Let’s face it, finding a business that you can trust is a hard thing to do. I’m not saying that your business is untrustworthy—I’m just saying that I wouldn’t trust you… yet. So the question becomes, how do you get me to trust you and give you that initial chance that will show me what an honest business you are? What makes me pick your business over another? You need some brand evangelists: People outside of your business, ideally with some type of following, that love your product and want to tell everyone how truly awesome it and you are (think Jared from Subway). You need a middle man to convince me to give you a chance. You need key influencers.
A key influencer is a person who holds authority over a certain group or topic due to their specific expertise, their following, past experience, etc. Influencer marketing involves targeting specific people who are influential to your target market (hence, key influencers) and working through them to promote your brand via word of mouth and social sharing. By showing your value to trusted experts who like you and will share your products or story, you are generating buzz and engagement from people who will be way more compelling in the eyes of those they influence than your company may be by itself. Think I’m crazy? A 2012 study by Bazaarvoice found that over half of Millennials, aka consumers ages 18-34, trust a stranger’s opinion online over those of their own friends and family.
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So you need key influencers and you need ‘em fast. How do you get them, though? Here are 4 steps to net you some influencers.
Step 1: Do Your Homework
In order to find influencers, you first have to know your audience. Who do they listen to? Who do they consider to be an expert? If you perform an internet search on your topic or service, who comes up first? Are there any names that stand out?
Also consider what social media site(s) you will use to promote your business. Who has a large following on this network for this topic? Are these people actively sharing on social media sites?
Look for someone who is highly engaged with those they influence — carrying on conversations with their followers. A good influencer will create engagement and excitement among their community about your business. Look for someone who doesn’t just say something and walk away.
Step 2: Make a List (and yes, it is a good idea to check it twice)
After doing your research, compile a list of the people you would like to target. If you are working with a team, have the other member(s) do the same and compare your lists. Names that are included on a majority of these lists are probably good targets. Discuss the others on the list to narrow it down to a manageable number. For an example, start with 20-30 names on a list and then narrow that down to the top 10 (the platinum level). Then create a second list using the people who did not make your top 10 (the gold level) in case some of your platinum level influencers don’t pan out.
Of course, you don’t have to name your levels platinum and gold, etc., but you’d be a whole lot cooler if you did.
Step 3: Determine What You Need and What You Can Give
The next step in this process will involve planning your pitch to these potential influencers. What are you or your company prepared to give in order to have these people help you spread your word? Exclusive space on your website or social media channels? Will you pay these people to help you promote your product or service? Do you have partners who could help? You are asking this person to use their influence to promote your product or service. Obviously, the best option will be to find someone who is in love with you or your product and will do it for free, but in today’s noisy world, there’s not always a product or service that stands out. What will you give them in return? Quid pro quo, my friends, quid pro quo.
On the other hand, think about exactly what you want from these influencers. Will you require a certain number of exclusive articles or blog posts from them? Do you expect them to interact with your company or your followers on a specific network or a certain number of times per day, per week, etc.?
Sit down with your team and determine what this person will need to offer as well as what you are willing to give. Role-play your pitch with a friend or team member to help prepare for any possible response and be as ready as you can.
Step 4: Reach Out to Potential Influencers
After preparing, it is time to put your plan into action. Decide who will contact your list and begin reaching out and talking turkey. If possible, face-to-face meetings or calls will work best. If you are unable to do this, try contacting them with as much of a personal touch as you can.
Does your business use influencer marketing techniques? How do you find influencers?
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