Countless businesses today are looking for ‘growth hacks’. These are strategies that they can use in order to leapfrog the competition and to circumvent the usual growth trajectories expected for businesses. In other words, they are strategies that can take you from zero to hero in no time at all.
If you’re a business owner and you want to connect with a massive audience of potential customers and clients, then influencer marketing is the one of the best strategies available to you to help you do that.
But what exactly is influencer marketing? How does it work? And how do we help you to make the most of it? This is an entirely foreign concept to many businesses so keep reading and we’ll quickly go over it. It is guaranteed to change the way you think about marketing and the way you reach your audience.
As a business, the internet presents a fantastic tool to cheaply reach a huge potential audience and to connect with them. Compared with conventional forms of marketing, the web has much lower overheads and a far greater reach. That said, not all forms of internet marketing are made equal and some are definitely more effective than others. Not only that, but some involve a much larger overhead than others.
A common approach is to use SEO for example. SEO is ‘search engine optimization’ and this is indeed a very powerful tool when used correctly that can help you to reach the top of the search results for a particular keyword or phrase. The problem? SEO is not guaranteed to work and when it does, it takes a long time. Then it only takes for Google to change its algorithm and all your work can get flushed down the drain.
SEO is a complex process of building links to your site, adding lots of content, making careful use of keyphrases and more – all without any guarantee of reward at the end of it. There is overhead here and there is risk. The same goes with traditional social media marketing. You can spend months building an audience and find that you never manage to capture the imagination of your audience.
Pay Per Click advertising is no better. You can spend a lot of money on this just trying to figure out which keywords work – and then you’ll need to bid against much bigger brands to get the visibility you need. Contrary to what some marketing companies will tell you then, internet marketing takes years and requires you to sink a lot of money into it. Even then, there’s no guarantee it works.
I say all this in order to demonstrate the appeal of influencer marketing to the right kind of business and to show how it differs from other forms of internet marketing. When I talk about the regular ‘growth trajectory’, this is what I’m talking about. Far from letting you wave a magic wand, marketing is a slow and laborious process. This is where the ‘growth hacks’ come in.
Influencer marketing changes all this though. Why? Because it lets you literally ‘leapfrog’ all that hard work and all that luck. With influencer marketing, you essentially find someone who is already at the top of their game. In other words, you find someone on social media who already has a huge number of followers and then you get them to promote your business for a moment. This person is the ‘influencer’ and you’re essentially marketing through them.
Think about this for a moment: instead of spending thousands of dollars and several years trying to build an audience of 100,000, you’re getting to reach a much larger audience instantly and market to them. This is rapidly becoming the ‘new normal’ when it comes to marketing. Television marketing is quickly being left behind by internet marketing and it’s Instagram and YouTube personalities that really have the hearts and minds of the audience you want.
An influencer on Instagram could well have in excess of a million followers, meaning that one shout out from them gets you seen by one million potential customers. But it’s not even about the exposure you gain from these messages so much as it is the authority, trust and testimony. If someone loves a particular creator, then they are going to be influenced by their decision to wear your brand of clothing, or to say they regularly visit your website. And a single link like this can lead to thousands of visits instantly.
So this isn’t just about the exposure. While influencer marketing does get you seen by a huge number of users, what’s just as important is that you’ll be getting testimony from that influencer. All those users follow the people they do because they enjoy their content, they trust their opinion and they’re inspired by what they post.
If you can get them to recommend your product then, you’re getting a testimonial that will count for a lot in the eyes of those followers. They’re basically celebrities and just like celebrities, they have massive potential to steer the behaviour of their fans.
Getting shoutouts from your favorite influencers costs a fraction of the price of conventional marketing. That’s because you aren’t paying a big company with lots of overheads and staff – you’re paying an individual who started doing this for fun and as a hobby. That said, it still isn’t cheap; a shoutout from an influencer can cost around $50 for every 1,000 followers in some niches!
And once you’ve paid for a few influencers to promote your brand, you’ll find that it leads to you building your own massive brand as those followers migrate to your profile. One percent of one million is still 10,000.
Let’s not pretend this is a magic switch either though. Many small companies don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend on a few shoutouts on social media. And if you get this wrong, then it can be an ineffectual waste of money. That’s why the best option is to get them to shout out for you for free!
If you’re trying to reach the biggest influencers in your niche, then you’re going to need to work hard and you’re going to need to be savvy about how you go about it. Real influencers get inundated with hundreds of thousands of e-mails every day and as such they won’t have much time or inclination to answer yours unless you give them good incentive.
The best way to get around this problem is to network and to build some kind of connection with them first. LinkedIn provides you with the perfect means to do this, first by letting you see whether you have any mutual acquaintances through a ‘degrees of separation’ method. If you do, then you’ll be able to message big influencers – who are outlined as such on LinkedIn – via the ‘InMail’ system.
This is why it’s so important to invest time into LinkedIn if you have any interest in influencer marketing. The more you build this network, the greater the possibility that you will find a useful connection who can put you in contact with a big influencer. Even if that person isn’t a marketer at all themselves, they might just know the right people.
A quick tip then, is to install an app called ‘Rapportive’ which works through Gmail. Once installed, this plugin will show you the LinkedIn of anyone who emails you as long as they’re on the platform. In turn, this then makes it very easy for to build your network and especially with people you’ve had some kind of interaction with.
But just because you have a tenuous link with someone, that doesn’t mean they’re going to answer your e-mails. A LinkedIn connection is far from being the same as a genuine human connection, so you’ll need to establish some sort of relationship if you’re going to have any luck here.
Often this means having an interaction in person – during which time it will be much easier to make an impression. InMail is your last resort then – the better strategy is to ask for an introduction from a mutual contact. And if they can’t arrange that, then ask them to ask a question on your behalf.
Finally, start small. If you approach a ‘small’ influencer with a couple of thousand followers, then you’ll find they aren’t being approached by many brands yet. They’ll be excited to be approached by you then and more likely to agree to shout out for you in exchange for you doing the same. That will still bring in hundreds of new viewers and subscribers and you can then use that momentum to approach a slightly bigger influencer next time!