Does your public relations plan include a strategy for influencers? Read today’s guest post to learn about Influencer Marketing and why it’s becoming a PR essential.
While blogs and influencers don’t currently get a large portion of a brand’s digital spend, they rank incredibly high with customers for popularity, trust, and influence. Brands and PR professionals are starting to catch on and are increasing their spend on influence marketing in 2015.
An “influencer” can take on many different forms: an influential mommy blogger; a fashionista on Instagram; a foodie with beautiful food boards on Pinterest; and the list goes on.
Read on to learn more about influencer marketing and how you can add it to your brand or client’s arsenal ASAP.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is the act of identifying influential people within your industry and developing marketing programs around their influence to reach your target customers.
When it comes to influencers though, context is everything. While an individual may have a large following, it doesn’t necessarily mean they can exert influence or create actionable results in your niche. If there’s one thing you should take away from this post, it’s this:
“True influence drives action, not just awareness.” – Jay Baer
According to this report from Technorati, 86% of influencers also manage at least one blog. Working with influential bloggers is key because they are usually active across many social media networks and blogs. The more positive things they have to say about your brand, the more it will spread like wildfire across social media. Word of mouth recommendations on social media have never been so influential and important.
Why should your brand adopt influencer marketing?
Customers have become more self-sufficient, therefore they rely less on commercials and billboards and more on their own research and recommendations from individuals they trust. In fact, a 2011 survey by BlogHer reports that 47% of U.S. readers consult blogs for finding new trends and ideas, 35% for discovering new products, and 25% for making purchase decisions.
Customers trust recommendations from a brand advocate far more than they do from the brand itself. These “real individuals” haven proven they can move more product by endorsing it in a realistic and authentic way. When you partner with an influencer, not only do you tap into their audience but their audience’s network as well. Through content creation, they have the ability to increase your exposure and sales simply by sharing their experience or thoughts with their readers.
What defines an influencer for your brand?
The definition of influence is different for every brand. First, get clear on contextual fit for your specific niche. For example, Bryan Boy is one of the most influential social media users in the fashion blogging space, but chances are a tweet about your software won’t exert much influence or bring in any sales.
Once you’ve found a contextual fit, determine if they have decent reach. You don’t have to go after the biggest influencer out there but this individual needs to be large enough that their positive recommendation will be heard. There’s a lot more market research coming out about mid-sized influencers and the benefits of working with them over much larger ones. They have the ability to nurture their readers and create open and loyal customers, so don’t leave them out of the equation. Just get clear on how you can utilize them versus a larger influencer.
Once you’ve found an influencer with the right context and reach to endorse your product, their readers will be much more naturally inclined to visit your website and/or purchase your product.
Wrapping things up
Influencer marketing is quickly gaining in popularity and isn’t leaving the content marketing sphere anytime soon. The one thing that will set you apart from other brands will be finding the right influencer and partnering in a creative way that catches your target customer’s attention.
Lauren Jung is the co-founder of TheShelf.com, an influencer marketing platform that enables brands and agencies to connect with the most relevant influencers. You can reach Lauren on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Elena is founder of a technology PR agency that works with startups to billion-dollar companies. She is passionate about helping marketers and small business owners with practical publicity strategies, which she's also using for her own bling flip flop company.
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