Business Consulting

How to identify and Work with Social Media Influencers

The idea of tapping into social media influencers to help your brand  grow  has always been a popular one. Many companies, both large and small, like the idea of leveraging a social media influencer in theory, but practically they have no idea what that means or how to go about it.

Despite that fact that there are oodles of tools promising to help you find your social media influencers, you may find yourself spending time and money to identify these magical people, but no closer to meeting your marketing goals.

Starting with the basics, let’s cover:

What is a social media influencer?

This is a person who has the trust of their audience and can help both introduce you to that audience and start building relationships of your own. Now in theory we probably assume that influencers are people with huge audiences. Think Oprah Winfrey or Richard Branson. While few would argue the influence that they have, can you imagine how hard it would be to get Oprah on your side? And then if she did endorse you, could you handle the influx of business that would come your way?

Your influencer doesn’t have to be on the world scale, they simply needs to be someone who has a regular following, and a trusted opinion. Be aware that just because someone has 10,000 Twitter followers does not make them an influencer. Trust and connection with their audience are key factors in determining an influencer.

You might find that a niche mommy blogger with 1,000 loyal followers could turn out to be a very valuable influencer for your business.

Why do social media influencers help you?

We’ve all seen countless stats on the value of referrals and recommendations. Things like 9 out of 10 consumers read online reviews before making a purchasing decision, and we know that people give greater weight to recommendations from their peers.

When you work with a social media influencer you are exposing your brand to your targeted audience by someone they know, like and trust.

How to find social media influencers

Brand Advocates

The way to start an influencer program is to begin by identifying to people that are already talking about you on social media. If there are people that seem to love you and your brand without any kind of push from you, the size of their audience doesn’t matter a bit.

Next come up with a list of satisfied customers that may not be talking about you on social media, but might start with a little push.

These two groups are often classified separately as brand advocates. They may not be bloggers or have a strong reach, but if they are genuinely excited about your company and telling their friends and family, there can still be great value for you.

Explore Your Existing Followers

I noted that a large audience doesn’t make someone an influencer, but audience is a factor when selecting an influencer. So take a look through the people that are following you and see if there are any candidates. Remember it’s easier to build a relationship with someone has chosen to follow you than starting from scratch.

Though you can certainly do this manually, tools like Social Rank (free) and Followerwonk (paid) can help you narrow things down more quickly.

Niche Targeting

If you want to explore new market segments, you may want to specifically target influencers in those areas. Be prepared: this takes time and money.

You may spend $100/month on just the tools to establish an influencer list. Then you have to vet and recruit them.  When you are actively targeting influencers you should plan on paying a sponsorship fee.

Is your head spinning yet? Having social media influencers on your side can absolutely increase your engagement – some people claim up to 16 times* more engagement from influencers! But it’s not a magic solution. It’s going to take work to create an active influencer marketing program and you’ll need to stay on your toes to keep content coming their way.

Want to toss around ideas to see if this is right for you? We love to brainstorm! Set up a time to do it now.

Nicole Krug’s business, Social Light is a digital marketing agency that specializes brand and marketing strategy. Nicole helps clients hone their digital marketing strategies to bring more exposure to their brand and boost their bottom line. Prior to Social Light, Nicole spent 10 years in enterprise marketing and business development for brands as diverse as The North Face and BB&T Bank. You can view her profile HERE.

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