Use Influencer Marketing As A Force Multiplier For Knowledge Commerce

Pick Some Top Social Influencers In Your Niche And Use Them To 10X, 20X Or 30X Your Marketing

One of the smartest ways to make use of social media is to do influencer marketing. It’s far easier to appeal to your target audiences via someone who already holds sway over masses of them.

Influencer marketing is a brilliant way to increase audience trust, generate revenue, and instigate meaningful, positive, and sales-driven conversations for your brand. But picking the wrong influencers will only lead to a waste of your time, effort, and money.

See if your target audiences resonate with any particular influencers, and then choose your influencers wisely. Choose influencers not by how powerful they are, but by what they can do for your business goals.

At Solohacks Academy, we believe that influencers, like all people, enjoy feeling important. It’s a human need. So don’t ever look at top influencers defensively, and feel as if they are doing your brand a favour. Use their power with confidence to strike your targets.

1. A Comprehensive View Of How To Keep The Right Focus On Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing should be driven by a clear strategy and the right objectives. When should you look at an influencer marketing campaign as an addition to your regular campaigns? Are there good frameworks to assist your decisions? And what are the right expectations to have from an influencer? What are the wrong ones? Read on to get the answers to these questions …

a. When Should You Look At An Influencer Marketing Campaign As An Addition To Your Regular Campaigns?

A lot of brands use influencer marketing without applying thought to when it is most ideal to use and how it should be made to work as an adjunct to your regular content and social marketing campaigns. Even if influencer marketing campaigns look like a good idea at any time, they are particularly powerful if they are used at specific times when your regular marketing campaign could use an additional stream of “stakeholder” voices adding to the brand’s persuasive communication.

When your target audience is more or less homogenous, influencer marketing can work powerfully

The kind of homogeneity we are talking about here can be both in demographics and psychographics. For instance, it is often the case that when a predominantly youth audience is involved, a brand finds that a celebrity endorser works well as an influencer – but that is less the case when the target audience is older and peer-opinion matters more to them than the voice of an unconnected celebrity.

Women seem to tend to take the opinions of other women better in most non-professional matters, whereas they seem open to cross-gender influence from professionals who are at least a few notches above them on the professional ladder. Bloggers may tend to believe co-bloggers whose posts they regularly subscribe to and have learned to trust as authentic.

So if your brand’s audience is at least in large part – say between 60%-80% homogenous, an influencer of the right type can make a good difference to the advocacy of your brand.

Contrarily, when target audiences are too fragmented also, you could use different levels and types of influencers in parallel

Now this is a point which seems exactly opposite to the point made above, but it’s also very true that if a brand has a large and very segmented target audience, it may find it easier to recruit many different levels of influencers who can work best with the different segments. Multi-layer influencer campaigns are a bit tougher to organize and orchestrate, but they too are a sustainable model and so long as the many “voices” of the brand are in tutored alignment, the many influencers can perform in harmony.

There are certain brands and certain industries that typically have a fragmented audience, like, say banks giving home loans. Home buyers can be in any age and psychographic range, and each of the different groupings may be receptive only to certain types of influencers.

When the target audiences are too large, too fragmented or too unwieldy for a brand to directly address, having a sub-level of brand-advocates tailored to each segment of the target audience is a very good idea.

When social listening shows general peer-dependence or authority-dependence of audiences, influencers can work wonders

Certain brands have target audiences almost always resistant to the “brand voice” and in fact, people in that situation may even be typically skeptical of the “brand voice” – and prefer peer-dependence. A classic case of “peer-over-brand” preference exists in the consulting industry where clients prefer to hear their peers thoughts on a consultant before engaging one, and do not react as well to a consultant’s direct claims of expertise.

There are other cases of “authority-over-brand” dependence especially in the cosmetics, medical or fitness industries, for example. People prefer to cross-check with a doctor or trained fitness instructor rather than wholly believe the brand.

In industries where this is the standard tendency, influencers may be needed always as brand voice “credibility-enhancers”

When resistant audiences need softening for receptivity before a high-cost brand campaign, influencers can really help

Some brands, before launching high-cost and high-risk marketing campaigns, like to begin a pre-launch phase with some influencer advocacy to make the target audiences more pliant, receptive and welcoming of the brand campaign. We’ve seen this often happening with high-budget movies and sports events – when suddenly on the social networks and TV and via mobile videos we have “expert-opinions” being relayed to explain all the nuances to the audiences.

Influencers, when used well, and especially if the right “experts” are roped in pre-launch for big blockbuster campaigns, the results can be phenomenal.

Influencers can help raise the excitement to fever pitch, and make the audiences extremely soft and anticipatory of the messages that are then beamed to them, by the brand.

