Influencer Marketing – How to Harness It for Your Business

By on Aug 14, 201214

Cutting through the noise and getting noticed in today's marketplace is getting increasingly difficult. People aren't trusting corporate advertising as much as they used to. They're relying on word-of-mouth more than ever to make buying decisions. A new marketing phenomenon has emerged as a result of this change.

Businesses have been getting great results and increased buzz about their products and services by tapping into influencer marketing. Simply put, influencer marketing is the concept of giving your products or services to someone who has an audience of some size and value that you'll stand to benefit from.

What you as a business stands to gain from influencer marketing is some attention from your influencer's audience and some word-of-mouth buzz from the influencer talking about your products and services.

By reaching out to influencers and getting them to talk about your products and services, you're getting around the problem of traditional marketing not working anymore. By adopting an influencer marketing strategy, you're using the power of peer reviews to sell your products and services. This post will go into detail explaining how to adopt such a strategy and why it might be beneficial for your business.

Traditional Marketing Is on the Way Out

The digital and online worlds are putting an end to traditional marketing just as quickly and decisively. Traditional marketing tactics just aren't working as well as they used to anymore, and the fundamentals are becoming outdated.

Consumers aren't paying attention to traditional marketing as much as they used to. When you look at how the buying cycle has changed, you'll see that traditional methods are simply not relevant anymore.

Buyers used to get their information from advertisements either through television, radio, newspapers, magazines, etc. Now buyers are consuming product and service information in their own way. They've turned to the Internet, peer reviews and word-of-mouth to make informed buying decisions.

Replacing the Traditional Model

Social media and digital marketing are poised to replace the old traditional marketing model. Peer-influenced marketing is on the rise and is what will continue to resonate with most consumers.

When someone is looking to make a major purchase of a new product or service, they're probably not going to make their decision based on just what a salesman or the company website tells them. The most influential people during this decision-making process are the consumer's peer network of friends and family.

What businesses need to do is develop a strategy that uses social media to create a community-oriented buying experience. Provide an extended peer network for the buyer that can provide real information and advice based on their own personal experiences with the product or service.

How to Make the Change to Influencer Marketing

Using peer influence to your advantage as part of your social media marketing strategy starts with identifying your influencers.

Who are your influencers?

An influencer is someone who is well respected. An influencer is someone who has a large peer network of people who know and trust his or her opinions. Ideally, an influencer is someone who has openly spoken out in favor of your business at some point in time.

Create a community of these influencers and give them something to talk about. How? By rewarding them through increasing their influence and reputation.

Create a Community of Influencers

Creating a community of influencers can be achieved through offering some incentive to participate. Establish a reward system among your social media community that encourages people to share feedback about your company, comment on posts, retweet messages, help others who have questions, etc.

The reason why you want to do this is because feedback and opinions from real people are more influential than anything you could say as a company. Essentially, you want to get your customers talking for you as much as possible.

Through consistent social media monitoring, you can determine who is most influential in your community based on who is contributing the most to your social media pages. These are the influencers whom you'll be rewarding later.

Rewarding Your Influencers

Through traditional marketing, influencers are often rewarded monetarily either through discounts, cash or free products and services. New marketing doesn't work that way.

In today's marketing world, customers want to be rewarded through recognition. They want to be rewarded in a way that helps them expand their network and increases their reputation. One way that you could go about this is to introduce a Facebook and Twitter Fan of the Month feature.

Whoever is the most influential during the month would become the Fan of the Month. This is where you could give them the recognition that they crave (and deserve). Create a write up about them and talk about all of the awesome things they do. Spotlight them in your Facebook cover photo or Twitter biography. Encourage your followers to follow them.

All of this will help them expand their network and increase their reputation. The recognition is their reward for being your greatest advocate throughout the month. You could stop there if you want, or you could take it a bit further and give them even more.

Get Your Influencers Talking

Rewarding influencers with free stuff isn't totally outdated. However, instead of rewarding them with a free product or service that anyone else could get, give them the VIP treatment. Try rewarding them by offering them the first look at a brand new product or service offering.

This is more meaningful since you're creating a sense of exclusivity. You're giving them the chance to experience something before anyone else does. Essentially, you're giving them bragging rights and a reason to talk about your products and services to others.

If they have a positive experience, they'll be raving about your brand new product or service, which will create buzz and have others excited to purchase it for themselves. Also, once it becomes known that your Fan of the Month occasionally gets exclusive free stuff it will have others trying even harder to achieve that recognition. And the influence marketing cycle continues.

Conclusion

Influence marketing is replacing traditional marketing because people are making buying decisions based on peer influence rather than corporate advertising. Social media is the ideal platform to launch an influence marketing campaign.

Identifying your influencers, rewarding them and getting them talking about your products and services is the foundation for a successful influence marketing campaign.

How do you feel about influencer marketing? Do you think it's one that could work for your business? Let us know in the comments!

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Matt Southern

Social Media Strategist at mattsouthern.com

Matt Southern is the Social Media Manager at Bureau, a Canadian communications firm.

With an advanced diploma in Public Relations and a B.A. in Communication Studies he's passionate about learning how to build connections with people, which translates into his work and his writing.

He specializes in helping businesses build a human connection with their audiences through integrated strategies involving social media, content marketing and search engine optimization.

You can visit his website at MattSouthern.com, where he blogs about topics that are designed to educate and provide value to small businesses looking to get more results out of their social media marketing.

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