Finding and Using Influencers

Imagine that I own a company which makes ice cream. If I told you that I make the most wonderful ice cream in the world, you’d probably have some doubts about the objectivity of that opinion. If several complete strangers told you that I make the best ice cream in the world, you’d be more inclined to believe them. If Ben & Jerry—two authorities on the subject—told you that I make the best ice cream in the world, that opinion would be very believable. In that scenario, Ben & Jerry are authoritative opinion influencers.

No matter what your business, identifying influencers is key to creating an effective marketing strategy. Finding a third party to promote your product is impactful; finding a third party who is an expert in the field, speaks with authority, and affects opinion, is priceless. Author and marketing professional, Jay Baer, has said, “True influence drives action, not just awareness,” and true influence today is almost exclusively on social media.

To identify influencers for your business, you’ll need to do some research. There are many types of influencers and some even overlap; they might be bloggers, Instagrammers, YouTubers, authors, or celebrities. Get on social media and look at hashtags relevant to your brand to see the types of conversations taking place around your topic, and who is having them. Once you get to clicking, you’ll be able to see which posts generate the most interaction and who is hosting the conversation.

Look at the profiles on those hosting the conversations for more information on their background. Decide for your purposes what will constitute a viable influencer. Is it their number of social media followers? Do they have an education which qualifies them? Are they published authors? Have they won awards? Is it their length of time in the industry? These are influencer attributes you will need to decide based on your goals.

It is also possible to enlist the help of a professional service. Some of the most popular services include, Brandwatch Audiences, Traackr, Keyhole, and Buzzsumo.

Once you’ve identified influencers, developing relationships is crucial. Send them your product; share their posts; engage with them through interesting, thoughtful responses and comments to posts and blogs. Be of some value to influencers, perhaps by expanding their audience through your network, or offering them new projects. It is important to get yourself noticed by them before you ask them to do something for you. Remember that an influencer relationship is an exchange and not a one-sided relationship, there must be something in it for them too.

Finally, you can create influencers from your own social network. Find those who love your product and encourage them to send photos or videos to post on your site; sponsor contests and giveaways; send new products to your top fans. Turn passionate fans into a movement, like Ikea Hackers, a site unaffiliated with Ikea, where fans promote the embellishment of Ikea products. Once there’s buzz about your product, influencers, who may not normally do product promotion, may be open to writing about a buzz that’s apparently trending, which will still promote your product.

If you would like to identify and utilize influencers to drive your brand, the professionals at McFadden/Gavender Advertising can do it for you.