When the brand has low credibility or hardened resistance, or has had a setback, third-party voices can speak better to audiences than the brand

I have seen a great instance, especially in the oil industry, after a major oil spill, when there was a lot of public pooh-pooh when the brand spokesman tried to speak to people. Influencers worked better than the company speaking directly.

The concerned oil-major recruited several cross-industry head honchos to have various “media dialogues” and “social hashtag dialogues” amongst themselves to say how the situation can happen to anyone – and how the brand was capable and had the resources and responsibility to come out trumps despite the disaster.

It sounded like the industry as a whole was backing the company to control the damage well. Getting a group of industry biggies to vouch for the resourcefulness of the brand in trouble was a great idea, especially when the Twitterati and the media channels were rife with pictures of dying whales and environmental damage and chains of “green protestors”.

When the brand story is better told by a third party than the brand itself, it helps the brand to sound less boastful and more burnished

Contrarily, again, when a brand has had a huge success, it again makes more sense to have spokespeople boast on behalf of the brand, rather than the brand sounding like it is chest-beating.

If companies want audiences to believe that even spectacular successes are just part of their brand’s everyday life, it helps to have a tom-tom brigade of “kudos” shouters, who look unconnected to the brand and sound genuinely in awe of the brand’s success.

Influencers can make the difference by making the brand look more sedate and polished in a season of big triumph, while the influencers do the shouts.

When brand interest slackens, due to seasonality issues or new spikes of activity by competitors, bursts of target audience awakening with influencer marketing may be required

This is a simple one. It’s clear that in low times, seasonally slow times, or times of competitor aggression, it could help the brand to raise an influencer campaign to gently put a lid on the competitor’s decibel level, or to keep brand interest maintained at a supportive high.

Many brands know that if the interest levels are allowed to fall too much or too suddenly, it is very difficult and expensive to buck up the audiences again.

Having a band of influencers working always to keep interest at a maintainable high is a good idea for brands that get easily affected by seasonality or competitor activity.

b. These Three Sets Of Five-Pointers Should Be Your Ideal Influencer Campaign Framework

5 Characteristics Of Influencers

5 Kinds Of Influencers

5 Steps Of Influencer Campaigns

c. The Influencer Need Not Always Echo The Brand Voice … An Influencer Is Not A Brand Spokesman

One point that is very important to realize, when planning an influencer campaign, is that the influencer is not to be confused with a brand ambassador or spokesman. The influencer need not always align with the brand voice.

In fact, there are lots of times when the influencer would do very well to use his own authentic voice as a juxtaposition to the brand voice. There are even cases of influencers arguing deliberately counter to the brand, just to get the audiences riled up, and to gang-up in favor of the brand. It’s all in the strategy.

Think about how to use the influencer … will you get the influencer to push your brand, to bring down your competitor, to advise the audience, or to push the audiences over the edge towards a decision in favor of your brand, which they hadn’t previously intended?

There is also a common, but wrong, tendency to recruit as influencers people who are seen as “aggressive social sharers”. But it’s not the amount of “sharing” one does, but the amount of “opinion airing” one does that separates a good influencer.

You need to pick people known for their ease with public speaking, with the tendency to be opinion leaders, and the forthrightness to be counted on to “tell it like it is”. Even if you pick a celebrity, mere fame and status does not count for much – but if the celebrity were known for his or her unique and uncompromising and individualistic views, you’ve got a winner.

2. How Do You First Set Your Criteria For Selection Of Your Social Influencers?

Most solopreneurs, who are new to the game of recruiting influencers, get easily enamored by the seeming social power of the influencers they are considering, and completely forget to apply mind to their own brands, values and business goals. It’s easy to see why this happens.

Most often, solopreneurs are budding entrepreneurs, whereas the influencers they covet are established players with higher authority. Willy-nilly, the attitude of solopreneurs towards influencers can get needlessly deferential – until they remember that they are in the position of power, hiring the influencers to do them a service.

Here is a three-step plan to help set influencer-selection criteria before beginning the influencer screening process.

a. Understand Your Own Business Goals – And Set Goals For Your Influencers

Every business and brand is unique. Every brand has specific values, tone of voice, and image. You may have a specific marketing campaign on social channels that you need influencers to boost. Or you may be looking for influencers for generally accelerating your own social efforts and brand presence.

Whatever your stated objectives are, the influencers you choose must be appropriate for the task. If you need influencers to generally raise your brand awareness and engagement, they should be able to achieve that for you. If you need them to specifically promote a marketing event or objective, they must be able to do that.

Not every influencer is “good for all reasons and seasons”. There are some who can quickly raise your profile, but not market for an event or specific goal. There are others good for short burst of hectic promotion, but not all that great for sustained brand building.

