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Influencers: Breaking down the buzzword

There’s hardly a day we don’t talk about influencers under the Helms House roof, whether it’s a potential new partner chatting with us about what they’re looking for in a PR agency or with the post office worker who has seen us mailing out the same product once a week for the past month (yes, this really happens).

If you’re curious about this whole “influencer” thing, stay tuned. An influencer relations strategy just may be the next big move in your company’s marketing efforts.

First thing’s first: Think of influencers as modern day niche celebrities. Let’s clarify further with a few examples:

  • The Social Media Influencer is someone who has come to “fame” through their social media channels. This person posts about products, services and other consumer-driven things. A social media influencer might be a makeup artist who has an Instagram profile with 10,000 followers who consistently watch her videos to learn how to apply makeup and stay updated on the latest makeup fashions and trends.
  • The Industry Influencer is an industry-specific expert who may frequently be called upon by journalists to comment on breaking news and contributes op-ed articles to relevant publications. For example, this could be an analyst or executive who has been in the health care industry for 30 years and is seen as an expert on industry trends and topics.
  • The Community Influencer is an individual who is very visible in one community. This person may hold several board positions and almost always attends the most high-profile networking events around town. The common thread here is the community itself, not any one specific industry.

When clients ask about influencer marketing, 90 percent of the time they’re talking about social media influencers. By devising the right strategy, influencers can play a huge role in both driving sales and brand awareness—but we want you to know that “strategy” is the key word here.

So let’s dig a little deeper.

1. You must engage with influencers with ROI in mind. As cool as it may be to see a post about your skincare product receive 1,000 likes on a popular blogger’s Instagram profile, if there’s no incentive for their audience (your potential customers) to remember or engage with your product, you’ve wasted the opportunity.

2. Stand out from the pack. The best social media influencers are most likely receiving messages from dozens or hundreds of companies every week asking them to collaborate, so the next step is to differentiate from the pack. This also gives you a greater chance for a TFP or “trade for product” scenario if you’re offering something so unique that they can’t help but want to get involved.

3. Don’t be pretentious. When working with social media influencers to drive sales for your company, don’t miss out by only going after individuals who have a high number of followers on a given social media profile. We know from experience that it’s sometimes the social media influencers with 2,000 followers who create the best content, whose audience is most engaged with their posts and who have the drive to convert sales. After all, they’re in this to grow their following and work with more brands, too.

4. Realize you’re not doing them a favor if you are trading product for a post. All too often we see companies send a product to influencers in exchange for visibility on their social media account(s) and get frustrated when an influencer doesn’t post about their product or service. The best move you have here is to remember that influencer relations is sometimes a long game. Rejoice in the fact that you got in front of this person and cross your fingers that down the line he or she remembers you when it may be a more convenient time for them to post about your company.

Curious to learn more about how you can leverage influencers to drive sales for your business? Check out how we did this for Tattoo Goo or drop us a line.

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