If anything has become more apparent to marketers this year, it’s the value of reaching potential customers through influencers. This is an absolute must when it comes to your marketing strategy — in fact, according to Leverage Marketing, 49 percent of buyers rely on recommendations from influencers when making purchasing decisions.
Why might that be? For one thing, influencers are people — even though they are building their businesses on the backs of their social media followings, they are still individuals — and word-of-mouth is still one of the most reliable forces when it comes to marketing.
Additionally, the most effective influencers are the most trustworthy. They know not to endorse products or services that they wouldn’t actually use themselves, which in turn encourages followers (AKA your potential customers) to feel at ease allowing them to guide their buying decisions.
Now that you know the positives of working with influencers, how can you get started? Here are 4 very effective ways to connect your brand with influencers and reach more customers.
Use an “influencer finder” platform.
Social media platforms use algorithms to track what we like and what content we interact with and use that data to make recommendations for pages and accounts for us to follow. So if you’re on social media (especially Instagram) to any extent, you can likely name at least a few influencers off the top of your head. Either you follow them out of your own interest, you’ve heard of them because your friends support them, or you’ve simply seen their pages in your recommendations.
That being said, there is an infinite amount of influencers out there. You might be missing out on connecting with a really valuable individual with plenty of connections to your intended audience, simply because you’ve personally never heard about them.
Thankfully, there are many platforms, like Sideqik, out there that you can use to find the best social media influencers for your industry. Some of them even feature searchable marketplaces, so you can narrow down your list of potential influencers to work with based on your segmentation.
Mention them in guest blog posts.
Blogging is one of the fundamental ways to get quality traffic to your website and help you maintain long-term results by establishing your voice (and your business) as an authority in your field. That being said, if you’re not mentioning and linking to influencers in your blog posts, you’re under-utilizing an excellent opportunity to connect with them.
By mentioning them in your own content, you’re giving yourself an organic introduction to the influencer. That’s exactly what marketing expert Jeff Bullas did when he wanted to connect with influencer Neil Patel:
“I wanted to interview a legend (Neil Patel) on my marketing podcast. He’s not an easy guy to get a hold of and was looking for a way to persuade him to get on.
“Me being a blogger, I naturally use his blog posts as resources within some big blog articles. I sent him an email and told him what I wanted, how I was a fan, and how I mentioned his articles in many places. Within a few minutes, I had him scheduled for that weekend to do an interview.”
If you’re looking to connect with an influencer, but don’t know exactly how yet, mentioning them organically in a blog post is a great way to get your foot in the proverbial door.
Succinctly demonstrate how you can provide value for them.
Of course, it needs to be said that many influencers require some sort of financial transaction to directly engage with or promote a brand online. Influencers earn money through their social media followings — they put a lot more effort into social media posts than casual users ever would. In fact, some may earn thousands of dollars or more on just one Instagram post alone. And because those channels are the means by which they earn a living, they work hard to create engaging, relevant content that builds a connection with their followers.
But that also means they get a lot of one thing: spammy, ill-thought-out PR pitches. So when you’re cold-emailing an influencer, chances are, that’s just one of a dozen pitches they’re looking at that day. How can you set yourself apart?
The answer is simple: demonstrate how you can provide them value. Personalize your pitch email so they can tell you’re actually familiar with their brand and following, and not just reaching out to hundreds of influencers with the same basic pitch template. If you can demonstrate how your product or service will benefit their followers, they are much more likely to respond positively. After all, influencers need content — help them as much as they are going to help you.
Reach out on LinkedIn and be clear about your intentions.
LinkedIn is a great way to find and connect with influencers in the B2B world. If you’re not having luck connecting with them directly, try joining industry groups that they are a part of, and build your network so that you may have more connections in common. Then, once you’re connected, send a nice message that clearly states why you wanted to connect with them.
Of course, not every influencer is going to want to work with your brand — and that is okay. The best you can do is be genuine and upfront about what you’re looking for, and you’re much more likely to build a solid relationship that will benefit the both of you in the long run.
The reason influencer marketing works is simple: customers put their faith in other people they trust, and one good review from a trustworthy source can do wonders for driving web traffic and sales. The less spammy and more genuine you can be when reaching out to influencers, the better off they will be for your brand—and, in turn, you will be for theirs.
By Ryan Gould
Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services
An expert search, social and content marketer, Ryan leads Elevation Marketing’s digital strategy department, helping brands achieve their business goals, such as improving sales and market share, by developing integrated marketing strategies distinguished by research, storytelling, engagement, and conversion. With a proven track record of energizing brands, engaging audiences and managing multidisciplinary marketing teams, Ryan is a respected expert in achieving consistent results through creative design, thought-provoking narratives and innovative problem-solving.