Influencers must also be capable of melding themselves to your brand goals and contribute to your brand’s equity. Your choice of influencers should depend on whether an influencer is able to adapt to your brand’s values, quality and tone, and your campaign goals. It is also crucial to assess the fit of an influencer’s audience to your brand or business. For instance, if you are selling eco-friendly green products, you must find an influencer whose audience shares an interest in eco-related concerns.

And finally, the influencer must be able to create great promotional “branded content” to add to your marketing objectives. Great content is not merely that which is clever or composed of smart words, but content which persuades people – subtly or overtly, as needed – towards fulfilling your brand objectives.

b. Don’t Forget To Look Among Your Own Followers For Good Potential Influencers

It would surprise you how many companies are able to find great influencers just by looking through their own followers. Scrutinize your social accounts, and see if you can find users who are regularly liking your posts or commenting on them.

See if you can find some followers who feel “associated with your brand” and seem to post a lot in the same tone of voice or area of niche interest. Most of all, see if there are “active followers” who seem to light up and drive the direction of discussion of the rest of the follower crowd you have.

When you find such followers who have high engagement on your profile, make sure you assess their profiles to see if any of them have built high follower counts than you have. If a few of them have more than 10,000 followers, they could be immensely useful to you for your influencer marketing.

c. Once You Find A Handful Of Potential Influencers, Try To Rank Them By Your Priority Criteria

Depending on what your priorities are, you will have to segregate your shortlisted influencers according to their fitness for your needs, and your budgetary and other constraints.

Would A-list celebrities fit your needs better than micro-influencers? Are you willing to spend a lot of money on just one or two influencers, or do you need to seed your marketing messages via a clutch of different types of influencers?

When you think through, you will soon discover that influencers can be divided into several clear groups. First, you have the power middles, who have the strength of follower-numbers but not the quality of the top percentile. Second, there is the upper 20% elite group, which offers a balance between quantity and quality of following. Finally, there is the topmost 5%, which represents the “best of breed”.

Who fits your needs best, within what you can afford, is the million-dollar question to grapple with.

3. Three Useful Tactics To Follow When Contacting Your Shortlisted Influencers

A very important point to remember is your method of outreach to influencers. Most top-rated influencers can tell a professional marketer from an amateur, just from the type of approach the marketer makes. It helps to know how influencers evaluate the brands and marketers they’d like to work with. Strategize on the best way to make your bid.

Below are three special points to be careful about when you start contacting potential influencers who can be social force-multipliers for your brand.

a. Most Influencers Will Have An Official Email Address That You Can Use To Contact Them For Business Enquiries

Use that address to send them a formal message. If they do not have any contact method, you can always send them a direct message on the social media channels they are on, to get their attention.

Do not ever try to ferret out private email addresses … or worse, don’t ever tweet to them publicly to solicit their services as an influencer. Most influencers don’t like people to know they are being paid to say what they say, and it’s better for your brand too if it stays that way.

b. When Contacting An Influencer Via Email Or A Direct Message, Be Very Open And Authentic About The Invitation

There’s no need to sound cagey. It’s a business deal, not a surreptitious underhand activity. Talk about your company and brand, mention the product or service you are interested in getting influencer-marketing for, and discuss your potential budget. If you want the influencer’s help for free, make sure you mention this fact clearly in the initial message.

Most professionally valuable influencers won’t come for free, but some may like to be paid in a reciprocal deal. If they do agree to do your influencer-marketing free, make sure you both know what the whole trade-off is.

c. Do Not Feel Disheartened If A Few Influencers Initially Ignore Your Messages. Good Influencers Are In Great Demand

There are so many companies contacting influencers these days, that the influencer crowd is indeed in the driving seat. It is normal that if you are not a well-known brand you may be ignored or lost in the shuffle. But also remember, that one good influencer generally helps beget another. So if you manage to get your first terrific influencer, others of the same ilk will be more than willing to work with you on the basis of that first connection.

Initially, you must cast your net far and wide to be able to contact as many good influencers as you can. The more people you contact, the greater your chance of getting into a collaboration with one or two influencers. If you get a good break, you can then land influencers who can not only sway audiences but also sway the influencer crowds in your favor.

In Summary …

  • One of the smartest ways to make use of social media is to do influencer marketing. It’s easier to target audiences via someone who holds sway over them.
  • See if your target audiences resonate with any particular influencers, and then choose your influencers wisely.
  • Choose influencers not by how powerful they are, but by what they can do for your business goals.
  • Don’t ever feel defensive as if the big influencers are doing your brand a favour. Use their power with confidence to strike your targets.
  • Applying thought to when it is most ideal to use influencer marketing, and how it should work as an adjunct to your regular social marketing.
  • It helps to know how influencers evaluate the brands and marketers they’d like to work with. Strategize on the best way to make your bid.