You may not realize it, but you are an influencer.
At some point, you have found something you like, whether it’s a movie, product or service, and recommended it to someone. Maybe it’s as simple as someone asking you, “Do you know anywhere good to eat around here?” and following up on your suggestion. You influenced their decision, because they trusted your opinion.
The same is true with “influencers”—those well-known, influential people whose tastes and opinions shape what others think, do, read, and buy—just on a larger scale.
There are bestselling authors, celebrities, athletes, and teenagers using Instagram with millions of followers who just might be interested in buying your product or service.
Why Are People Using Influencers?
Modern consumers are smart—they install ad-blocking software, ignore pop-ups, and skip through commercials. But you can’t block people with the simple install of a plug-in (no matter how enticing that might seem). Influencer marketing is the fastest growing way to acquire new customers—it offers a 650% return on investment according to the latest Tomoson research.
And this isn’t just the influencers that you see on YouTube who break from their content to talk about a product, or the sponsor sections you hear on podcasts. Influencers are everywhere you turn online.
In fact, according to that same research, 37% of marketers think blogs are the most effective platform for influencer marketing, with 25% thinking Facebook is effective, while YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter come in at around 6%. If you have a blog or an active Facebook following, you may already be an influencer without knowing it!
Do You Need Millions of Followers to Be an Influencer?
You don’t have to have millions of followers to be a true influencer—in fact, having a small but loyal following may actually be more effective. HelloSociety, a New York Times-owned company, found that influencers with less than 30,000 followers are 6.7 times more efficient per engagement than influencers with larger followings; meanwhile, “micro-influencers” like these drive 22.2 times more weekly conversations than the average consumer!
Even smaller micro-influencers can be incredibly effective. Influencers with around 1,000 followers have a “like” rate of around 8% and generate comments 0.5% of the time. Those with a like rate of 1 million-plus receive likes 1.6% of the time and generate comments 0.04% of the time. That means someone with 1,000 followers is liked five times more and commented on 13 times more than someone with millions of followers.
Why Are Influencers Effective?
So, when I said you were an influencer, I really meant it. If you start writing about a product or service that you really liked on your blog or Facebook feed, the people that you know would be more likely to buy it because they trust your opinion and recommendation…that’s why they follow you.
They probably know you well enough to tell that you are being genuine, too. That’s why influencer marketing is so effective. Rather than an ad or a special offer, it’s a genuine recommendation from someone you already have a genuine connection to.
How Can You Harness the Power of an Influencer?
So, if you want to be a micro-influencer, how do you find a brand to work with? Or, if you want to use influencers to help put yourself forward, how do you go about it? HelloSociety has already been mentioned, but there are many micro-influencer collectives and services that you can connect with personally or professionally.
There are many different kinds of influencers: activists, trendsetters, connected people, experts, educators, and the downright charismatic.
To make the best use of an influencer connection, the most important thing to remember is that influencers are people, too. It helps if you have a connection of some sort to their topic and want to work with them on a project they’ll actually be interested in.
You can start by finding the type of people that you’d like to work with and contacting them directly. If you know them and would like their recommendation, then you can make a personal connection. If they only deal with brands or business matters through a service, then they will tell you how to do that.
If the influencer you want to work with is so small that they haven’t even considered that they are an influencer, then you may get them at a cheaper rate-and make a genuine connection with them as you both grow in influence.
Friendly connections go a long way in the online world. Think about how many times you’ve seen your favorite bloggers promoting each other’s work—it all started by one or the other reaching out and establishing a genuine, valuable connection.
You can do that, too! Just be courteous and respectful when you reach out and make sure you’re clear about what you’re looking to accomplish. Check out our handy outreach email template for more tips.
How Do I Contact Influencers?
Just like there are many kinds of influencers, there are also many different ways of connecting with influencers. There are well over a hundred different influencer marketing vendors across five categories, which can make approaching them a little intimidating.
