Was Santa Claus the first influencer in marketing? While Coca-Cola didn’t create the holiday legend, in the 1920s they did sculpt his image as we know it today in order to sell more soda. Since then, companies have been using made-up influencer personas to trigger purchase decisions, from the Kool-Aid Man in the 1950s to today’s Geico gecko. Eventually, hiring celebrities as influencers became the norm (would Nike be as big today without Michael Jordan?).
Today, with the rise of social media, influencer marketing has entered an entirely new phase in which everyday people (or someone popular among a niche audience) can become an influencer. Here’s a look at influencer marketing, and how you can begin to build a community based around the concept.
What is Influencer Marketing?
As its name implies, influencer marketing involves marketing B2B or B2C products and services to people who are able to influence the purchasing decisions of others. This generally stems from that person’s unique expertise, popularity, or reputation. Marketing to influencers is often compared to word-of-mouth marketing; if you’re able to get these individuals talking about your product, people will listen.
Most large companies today understand the importance of influencer marketing, but rather than take the time to cultivate an authentic influencer community, they cut corners by using a paid social media influencer (can you believe Kylie Jenner makes more than $1 million per sponsored Instagram post?). While her services have no doubt sold their share of skin creams and handbags, most people see through these endorsements as advertising.
Influencer marketing in its truest form comes from nurturing brand supporters over time who regularly recommend your product or service and aren’t compensated for it, at least not financially. These types of influencers are viewed as more trustworthy than traditional advertising or paid-celebrity endorsements, eliminating – or at least reducing – all the cynicism and skepticism that comes with those forms of marketing. Some organic influence marketing examples could be a chef blogger known only to the foodie community, a popular snowboarder known only to extreme sport enthusiasts, or an esteemed physician known only within the medical community.
Benefits of Building an Influencer Community
It’s not always easy building an influencer community (which is why large companies often throw money at celebrities instead). Cultivating the community takes time and persistence. However, those that commit to it are able to create a vibrant community of dedicated influencers and brand ambassadors who will boost sales not just in the short-term, but over the long-haul. Here’s why:
Influencers Drive Engagement
Members of an influencer community typically have better engagement metrics (how actively involved others are with their content) than their peers. When they publish something online, they get more likes and generate more consumer comments, questions, direct messages, post shares, and more. When they’re promoting your brand, this translates to more traffic to your site and interest in your brand.
Influencers Build Brand Awareness
This goes hand-in-hand with engagement. Influencer engagement increases the number of post impressions (the number of times their posts are displayed in others’ social media feeds). This means that more people are seeing those posts promoting your product or service. These long-term influencer relationships boost brand awareness because of greater impressions, which circles back to higher engagement.
Influencers Increase Sales
The authenticity of an influencer community builds trust with consumers, generating excitement about your brand just as positive word-of-mouth would. Influence marketing statistics reveal that nearly 2 out of every 3 consumers trust influencer messages about a brand more than a company’s advertising about their own brand; in addition, 58% of survey respondents said they have actually purchased a product because of an influencer recommendation in just the past six months.
Five Ways to Build a Brand Influencer Community
Want to begin building an influencer community around your brand? Here are five things you can do.
1. Do Your Research
It’s important to do your homework when looking for some initial influencers who will help build your community. One item on your to-do list should be to vet your influencer wish list. Start by checking on the quality of their engagement; some influencers manufacture their following, while authentic influencers will have a high volume of genuine comments on their posts. Connecting with these types of influencers will translate into conversions.
You’ll also want to take a look at their style and voice. Not all types of influencers are going to be a good fit for your brand. The wrong influencer could even damage it. By being selective, you can begin a mutually beneficial relationship.
2. Reach Out to Brand Influencers
After you’ve solidified your wish list, it’s time to do some outreach. Be clear in your email about what your brand or service is and why you’d like to connect with them. Be straightforward and don’t waste their time; they may be getting many requests from others in your industry and will appreciate the directness.
Want to really make an impression? Put together outreach packages with samples of your product and then follow up with an email or phone call. These days, taking the time to physically send something can set you apart.
3. Determine Community Motivation
What would bring your community together the most? Are their common interests or beliefs? What are they hoping to learn? Figuring out this common thread and then amplifying it with the help of your primary social influencers will help build a strong, tighter-knit community.
4. Hold an Influencer Event
Whether it’s a webinar, podcast, hosted chat, or other online engagement, a live event with an influencer will bring your audience to you. You might also consider partnering with an influencer to host a product launch or community event, or to sponsor an event that directly impacts your industry.
Physical and virtual events like these also present a great opportunity for you to identify and build relationships with other members of your community who could help you grow your brand. And they provide value to the influencer by growing their own following. Talk about a win-win!
5. Cross Promote with Influencers
Cross promoting with brand influencers is a mutually beneficial way to help one another. This could mean appearing on one another’s podcasts; authoring content or blogs on one another’s websites; writing columns for each other’s newsletters; and attending each other’s events.
Influencer Marketing in Healthcare
It’s no surprise that influencer marketing has come to the healthcare industry. After all, medical professionals and patients alike can be skeptical of medical claims and wary of innovative new products. At Diberin Solutions, we understand the importance of healthcare influencers as a marketing technique when introducing and promoting a new product or service. As a healthcare marketing consulting firm, one of our key tactics is using influence marketing to get new medical products over that initial hump with physicians and their patients.
For numerous clients, such as BandGrip, we have successfully developed a community of influencers through outreach. We nurture relationships with influencers of health, such as renowned physicians and surgeons. Also, we find patient influencers who can advocate for the product, speaking to the ways in which their new device has changed their life. We believe influencers and health are a natural fit. And we can help grow your budding business through influencer marketing and more.
Want to learn more? Contact Diberin Solutions today.