The marketing landscape is constantly shifting. It changes all the time, and being able to spot a trend from a paradigm shift is what sets successful brands apart. One marketing technique that is not a trend is partnering with influencers.
Partnering with influencers can drive higher sales for businesses and increase engagement, and that’s not to mention a strengthening of their brand. Here’s how.
Finding an influencer starts with research
Before brands can begin a fruitful partnership with a social media influencer, they must first find one that fits.
A successful influencer collaboration isn’t based on metrics and numbers alone. It’s about finding a social influencer who aligns with your brand but connects you with a new market at the same time.
It’s a fine line to tread, but it’s easily achievable if you do your research.
Start by listening to your target customers on social. Who do they follow? What kind of content do they engage with? Identifying the interests of your target audience informs your search for an influencer who will resonate with your prospects and customers and create a partnership that will see real results.
Take Lagavulin Whiskey’s collaboration with Parks and Recreation star Nick Offerman.
In the show, Offerman plays Ron Swanson, the all-American director of the Parks department and die-hard Lagavulin aficionado. The character is a cult hit with fans, and his traditional masculinity and in-show passion for the brand made for a flawless partnership that increased social followers from 5.5k to a staggering 23k.
Research is the foundation to a successful influencer partnership. Use social listening tools to identify social influencers who will resonate with your audience, whilst at the same time helping expose you to a wider customer base.
Being an influencer is a business, not a hobby
To the untrained eye, the life of a social influencer might seem akin to that of a Hollywood A-lister: carefree mornings spent at coffee shops followed by a night of mingling with the elite at glitzy industry parties.
When their Instagram feeds are filled with shots of beaches, restaurants, and parties, it’s easy to see the influencer life as a hobby rather than a career.
But behind-the-scenes, influencers work hard to create engaging content, connect with their followers, and schedule posts across a plethora of social platforms. They are consummate professionals, and consequently should be treated as such.
When you reach out to an influencer, remember that their social presence isn’t just a hobby — it’s their livelihood. While some influencers may accept a free product or trial as financial recompense for their work at their discretion, the vast majority will expect a fair rate of pay for their efforts.
Bring your influencer partnership into the real world
While social influencers do, by their very definition, operate primarily on social media, confining your partnership to the digital sphere does it a disservice. Instead, brands seeking the most from their influencer collaboration should bring it into the real world.
If your business has a brick-and-mortar presence (or if you have visions of creating a pop-up shop), an influencer-led product launch party is the perfect meeting of brand hype and customer engagement.
The technique was used to great effect by cosmetics brand Benefit, who partnered with dozens of beauty influencers for their BADgalBANG mascara launch. The event reached an estimated 35 million people, endowing the brand with high sales, wide engagement, and enviable press coverage.
And successful influencer-led events aren’t just the domain of global brands either. Even small-to-medium enterprises and indie enterprises like the ones listed on Exchange can benefit from real-world influencer-led events. These businesses often operate in very specific niches, and one-off launch events at pop-up shops generate rapid and considerable engagement for small stores looking to build their customer base.
Collaborate with influencers to create events that promote your product, service, and brand. It doesn’t need to be a launch party either. Simply hosting a VIP party and inviting a select group of loyal customers will increase your brand’s social following and reach.
Create a branded hashtag that your influencers and attendees can use in their social activity to further publicize your event.
Why pay when you can imitate?
You don’t need to create a $30k contract with a social influencer to benefit from their unique expertise. Observing social influencers online can provide you with valuable insight into their work, which in turn can help you reposition your own social strategy accordingly.
Identify successful social influencers in your niche. Look at the kind of content they create: what formats do they use? How often do they share it? What kind of engagement does it elicit from their followers? Scope out what works and what doesn’t, then learn from it.
It’s worth considering how influencers interact with their followers on social too. Authentic and sincere customer conversations are the lifeblood of a strong brand, and influencers are masters at this.
This kind of in-depth analysis can help inform your own social strategy to foster stronger relationships with your own followers, and generate new ones at the same time.
Find successful social influencers in your industry and identify what they do best. Analyze this data on a granular level. Apply what you’ve learned to your own strategy to reap the rewards of influencer marketing without paying a cent.
Partnering with a social media influencer to grow your brand is a rewarding endeavour, but it requires work. Careful consideration, diligent analysis, and a collaboration on an equal footing will lead to a partnership that is at once gratifying and fruitful for each party.