84% of global consumers place more trust in word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family than in other forms of advertising, according to a 2013 report from research firm Nielsen. And this marks a 6% increase from Nielsen’s 2007 report.
The results from the report show that modern day customers place higher expectations on reliable marketing messages they receive, compared to more traditional forms of advertising, such as billboard, TV and radio ads, which they generally recognise as paid advertisement.
With the growing use of social media, this shift in consumers’ perspectives makes word-of-mouth marketing spread faster and reach larger numbers of audiences, which results in the rise of influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is the process of identifying and engaging individuals who have influence over potential buyers in your industry. These influencers have the ability to drive traffic to your site, increase your social media exposure and flat-out sell your product or service through their recommendations or stories about their experiences.
Following are some fundamentals of an influencer marketing campaign.
The first step in any influencer marketing initiative is to identify the thought leaders who have the most influence over your target market. The top influencers vary for every brand, so the criteria to identify them will differ based on the nature of your business and your target audience. In general influencers should:
After identifying the influencers, you should monitor their activities on their social networks, blogs and other platforms. Then you need to be familiar with their voices and the types of content they usually engage with, as well as measure the level of engagement they earn from their followers. This will enable you to narrow your list to the influencers who are the most active, relevant and influential in an area of interest to your target audiences.
Now you need to establish a connection and develop a mutual trust relationship with the refined list of influencers. This could be done by following them on social media, sharing their content, commenting on their blogs and/or engaging them in relevant conversations whenever possible.
After identifying the influencers with the greatest potential to influence your target audiences and starting a relationship with them, the next step is having them to engage with your brand. There are several approaches, which includes:
When some influencers do not respond to your first engagement attempt, this might mean that this particular offer is not of interest, but a future one might be. So you should continue working on the relationship and try using alternative engagement approaches, before getting them off from the key influencer list. However if the influencers continually ignore your attempts to establish a relationship or specifically request you not contact them again, then you should remove them from the list and move on to the next one.
Influencer marketing works because social media allows word-of-mouth marketing at scale. When brands find the right influencers for their campaigns and take the time to develop strong relationship, then positive results will be within reach.