There comes a time when every marketer faces the challenge of how to build brand credibility, especially in a marketplace that increasingly uses social media as a way to reach customers.
For many businesses, the answer is to build an army of influencers who'll provide your product the positive word-of-mouth it needs to stand out among competitors.
Think that's not necessary? Here's some data to consider:
- Word-of-mouth directly influences up to 50% of purchase decisions
- 81% of customers are influenced by their friend's social media posts
- 89% of costumer testimonials were considered the most effective content
- 25% of search results for the world's 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content published via social media
With those impressive figures, there's little wonder why companies are are looking to include influencer marketing as part of their promotional mix.
So how do you go about making word-of-mouth marketing work for you? Here are some tips.
Find the Right Influencers for Your Product
Remember that brand influencers are usually well-respected individuals who utilize social media and personal interactions to build word-of-mouth marketing opportunities. This doesn't necessarily mean that they have massive followings on their social media platforms, but rather they're credible due to their expertise in a particular subject.
When considering an influencer, there are three things that you need to evaluate.
- What's the potential reach of the influencer - Again, this should mean more than the number of Twitter and Instagram followers that person has, but how active they are with them.
- Who's their audience - This means that you have to make sure that their main audience closely matches the one you're looking to reach.
- How does your product or service fit in with their area of expertise - Make sure that your business is relevant to their followers to increase the impact of your marketing dollars.
If you're not sure where to start, there's a range of apps and tools you can use to refine your influencer outreach efforts. Services such Buzzsumo, Klout and Little Bird are designed to give companies of all sizes a chance to identify and evaluate potential influences based on a number of factors. In addition, you can also reach out to a number of businesses like Massive Sway which match influential identities with companies looking to get a social boost.
Treat everyone like a VIP... Well before You Need Them
Once you find the right influencers, you then need to move on to the important task of building a relationship with them. Your aim is to establish a long term relationship, so before you put forward your 'ask' to get them to promote your brand, you need to first be willing to invest in them.
You can offer your newly selected influencers anything from time and attention to more tangible things like, products samples or invitations to exclusive events.
Keep the Relationship Fun
Throughout this process, you have to remember that the relationship should feel natural and fun, as opposed to forced and purely commercial. This is important not only to the influencer, but also to their audiences. You want your customers to see your influencer as a trusted friend who's speaking positively about their experiences because they want to, not because they have a corporate obligation to do so. If you lose that 'real' connection, the power of word-of-mouth marketing declines significantly.
Build a Community to Keep the Conversation Going
Once you have the initial relationship established, consider creating a space for influencers and their fans to share and interact about their love of your products and services. This can either be done by setting up a unique site that gives your influencers a chance to share content, or you can even incorporate their reviews on your own.
One Business Doing Influencer Marketing Right
The beauty of influencer marketing is that it can be applied to companies of all sizes - all it takes is leveraging the right influencers and staying on message.
One startup that's been receiving a lot of coverage for doing so is Bevel. If you're not familiar with Tristan Walker, you will be soon. He's the founder and CEO behind Walker & Co Brands, which is a company that creates shaving and skin care products designed to meet the unique needs of men of color. Within the last few months, his subscription shaving system has been featured everywhere from the Los Angeles Times to Time Magazine.
To grow his company, Tristan decided to reach out to prominent influencers who are popular within the African American community, like the hosts of shows like The Read and The Black Guy Who Tips podcasts. He invited them to try his shavers which specialize in reducing ingrown stubble common among individuals with coarse or curly beards. In exchange for their free product use, he asked them to share their honest opinions, as well as providing listeners with exclusive discounts. In addition, he created a thriving community on his website Bevelcode.com which features everything from barbershops to interviews with entertainers like rapper Nas.
As a result of his efforts, there's been increasing buzz over his products. And there's also been buyout rumors from larger hair care companies like Gillette.
This post originally appeared on Bryan Kramer's blog.