Influence can make people do big things to benefit their career. Those who are positively influenced will continue the cycle and influence others to be great at whatever they do. Influence is an invisible force that can do wonderful things be it in arts, family, entertainment or in business. Businesses who want to be successful aspire to have their own influence over the market. They can use their marketing department, subject experts, their CEO or the trustworthiness of their brand as a form of influence. Being a leader or an influencer means being open-minded and listening to the suggestions and opinions of other people as well as being an authoritative source. A leader and their followers should have trust and mutual respect for the relationship to benefit both parties

What Is Influencer Marketing and who are Industry Influencers?

Traditional businesses and marketing have used media advertisements to spread brand awareness and influence. Now businesses have also taken advantage of the internet. The majority of modern businesses are aware of the benefits of technology and the internet world and have taken advantage of many digital tools in empowering the business and its market thus spreading brand awareness. However, some brands are still having a hard time cutting through the internet noise. If banner ads and other traditional marketing strategies aren’t delivering the desired results, industry influencers and influencer marketing can help brand awareness and eventually ROI.

Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that focuses on specific key individuals or types of individuals (industry influencers) as compared to targeting the market as a whole. It identifies the individual’s influence over the possible buyers and orients marketing strategies and activities around these influencers.

Mentions and recommendations of your brand from industry leaders is an effective form of low-cost marketing. The promotion of your product  or services will drive awareness among potential customers while increasing conversion rates due to their established presence and credibility within the target audience. Influencers have solid followers that value their recommendations and expertise. Influencers are individuals who have the power to affect purchase decisions because of their real or perceived knowledge, authority, position or relationship. Industry influencers are respected and are highly visible in their respective niche and they have earned the trust of their audience through the content they provide, thus they build their credibility as influencers. So if industry influencers share, mention and promote your content, you get the exposure and the respect that comes from their endorsement. That’s why reaching out to industry influencers is an essential aspect in the growth of your business or your brand.

Influences can be well-known authors, speakers, webinar hosts, bloggers, celebrities, journalists, industry experts and others. Your target customers look at these influencers as authorities and trust them whenever they discuss something relevant or post content on their blog. Brand advocates on the other hand, are satisfied customers who promote your brand because they personally value your product.

Getting the industry influencers to respond is not an easy task. You have to keep in mind that you’re not the only one trying to reach for them. It’s also possible that they are bombarded with thousands of messages every day. So what you need to do is to rise above everyone else and get their attention.

Influencer Marketing Is Growing

Customer feedback is one of the most powerful tools in marketing and at present social media platforms, websites and blogs act as a megaphone for those voices. It’s also a given fact that social media platforms have somewhat changed the balance between the brands and the customers because it has enabled peer recommendations which now play a big role in purchasing decisions. Given the importance of peer recommendations and the amplified effect by way of social media, influencer marketing has become a widely discussed topic among many marketers. At present, when a business or a brand identifies influencers, they often look at the number of followers the influencer has on different social media platforms, although many experts also believe that influence is not just having a lot of likes or followers, it is also by their credibility and expertise in specific subject matters and the relationship between the influencers and their followers. Platforms like YouTube and Instagram have led to the rise of a new generation of industry influencers that have collected huge followings on niche subject matters like food, fashion, manufacturing and beauty.

There are many reasons why influencer marketing will stand the test of time and will continue to grow:

1. It’s a Powerful Means for Promotion

There are few things that drive a sale as effectively as a comparison or classic word-of-mouth recommendation. Customer-to-customer word of mouth generates more than paid advertising in niche target groups. Influencer marketing is a good opportunity for businesses and brands to leverage the effectiveness of word-of-mouth through individuals or personalities customers already follow, admire and respect.

