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Influencer marketing seems to be the new buzzword marketers are throwing around these days, but believe it or not, the principle behind it has been with us since time immemorial. It all comes down to that most basic of human nature, we always want what they’ve got.

What is Influencer Marketing

Remember when you were a kid and you went to a friend’s place who had the latest greatest toy, or the guy at school who always had the best shoes.

You would go back home and start nagging your parents to get them for you, or at least drop massive hints about what should be at the top of your birthday or Christmas wish list.

Well, that’s influencer marketing, just on a much smaller scale (and which probably annoyed the crap out of your parents).

But what is the actual definition for an influencer exactly? It’s a highly respected individual in a niche who has demonstrated skill and knowledge in their field, and who also has an expansive social media influence via a large follower base.

In the past, your typical influencers were celebrities, such as a sporting hero championing a particular brand of shoe, or a comedian assuring us that this is the only brand of coffee for him. Bloggers who have attracted a large online following could also fall into the influencer category. Other personalities who can be powerful influencers are journalists, business analysts, and book authors.

Influencers in one form or another have lived among us for a long time now. We’ve been seeing them on TV, in newspapers, magazines, and on billboards for years. Sure, we know that sprinter who can do 100 in less than 10 is getting paid gobs of money to say how fantastic, wonderful, useful, and great some products or services are, but it still manages to get a lot of bums off couches and into the shops.

Now we have a new kind of celebrity, ones who somehow manage to attract a larger than normal following of online subscribers – and quite a few have accounts with many millions of devoted fans. They speak, and the profits come rolling in.

Influencer marketing is becoming such a thing that even the FTC is sitting up and taking notice, and warning major influencers that they best keep it ethical… or face the consequences.

Why Use an Influencer?

Influencers have already become experts at creating a large following of devoted fans who eagerly await the next piece of compelling content: telling them what to buy, where to go, or how to finally shift that last few pounds.

Successful businesses have always known about the power of word of mouth, but influencer marketing takes word of mouth and adds a whole new level or even a ton of levels.

Because with the right influencer any business can reach out to literally millions of potential new clients or customers in one fell swoop. Plus, if you have done your job correctly, it’s a crowd of devoted fans who are already interested in what you have to offer.

It’s the answer to ad fatigue – the inability for traditional advertisements to attract consumers’ attention – and a powerful new way to market products.

But if you’re going to be reaching out to millions of new leads with influencer marketing strategies then you must ensure that you are using the right influencer for the job, and make sure that you have a great follow-up system once the prospect is firmly entrenched in your sales funnel.

1. Where to Start

The first item on the agenda is to establish your goals. Are you looking for more traffic to a website, want to create more awareness for your brand, or do you want sign-ups to your email list? Outline exactly what you want to achieve, and determine your KPIs before you start the search for a suitable influencer.

2. Find Your Influencers

You need to find influencers who are leaders in your particular niche as it is these who will have the greatest influence over the target market you are trying to ‘influence.’

Start with who you know. If you’ve been around for a while and already have some followers you may already have access to a few major influencers. As they have already proven loyalty to your brand it’s a fairly easy sell to get them to say “yes” to working with you on your next campaign.

The criteria for choosing a suitable influencer are relatively simple. Your preliminary research should show that they are actively engaged on their channels on a topic relevant to your market. Their posts must also show lots of activity and engagement from their fanbase as this will give you a good idea that they have real followers and haven’t padded their numbers artificially.

3. Start Interacting

Rather than just jump right in and start asking for favors or offering payment try engaging with your chosen influencers. Share their posts, comment on their Facebook page. Choose posts that aren’t so crowded with comments, or have so far received little interactions as this will help you get noticed more quickly.

Share some of your own helpful information, perhaps from past experience, or ask a few pertinent questions.

4. Make Direct Contact

Once you have successfully engaged with the influencer and have gained their attention it’s time to make direct contact. Craft a response which shows your appreciation for their knowledge and expertise – without being cheesy and shallow – but most importantly clearly state the mutual benefits you will both receive should they choose to start working with you.

5. Maintain the Flow

From here it’s important that you continue to be active in the influencers social channels to further build on the relationship and be sure to thank them and show appreciation for any content they share of yours.

When you have your army of influencers working for your brand it’s important you develop strategies to quantify the impact your influencer relationships are having on your business. Build up a toolset that will allow you to monitor shares and mentions and give you an idea of the overall sentiment for your brand in the marketplace.

Do you have your own strategies for building influencer relationships? Please leave your ideas in the comments below. I’d love to hear what you have to say.

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