As marketers, we create visually interesting, persuasive and compelling content in order to persuade and engage with customers. Consumers today are very skeptical and very savvy. If a savvy consumer senses a lack of authenticity they will spot it immediately and that’s not the kind of look you’re going for.
Whether you sell juices, dog food, vacation tour packages, or home services, an honest recommendation from a trusted source can outperform even your most optimized, elegantly written copy or your best video content.
And while brand-crafted content is useful and can help build trust with customers, sometimes the most influential content comes from like-minded people that your customers know and trust. People that are right in the middle of all the action surrounding that particular vertical with every ounce of authenticity, shape, and sound that your consumers are looking for.
Who are the best choices for Influencers?
These new, socially-savvy influencers often know more about social media and engaging with digital content than brands and agencies. What makes these new influencers even more powerful is the highly niche-based content they produce, and the individuals in which they attract and connect with which is often in a very specialized area as well as the fabric of true authentic relationships.
There are millions of bloggers publishing content in popular areas like; food, fitness, fashion, and entertainment. These influencers can be segmented further to reach specific consumers like parents of teens, dog lovers, runners in New York, techies in San Francisco, and Chefs in Los Angeles, you get the idea.
The concept of partnering with bloggers and other active social media users is called “influencer marketing”. It is based on the premise of finding influencers in your niche to create and distribute relevant content and share it in an authentic and transparent way.
Where do I start?
Start by finding the top blogs, try to obtain a better understanding of the environment surrounding the brand.
Influencer marketing is a waste if you are not working with the right people. It’s tempting to use definitions like unique visitors or Twitter followers as a measure of influence, however it’s important to look deeper into your social media metrics than simply the surface level.
Here are five key elements to look for when identifying online influencers for your brand.
Look at how aligned an influencers content is with your messaging. Read through their content to get a solid sense for what kind of influencer they are.
Just because a social media influencer posts recipes doesn’t necessarily mean they are a match for an organic brand, and a tech-savvy football fan doesn’t make them a guaranteed match for your gaming app.
Are you looking for Affluent-travelers? Fashionistas? Young Moms, or Latte drinkers? Is profanity or provocativeness part of your brand’s personality?
Engagement is an indicator of how interactive a blogger’s audience is with the content. Do those readers respond, comment, and share? Do they remain still and passively watch? What percentage of readers are returning vs. new? Whats the average frequency of comments?
How much readers engage with a publisher and how often they return are indications of how meaningful those relationships are.
While not the absolutely most important metric, reach is certainly a valid consideration. However, marketers should resist the urge to only look at unique visitors as a measure of reach. Traffic and followers are only meaningful to the extent that the influencer is reaching your brand’s target audience.
For instance, if you are a hotel chain or car seat manufacturer, a travel blogger with a small reach is more influential than a food blogger with 100,000 unique monthly visitors.
It is also important to consider what other social platforms your customers visit. If you are a food or fashion brand, someone with a large following on Pinterest or Instagram might be more valuable than someone on Facebook with a large fan base.
For many verticals, there is a direct correlation between frequency and their traffic and rate of return visitors. As with marketing any website, it often takes multiple exposures to get a visitor to click and check out your site, and you want to make sure they come back.
When an influencer or content publisher is consistently posting high quality content on a regular basis, readers are more likely to return, and share that content. Bloggers who don’t post as frequently tend to have a higher rate of turnover, fewer return visitors, and overall….less loyalty.
Content marketers and influencers who have a smaller ratio of sponsored content tend to be more trusted and appear more authentic. Personal stories that include authentic use or mention of a product, service, or brand are more trusted than product reviews.
That type of content is highly engaging for readers, authentic for the content publisher/influencer, and connects that health brand sponsor to a very sincere health-related conversation among a large audience.
And remember that influencers are more than just one dimensional-one-channeled—they include those with loyal audiences on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Vine, and other social networks as well as Blogs.