Influencer marketing has been a hot topic of every social media marketing conference for the past few years, but that doesn’t automatically mean you should do it too. Just like any other marketing activity, creating a successful influencer marketing campaign requires strategic thinking and planning how the activities are aligned with your brand story and business goals.
Do you remember AIDA model for marketing? If you don’t, shame on you and now it’s about time to refresh your memory. AIDA describes the stages of a buyer journey from Attention and Interest to Desire and Action. Just like any other content marketing campaign and content should focus on at least one of those stages, the same applies to influencer marketing campaigns. There are different groups of influencers, such as employees, celebrities, and customers that you can work with and help potential customers moving from Attention all the way to Action stage and conversions.
Ask yourself and your team how the campaign aligns with the buyer journey and what goals it will achieve. Perhaps you are launching a new product and looking to build awareness. Or you are looking to improve conversion rates of your website and would like to gather and display social proof.
The goals of an influencer marketing campaign are always business and context specific and also somewhat different if you are planning to build an internal employee advocacy program. However, your influencer marketing campaign should target at least one of these four goals:
- Build brand awareness and strengthen brand image.
- Increase social engagement and interactions.
- Improve conversions (e.g., newsletter subscribers, free trial sign ups, purchases, etc.).
- Gain customer insight and data.
Build awareness and strengthen brand image
Are you launching a new product or service? Influencer marketing campaigns are an excellent way to build brand awareness. As consumers, we trust peer reviews and recommendations over branded content, and algorithms of social media services increasingly prioritise authentic content from our friends and network. On average, posts by our friends and peers have a higher engagement (more likes and comments), and therefore they spread further.
What’s the best way to get started?
For inspiration, think of how new skateboarding brands have been launched long before the age of social media. The best way to build awareness for a new skateboarding brand is to tap into brand ambassadors, in other words, local skaters enthusiastic about your product and influential within their community, and give away your product in exchange for grassroots promotion. Images and videos with a neighbourhood superstar using your branded board sparks attention and discussions within the community.
Just like it requires insight to identify the most influential skaters from the parks of London or New York, the same applies to social media. Whereas a skateboard brand marketer in the 90s would have probably needed to be a skateboarder to gain insight, thankfully there are plenty of ways to find influencers in the digital age – even if you are new to the industry. Here are a few ideas:
- Use tools like BuzzSumo to identify influential people talking about the topic related to your business on social channels.
- Search for LinkedIn and Facebook groups related to your topic and list users who spark engagement (likes, comments, and shares).
- Browse questions in Quora to find active users with plenty of upvotes.
- Engage with well-known bloggers and ask them to review your product. BuzzSumo can help you here too.
- Launch a crowdfunding campaign in Kickstarter to find your first group of customers and collaborate with the most enthusiastic ones.
If you are lucky and already have customers, the steps are somewhat easier:
- Ask your customers to give feedback and share product ideas with a specific hashtag.
- Reward the best ones with an add-on to your current product or provide them with a coupon to purchase your services at a discount.
- Use tools like Flockler to gather, analyse, and measure the most popular content and to identify who are the most engaged and influential users sharing the content.
- Amplify the most popular content by sharing, commenting, and liking it and measure which pieces of content are resonating with your target audience and customers.
- Build a tribe of the most influential customers and launch influencer marketing campaign where you co-create content together with your audience.
For more inspiration on how to get started, learn how to launch an influencer marketing campaign.
Increase engagement and interactions
As mentioned earlier, the algorithms of social media services prioritise content from our friends and peers, and lately, Facebook has been testing a new version of News Feed separating the posts from friends and pages we follow.
Unfortunately, changes like this result in a decrease of organic reach and engagement for branded content. A smart strategy of Facebook encouraging brands to pay for the eyeballs, but a challenging one for companies with low to medium-sized marketing budgets.
Let's assume you do not have deep pockets – what’s the best way to increase engagement and interactions?
