How Influencer Marketing Can Help Grow Your Business
- July 21, 2016 | Lee Polevoi
The internet is a crowded, noisy place. Businesses must constantly find ways to make themselves seen and heard. With the explosion of social media, influencer marketing has emerged as a key tactic for building a viable online presence.
Put simply, influencer marketing pinpoints individuals with influence over prospective customers. In the not-so-distant past, this focused on high-profile celebrities who had accumulated many thousands of followers on social media (think Ashton Kutcher and Kim Kardashian).
But, as Sherrilynne Stark of Thornly Fallis Communications notes, "Influencer status is no longer exclusive to celebrities or journalists. Today, influencers are everyday people who are loyal consumers and cause advocates."
These "everyday people" nonetheless have significant, sometimes huge social followings. Any online business that receives their endorsement will certainly benefit from the increased exposure.
Can influencer marketing help your business grow? Should you aspire to become an influencer yourself? Here are tips and insights from knowledgeable marketing experts and online merchants.
Back in the day, businesses prospered when one satisfied customer's word-of-mouth recommendation drew other prospective customers. Influencer marketing is turbo-charged word-of-mouth, with some crucial differences.
"Unlike the friend who refers you to a good restaurant, influencers are adept at creating and promoting their content," says Brian Sutter of Wasp Barcode Technologies. "They know how to build an audience and how to build trust. When you partner with an influencer, some of that trust rubs off on you and your product."
There are other benefits as well. With influencer marketing, Sutter adds, you have "no ad blockers to worry about, because your marketing messages are too well-woven into the influencer's content." Writing a guest post for the influencer's site, interviewing him or her for your own content, or asking the influencer to review your product or service "all resonate much more powerfully with your target audience than purchasing ad space ever could."
No Ads, Better Search Engine Presence
Steve Hatmaker, Jr. of Seismic Audio agrees: "Consumers are tired of paid ads. They are tired of being disrupted. Now they can turn to other consumers who have purchased a product or service and make a buying decision based on their experiences."
Benefits also include an improved search engine presence. A key influencer website that generates quality links to your site "will help boost the search engine ranking of your site or the landing page you're promoting," notes Jasmine Van Schaick of Delivery Agent, an omni-screen technology firm. "This means customers or leads will be more likely to discover your site."
Asaf Darash of Regpack, an automated registration software company, employs Twitter’s list function to boost his own efforts. His software is used by event planners, camps, and conferences, so he has a list for every field in which he targets clients.
“When I publish a relevant post on our company blog, I go to whichever of my lists would benefit or find this post interesting, and tweet to them directly about it," Darash says. "The goal is for them to re-tweet or share on their social profiles and/or reference it in their blog or their site to get a backlink.”
How to Become an Influencer
Ivana Taylor of DIY Marketing suggests three steps you can take to become an influencer:
- Stake your claim at the intersection of a skill you have, a topic you're passionate about and a target audience who values what you know.
- Be active on social media. Use platforms like StatusBrew, BuzzSumo and Little Bird to identify and engage with influencers.
- Create relevant, helpful content that touches, moves, and inspires your audience.
The key, experts say, is determining what you stand for and ensuring this comes across on your website and in your blog posts.
"Are you a parent offering camping tips to families?" asks Van Schaick. "Are you renovating a new home and sharing your DIY learnings? The possibilities are endless, but make sure you define your purposes, as it will help your potential audience understand who you are."
With some preliminary "heavy lifting," adds Eric Brantner of Scribblrs, you can become an influencer. "Find reporters in your niche, follow them on social media and reach out to them. Answer requests for interviews and get quoted in related industry blogs. Become a guest contributor for industry blogs as well."
Eventually, these efforts will result in more opportunities for exposure, he says, "allowing you to become a well-respected name in your industry."
Yes, the process of becoming an influencer takes significant time and effort. But the pay-off, in terms of heightened brand awareness and greater sales, is well worth the effort.