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You’ve heard of search engine marketing, you’ve heard of social media marketing… you’ve probably even heard of content marketing.
But influencer marketing? That’s an entirely new one that is still alien to a lot of small businesses and webmasters. So what exactly does it mean? And how can you leverage it to your benefit as a smaller organization? Read on and we’ll look at the inherent value of this type of marketing.
Essentially, influencer marketing means that you’re marketing to a very specific section of the overall market. Specifically that would be – you guessed it – the ‘influencers’.
So who is an influencer? That would be a key individual in your niche who has a lot of ‘clout’ when it comes to reaching the biggest audience and actually resonating with them at the same time.
The objective of content marketing and social media marketing is often in fact to become an influencer. In other words, the idea is that you’re building up a huge audience that is in your target demographic and then you’re gradually gaining their trust and getting to the point where they consider you to be an ‘authority’ on a given subject.
Once you’ve successfully done that, you will be considered an influencer because they’ll listen to what you have to say and because you’ll be able to affect a large amount of people. If you’ve done this way, then posting about a particular blog or website can potentially send thousands or even hundreds of thousands of visitors to that link.
Someone in that position is an influencer and those are the people you’re targeting with influencer marketing.
But there’s just one problem… becoming an influencer takes time. Building up a large audience on Facebook isn’t as easy as it sounds or otherwise everyone would have one.
And that is kind of a problem for a business that needs to see returns on their efforts fast. If you’re spending money every day on renting your property, on paying your staff and on marketing then you’ll need to start getting customers right away in order to breakeven before you run out of funds. You don’t have the luxury to spend months posting to social media or writing blog posts.
Influencer marketing is so amazing then because it allows you to leapfrog this process and to gain massive exposure before you’ve done the leg work. This way, if an influencer should retweet one of your posts or share something on Facebook, you can immediately gain access to thousands of potential customers all of whom take that individual’s recommendations very seriously. This will then lead to many more users subscribing to you as well and it will drive traffic and customers to your business in the short term.
Likewise, imagine getting just one link on the website of the top blogger in your industry. Imagine what that could do for a fledgling small business? It may even be enough to turn you into a big business almost overnight!
How Influencer Marketing Works
So that’s the basic premise behind influencer marketing but what does it actually entail in the short term? How do you get the ear of someone who has the ears of many more people?
The first step is to identify those influencers in your niche. Often this will mean looking at Google to see which blogs and websites come up first for certain search terms. At the same time, you will look at social media to see who has the most followers and who is getting the most retweets, shares, replies and comments (and there are tools you can use to find these people). It may even be that you already have a follower who has a lot of influence!
Next then, you need to try and encourage those influencers to share your content and to give you some exposure. This step isn’t quite so easy and there are multiple different strategies you can use.
Depending on your budget and the nature of your industry, one strategy is to simply offer to pay for a shoutout or to sponsor the individual. This can work well but they will likely say that they were paid to recommend you which undermine some of the impact of the referral.
Another option is to try and gradually build a relationship with your influencers. You might create content that you target specifically at them, you might create content that responds or builds upon their content. Or you might try commenting on their posts, messaging them and generally trying to work with them.
If you have some influence of your own, you can also use this to ‘exchange’ for someone else’s reach. A good example of this is using ad-swaps, wherein you send an e-mail to your list about another brand in exchange for them doing the same for you.
Working your way up the ladder is also an important tip – don’t go straight for the top dog or you’ll likely be disappointed. Of course using a marketing company can help you to do all these things more efficiently.