It’s no secret that consumers now seek opinions and reviews before making a purchase than ever before. In fact, 88% of consumers consider online reviews “very influential” when purchasing a product, with only 33% trusting advertising. With this in mind it’s not difficult to see why influencer marketing is so affective and has become an integral part of a successful social and online marketing strategy.
Who are social influencers?
The definition of an influencer can vastly differ depending on your marketing objectives. Ultimately though, influencers are people who are listened to and trusted by a large audience with whom they can talk about, review and promote your brand. Influencers can be anything from celebrities, bloggers and industry analysts to vloggers, academics and podcasters.
It’s not dissimilar to a celebrity endorsement – like when some athlete says how awesome his new Nike trainers are. The difference is that it’s unlikely that you’ll need to hand any cash over in the process… but maybe a free product or two!
Seeing as Google uses our social presence as a ranking factor in our Search Engine Ranking Position (SERP), interacting with a “trusted” person on social media is comparable to getting a backlink or two from a website with a high page rank. Thus, successful social strategy = successful SEO = more traffic = more sales (If your website’s performing well!)
How to find social influencers
Finding social influencers can take a bit of time, but it’s achievable for free with Google and the social networks at your fingertips.
Before considering which influencers you’d like to work with, you need to think about what kind of audience you want to engage with. For example, if you don’t deliver products to the USA, then choosing an influencer from The States with an audience made up mostly of Americans will obviously be a waste of time. However, if your online store is against animal testing and sells beauty products, then finding a vegan beauty blogger in the UK may be a little better suited.
When you’ve decided who the right kind of social influencers are to help promote your brand, there’s a couple of ways you can get started with finding these people:
Google blogs that are related to your topic. The trick here is to find high ranking blogs which also have social accounts. As I mentioned earlier, if the website has a high page rank, it’s likely that the associated social profile is also doing well. Take a look through a few of these social profiles to see what kind of content they’re producing. If they’re regularly talking about other peoples products (and don’t sell their own!) then they may be interested in receiving a few free samples to chat about online.
A great tool for checking how influencial a person is online is Klout to find their Klout score. The score ranges from 1-100 and is calculated using 100’s of algorithms to determine how much social influence the particular user has online.
You can also check this manually by searching for them individually on the social networks and seeing how many followers they have and if their audience are actually engaging with their content.
You can search the social networks themselves for relevant people, of course. The search functionality isn’t necessarily ideal for this on most social networks, so when you do find someone relevant, try looking at their retweets to find other profiles similar to theirs. It’s still worth checking their Klout score – a large follower count doesn’t necessarily mean a profile has influence – don’t forget followers can be purchased for a pretty low price these days.
When you log in to Klout and you’ve finished adding the topics you’re interested in. Head to the “explore” tab and in the right-hand column you’ll see a list of “Top Experts” in the topics you’ve chosen. Klout has done the majority of the leg work for you here, so this is actually a pretty good place to start with finding high-profile social influencers.
How to connect with social influencers
Avoid diving straight in and asking people if they’d like to review your products in exchange for something. We’re not just looking for product reviews; we want influencers who are genuinely interested in your brand and you as a person. As with any relationship, this starts with conversation, and where better to talk than on social networks!
Follow anyone you think could be a pontential influencer and get actively involved with them. Reply, retweet and like their tweets. Draw them into conversation. There’s no need to treat it as a sales pitch, it’s merely an opportunity to talk with a like-minded person about what you love. The goal here is to get them talking about your products and retweeting your content.
Look for what kind of content they’re already sharing and begin creating similar content. You’re now targeting your content directly at social influencers instead of at a mass market. This is actually much easier: going for a refined and targeted approach directed at one or two people as opposed to a one-size fit’s all method.
When you’ve established a relationship and created content, share a tailored piece of content with them and say you thought this particular blog post / video / image might interest them. If they start taking interest in your content, suggest that you send them some products for free because you’d love to know what they think of them. What we want this to result in, is an endorsement of the product.
The important thing to remember here is that whilst this is similar to a celebrity endorsement, there’s no millions-of-pounds transactions occurring. Just a relationship forming between two people – the way social should be. Social.