Taking the big step of establishing a relationship with social media influencers to promote your product or brand can be intimidating and confusing, to say the least. How will you know if they are the right one for you? Will you find your perfect match? While there is no magic spell to guarantee you’ll find “the one” on the first try, we can help you take your matchmaking skills to the next level.
Social influence is only growing, thanks to smart phones and hot spots, and these days you’ll never find yourself far from a recommendation from a trusted source. This is why you should be finding ways to partner with social media influencers in local and national markets the next time you launch a product or promote an event.
Social media influencers can be a valuable resource when building brand awareness and increasing your audience in social spaces. Consumer to consumer word of mouth initiated by social influencers was found to increase ROI 11 times versus banner ads in a 12-month period, and continued to increase residual impressions and organic SEO post campaign, in a study conducted by TapInfluence. It’s a cost-effective strategy that acts as native advertising while decreasing the need for paid ads on social platforms. It can also increase social engagement by encouraging interaction with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds, and even increase SEO by driving traffic to your landing page or website.
The challenge, then, is to find the right social media influencers for your brand and give them the tools – and the freedom – they need to be an asset to your brand.
What’s Your Type?
Finding and cultivating a partnership with the right social media influencers is easy, if you know what to look for and how to build a rapport that supports a mutually beneficial give and take. First things first – know what to look for in a social influencer for your brand:
- Content is important. Creative content is king.– Find influencers whose blog content is a good fit for your brand or product. Do they offer sponsored posts? If so, are they simply cutting and pasting someone’s carefully crafted news release or does the sponsored content appear creative and original?
- It’s not just a numbers game. – Numbers are important, but make sure you look at the whole picture. Perhaps their website page views are low, but their Facebook engagement is stellar. Do you find most of their content pushed out via Instagram where they have a massive following? Is their Twitter game strong? Where will your product or brand resonate most in the social space? Don’t base your choice solely on a Google analytics number.
Armed with this information you can begin your search, focusing on target markets. Make use of tools such as Social Mention or Buzzsumo to monitor social chatter in order to search for the influencers talking about your brand, product, or related buzzwords. Find the social influencers who align with your brand’s values, who have influence in your target market, and who will not only promote your brand, but also promote it with passion.
A Match Made in Heaven
Once you’ve narrowed down the playing field, the true work begins. How do you approach your chosen influencers in a way to start your partnership off on the right foot? You need to create a plan that allows creative freedom, is detailed and specific, and is mutually beneficial.
- Personalize – Let the influencer know that you took the time to put the work in on your side by personalizing your greeting and opener. Chances are if you’ve mass emailed a generic offer – unless it is the mother of all influencer opportunities – your email is headed straight to the spam filter. Take the time to reach out individually. Your responses will double. If you really enjoyed a social media post or blog article that they wrote, let them know. If they were referred to you by another blogger or you met at a local happy hour event, make sure you mention it. The personal touch is always the way to start.
- Be Specific – Tell them what your goals are for the partnership, why you think they are the right fit for the opportunity, and what your brand can offer them besides compensation. Why is this partnership mutually beneficial? Beyond compensation, social influencers are also looking to promote their own brand.
- Detail, don’t dictate. – Be specific in your key dates and deliverables, the number of social posts you expect during the promotion, and even specific verbiage required – then loosen the reins. Your chosen influencer grew his or her audience painstakingly over time by being authentic and loyal to her audience. The audience listens and sticks around because they are drawn to the influencer’s style and message. So let them strut their stuff. Give them the information they need to creatively craft the message, then let them deliver it in the way that will resonate the most with their audience.
- Influencers cannot live on a free loaf of bread alone. – Make sure you are offering true compensation for time spent promoting your product or brand. Perhaps your company does make the best potato chips in the business, but is that $3.99 bag of chips worth the time and effort the influencer will put into helping you spread the word on this awesome new flavor of chips? Not so much. And financial compensation is just the beginning. Invitations to events that lend credibility to their brand voice where they can network are just as important. Sharing blogger/influencer created content via your brand social channels is also an excellent way to build value into your partnership. Just keep in mind that you wouldn’t work for a loaf of bread or bag of chips, and neither should they. Their voice has value. Compensate accordingly.
Once you’ve established relationships with social influencers through your first campaign, maintain that relationship through frequent interaction and opportunities to partner on future promotions. You’ll not only be building a partnership with the blogger or influencer, but you’ll be building another dedicated fan. A dedicated fan with an engaged social media audience is worth its weight in gold.