One of the best ways that you can build trust with your prospects, leads, and customers is to engage in influencer marketing. This type of marketing initiative (sometimes referred to as brand advocacy or brand ambassador programs) is the strategic selection and involvement of influential individuals in your field or industry who can help garner positive word-of-mouth and social media/online buzz for your brand.

Since influencers already have sizable fanbases and followers behind them, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of their reach. In this post, let’s take a look at seven things that you need to know about influencer marketing before you get started.

1) Influence is a valuable online currency.

When you take the time to select the right individuals for your program, they will draw in new prospects and customers for you through word of mouth and ultimately increase trust in what it is that you’re trying to do. Their influence can increase your brand power and reach.

However, this desire for building influence goes both ways. Influential people want to continue to build their personal brands even when advocating on behalf of a brand. They want to build more credibility and add more influence and trust for themselves. If you have something to bring to the table to help them enhance their own social/professional presence, you’ll be much more likely to attract and retain quality brand advocates.

In the beginning stages of your influencer program, you may see that some individuals won’t be keen to participate if you can’t offer a monetary reward (money, free service, merchandise, etc.). Once you’ve built your brand’s influence, though, you’ll see high-level influencers who will be much more likely to work with you.

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2) Micro-influencers will start to take over.

Niche and trade sites tend to bring in plenty of visitors. The majority of these visitors will listen to the opinion of a micro-influencer as much as they will a mega-influencer. That’s good news for B2B and niche marketers. You don’t need Kim Kardashian advocating for your brand. You need Joe Schmoe — the go-to guy for widgets in the Southeast (or whatever). Depending on your product and industry, you don’t necessarily have to choose the biggest influencer out there. Investing in several key micro-influencers may be just what you need.

One benefit of going with a group of micro-influencers is that you don’t have to worry so much about egos getting in the way. Also, you’re not putting all of your eggs (and budget) in one basket. You’ll have a much better foundation to bring in nourishment for your site and ultimately your brand. Branded online communities for your influencers may be just perfect for your business.
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3) Earning influencers is better than paying them.

Brand advocacy programs are becoming more and more about gaining the support of potential advocates rather than paying for it. As I mentioned earlier, brand advocacy marketing works best when there is a reciprocal, give-and-take relationship where both parties benefit from the shared influence coming from each of them.

Create a brand and content marketing that is so valuable influencers will want to share it.
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Content Marketing Tools: Trending Content Discovery & Creation

Advanced content discovery meets influencer identification for the most powerful content marketing tool on the web. Search now to find your next great idea and the voices aligned to it. Inside the Content Studio So far, the platform’s been easy to use as a writer.

Klout | Be Known For What You Love

Klout helps people who want to be great at social media. Join today to start sharing original content and measuring your online impact.

BuzzSumo: Find the Most Shared Content and Key Influencers

BuzzSumo allows you to discover the most shared links and key influencers for any topic. It’s free to use and you can run a search in seconds!

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4) Sponsored influencer content has become more credible.

If someone is paid to review your product, don’t ask them to act like they weren’t paid. First, it’s disingenuous. Second, it could get you in hot water with the Federal Trade Commission!

When you work with a credible, trusted person whom you pay (to write a review on his or her blog, promote a product on his or her social media, etc.), ensure they follow FTC rules of disclosure. Also remember that an influencer is entitled to his or her opinion on a product or service. Proper disclosure combined with an authentic, truthful review will be much more persuasive than an overly promotional puff piece that may or may not include a notice of payment.

It’s best to go with influencers who are fans or genuinely interested in what you have to offer as opposed to going with the one who will say anything to get paid. A candid opinion will beat a false one any day of the week.
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FTC Approves Final Order Requiring Warner Bros. to Disclose Payments to Online Influencers

Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final consent order with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Inc., settling charges that the company failed to adequately disclose that it paid online influencers to post gameplay videos. According to the FTC’s complaint, announced in July 2016, Warner Bros.