To start off with, you want to focus on the “discover” category, which basically means finding the people who will best work with your brand. Buzzsumo and Anewstip are examples of services to help do this, but there are others, too.
Depending on your needs, there are lots of small companies that will be able to meet your demands for actually connecting with influencers—search based on what you want. TRIBE is a good example of a company that deals with both brands and individual influencers. There are other options like gnackapp, and MAVRCK, or even vendors with specific interests like the Professional Travel Bloggers Association. Just like you need to find the right influencer (or brand) for you, you need to find a vendor that works as well.
How Is Influencer Marketing Different?
Influencer marketing is different from other forms of social media marketing. That’s because content is part of the package—you’re not just creating an ad and slapping it up somewhere; you’re asking a real person to talk about what you do. If you want to work well with influencers, you need to allow them to have creative freedom to talk about whatever it is you’re selling in their own way.
And that means that you have to carefully pick the influencers that you work with to make sure that they are people who genuinely have an affinity for your brand (or if you’re an influencer yourself, that they’re a brand you have a genuine affinity with).
Why Is Important to Get an Influencer Match?
Having that genuine connection is critical to how influencer marketing works. If you don’t like a product or service, but you’re promoting it, it’ll show in how you talk about it and your audience won’t be keen to try it out for themselves.
As an author, you might be either an influencer or calling on influencers to help you. Let’s look at two examples.
As an influencer, maybe a manufacturer of notepads like Moleskine will approach you. Great—it’s not hard to write a blog or some Facebook posts about the importance of always having a notebook with you. You may have a real, authentic love of these classic notebooks, which will show through when you write about how you use them and suggest that others do the same.
As your own brand—say, a fantasy author with a series to promote—then finding someone who is a fan of the genre and knows about you means they will be able to produce some great content promoting your work. This is where working with book bloggers is especially important—book review bloggers can have a lot of influence in their circles, and connecting with them is a great way to help you promote your writing.
Regardless of whether you’re the influencer or the brand, f you don’t spend time making sure you are a good match, then the recommendation won’t seem as genuine, and won’t be as effective. That isn’t to say it won’t be effective at all—especially for micro-influencers. Even if there isn’t a real connection for the influencer, people who are fans of that influencer may also become a fan of your brand for supporting them…and view your brand in a positive light.
However, if you take care to match the influencer with the brand, there will be a better result.
What Else Can I Do on My Own?
Remember to carry on with the traditional forms of influence, too. Make connections—talk to people. If you have genuine connections with people who like you and your stuff on Facebook, via blogs, or on Twitter, reach out to them. Offer to help them out in some way—if you do a favor for them, they’re more likely to help you out in return…and you both get to grow your brands and audience.
Reach out to bloggers you like and respect and offer to write a guest post for them. Most bloggers have a busy schedule and would welcome a break, and guest posting is a great way to help increase your own influence while establishing more good connections in your field.
Working with influencers is a great way to achieve word of mouth. You can scale for influencers, but the rise of micro-influencer collectives and their better performance over huge influencers means that influencer strategy is no longer just in the realm of big business. Small companies and individuals can now take full advantage.
Why You Should Use Influencer Marketing
Whether you want to become an influencer to grow your social base and make some money or use influencers to grow your own brand, influencer marketing is a great way to drive word of mouth, increase brand awareness, grow your audience organically, and drive sales. Working with influencers offers a great return on investment, and can be scaled to meet your needs, whatever they are.
Influencer marketing is based on people, and people aren’t going anywhere. The earlier you invest in people, the more chance you have to grow together.
About the Author
Uninspired by the never-ending talk of “vanity metric”’ in the world of digital marketing, Magnate was founded as the “Social-First” marketing agency.
On the very rare occasion he isn’t watching Step Brothers in his spare time, you’ll find Zachary in the thick of social platforms, learning what makes us tick. This is driven by a fascination (perhaps a slight obsession…) with market trends and consumer behaviors.
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