Increasing your social reach can be a challenge, particularly if you want to do it without spending a ton of money. While paid advertising can certainly work, you may want to try something that’s a bit more unconventional: influencer marketing.
If you’ve ever seen one of those old commercials that features an actor saying something like, “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV,” then you’ve experienced influencer marketing. Basically, influencer marketing features an influential person endorsing a product or service.
The hope is that the audience of the commercial (or in this case, the audience of the Facebook post or Tweet) will see the product and be influenced by the fact that someone they admire has endorsed it. You may have heard of celebrities like Kim Kardashian being paid large sums of money to promote certain products. That’s influencer marketing.
Ideally, the influence in questions should be someone who has some authority in terms of recommending the product. For example, a student-athlete might not be tempted by a dryad for a new basketball shoe but find himself unable to resist when he sees that the same shoe has been endorsed by a basketball legend.
If you want to use influencer marketing, you need to find influencers who speak to your target audience. A good place to start is to look for authority figures in your industry. You might know of a popular blogger or creative person who people admire.
Paying for celebrity influencers can be expensive, but not if you view the word “celebrity” as a relative term. He might not be a celebrity in the traditional, Hollywood sense of the term, but most internet marketers would kill to have Neil Patel endorse their product. He has a huge following and a great deal of influence—and people listen to what he says.
You could try looking for people that your audience admires even if they’re not in your industry. For example, you might run a martial arts studio and know that many people in your target audience admire a particular martial artist. If you can connect with that person and get them to mention your studio, that could have a huge impact on your marketing.
How should you approach influencers? The first way is to start with a slow build. If you’re targeting a popular blogger in your industry, you might want to start by following their blog and leaving thoughtful comments and questions. After you build some rapport, you can approach them via email.
Another option is to pick up the phone and make a direct pitch. If you already know a potential influencer, even tangentially, then the personal touch might be preferable to email. You’ll need to be comfortable on the phone to take this approach, but it can be very effective to ask this way.
Keep in mind that most influencers have a quote—a fixed amount that they charge for a social media mention. You might not be able to find out what it is in advance, but you should be prepared for it. Some influencers will be willing to negotiate but others won’t. Always know what your walking away point is.
Once you have a loose agreement, it’s important to hammer out the details of what you’ll be getting in return for your money. How many times will the influence mention you? In what context? As a paying customer, you’re entitled to be specific about when, where, and how the influencer mentions your company or product.
The key to using influencer marketing successfully is to pick the right influencer. You need someone who is authoritative and appealing to your target audience—and someone who has a large enough social following to make the expenditure worthwhile.
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