Recommendations and mentions of your brand by industry leaders can be a very effective form of low cost marketing. Because of their established presence and credibility within your target audience, their promotion of your product or service drives awareness amongst potential customers while increasing conversion rates. Read on to learn how you can leverage influencers as part of your go-to-market strategy.
Who they are:
Influencers have solid audiences that value their expertise and recommendations. They are published authors, speakers, webinar hosts, blog authors, journalists, celebrities, etc. Essentially your target customers look at influencers as authorities and trust them when they post content or discuss your topic area. Because of that, when an influencer recommends your brand it exposes you to a new audience and cuts down your sale cycle since the influencer has done part of the selling for you.
Brand Advocates, they’re different!
Brand advocates are satisfied customers who promote your brand because they personally value it – do not confuse them with industry influencers. To learn about the importance of brand advocates, Social Media Today has a great article about the rise of the brand advocate.
How to find them:
- Setup Google Alerts on keywords related to your business in order to find the people publishing content in your space.
- Another great way to discover influencers is look on Amazon! Yes, that may sound strange, but try searching for authors who have been published on topics for your industry.
- Look for conferences that are relevant to your brand or industry and see who the sponsors and speakers are.
- Use tools like Socedo, which allows you to find your leads and influencers on Twitter using keywords, both bio and conversational, and engage with them immediately. Little Bird is another great application to utilize, as it discovers influencers who are authenticated by their peers on any topic.
Who to pick and how:
Now that you have made a potential list of influencers, the next step is to decide who will add the most impact to your marketing efforts. One simple way to determine who would be good influencers for your product is to check out their blog page ranking using Alexa Ranking, Google PageRank and Compete.com. Alexa Ranking and Compete.com are great for assessing traffic and subscribers while Google Page Rank gives a sense for how credible and authoritative they are in their subject matter. While the number of followers on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn are important, don’t jump directly into making your decision based solely on that. Think about how good a fit they are for the audience you are trying to target. A good way of deciding if they’re a good fit is looking at:
- What are they writing
- What type of content are they promoting and posting
- What conferences are they going to
Why they need you:
Influencers need you and your brand because:
- They are looking for new products and services that their audience will find interesting and helpful.
- They need new and innovative content to promote to their audience. Your brand can provide this with unique insights from within your organization.
How to get their attention:
Before you reach out to influencers to ask them for something, you want to make sure you offer them something. This is really important. Do not ask them to promote for you until you join their conversation and contribute.
Here’s how to do it:
- Comment on their blog.
- Ask them questions on their social networks. Engage in their Twitter Chat, Google + hangouts and LinkedIn groups.
- Curate their content as part of the broadcast posts on your branded and personal profiles.
Once you have engaged with them enough to get on their radar then you can make one of the following asks:
- Contact them and ask if you can write a guest post for their blog. Sometimes it’s as easy as filling out a guest blog form, but if not, contact them directly and ask! Make sure you aren’t just trying to sell your product, highlight how this will benefit them. (Psst… free content!)
- Ask influencers if they would like to use your product for free, and if they like it ask that they write a review about it.
- Offer their audience something. For example, you could offer their audience 50% off your product. Or the first 10 readers get the product for free. This gives the influencer more value with the audience they have built.
Using influencers helps you sell your product faster and to your direct audience. It also increases your search engine rankings and adds credibility to your brand. This significantly cuts down on your sales cycle and marketing costs while building your own following on social media sites.