Do you have a specific idea of what you want to see from them yet? These specificities need to be laid out in your plan before you reach out to the influencer you have in mind, especially if you would like to build a long-term relationship with them.
It’s a good idea to consider hiring a social media manager or media content specialist to develop these programs for your brand and help facilitate your relationship with influencers. If you want to work with multiple influencers at
once, you’ll almost definitely need someone around to keep track of social media engagements and sponsorships.
2. Find the Right Influencers
Working with influencers can do wonders for your brand—and your sales—but only if you’re putting all of that time, money, and effort into the right influencer. Don’t waste your resources on the wrong relationship. Figure out who you want first, while you’re developing your influencer marketing plan. Start broad, then narrow down your search until you find the influencer that will fit in perfectly with your team and your brand.
Here are a few questions to get you started: Who does your target audience follow online? What does that influencer create, and how would that content impact your target audience? Is this influencer knowledgeable about your industry—do they have what it takes to be an authority on your product or service? Does the influencer’s image align with your brand’s character and standards?
Finding the right influencer to work with may take time, but it will be so worth it in the end. Save yourself the hassle of working with difficult influencers who don’t really care about your brand or don’t mesh well with your ideas and goals for the future. Research to figure out who is going to have the greatest impact on your company’s future.
There are influencers out there who are knowledgeable about your industry and have what it takes to market your brand to success, and they want to work with you! They will get as much out of this relationship as you do if everything is done right. So don’t stop searching until you find an influencer that fits your mold, and don’t settle for whoever’s available first.
3. Develop a Creative and Collaborative Relationship
The relationship you have with your influencer contact can vary depending on your industry. You’ll need to work closely with your influencer contacts to determine how best to showcase your company amongst their audiences. For example, do you need to have your influencers testing and reviewing
products? Do you need them to try a service and then recount their experience? These are just a few ways an influencer can create buzz around your brand. You can also send products to influencers for a simple unboxing that is showcased on stories, posts, and YouTube videos.
There’s a lot of different ways your influencer relationship can look, so spend some time determining what makes the most sense for your brand. Once you find a list of influencers you’re wanting to work with, you can brainstorm with them to figure out the best ways to showcase what your company has to offer.
Influencers can be a great shortcut to reach your target audience and bypass hefty advertising costs and research. If you’re a small brand with a limited budget, sometimes there’s just no sense wasting time with building your brand when you can leverage someone else’s audience that has already been built. No matter your industry or niche, there’s certainly an influencer out there with an audience you can tap into!
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