Social media influencer marketing is growing in popularity, and let's be honest - it's something that you probably need to look into a bit more. It involves building relationships with people who can build relationships for you, ideally with the individual consumer that you're looking to reach. To do this, your brand simply works with thought leaders within the social media space that have a strong and relevant following, while leveraging their pre-existing audience so it can work for you. These social influencers are so powerful because they have the ability to reach consumers whom your brand may not currently be able to reach on it's own.

So, What Are Social Influencers?

A social media influencer is an individual that possesses the power to influence others in the social media space. While often times, they have a large amount of followers, there are also mid-level to smaller professionals that may have a notable influence on a smaller audience. They act as a thought leader within a niche community and audiences look to them for ideas and trends related to their interests.

How Should You Go About Identifying Them?

When searching for leaders in the social media realm that can work for your brand, you should first find them (of course), then ensure that you do your due diligence and check out their reputation, and the extent of their impact PRIOR to reaching out to them. Are they a good fit for your brand? Will their involvement with your brand somehow hurt your reputation, or strengthen it? Does their audience reflect the target audience of your company? These are all questions you should be asking before you reach out to an influencer. There are countless tools to be used in the industry to find the right contacts on social media. FollowerWonk allows you to search for specific keywords in Twitter bios to find the most relevant contacts for your needs. You can narrow it down by factors such as their typical audience reach or how authoritative they are in their given space.
Overall, I really find it most effective to listen to those making their voices heard in the specific industry that you're in. Most likely, if you're heavily involved in the industry that you work in, you'll already have a good idea of who these people are. Think - who are the current movers and shakers? While many factors are important when selecting influencers that are the right fit for your brand, I find that there are three key considerations that are of utmost importance: 1. Relevance While the expert at hand may have a strong following and generate strong engagement with their followers, it is vital to determine if they are relevant to your brand. An influencer's past content offering must somewhat match with your brand. For example, if they are a food blogger that drives HUGE foot traffic to restaurants in the New York City area, they may be the right choice if you are opening a new spot in the city. As strong and loyal as their following is, this specific person would probably not be the right choice for a beauty brand trying to promote a sweepstakes on their social media channels. 2. Reach When referring to reach, it is important that a social media tastemaker has the ability to reach a notable amount of people that you're looking to target, but keep in mind, influencers with the largest following may not always be the best.
To determine the quality of a particular social media user's reach, it is best to do a bit of research on what specific demographics their audience contains. An individual may cater to a specific industry that is relevant to your brand, but they could also have a much younger audience than the one you are hoping to target. Sometimes, a smaller but higher quality audience may be the right choice for your brand. 3. Values It takes a strong effort (and often, a long time) to establish your brand and its values. When taking part in social media marketing efforts, it is SO important to take these brand values that you've established into consideration before trusting a particular influencer to uphold your business' brand image. The brand values between you and an these authoritative connections must be a good match to ensure that the relationship between your brand and the thought leader is an effective and worthwhile one.

Moving Forward

Okay, so you've built a list of social media gurus and KNOW that they're reputable and a great fit with your brand. Now what? I tend to advise against over-engaging right away, as I find it best to first engage softly before you actually need the influencer to perform. This will help your brand to build a genuine engagement with your list of industry leaders. Like any connection or contact, building a quality relationship takes time, and once the foundation is pre-established, activating thought leaders can be a much more effective process. The most genuine and rewarding connections are the ones that happen naturally. Remember, they are human beings just like you.

Nurturing The Audience

How can we continue to build engagement with these influencers as well as our current and prospective audience? Nurture, nurture, nurture. Keep the relationship going, even if you're not currently pursuing them for a specific initiative. Invite them to events, engage with them on social media, keep them updated on new products, and even send them a few freebies here and there.
By nurturing the relationship between your brand and your respective thought leaders, it will be more of a natural process as you continue to work together. By nurturing the relationship with them, they will in turn (we hope) continue to promote your brand to their social following, stay active with their audience, and the process will continue.

Any other tips and tricks?

Yes - always keep it real. Be honest and genuine with your product offering and capabilities, and the relationship between you and the influencer will be a positive one. Social media is a crucial aspect of any marketing strategy and overall business plan. Identifying the right people to help streamline your strategy and reinforce your brand messaging is incredibly important.
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