Did you ever have popular classmates who would show up one day toting the latest fad-a-ma-jig and suddenly the entire class just had to have it too?
In essence, that’s a form of influencer marketing.
Like other marketing buzzwords, you may have heard the term “influencer” before, and wonder what it is, how businesses and brands utilize them, and why.
So, what is an influencer, anyway?
Whether those kids in school were just showing off a cool new product or extolling the virtues of how it helped them solve a problem, they inspired others to get in on the action.
After all, word of mouth is still the most powerful form of marketing there is.
Influencers understand this, so they use their digital platforms to inspire their (usually large) following to take a next step based on the content they create. They understand the kinds of content their followers like to consume, and the businesses and brands they might like to support. Then, they relay their messages accordingly.
Influencers can help companies in a few different ways. These often include connecting their audience with that of the brand to extend the reach of the brand’s message, promote its products or services, and encourage others to engage with them.
Mostly though, influencers work to advocate.
They work with a business to tell the human aspect of a story; how the brand or its product helped resolve something, and the values they stand for. Influencers who work in this capacity extend messages that resonate and ultimately drive action.
A two-level approach
Where do influencers come from?
Many in the B2C space become evangelists for certain companies. On a local level, perhaps they live in the area and directly endorse a product or service. These external influencers can generate awareness and positioning for a business in a new or existing community.
It’s long been a good practice to get your own employees’ input for social media and blog content, and because buyers typically want to know the faces and the people behind the brand, having an influencer come from the internal ranks is a potent tactic.
How does it work?
The main concept behind an influencer’s work is advocacy.
But the actual nuts & bolts of it involve things like sharing articles, making promotional posts, offering viewpoints and encouraging discussions among an audience or within a specific community.
This is especially important among niche industries where the communities tend to be stronger and influencers are able to show more expertise. The idea is that an audience will find value in understanding how the business helped the influencer in a relatable, or even subtle way. Perhaps that business’s product or service was more of a supporting character than the main star of the influencer’s story, but the message still makes an impact.
Another way an influencer works is by connecting a brand’s messaging directly with the community itself. One good way this is done is by conducting interviews with staff members or top executives on a podcast, video, or in an article. In doing so, the company’s leaders become influencers themselves. Then they can create content around the story of the individual(s) within the business for a unique perspective.
Influencer marketing goes deeper than just social posts. When utilized properly, their efforts will enhance and expand the online relationships your audience has with your business through advocacy and community involvement.