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  • What are social media influencers?
  • How can they help my brand?
  • How can I engage with them?

Imagine there’s a new company called Rough Links that sells cufflinks decorated with unpolished gems and stones.

Rough links has had early success with a small, loyal customer base, but they’re hoping to reach a larger audience.

Rough Links knows they sell the majority of their cuff links to fashion-forward men in their twenties. They also know that this audience is active on social media and men’s style blogs.

With this in mind, they start brainstorming ways to convince potential customers that Rough Links is an authentic brand that sells unique, high-quality cufflinks. Let’s see which idea works best.

TV commercials and online ads are effective and can raise awareness. But, an influential blogger has followers who identify with them and consider them an expert. So, they can share information about products and services with their fans in an authentic and compelling way.

Now imagine there’s a men’s fashion blogger named Fritz Glitz who has a popular website and a sizable social media following.

Rough Links thinks they could get new customers if Fritz Glitz wrote about them, so they reach out and send him several free pairs of cufflinks. They also offer to do a cross-promotion where Fritz Glitz writes a series of posts on the Rough Links blog.

Fritz Glitz had never heard of Rough Links, but when he tries their products, he falls in love with the brand. He posts pictures of himself wearing their cufflinks on his social media platforms and agrees to write for the Rough Links website.

Fritz Glitz’s posts get 20,000+ likes and help Rough Links reach half a million potential customers. New orders start rolling in. Fritz Glitz got some new fans, in addition to the free cufflinks. Everyone wins.

Social media influencers are bloggers, celebrities, experts, and others who have a big impact on online [and offline] culture. Because of their social clout, social media influencers can be valuable to your brand and marketing. After all, they often come with tens of thousands of followers who actively follow them and respect their opinions.

An endorsement from an extra layer of authenticity to your brand, and help people relate to your products and services on a more personal level. That can build your brand’s awareness, trust, and favorability, and give your social media following a nice, lead-generating boost.

70% of people say they want to learn about products through online content versus traditional ads. That means social media marketing via influencers can be a powerful strategy.

So, influencers sound great. How do you figure out which ones to engage? Start by figuring out how your brand fits into the social media landscape. Look at the brand category you’re in (cooking, lifestyle, cars, tech, design, etc.) and check which social media platforms your target audience is most active on.

Then research which influencers your audience is already following, and make a list of the most prominent ones who are also in your brand category. Larger brands might approach this step differently than smaller brands.

If you’re a larger brand, you might use a digital agency that specializes in sourcing influencers with a global reach. If you’re a smaller brand, you might want to use services like Klout to help you assess influencers who have a local following.

Evaluate these influencers’ social media content. Would it appeal to your entire target audience? How much do their followers match your current audience? How large are their followings on your chosen social media platform?

Also, consider if their content is right for your brand. What kind of reach/exposure do their articles and posts get? Have you interacted with them before? Have they mentioned your brand or products in the post?

Tip: Once you’re ready to engage with influencers, get on their radar before jumping into offers and negotiations. Basically, be social on social media: Share the influencers’ posts, photos, tweets, or other content. (and don’t forget to tag them or give them shout outs in your reposts)

After you’ve made yourself known to an influencer by engaging with them, you’re ready to get in touch.

There are different ways you can do this, including messaging them directly through their social media channels, looking for contact information on their website, or finding a mutual contact who can connect you.

Also, if you’ve previously interacted with the influencer and they’re already familiar and comfortable with your brand, you can ask for their direct contact information and take the conversation offline.

Ideally, influencers you contact will be interested in your products. If you’re a smaller brand, approaching influencers with a large following might be unrealistic. Find influencers whose follower count is more within your ballpark.

And remember, there are laws and regulations that apply to endorsement or influencer campaigns, so you may want to consult with your legal department before getting started.

I know this:

  • If I want influencers with global or local reach
  • What my brand can offer an influencer
  • Social media platforms popular with my audience
  • My brand category
  • My target audience

References: Google Webmasters, Think With Google, Google Primer

Mohammad Rahighi

Mohammad Rahighi

Designer and Project Manager who loves crafting big ideas and is passionate about designing meaningful experiences that can influence positive change and help make the world a better place.

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