Influencer marketing. For savvy business owners staying up to date on social media tactics, it may seem like ‘influencers’ are all anyone’s talking about in 2016—and with good reason. A recent study found that influencer marketing pays an average of $11.20 in earned media value for every $1.00 of paid media spent.
And it’s not only the big brands working with the most recognizable influencers who are having success with this kind of advertising. Every niche audience has its own niche influencers. So no matter the size of your business, influencer marketing can work for you. Here are our top four tips to get you started.
1. Find the right influencers
It’s easy to point to celebrities and public figures as the type of people you’d like promoting your business, but let’s get real: A neighborhood pizzeria (no matter how good) is unlikely to land a social media promotion deal with Kim Kardashian anytime soon. Instead, build a clear picture of the type of person your audience is likely to connect with.
Do that by reading your customer’s Tweets, seeing what type of content they engage with, and who it comes from—these are your potential influencers. You can dive deeper and create audience personas. The more you know about your customers the easier it will be to discover who they find influential.
Once you have a pool of potential influencers, filter for relevance and reach. The type of influencers you’re looking for will have some semblance of both. Reach simply means that they have an audience of noteworthy size—perhaps a few thousand Twitter followers or a widely read blog (the size of a ‘noteworthy’ audience will vary from business to business).
With reach established, relevance means that these people are trusted resources for your customers—individuals who carry influence in your region or your local market. For our friend the pizzeria owner, it does little good to build relationships with far-flung food bloggers from around the world. Instead work to connect with locals, people who are influential in your area or niche.
Leverage Twitter’s advanced search to find high-value individuals in your area. Start by creating a search stream for local verified users (verified users often have large and engaged audiences). For example, a search for “filter:verified near:boston” will return Tweets from verified users in the Boston area. To get more specific, experiment with adding relevant keywords. A search for “pizza filter:verified near:Austin” will return influential people talking about pizza in the Austin area.
If you use Twitter in the Hootsuite dashboard you can drill down even further with a geo-search stream, which will return relevant Tweets from within a few miles of your business. Watch this video to learn how to setup a geo-search stream in the dashboard.
With Hootsuite you can save these searches for easy reference from the dashboard and the Hootsuite mobile app.
2. Turn messages into relationships
Now that you’ve identified a few people (and do start with just a few) as local influencers, it’s time to start making connections. This critical stage will lay the groundwork for everything that is to come afterward, opening the door to partnership collaborations. The Twitter platform makes it easy to reach out to any individual Twitter user—just @mention the influencer you want to build a relationship with to target them with your message.
Building a meaningful relationship with an influencer tends to follow a three-stage formula: connect, engage, then activate. First, establish an initial connection with the influencer by ‘following’ their account on Twitter. Many will follow your account in return, especially if they’re highly relevant.
Next, your goal is to establish familiarity and rapport through engagement. Like a few of their Tweets, respond to a relevant piece of content or two, or mention them in a Tweet of your own. Ideally this happens over a period of days or weeks, to allow time for multiple engagement touch points.
Finally, send a Tweet that @mentions them directly.
It’s important to note that high-value individuals receive frequent requests from brands, and are less likely to respond to weak offers or sales pitches as a result. So start by offering value, with no expectation of value in return. If you have a product or experience you can offer, share it with the influencer with no strings attached.
For example, tweeting:
@mattddrchs We just brought in a new batch of dark-roast from Guatemala, we'd love send you a taste test! ☕️
— Bread Coffee (@bread_n_coffee) May 9, 2016
Is much more valuable to an influencer and therefore likely to receive a response than:
@mattddrchs We just got an awesome new blend, come try it out!
— Bread Coffee (@bread_n_coffee) May 9, 2016
Aim to offer maximum value while creating awareness—remember your goal at this stage is to build relationships, not to create a direct response.
3. Track relationships for results
With a few good relationships established with influencers in your area, it’s time to activate and drive results for your business. Through conversing and engaging with content published by influencers, you’re likely to see an increase in engagement with your own followers.
Check in on metrics that indicate Twitter success, such as follower growth, growth in mentions of your business, and content engagement (Retweets, Likes, etc.) on your own Tweets. Track these week over week and month over month to look for patterns and spikes caused by influencer engagement.
You can (and should) track the impact of your influencer marketing beyond Twitter as well. Partnering with influencers to distribute your content can be an effective strategy, using Google UTM parameters to attribute website visits from their Tweets. Or create a coupon code specific to that influencer, where they can offer their followers a discount on your offering.
— RoxyEWin (@Roxywin1) May 10, 2016
Get creative with the exchange of value—exchange Tweets for pizza, or cross-promote their website Tweets with yours. Always note that the influencer must also receive value from an exchange, whether that’s monetary, in-kind, or simply promotional.
4. Baby steps
It can be difficult to separate the things you could do with influencer marketing from the things that will actually work. As with most things, the best way to start is small. Track down one or two Twitter influencers that have high reach and relevance to your customers. Make a connection with them, and leverage Twitter engagement to build a meaningful rapport. Then work to drive business results through a mutual exchange of value.
With one or two wins under your belt, you’ll find it easier to build and activate relationships with more and more influencers. And your business will thank you.
Hootsuite can help you get the most out of Twitter by allowing you to schedule Tweets, monitor conversations, or engage with influencers. Try it for free today.