The FTC’s Endorsement Guides: What People Are Asking

Suppose you meet someone who tells you about a great new product. She tells you it performs wonderfully and offers fantastic new features that nobody else has. Would that recommendation factor into your decision to buy the product? Probably.

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5) People are sick of advertising

AdBlock Plus didn’t hit the 500 million downloads mark in 2016 for nothing. People are tired of advertising. When you work with advocates, you can create a native advertising experience that is less about interrupting a reader and more about adding to the experience. With that said, you still need to remember those FTC rules!
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What’s the Deal With Ad Blocking? 11 Stats You Need to Know

It’s no secret that internet users are no strangers to seeking out the information they need online — in fact, Google now processes over 40,000 search queries every second. And as the volume of search queries continues to climb, advertisers are recognizing an opportunity to introduce a number of different types of ads.

US Ad Blocking to Jump by Double Digits This Year – eMarketer

Ad blocking in the US will continue to cause headwinds for online advertisers, as the phenomenon is expected to grow by double digits this year and next. In 2016, 69.8 million Americans will use an ad blocker, a jump of 34.4% over last year. Next year, that figure will grow another 24.0% to 86.6 million people.

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6) Relationship management strategies will help.

Relationships with influential people are increasingly becoming just as important as customer relationships. As such, you may consider creating an influencer management team to streamline this process and make sure that everyone is happy.

It’s not enough to just get an influencer on board and then hope for the best. You’ll now need to work on that relationship over time to ensure that everyone involved is happy and feels validated.
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Link Building and Digital PR Tools – BuzzStream

BuzzStream is web-based software that helps the world’s best marketers promote their products, services and content to build links, buzz, and brands.

Influencer Marketing Automation | TapInfluence

TapInfluence is the leading influencer marketing automation solution for brands and agencies. Schedule a demo of our software today!

Influitive, the advocate marketing experts

Your Content Marketing Machine Is Broken-And There’s Only One Thing That Can Save It View now Inspiring Customers To Create Content For You: A Marketer’s Guide Read now “Without our advocates’ help, we’d be missing half of the content that we currently create.”

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7) Measurement will become more important.

Analysis and return on investment will be essential to proving out the influencer initiative. Also, an influencer program that’s performance-driven helps you determine whether or not individual influencers or types of influencer activities are successfully boosting your product or service. Looking at just the numbers, though, won’t tell you the whole story.

It’s increasingly important to bring metrics into the discussion when it comes to your influencers. You already use such measures in your everyday marketing activities, so it only makes sense to incorporate this into your day-to-day experience with your influencer community.
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Measuring Influencer Marketing Success | Traackr

Measuring influencer marketing success can be tricky and confusing. To help ease the pain, we offer a best practices how-to guide on influencer analytics.

5 Metrics to Measure Your Influencer Marketing Campaigns

After you identify the right influencers for your brand, define the type of content you want them to create, and set objectives, you need to put the proper parameters in place to measure the results. How do you measure? Why is the said metric importa…

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Are You Ready to Formalize a Brand Advocacy Program?

These are just a few issues to think about as you consider building your influencer program. There is a variety of ways that you can add influencers to your enterprise without breaking the bank. By directly reaching out to influencers via email or social media, you can begin broadening your reach and find a new portfolio of customers.

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How to Build a Brand Ambassador Program That Gets Results – ClearVoice

This guide gives you the tools and insight you need to launch your own brand ambassador program, boost awareness of your company and drive sales. Word of mouth has always been important to brands, but it hasn’t had the widespread, palpable impact on business like it has today.

Influencer Marketing Guide: Templates & Tools

Over the last few years, influencer marketing has become tremendously more popular, more accepted by consumers, and more profitable for brands. But these campaigns are also being carried out on a much more complex playing field – thanks to factors like transparency regulations, increased noise, and the overall erosion of organic social media reach.

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