"Word-of-mouth communication is as old as humanity itself. People have always looked to individuals they trust and believe in to form opinions and conclusions about something or as role models for behavior. Today, however, word-of-mouth communication -- and the influence it exerts -- can take place at (almost literally) the speed of light.
That’s the power of social media, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or the next hot social sharing network under consideration. And marketers are beginning to efficiently harness this power through an approach known as influencer marketing."
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Raksha Sukhia, SMB Growth Expert, Founder BBR Network.
With influencer marketing, your brand (or your agency’s client) can make its way into the hearts and minds of audiences by forging partnerships with "influencers," or individuals on social media who have a network of enthusiastic, devoted fans and followers. Influencers are paid to post content that in some way promotes a company or organization. Because the influencer’s followers see this content as coming from a trusted, reliable source (the influencer) -- and not an advertisement that may or may not be believable -- influencer marketing can be remarkably effective at driving customer acquisition and sales.
So, just how do you go about launching a successful influencer marketing campaign instead of one that flops?
Over the years, as the CEO of a marketing agency, I’ve learned there are a few fundamental best practices that most consistently ensure success for influencer marketing campaigns. Here are a couple of those best practices:
1. Define the metrics of influence that matter most.
Before kicking off an influencer marketing campaign, clients sometimes present agencies with a list of influencers they’d like to partner with. However, in my opinion, there is a crucial first step that must take place before any potential influencers are identified or contacted. That step is to define exactly what metrics of influence matter most for the campaign.
For example, some marketers look to follower numbers to gauge how effective an influencer might be. Others look to the average number of "likes" or shares for posts uploaded by an influencer. Meanwhile, other marketers prioritize the average number of comments an influencer’s posts receive as a way of assessing just how influential an individual is.
As you can see, there are many different metrics of influence you can use to decide which potential influencers are worth partnering with. So, how do you choose a set of metrics that work best for your goals?
Consider that influencer marketing is ultimately about sparking a chain reaction. The "seed," or original influencer, posts a captivating picture on Facebook, for example. Then, some of their followers share that picture with their followers -- a few of whom will also share it, as well.
In this way, a single person can influence others well beyond the initial network of followers or fans who see that person’s content. Therein lies the power of influencer marketing. So, any metrics you decide on should ideally measure how effectively a potential influencer can set off a ripple effect that reaches the most people through some kind of organic social sharing. With this perspective in mind, you can determine the most relevant metrics for your influencer marketing campaign.
2. Strategically create a list of potential influencers.
Once you’ve decided on the most meaningful metrics of influence, you can go on to use these metrics to make a rough prediction of just how influential any given person might be. From there, you can strategically create a list of influencers to reach out to. What do I mean by "strategically?"
Consider this: After looking at the metrics associated with each potential influencer you’ve identified, you might conclude that it’s best to reach out to -- and form partnerships with -- a few especially influential individuals. Interpreting the data in this way, however, can be misleading and give you a false sense of confidence that your influencer marketing campaign will perform better than it actually does. Why? In short, you can’t reliably use the past performance of an influencer to predict how well they will perform in your campaign. This is simply because (in most cases) there aren't enough data points to make a statistically significant conclusion about any one influencer’s future performance.
In other words, you’re only looking at the data you’ve gathered for a single person, which isn’t enough to predict with maximum confidence that they’ll perform well. In fact, research in this area has shown that there isn’t a strong correlation between the measure of how influential an individual influencer is -- in terms of the number of followers, for example -- and how well they can create a social sharing “ripple effect” in the future.
What does that mean for marketers? If your influencer marketing campaign has a somewhat limited budget, then it may be wiser to create partnerships with a larger number of potential influencers -- even if they individually only have a moderate amount of influence -- as opposed to a few extremely influential influencers. This tactic will allow you to assess how influential, on average, your influencer mix will be as a whole. And since you’ll be working with many more data points (because you’re estimating how effective the entire group of influencers will be and not just one influencer), you can be much more confident in where your campaign’s budget is going.
Influencer-driven word-of-mouth marketing is entering a Golden Age -- the result of an explosive rise in social media usage. Marketers who are quick to take advantage of this kind of marketing will be in a position to give their clients a strong return on investment. And by wielding best practices for influencer marketing, like those discussed above, you can greatly bump up the odds of success for your influencer marketing campaign.
Source: Emily Lyons, FORBES
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