The past 12 months have seen digital marketers and companies turning to influencer marketing as a hot, new strategy to try.
And the trend shows no signs of slowing down.
As organizations large and small discover the benefits that this marketing strategy has to offer, the more they are trying it out.
Brands are learning that influencer marketing provides an intimate and engaging way to connect to audiences.
It is more personal and makes more of an impact than traditional advertising.
But let’s back up for a moment:
I want to be clear.
Influencer marketing – in simple terms – is an extension to the concept of word-of-mouth marketing.
And word of mouth is some of the best marketing around: when one person who you trust recommends something to you.
It could be a product, service or brand.
And with the rise of social media as a business trend, this kind of marketing is easier than ever.
Add to that the birth of a new generation of influential people online who are willing to collaborate with brands in order to create a credible and authentic sales message.
In other words it is a type of relationship building is inherently useful for brands that are looking to not only expand their audience but turn more people into loyal customers.
Through building trust by engaging them more directly.
The advantages you experience will depend largely on your goals as a business, and the strategy you employ.
But know that many brands are discovering that working with influencers can benefit their marketing efforts in a number of ways.
Some of the more obvious ways include boosting SEO and driving brand awareness.
I’ll cover just some of the most important ways that influencer marketing is changing the face of everyday advertising, and brand/customer relationships as well.
1: Expand your target audience, the right audience for your brand
Unlike traditional forms of “spray and pray” advertising or guerilla advertising that are used simply to generate brand awareness, influencer marketing isn’t just about expanding your reach.
With influencer input, you can hone in on appealing to the existing needs and interests of an audience that is relevant to your company.
Assuming you and your brand do the necessary research and due diligence to identify the best individuals for your campaign, your influencers will work to engage the people that are most likely to buy from your company.
This means you are getting in front of your desired customers more effectively.
But even better:
You can also generate more leads, more sales and more profits.
2: Increase your authority through influencer marketing
Authority is essential in any competitive market, as it shows your audience that you’re worthy of both their time, and their investment.
And what brand doesn’t want more of this?
When you collaborate with influencers, you expand your reach, while establishing more authority and credibility within your chosen niche.When you collaborate with influencers, you expand your reach, authority and credibility Click To Tweet
In short, it’s a way of validating your position in the market.
After all, most users today trust their social networks and peers far more than any individual brand.
3: Achieve speed-to-market
When you collaborate with influencers, you have the chance to exchange information and content with your target market in a way that is far more speedy and effective than traditional marketing methods and public relations (PR).
And the reason is:
Its faster because you work directly with the them to access their audiences to get your message out.
Also, they may have ideas and be willing to collaborate with you on the best channels in which to do so.
In many cases, I’ve received feedback from influencers that helped me to better craft my message to ensure it resonated with their audiences.
That it was direct without the marketing mumbo jumbo.
This negates having to work through third parties such as the press where your message will likely take longer to get distributed and will likely be altered.
4: Generate new leads with measurable key performance indicators (KPIs)
This kind of marketing is about more than simply increasing your brand awareness and reach.
With the right kind of collaboration, you can develop brand new leads, with KPIs that are easy to track and measure.
For example, you could use individual custom links that track the leads generated by each influencer.
At the same time, each piece of content that gets posted is part of your content marketing strategy and increases your Google rankings and SEO.
This leads to higher lead generation, and better results for both you.
It’s a win-win situation with benefits to go around for all.
5: Increase engagement and alliance building
The natural collaboration that occurs when working with influencers can help you to increase the amount of engagement that your brand experiences on a regular basis.
Because it generally leads to further interest on the part of your target audience.
More interst can lead to a higher number of users joining your “community” as they look to engage your brand.
The more people get involved with your community, the more you can naturally promote yourself more.
But also think about your customers, your suppliers, and your partners.
Spread the love!
You can promote not only your brand, but help the influencer expand his or her audience at the same time.
Influencers are always looking for ways to grow their audience.
You can also highlight your customers and promote your business partners too.
It pays dividends to make sure you involve everyone in the benefits.
6: Showcase your brand values
Very often, when you interact with an influencer, you’ll discover that they’re about far more than simply promoting your product.
After all, they aren’t marketers, they are content experts.
Most of them will look for ways to collaborate with your brand in a more holistic way.
Learning as much as possible about your company, its values, the way it does business and the people who make it all happen behind the scenes.
Keep this in mind:
You’ll likely find that influencers will only start working with you if they appreciate both your company and your products or services.
But don’t forget the values that you have as an organization — what your brand stands for.
This means more to people today than ever before.
If they don’t they are likely only “pay-for-play” types and I’m not sure those will benefit you or your brand much in the long run.
You might want to think about that.
7: Amplify your marketing and your test messaging
Another benefit is you can multiply and expand your traditional marketing and sales efforts.
If your influencer writes a blog post about your latest product, there are a couple of ways you could leverage that further …
You could get involved by running website competitions, or hosting polls on your social media platforms to drive more engagement there.
In other words, every aspect of your brand-awareness and marketing strategy can go hand in hand – improving your chances of good results.
You can even use this time to figure out which messages have the most positive impact on your audience. This is one of my favorite things to test.
The power of trust and word of mouth
The chances are that you’ve noticed one benefit missing from the list above – and to many, this is the most important part of influencer marketing – the concept of trust.
Influencer marketing is a form of “word of mouth” marketing.
This relies on the social influence an individual has to encourage people to buy from a specific brand, or follow a certain company on social media.
Simply put – having the right people talking about your brand instantly gives you an authority boost that makes you more trustworthy.
In other words – it creates a “trust bank” for you, and your brand.
The concept of a “trust bank” comes from a philosophy that was pioneered by Al Golin – the PR legend.
It can be understood as a continuing accumulation of “good will” deposits by collecting positive interactions with influencers, customers and partners over time.
These “good will” deposits build the trustworthiness of your company, and they can be withdrawn at times to rebuild the company in times of crisis.
With a strong trust bank, PR nightmares and product failures can be all but erased – or at least mitigated.
During the riots in Los Angeles in the 1992, the McDonalds in the area were not touched by the rioters.
Because the company was known and well regarded for its community service.
Their good will “deposits” came in handy then.
This is the true power of influencer marketing – it gives you that long-term trust that acts as a safety-net, and a gold-mine for the future of your company.
And perhaps this is the best benefit of all.
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