A quick win used to be organising competitions asking people to comment on a post, but Facebook is actively demoting Pages using that tactic.
That tactical move being left out, I’d recommend two strategies we’ve seen working in the past:
1) Amplify the content shared by your customers:
Are your customers sharing feedback and experiences while using your product? Retweet and repost the content through your branded channels – customers will love it, like the post, and comment it. All those interactions are visible to a customer’s network of friends and peers encouraging them to engage with the content, and the more engagement, the higher the total reach of your content. A simple recipe for success.
For inspiration, learn how Hapag-Lloyd Cruises promotes the content created by their customers.
2) Ask customers to share a story about someone they care about:
Social media services prioritise the content getting interactions, e.g., likes and comments, faster than an average post and especially if the content is shared with a specific group of people connected to each other. A good example is a post on LinkedIn getting likes and comments from people you and the person sharing the content are both connected with – that post will be shown at the top of the feed whereas posts with low engagement are at the bottom or might not be shown at all.
Therefore, the ultimate winning strategy is to ask customers share a story mentioning their loved ones or someone they think highly of. It is very likely that these two and their social networks are intertwined, and the post gets priority in the feed.
With improving conversions, we are moving to Desire and Action stages of the AIDA model. As goals are general, the definition of conversion is always business and context specific. For example, there are two different conversions for Flockler: 1) Someone signing up for our free trial through our website 2) Someone downloading our influencer marketing checklist via social media advertising and leaving their email address. In social media, because of the context, the download is the only conversion we are looking to achieve. We rarely ask people to sign up for our free trial as people are mostly looking for entertaining and exciting content while browsing social feeds.
Back to topic: how to use influencers and their content to improve conversions?
The first option is to collaborate with celebrities and link your products to their social content. Some social media services enable users to tag links to images and others to add links to description texts. Word of warning: this approach might put off some of the followers of an influencer if there’s no transparency about your commercial relationship, and if it is just a one-off marketing stunt.
The second option is to ask the influencer to mention your Facebook Page or Instagram profile. If the content on your profile is relevant, entertaining, and interesting, driving traffic to your profile page should increase the number of fans and followers. However, there’s another reason why to do it: you can retarget your social media advertising based on the visits alone. And here’s a truly hidden gem: you can even retarget Facebook advertising for users who visited your Instagram profile!
The third option and the most direct approach is to embed social media content on your product page and use it as a social proof. On average, the conversion rates are 20-30 % higher when social content is displayed at the moment of purchase helping visitors to move from Desire to Action.
For more inspiration, learn how to add a social media feed to your website.
Gain customer insight and data
Customer data and CRM. Just mentioning those words might cause a panic attack.
I feel you.
Maybe you’ve been part of an everlasting project to set up a new CRM or have spent an endless amount of money, time, and resources integrating data from CRM to other business-critical tools like your inventory management system. Whatever causing shivering, the heartbreaking part is that the data stored in a traditional CRM is by default outdated when you open a customer’s profile.
But here’s why you feel lucky reading this blog post:
Customer data obtained through social channels and from multiple touchpoints is real-time, always up-to-date, and gives you a view of the customer’s life. Analysing your customers' content and network will enable you to predict their behaviour in the future. Instead of a purchase history on your website, you’ll have an overview of customers' interests outside your services.
And it’s not just the profile of one customer. It’s the combined data of the content created by influencers where you will find patterns emerging. Holiday Club Resorts, a European hotel group, analyses the data and images shared by customers to predict what type of content will spark attention and engagement. If a significant portion of the most engaged and influential customers are sharing similar content or they are interested in specific topics, designing and sharing resembling content increases the likelihood that it resonates well with your audience too.
What can you do with the data? Here are a few ideas:
- Provide personalised services and communications based on customer’s data
- Create highly targeted advertising in different channels
- Identify themes and trends that make your customers tick
- Gather ideas for future content marketing campaigns
- Gain insight and ideas for product and service development
Isn't the data alone a reason to create an influencer marketing campaign?