Today, thanks to social networks, getting the so-called “15 minutes of fame” is not very complicated. A video on YouTube, a tweet or a message on social networks that strikes a chord with users can spread around the world in a few days. However, the attention towards these viral videos or posts fades in a short time.
The real challenge consists, then, in achieving a good name and sustainable online recognition that typifies a user as a true opinion leader. Anyone who influences the trends and opinions of social networks such as Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, among others, quickly becomes a model for their followers and thus achieves the great power of becoming an influencer and a multiplier for big brands and companies.
Winning influencers and building a successful marketing strategy around them is a task that competes with influencer marketing and that, in recent years, has become a major challenge for companies and vendors.
What is influencer marketing?
For some time now, influencer marketing has been more than just a buzzword and therefore an activity that any marketer deals with. This new discipline of the marketing mix sits between traditional online public relations (so-called referral marketing) and social media marketing.
The main task of influencer marketing is to identify relevant influencers for the brand or company, contact them and build a business relationship with them. In this way, companies can integrate influencers into their communication strategy and use them as multipliers of the message and of the company’s advertising objectives. Before discussing the role and mechanisms of influencer marketing, it is important to clarify what an influencer really is.
What is an influencer?
Influencers are personalities who have positioned themselves as opinion leaders on the Internet. Generally, they have a large presence on the Internet achieved as bloggers with their own website or with channels on social networks such as Twitter, Instagram or YouTube.
Online presence is the capital of every influencer. However, reach alone is not everything, since it is the level of influence and social impact that counts. Whoever begins to gain credibility in their community and the trust of their followers positions themselves as a role model and a great influence on consumer opinion and behavior. In principle, anyone can be an influencer: journalists, bloggers, youtubers, celebrities, politicians, authors or professionals. The reputation of the different channels and the credibility of the influencer are also important factors.
How a business benefits from influencer marketing
The media landscape has changed dramatically in recent years. Now, the influence of traditional media on public opinion is much less than it was a few years ago, and younger audiences especially look for role models on digital platforms. The number of “experts” on all topics is huge, especially in the vlogger scene (video bloggers). These personalities dominate their area of expertise with a few million followers and readers. Depending on the topic and subject matter that an influencer deals with, it is possible for a company to reach a valuable and well-defined target group.
The fans and followers of an influencer are grateful when they write advice and recommendations about products, brands or services. They trust the criteria of bloggers and online celebrities, seeking to look like them and unknowingly allowing influencers to strongly impact their personal consumption habits. This level of trust is very useful for companies, especially as a multiplying advertising factor. Therefore, bloggers or artists become brand ambassadors and make individual brands or products famous. Thus, influencers allow companies to get much closer to potential customers, serving as intermediaries and achieving attention and visibility to their brands and products on different social networks.
To begin with, entrepreneurs and marketers must ask themselves two basic questions: at what point does a youtuber or blogger become an influencer? And how relevant is an influencer to my marketing goals? There are different benchmarks, depending on the industry and sector, to identify the right partners from the plethora of thought leaders on social media.
The most important factors to identify relevant influencers for a brand or company are:
- Activity: What platforms does the influencer work on? In which ones is he active and in which ones does fluid communication and exchange take place? These figures are the first indication, but remember that these figures are not always clear. For a niche topic, a blog with a few hundred readers also represents a very valuable target group.
- The reach within the target group: Is the influencer targeting the people I want to reach with my products? There are countless profiles and channels with attractive numbers of followers. However, these figures are only relevant for a company if they reach their own target audience. Therefore, it is not only the reach of the channels that is important, but also whether relevant contacts can be achieved with them.
- Expert position: What aspects determine corporate communication? In this field, who is considered an expert? Who fits thematically with the company? Are there influencers who have achieved a good reputation and are known in the industry?
- Interaction/Engagement: Of course, figures such as the number of fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter are not decisive. The interaction with users and the so-called community engagement are the most distinctive features. Retweets, comments, shares and likes are therefore important indicators, as they provide information about the relationship that influencers have with their community of followers. The fact that fans share and discuss their contributions is a positive point for their level of influence.