2. It’s Social

Digital marketing has taken advantage of social media for years now and it’s time for your business to follow the trend. Social media is an effective alternative to traditional media. Traditionally, consumers made their purchasing decisions based on the advertisements they saw on TV, billboards and magazines and from what they heard on the radio. At present connecting with consumers through social media helps buyers make better purchase decisions by learning about their purchases and their experiences with a service or a product. Social media also provides a more personal connection with the brand because it enables real-time answers to customer inquiries. Many customers also expect brands to talk to them rather than at them. Consumers no longer expect brands and businesses to just sell them their products, but also to inform and entertain them. With this paradigm shift, industry influencers will have more reach. Businesses and partners with influencers are better equipped to start an organic conversation and entice their followers.

3. Everybody Is Talking About It

Influencer marketing is reaching many business institutions and personalities. From Forbes to CNN to Bill Gates to reporters and thought leaders around the world.

4. Its A Form Of Arbitrage

An arbitrage is when something is sold for a lower price than what it’s actually valued for. If you purchase a specific item or goods, you will get a discounted price since the true value of the item is greater than the market price. The difference between the market price and the value is your profit so it’s a good opportunity to make a big profit with just a small effort. Influencer marketing is a form of arbitrage because there is a big supply of influencers, but only a few running influencers campaigns. It means that the cost of having a promotion from an influencer is below its real value. At present Periscope and Snapchat are some of the new influencer markets. There are barely any marketers investing in it which creates an arbitrage.

Image credit: https://moz.com

Image credit: https://moz.com

5. Prices Are Fast Rising

Many arbitrage strategies don’t last long, and as more people know more about them, more people will tend to invest, driving the prices up and closing the arbitrage.

6. Consumers Are Tired Of Paid Ads

An average consumer is exposed to thousands of advertisements every day. With so many advertisements, most consumers unconsciously tune them out. Tuning advertisements out is called banner blindness, thus influencer marketing is an effective alternative.

7. It’s A Native Form Of Advertising

As compared to traditional marketing that interrupts the consumer experience, native advertising places products, services and brands within the “organic content” which creates a better and more fun experience for customers and a more powerful marketing solution for many brands.

8. Industry Influencers Also Boost Your SEO

Industry influencers can help you boost your search engine ranking on top of building your brand and enhancing your sales figures. User-generated social post account for 24% of the search results for the top 20 brands in the world. The more people say or mention your brand on social media, the more popular and relevant your business will be across multiple search engines.

9. It Can Be Tracked

Any decisions that are not based on data or information aren’t well-informed decisions. For decades, the advertising and marketing industry was limited to only having access to traditional strategies that yielded unreliable information about audience reach and branding impact. Big data analytics are changing the game by providing solid information on your market and customers. Every website visit, online purchase social like, pictures posted online can be stored and analysed, thus yielding large amounts of raw data that can be converted into valuable insights about your target audience and your marketing performance.

Influencer marketing comprises four main activities if practiced in a commercial context:

  • Identifying and knowing influencers and ranking them in order of their importance.
  • Marketing to influencers to increase awareness of the organisation within the influencer community.
  • Marketing through the industry influencers and using the influencers in increasing targeted market awareness.

What Makes A Good Industry Influencer?

There are many things that differentiate one influencer from another, but for you to know who to approach, you have to look for specific characteristics in an influencer.

  • These people have an interest in your particular market or niche. They may also even write or blog about it.
  • Their social following is good and most of these influencers will have active social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram. Based on their following, you will have an idea how many people are interested in what they have to say.
  • They also share content that is not their own. A good and effective influencer will share content from different sources.
  • Their engagement is good and any effective influencer that is worth everybody’s time should be communicating with their followers just like anyone should. If you’re following the social accounts, you should be able to see how often they are talking or replying to their followers. You also need to check how many groups they have joined and how often they engage with the updates of their people.
Image credit: belimitless.com

Image credit: belimitless.com

To further filter your influencer search, you need to know the types of influencers that you may encounter:

1. The Expert

These are the influencers that have a big following and possess expertise in their chosen field. They share useful, informative content to their followers and are good for inviting to contribute content. As for your business or brand, this is a good opportunity for your content to be shared by a person that your target niche respects and trusts and in turn, building up the trust in your brand also.

