Where To Look For Influencers

May 26, 2016

Although today’s consumers are growing immune to many of brands’ claims and advertisements, one type of marketing continues to perform reliably– word-of-mouth. In a landscape where the average American is bombarded with 5,000 ads a day, as reported by research firm Yankelovish, it is increasingly difficult for marketing teams to build campaigns that can cut through the noise;. Those that do are frequently met with skepticism and mistrust. Whereas only 47% of consumers say they trust brand advertising, 84% trust recommendations from colleagues, friends, and family.

There are many variations on word-of-mouth marketing strategies, from street teams to prodeals programs to influencer outreach. The basic idea is the same:; you want the trendsetters, early adopters, and trusted guides to talk up your brand and products because consumers would rather hear from them than you. MDG Advertising has found that 70% of internet users prefer learning about products through content, not advertising.

As the popularity of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, blogs, and other social media channels has increased, so has the fame of internet superstars whose talents or notoriety attract the attention of millions of eyeballs. Many marketers mistakenly assume that simply because someone has thousands of views, followers, fans, and friends, they would make a great brand ambassador for their company. Being an “influencer” has become a profession, and many brands are scrambling to recruit the internet famous to endorse their products.

Instead of relying on tools like Kred or Klout to tell you whether or not an individual would be a good influencer, focus on recruiting influencers who have a genuine connection with your brand. Their passion for your products and your industry will lend instant authenticity to every review, recommendation, and post they make on your behalf. Your goal isn’t to simply to reach A LOT of people. Your goal is to reach the right people in a way that resonates and let the conversations grow organically from there. To be a good ambassador or influencer, the right person will be someone who is relevant, credible and has good connections. However, this is easier said than done.

The hardest part of launching an effective word-of-mouth marketing program is in finding and acquiring the influencers you need to get it going. So where do you find influencers?

We have 4 suggestions for worthy recruits:

Your employees.

Your employees know your products inside and out. They live and breathe your corporate culture. They are already familiar with your ideal customer. If you’ve created a company culture where ownership, customer advocacy, and social media interaction are encouraged, your employees can be your biggest brand ambassadors. Start out by offering an employee discount and empower a select group of your employees to see what they can do to build some buzz.

As an added bonus, offering an employee discount can also improve workplace morale and increase productivity. 78% of workers who feel recognized and appreciated also feel more motivated to perform their jobs, according to Talent Cove.

Your existing customers.

Every brand has super fans. Can you already identify the customers who place orders regularly, post product reviews on your web site, like all your Facebook posts, and love trying your newest products? If not, use your loyalty program data or information from your CRM to build a list of your super users and then take a closer look. There could be bloggers, elite athletes, Instagram fashionistas, gear reviewers, or popular podcasters out there that already love your products and actively promote them. Even if a super user isn’t Facebook famous, they could be a great influencer since. 58% of consumers share positive experiences with a brand on social media. ,

Approach them to see if they’d be interested in getting special deals or perks as brand ambassadors. In return, they’ll share their positive feedback on your products within their own communities. They can brag about your customer service and speedy delivery in a way that wouldn’t ring true coming from your marketing team or a professional influencer. Remember to thank them for their contributions and acknowledge what they do for you to keep them engaged.

Other professionals in your industry.

Whether you’re in the business of selling home goods, beauty supplies, hardware, or outdoor gear, chances are you’re not alone. Your industry is an entire ecosystem with high-end executives who have deep pockets at one end and professional end users (think home decorators, beauticians, contractors, and ski instructors) at the other. Somewhere in between, there are thousands of scrappy sales clerks, patient customer service representatives, social media marketers, and hundreds of other workers interacting with customers. Each individual in your industry has their own circle of influence, and they are already have a deep understanding of the pain points your product solves.

Recruiting influencers from within your industry is as simple as teaming up with non-competing businesses to form mutually beneficial relationships, marketing campaigns, and corporate purchase programs. As an added bonus, they might even throw a discount your way, too.

Association members.

Anyone passionate and motivated enough to join an association has a genuine interest in your field. They’re also a person who has demonstrated interest in networking and community building which fuels word-of-mouth. Many associations and membership groups also have infrastructure in place so that they can communicate with their members. By forming a relationship with a few influential decision-makers within the group, you can reach hundreds or thousands of members through the association’s newsletters, emails, and social media networks. If you partner up with a professional association like the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association or the Association of Design Education, the association members can also recommend your products to their clients which gives extra legs to your word-of-mouth campaign.

Once you’ve recruited influencers from any of these four sources, give them tools they need to help them succeed. In addition to products or discounts, keep them armed with prizes for giveaways, logos, high quality photographs, your newest catalog, or single use coupon codes that they can share. SheerID can verify association members, current customers, VIP lists, and company employees to make sure nobody else can access these discounts or exclusive content.

To grow your program, have two-way conversations with your brand ambassadors and regularly ask them what they’d like to see from you. Their valuable feedback can inform marketing campaigns, assist with product development, and give you a fresh perspective on your branding. Inviting participationng will also increase their ownership in the program and their interest in your products, which will improve the performance of your prodeal channel.

Maintaining relationships might require a little more time and effort than an affiliate program or throwing coupon codes in a community portal and checking off the “prodeals program” box, but the return you get on your investment will be worth it. Once you’ve found the right brand ambassadors to spark buzz, your word-of-mouth marketing strategy will be unstoppable.

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