Scott Cook, the founder and CEO of Intuit, said “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is—it is what consumers tell each other it is.”
This shift in this consumer-brand power balance can be, in part, attributed to the high levels of engagement on social platforms. Peer recommendations are playing a much larger role in purchasing decisions and, consequently, the pertinence of influencer marketing is growing. Given the importance of peer recommendations and the popularity of social media, a widely asked request among marketing teams is: How do you find your brand influencers?
To put it into perspective, influencers are social media users who have an established credibility and audience. These are users who can persuade others by virtue of their trustworthiness and authenticity. An influencer is not a brand evangelist, nor are they brand advocates. These may be your biggest cheerleaders, but do not have the power of credibility (e.g. follower scale) to extend messages very beyond their immediate circles.
In order to identify top social influencers, you need to take into account the following.
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How to Find your Brand Influencers:
1. Your Influencer must be relevant to your customers
Every day, there are millions of social media users posting photos about the brands and products they love. At the highest level, you want to choose social influencers based on the niche content that they produce—content that is highly relevant to your brand. Essentially, look for social media influencers in your vertical and make sure it’s a contextual fit. But in order to find your best influencers, you will need to take it a step further. Ask yourself: Who is this influencer’s audience? How does this influencer brand him/herself? And, does this align with my brand’s target customers and messaging? Customers follow influencers on social media because the influencer embodies a self-identity or lifestyle that reflects a higher-order value proposition for the follower. When choosing your influencers, make sure that your brand and your influencer’s brand aligns.
2. Your Influencer must appear to be authentic
The reason consumers trust influencers is because they view them as authentic sources of information. Therefore, the more sponsored content an influencer posts, the more their status is diluted. Essentially, you want your influencer to look authentic, not promotional, or else they lose their value. Influencers in crowded verticals may work with many brands and products. But the best ones do this discreetly. Genuine mention of a brand may be subtle, but it is much harder hitting for validating your products to prospective customers. Continue to keep this in mind once you are ready to leverage your influencers, even if you are the only brand that your influencer works with, soft promotional touches drive the best results.
3. Your Influencer must be active and post frequently
The more active an influencer is on social media the further your brand name will be spread. There is distinct correlation between how often a blogger posts and the rate of return visitors. It often takes multiple returns to turn a prospective customer into a customer. On the flipside, bloggers who do not post consistently see high rates of follower turnover and fewer profile visitors. Look for indicators that your influencer is active on social media—monitor for number of likes, comments, and shares. The success of your brand’s reach depends on the how effectively your influencers engage with their own followers.
How to Connect with your Brand Influencers:
Now that you’ve identified a list of potential brand influencers on social media, you will need to develop these partnerships. To ensure a strong start to these relationships, follow these three tips to get you started.
1. Reach Out Directly to your Influencer
Brands often rely on the agencies that they work with to drive communication with influencers. However, 79% of social influencers would rather that brands reach out to them directly (Augere, 2015.) While it’s tempting to template-ize your outreach, it’s best to personalize each pitch.
2. Get to Know your Influencer
Take the time to get know your brand influencers so that you can better understand their following and what they are looking for out of a partnership. Part of the outreach process is proving to the influencer that your opportunity is relevant to their audience.
3. Don’t Lose Track of your Influencers
Create a spreadsheet to help you record your influencers’ information. Build a consistent way to keep track of your influencers’ contact information and to avoid future awkward mistakes. The majority of the time, you will be able to find your influencer’s contact information on their profile.
Social media influencers are the modern-day word of mouth. When you find and leverage your best influencers, you reach not only their audience, but their audience’s network as well. Influencers with a loyal pool of followers can increase brand awareness and drive traffic to your product pages. Traditional outbound marketing is a thing of the past—and influencer marketing is becoming one of the most effective ways to reach new customers.