The tools of influencer marketing
Investing time in the search and, in the same way, fostering good communication are key aspects of influencer marketing. Determining whether an influencer is a good fit for the company or not cannot be reduced to numbers alone. No machine or tool can assess whether the quality of the content meets the individual requirements of the company, nor the question of how well the personal style fits with the philosophy of the company. For these aspects, an individual evaluation will always be necessary. However, data and numbers are good criteria to get a first idea. Reach, number of followers or subscribers, and engagement rates are valuable clues for specialized tools. The list of tools that support the creation of a good influencer marketing strategy is very long. Here are some of the best known:
Klout is one of the best-known tools in the field of influencer marketing and is mainly known for the so-called Klout Score, where on a scale of 1 to 100, Klout evaluates the level of influence of a user according to different statistics in the social networks. The Klout Score is surrounded by controversy, as allegations of manipulation continue to exist. However, this is still a first-hand indicator for contact assessment.
Buzzsumo is an internationally known tool that evaluates, among others, data from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+. This tool allows you to search for certain keywords and returns results with the most influential personalities on the subject on social networks. Filters, for example by location, allow good segmentation.
Kred is a basic tool that brings together the main influence metrics. Like Klout, it also generates an influence score (Influence Score) that is determined based on mentions, retweets, responses and followers on Twitter.
Followerwonk is part of the Moz Suite, is available for free, and offers the ability to search Twitter bios by keywords. Results can be sorted by level of influence and authority. Followerwonk also provides additional analytics features such as the ability to compare the follower profile of up to three influencers, which is very convenient for competitor analysis and cross-platform comparison.
Klear is a simple but effective tool when you want to identify influencers within your own network. This free instrument also allows a good differentiation of user types and influencers.
All these tools make it easy to enter influencer marketing. Most offer useful scores and relevant figures, however, most of the analysis functions that they present tend to be somewhat limited. Anyone who wants to do such an analysis and go a step further should work with professional social media monitoring tools, most of which have built-in features for influencer identification.
The keys to contact with influencers
We have already clarified the characteristics of an influencer and how to identify relevant multipliers for a defined marketing strategy. Now is when the great challenge comes, earning their trust and achieving cooperation.
Avoid the traps
Almost every blogger and YouTube star with a certain number of fans knows their number of followers and therefore their market value. The bigger ones, especially in the YouTube scene, usually get professional representatives to take care of the management of their corporations. However, lesser-known influencers are also often picky when it comes to selecting partners and actions. Here, companies can fall into some traps. The biggest false step an entrepreneur can take is creating the feeling of wanting to “buy” the influencer. Manipulation attempts of this type are quickly identified as such. The same applies to requests for cooperation: no manipulation, no undue influence.
Equally criticized are offers without due consideration. In the past, influencer marketing has been compared to a cheap strategy to disperse advertising as quickly as possible. However, as mentioned above: most influencers are aware of their value in the market and are fully aware that, generally, the most benefited from collaborations are companies and not bloggers or instagramers.
Honesty and its benefits
Honest and transparent communication is essential for influencer marketing. Companies must avoid any kind of deception and must consider influencers as partners and treat them accordingly. Building a peer-to-peer business relationship also means offering the blogger or youtuber added benefit and other advantages. What does an influencer look for? Mainly increase the number of followers and, with it, their level of influence. As an entrepreneur, you can provide the tools to do this: exclusive impressions, information that no one else has, or test new products. This is why many large companies invest effort in organizing events for bloggers and, of course, a monetary incentive is crucial when establishing relationships with influencers.
When it comes to actual contact, the most promising channel is the traditional email contact, followed by Twitter. Another essential point of contact is the influencer’s blog. Telephone contact and other networks such as Facebook or Google+ are less relevant. It is important to establish a real and personal contact with the influencer and not use superfluous and repetitive contact messages. You should renounce dilettante advertising solicitations, concentrating on the context and on the offer, making it as clear as possible and briefly outlining the intentions of the cooperation. The fact that a company presents a contact person is a gesture of openness to dialogue and interest in a successful long-term cooperation.