The strongest boost a brand or company can receive is the word of mouth recommendation from influencers who love your brand. Influencer marketing is the art of using celebrity or expert advocates to create trust around your brand and inspire new customers to follow. Traditional marketing and advertising has long made use of celebrities to endorse products who were approached and paid for their work.

Digital marketers have the difficult job of identifying who the Internet celebrities are, particularly if the audience segment being targeted is not part of the company’s current customer base. They can look for follower counts and shares, and watch how much of the influencer’s base responds to the new content being published by the influencer.

They can research if the influencer has been used by a competitor to endorse a similar product. And they can see if the influencer already is an advcate, so it is not a far step for the influencer’s fan base to see them working with that particular busness.

Creating communities

Many people may follow celebrities to see when the next concert is, or because they want to hear what the celebrity is doing, but would not change their brand of toothpaste just because the celebrity said so.

By filtering and sifting through online personalities and their followers, you can see see if they could be a good set of potential customers for you. The online personality may draw similarly-minded people, but if they do not interact with each other as well as the influencer, there may not be an actual community there. Here are my tips for finding and building communities:

  • You can find communities of like-minded potential customers online. Once they adopt your product or brand as part of their identity, they will sell your product for you.
  • You might have spend time becoming active in your communities, building trust, gaining expertise, and authentically promote the product for the business.
  • You must reach out day after day, offering tips and help week after week, to lay the foundation for a strong community around the product or the brand.

The influencers you would like to engage are interested in fostering relationships with their audience, and promoting themselves as authentic advocates. You must look at followers and brand fit, and also the personality of the influencer you want to use.

  • Their online persona may include swearing  – but your brand is measured in its tone and voice. Even though they may have dedicated followers who love plain talk – having them represent your product or brand may not work well.
  • The influencer seems to endorse 20 products each week.  If there is minimal attention to a joined up approach, or showing how those products fit their online identity, their personality may be too diluted or broad to promote your product.

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To get away from broad appeal influencers who cannot mobilize their audience, digital marketers may need to use micro-influencers. These are online personalities, with perhaps several thousand followers, who have tuned their content stream to particular communities and themes.

It takes more work to find these themed experts, but they are working harder to appeal to their particular constituency, and as such probably have a higher level of activation percentage-wise. Coordinating multiple micro-influencers to endorse your product may actually be more cost effective than paying for one heavy hitter celebrity who has no native interest in your products.

Managing your influencers

You will need a team to manage your company’s social media channels and carefully coordinate it.  You need good timing to get the message across multiple social platforms, ensuring that content assets are present when they are due to be published, and that firestorms or controversies arising from the social channels are handled promptly, is essential.

Holding an influential position on a social media channel requires discipline and upkeep, being careful to stay on-brand and being generous to your audience. Internet personalities must have thick skins, and it may be difficult for some traditional marketers who are not used to the public eye, to adjust to negative reactions in the beginning.

If you behave in a gracious way, it will go a long way toward defusing trolls. Blocking or banning an abusive customer from your company’s community is a valid defence, especially if that person is seen abusing your other customers as well as the you.

But most importantly, in all of your online activities, make sure you remain safe.