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Lets start off with discussing what a social media influencer actually is. Simply put, a social media influencer is a person who is able to carry influence over others, and they wield that power on social media. Historically, celebrities were the bread and butter of influence marketing, but as social media has evolved, a "regular" person has gained the ability to be become a celebrity in the digital space. How does that happen? They build a loyal following who are fully engaged in what they have to say, so their endorsement of a business, product, and/or service goes a long way.

Why would you want to identify and work with your social media influencers? As you build relationships with social media influencers who are in the same industry as you, you build up the potential to leverage that relationship in the future and that influencers dedicated followers as a way to promote your business and ultimately increase sales. Considering 84% of people either somewhat or completely trust recommendations from friends, family, and colleagues, having a social media influencer by your side can deliver powerful results. With that in mind, here is how you can go about identifying and working with your social media influencers:

How To Identify Relevant Social Media Influencers

Social Light sheds some light (no pun intended) on a few avenues you can explore to identify social media influencers. Here is a break down:

  • Brand Advocates - Look on Social Media for people who are already talking about your brand. If they already love your brand and what you do without you pushing them, they can make a great social media influencer. Another option is to compile a list of your satisfied customers, even if they aren't talking about you on social media, but might be willing to with a little push from you.

  • Existing Followers - Take a look through your existing followers and see if they have a large enough following related to your industry. If someone is already following you on social media, it's easier to try to build a relationship with them to turn them into an influencer versus someone who isn't following you.

  • Niche Targeting - While this option will take time and money, it is something to consider. You can scour social media for target influencers in your industry who have a large audience. One thing to note here is you should plan on paying a sponsorship fee to these influencers if there is no existing relationship in place between them and your brand.

How To Work With Your Social Media Influencers

Especially if you are going the niche targeting route and reaching out to potential influencers who have no relationship with your brand, kick off the process by building a rapport with that person. This can be accomplished by retweeting and/or sharing that persons content on a regular basis to in effect, flatter that person before you approach them.

Compensation is sometimes required when working with social media influencers. This can come in the way of direct compensation, free products or services, or even a commission on the clients or sales brought to your brand by them. Often commission is used when receiving sponsored tweets or posts about your brand. The more your influencers feel rewarded, the more effort they'll put in with promoting your brand.

Once you begin building a relationship with potential influencers, here are some options for working with them:

  • Sponsored Tweet or Post - Sponsoring a tweet or post is one of the more common ways of working with a social media influencer. You could, for example, ask your influencer to test out your product or service, take a picture, and share it on social media. Or you could even supply them with an image and simply ask them to share it on social media. Twitter and Instagram are often used for this method of working with your social media influencers, but you can also sponsor videos on YouTube. In this example, a fashion entrepreneur shared a photo of a watch from Daniel Wellington on Instagram:

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  • Gifting - Giving free products or services to your influencers is not only a great way to build a relationship, but it also gives you leverage for getting exposure from that influencer. They can either post on their social media channels about the products or services they've received, or they can start writing reviews, sharing your content, and so on in return. Here is a great example of how Yamamay got great exposure by gifting some goodies to Miss Universe:

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  • Giveaways - Here is a cool fact: 90% of bloggers want to do contests and giveaways with their readers. So instead of you giving free products or services away directly to influencers for them to keep, you can still supply the products or services, but they in return use it for contests and giveaways with their readers. This is an awesome way to get exposure for your brand, as all of your influencers followers will be fighting for the chance to win your goodies. Here is a great example of a social media influencer doing a giveaway:

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  • Videos - Considering videos are the most shared type of media online, this is a great option for working with your social media influencers. In fact, 4X as many consumers would prefer to see a video about a product versus read about it, and brand exposure increases by 28% when consumers are exposed to video content.

    So whether you're monetarily compensating an influencer or giving them free products or services, having them do a video review or even sponsoring a video can get you exposure to a whole new audience, while at the same time giving you content to share on your social media channels and website. In this example, Loot Crate sponsored a video from PewDewPie, and it got over 9 million views!

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