2. The Authority

Almost similar to the expert, an authority is all about providing relevant content for the community  that adds value. The authority has a community of people who respect everyone’s opinion above all else, thus you want anything of yours that they share to be something they agree or can relate to. The authority can help spreading brand awareness and can make the best brand advocates if they  support and believe in your product and what you do.

3. The Journalist

You want to have a connection with a relevant journalist or a group of journos on your side if you want to have a greater level of brand exposure or if you have interesting news to share. Reporters are after exclusive and timely stories so avoid wasting their time if you haven’t got any. Try to aim and engage with niche journalists who have shown interest in your story. If you have done this, your brand or business will get a decent exposure in the press.

How To Get The Attention Of Industry Influencers

Once you have identified the key influencers in your niche, your next step is for you to get noticed and get the attention of your target industry influencer. Again, as mentioned earlier, it’s not easy to get a response from these people  so you need to rise above the rest. Below are some helpful tips for you to do to get under the radar of influencers.

1. Creating A Dialogue

Social media has made it easier to connect with industry leaders and influencers, but again, it takes more than just casual conversation to get their attention. Sharing their content and retweeting will just not cut it, you as a business or brand should add a voice to that shared content. Join groups and communities where these influencers usually stay or hang out. Share their content and then add your opinion about it. Fuel a conversation by offering your opinions and thoughts. Appropriately tag the author and this will surely catch their attention. Read their bio before responding or comment in to their post. This will let them know that you’re truly interested  in them as compared to just making a random comment.

2. Offer Something First Before Asking For Anything

Some people after establishing a connection with influencers would want to immediately ask for something in return. It’s just like having a first date, but you want to score for the 3rd base. Do not rush. You’ll have more success with influencers if you truly follow them and engage with them with interest and passion. Have the time to listen to their podcast if they have any or thoroughly read and understand their blog. If you have something to say about their post, do so with respect. Build trust and invest your time because your “request” will be measured according to how you have contributed to their success. Persistence and patience is the key.

Image credit: www.buzinga.com.au

Image credit: www.buzinga.com.au

3. Provide Great And Relevant Content

Rather than going all out and capturing as many people as you can afford with your message and content, try to focus and give time a few people who can be your brand ambassadors. Focus on your content because content is one of the best methods of capturing people’s attention. Be it articles, videos, audio, music, infographics or whatever you can upload to your site, do it. Just make sure that the contents your posting are up to date and relevant to you and your target market. Influencers will eventually see you on their radar if you’re providing quality and relevant content.

4. Provide A Platform of Value

If you built a platform with great value and relevance in your field or industry, influential people will notice and eventually come to you. Try not to become a person’s success, but a person of value. Remember that every request that are received by someone with a good and sizeable following in social media  and quoted a lot is equated to the question of what value would bring a brand/persona to their audience. If the value is not present, no matter how clever you are in your approach, you will get ignored or worst rejected. If there is no sense of shared values with an industry influencer, you’re just wasting your time and energy when you reach out to them.

5. Meet Them in Person If Possible

This is one of the most essential things that you may need to do when building relationships with influencers; make contact with the top people in your industry. Go to conferences where they are guest speakers. Watch and listen to them or take some notes about it that you can use to ask questions or for you to use in your blog. Make a point to go up to them after their talk and introduce yourself. This is a precious opportunity thus you have to make sure that you have something relevant or interesting to say. Have a short introduction and then relay an interesting observation about what they have talked about or try to relate it to an article they have written or relate it to some of your own observations. You can increase your chances by engaging in a dialogue on their blog or social media feeds before going to the conference. Influencers like it when someone appreciates their work but try not to fawn too much. Be genuine and honest.

Gaining connections and relationships with trusted and respectable industry influencers will not happen overnight. You have to invest time and work in order to get connected. Once you have built a solid relationship with these influencers, they need to be nurtured over time to maximise the effect they have for your brand or business. You have to treat them right and they will become powerful brand ambassadors for your business.

 

About Author

Jon specialises in research and content creation for content marketing campaigns. He’s worked on campaigns for some of Australia's largest brands including across Technology, Cloud Computing, Renewable energy and Corporate event management. He’s an avid scooterist and musician.