Stay Competitive in the Growing World of Influencer Marketing

 

It seems as if Influencer Marketing is everywhere.  Just this week, I read and commented on two pieces about Influencer Marketing.  One of these from Jeff Epstein was called “How to Stay Competitive in the Growing World of Influencer Marketing.”

Internet marketing recently was all about affiliates.  Affiliate marketing was an effective way to reach a large audience.  Brands were able to compete with each other using an affiliate publisher, or web portal, which increased their exposure and helped drive their sales.

Now, ordinary individuals can gain massive reach through a single social channel.  Brands that once relied on affiliates to promote their products online are turning to influencers to lend more legitimacy to their wares.  

Influencer marketing is the new wave of affiliate marketing.  The most engaging of influencers leverage the newest, most exciting technologies to provide a better experience for their audiences.

 

Why do Influencers Matter?

 

Why is influencer marketing so important?  

First, paid advertising is more expensive than ever, and yields fewer results in most cases.

Second, with content marketing investments increasing, your content has to be seen.  Influencers are thought to be a good way to make your content be seen.

And third, social media algorithms are throttling exposure from brand-created posts.  The idea is that third party influencers and other real people have a better chance of spreading your brand centered posts.

All of these are true….

 

What is the Future of Influencer Marketing?

 

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see the future.  Just by looking at marketing trends you can see the direction things are moving.  Your analytics will also confirm the trend.  More and more consumers are “cutting the cord” from cable television, instead creating their own viewing experiences using their phones, tablets, and computers.

Those still tied to the tube now have the ability to skip what they want and consume digital content whenever they desire.  Cord-cutting and a growing skepticism about what brand messages has strengthened  the impact of user-generated content.  This is making celebrities or mini-celebrities out of people with the knack for taking selfies and videos of themselves.

The influencer marketing space is continually evolving.  Especially as people continue consuming more and more digital content.  Greater sophistication will emerge regarding the methods that brands use to customize their messaging and measure the impact of their marketing efforts.  This is particularly true among the new breed of media personalities created on a daily basis.

 

Which Platforms are used to Influence?

 

Curated newsletters and blogs are growing in popularity.  If you follow business influencers on platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn, you will most likely find them promoting an article in a newsletter or a post on a blog.  If you trust what you read, you’ll keep going back.

Eventually, the authors of that content will become your trusted sources of information.  With time, what they say will have some sway over your thoughts and decisions.  When they begin promoting a product or service, it might become a viable purchasing decision.

Newsletters and blog posts are nothing new.  What I’m getting at is the importance of thinking outside the box to reach your target audience.  It’s becoming clear that traditional marketing methods are no longer enough to increase your brand awareness.

You need to employ the people who have influence with your ideal customers.

 

Use These 3 Tips to Influence Others

 

How can you use these influencers to your advantage?  To do so keep these three strategies in mind.

 

Be Selective in Your Influencer Choices.

 

Influencer marketing is like other forms of marketing.  You must understand who your audience members are before you can reach them.  Only then can you provide them with anything of value.  

Segment your target audience into personas based on their likes, interests, and hobbies.  Then, find influencers who already appeal to those personas, rather than selecting influencers solely for their reach.  You must target your audience with the correct influencer.

Athletic shoe brand ASICS successfully targeted a variety of personas by harnessing influencers at different levels of expertise.  To promote FrontRunners, its global health and fitness initiative, it sourced content from amateur, semi-professional, and professional runners.  

These influencers created profiles and blog pieces the brand used to target a wide range of readers, from those interested in distance running to those just in the market for a shoe.  Relevance is still the most important element in your relationship with any influencer.  

Reaching the right people requires choosing an influencer who shares the same target audience as your brand.  While 83 percent of consumers trust friend and family recommendations, it’s not always easy to tap a source that has authority over purchase decisions.  Followers of influencers often regard their videos, photos, and other posts as endorsements from a trusted friend.

 

Select a Niche For Your Influence.

 

Lots of influencers reach millions of people, however partnering with them doesn’t provide you with the right content to your targeted audience.  Getting same results as other “mass” marketing efforts may not be the results you need.  You spend lots of bucks for a small amount of bang, at least in your results.

Instead, search for influencers or channels with smaller followings.  These influencers often offer a more engaged and devoted fan base.  They should also know their audiences well and communicate in ways that will generate more and better responses.

Shoe maker Sperry embraced this method when it decided to go smaller with a 2016 campaign that partnered with more than 100 Instagram micro-influencers.  The boat shoe brand sought loyalists who were already sharing primo photos of the shoes via their personal Instagram accounts and asked the customers to create similarly alluring photos for Sperry’s own account.

The approach had less to do with ROI and more to do with widening the brand’s social imprint.  This approach can produce greater financial rewards in the long run.  Sperry saw what possibilities would come from investing in niche influencers, like what Amazon did when it invested in the live-streaming video platform Twitch.

Twitch viewers watch other people play video games.  The platform currently has more than 100 million monthly visitors, with nearly half clocking more than 20 hours of viewing each week.  All to watch someone else play a video game.

Amazon saw so much potential in Twitch’s ability to drive game sales that it bought the service for nearly $1 billion in 2014.  Influencers on the channel feature products they like, earning commissions on any resulting sales.  Twitch has proved an easy way to tap a big potential audience.

 

Create Your Own Mix of Content.

 

Think of influencer marketing like you would content marketing.  Influencer marketing provides just as many types of content, and each content type connects you to a different portion of your audience.

Don’t rely solely on short-form content platforms like Snapchat or Instagram.  Although these platforms have viewer influence, depending exclusively on them means you might miss out on opportunities that only long-form content can provide.

Instead, consider using sites like Medium to strike the right balance with your mix of content.  Unlike Snapchat or Instagram, Medium provides a channel for your audience to dig deeper into topics.

 

Give Influencer Marketing a Try

 

You should always be curating your own content marketing material.  It’s important to remember that any good collection has more than one form of content.  The real trick is knowing when to use a picture, video, article, or even email to further your conversation.

 

Influencer Marketing is a Powerful Weapon

 

Influencer marketing is quickly becoming the most powerful weapon in a marketer’s arsenal of strategies. However, using influencer marketing does come with a learning curve.  It may take time, energy, and a whole lot of research to find the right influencer to promote your brand.  Once you have mastered it, Influencer marketing can be a great match to help bolster your bottom line.

 

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