What is Influencer marketing? How do you do it? And why does Forbes say it will “explode” in 2017?

In old school marketing departments, staff would spend hours analyzing analytics from scattershot mass marketing campaigns. The strategy was to make sure every set of eyes saw the message, whether they fit the target market or not.

Today, marketers in the know are hanging out at the extreme other end of the marketing funnel. Often, the strategy is to reach one single individual with the marketing message. That person is called the “influencer,” and they will do the rest of the leg work to reach your target customers with the message.

Master the basics of influencer marketing in this article so you can start enjoying its many benefits.

Why Influencer Marketing is Essential

Your Aunt may lie about her “promise” to buy your new product. But marketing statistics don’t lie, and today they say that no one watches commercials or looks at ads anymore.

Phones, tablets and computers have ad blockers. Customers pay extra to stream programs ad-free. And if there is no escaping the ad, there is always the “mute” button and a quick online video game as a distraction.

But where is the one place where everyone is still paying attention? Social media feeds! Today, it is possible for anyone with a compelling personal brand to build a following of thousands or millions, as well as a potent platform to (unofficially) “sell” just about anything to their legions of devoted followers.

How Influencer Marketing Works

The hard part of influencer marketing is cozying up to the right influencer. The Forbes article uses the example of Kylie Jenner as an influencer. For certain products that are designed to appeal to certain target markets, she is the perfect influencer fit. But for other products or target markets, her endorsement might fall flat.

Here, the key is not to just set your sights on anyone with 90 million Instagram followers. The key is to find the influencer that has the ear of your target market.

Here are the three key aspects to consider:

  • Who is your “ideal” customer persona (age, gender, background, etc)?
  • Where does your target market go online (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, other)?
  • Who does your ideal customer turn to for advice, guidance and inspiration?

Just by answering these three questions, you can begin to narrow down your search for the ideal influencer.

If you still are not sure who to approach, you might try creating an “ideal influencer” persona similar to your ideal customer persona. This exercise can help you identify the essential qualities your influencer needs to have. (As a bonus, it will also help you with talking points when you open the conversation with a potential influencer and that individual asks you, “So why did you pick me?”)
Reaching Out to Your Influencer

In some cases, you may need to “hire” your influencer to hawk your product. But in many cases, offering free samples of your products may be sufficient.

If your influencer loves the freebie, you can bet you will be reading about it on their social feeds, in their blog posts, on their vlogs or anywhere else they go online.

And in cases where you do need to work out a financial arrangement, as Proven SEO states, it is best to simply be up front about it. Ask what they charge and don’t hesitate to negotiate further.

Give Your New Influencer Some Guidance

Unless you have a strong existing relationship with your influencer and you feel fairly confident about what they will say about your product, you may want to offer them some guidance.

For instance, you may send along a list of suggestions for ways your influencer can showcase your product in their social media. Ideas might include posing with the product for photos, wearing the product while out and about, using the product in a demo video, running a free giveaway contest to win the product and others.

By mastering the basics of influencer marketing, you put yourself in a position to make the best use of this powerful marketing tool.

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