Marketing and PR pros have incorporated some component of influencer marketing since the beginning of time. The word "influencer" has just been shoved down our throats lately so hey, let's go with it.
However, so many articles and strategies focus on influencers who reach far and have a digital presence. This is great, don't get me wrong. But, we're forgetting something. Influencers are EVERYWHERE.
Mentally walk through your day and think about how many people who you trust recommended a brand or product to you. For instance:
- This morning my mom told me that I should be taking a natural cold remedy instead of an over the counter product and I listened.
- One of my Facebook friends took a picture of themselves in their new prAna shirt so I added it to my shopping cart.
- My co-worker knows I'm in the market for a camera so he recommended the one he has and showed me how to use it. I think I'm going to buy that one.
- And it's only noon....
While I'm not going to tell you to take away from your current social campaigns-please don't do that-I'm going to encourage you to look beyond the people who have a lot of followers to new places of the digital realm and even outside of the digital realm. I am going to suggest places where plenty of brand advocates and influencers are just waiting to team up with you.
Your customers: Since over half of millenial consumers look to user generated content when making a purchase decision, your strongest influencers are of course your customers.
Digital Influencers: I'm not going to spend any time talking about the online influencers in the traditional sense because there is already a ton of information out there about them. You can read some of it here, here or here.
Unexpected online influencers: If you think and look outside of the box, you can find plenty of influencers online who can advocate for your brand. Not the traditional "influencers" with a far reach who fit a specific niche, but maybe some who you haven't thought about yet.
Offline influencers: Then there are the easily overlooked offline influencers. The shelf stocker at the grocery store who talks about his favorite sauce to everyone. A consumer's friend who recommends which cell phone is best. The people in your brand who haven't been given a voice. Yet.
Influencers are Your Best Story Tellers. Who's Telling Your Story?
Real people are telling your brand's story. Not a dry marketing copy writer or a voiceless website.
You can tell an aspect of your brand's story. Things like CEO fun facts, how your company began and of course resources that relate back to your brand are great. You just need someone else to tell the part of the story that covers "why your brand."
Happy consumers can tell people why your brand is awesome. Here are a few ways to nudge them to get talking and tell your brand's product story.
- Spark a product review. Simply send them something free from your company they will likely talk about it online and/or offline.
- If you have great content that you've created for your brand albeit an infographic, brand story or interview share it with the consumers who you know would find it interesting. Hopefully they'll pass it along both socially and via word of mouth.
- Give them a reason to talk. Be awesome. Send awesome emails. Mail them awesome products.
Consumers trust people over brands. They want to hear from people.
Write and produce content and marketing material as a person not a mysterious no name writer who encompasses your entire brand and you too can be an influencer.
Look Outside the Box
People in your brand who have nothing to do with the marketing components can offer an influential voice.
Interview the farmer who grows the apples for your delicious pie. Talk to the people who design your clothing. Interview your CEO. Have a phone conversation with one of your consumers who has an interesting use case of your product and turn it in to a blog post. The possibilities are endless.
Think about the employees working in the retail locations where you product is sold. People love to talk about their favorite spaghetti sauce or brand of jeans. Find ways to locate and encourage the employees of retail locations where your product is sold. This could include anything from sending samples to the stores to getting those store employees on an email list so you can send them unique special offers.
What about the consumers who can't afford your product or service but know it's good and still recommend it? You have got to give them a kick back for that right? Think about what would happen if you gave them access or product-those mentions would surely sky rocket!
Actionable Next Steps
- Find the people who are already passionate about you. Try a social media monitoring tool or surveying your current customers to uncover these passionate people.
- Give your consumers and passion producers a voice.
- Be authentic in every piece of content and marketing material that you produce from here on. Before you finalize anything, ask yourself, does this sound like it's coming from a person or from a company?
- Brainstorm where you can find influencers who you haven't worked with before. Think outside the box so brainstorm someplace other than your work space to get those creative juices flowing.
Though consumers are sick of being "marketed at" when they are vetting a brand and checking out a website, potential consumers want to see user generated content. Thus don't forget the simple step of adding your advocates' content on to your site. Things like testimonials, case studies and embedded tweets can go a long way.
In Conclusion: All You Need is a Little Passion
At the end of the day, this whole influencer/advocate/word of mouth marketing game is about passion.
Finding the people who have a passion for your brand. Marketing your brand with passion. And spreading the passion.