“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it’s what consumers tell each other it is.” -Scott Cook
This quote, attributed to one of the most effective marketing influencers of recent times, holds the key to understanding one of the most pertinent topics of conversation within the marketing sphere, which is, the effectiveness of influencers in the modern marketplace and how to most effectively harness their power in order to drive your brand to the next level.
There’s a veritable avalanche of books and information being churned out on the topic even as we speak, especially as industry players begin to fully grasp and appreciate the power of the influencer and its potentialities. It well behooves everybody with a brand to nurture to sit up and take notice.
Identifying the Influencer
Jumping right in, we must first ask ourselves what manner of creature this ‘influencer’ is before we figure out the why and how of domesticating and putting it to work. Simply framed, an influencer is an individual or type of individual that wields a certain amount of influence over potential buyers in your target market. Influence marketing involves identifying these individuals and subsequently orienting your marketing efforts and activities around them.
Those in the know have come to agree upon certain traits that influencers all seem to share to varying degrees, which mark them out to fill this unique role, namely:
1. Authority: The overriding quality of an effective influencer is the amount of credibility and authoritativeness with which their brand is regarded within their space. In a world full of charlatans and fly-by-night ‘experts’, audiences increasingly look to industry leaders to give them reliable, actionable, and ultimately beneficial tips and guides, and they will appreciate you cutting through all the white noise out there to deliver this to them.
2. Connectivity: Influencers, to be at all effective in getting their message across, are universally possessed of uncommonly large social networks. Most times, this reach will span multiple platforms, the most popular and seemingly most effective being Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and personal blogs.
3. Activity: This personality type will usually evince a streak of activism in them, manifesting in community participation, political activism, charity affiliations, and such like pursuits. They’re socially energetic, and it shows.
4. Trendsetters: For most people, very little worth is placed on the words of the type of people that would un-ironically refer to themselves as a ‘trendsetters’. With influencers, though, the proof is in the pudding. Being the first to enter a market and the first to leave it, with a level of sure-footed consistency is what being a trendsetter’s about; it’s what gives them their authoritativeness, and these guys do it naturally.
5. Depth: Contrary to what might be the commonly held opinion, effective influencers are not shallow people. On the contrary, they will usually have multiple, very diverse interests. This broadness of mind is part of the value they provide their audience. A broad mind can offer up a unique point of view, showing up downsides and upsides to a service or product that might not be readily apparent.
What you need to take away from this is the fact that your main challenge in your efforts to identify and focus your efforts on a suitable influencer will be figuring out where exactly their broadest, deepest reach intersects with your desired target audience. It’s not a one-size-fits-all proposition; you’ll have to do your homework.
How to get Influencers Onboard
Of all the methods out there you might think to use in order to get influencers boosting your brand, the most elegant has to be EgoBaiting.
Egobait simply refers to a digital asset produced to grab and hold the attention of a specific person or group. What differentiates EgoBait from the more common link bait lies in the scope of the target.
Everyone has an ego, to varying extents, and should you manage to stroke the ego of your target with subtlety and taste, you will be able to reap the rewards of web traffic, exposure, and links that are the lifeblood of any online presence.
Here’s a rundown of some of the most effective EgoBait types you might consider making use of:
Top Lists: These have earned a reputation as some of the most effective link bait tools out there, and, especially when done right, can be just as effective as link bait.
Moderate the Conversation: This is all about providing your audience with the most value possible. Invite credible industry players and experts to share knowledge and expertise on your platform, and proceed to present it in the way most suitable for your audience. The beauty of this, aside from the enhanced audience benefits, is the fact that your panel of experts will gladly lend you a hand in promoting the finished content.
Institute Badges and Awards: For those with a somewhat established brand, badge baiting is a really viable method of increasing your link profiles and brand visibility. They might seem like meaningless distinctions on the face of it, but this is social media, and society is all about distinguishing yourself from the masses.
Drop Some Names: Whenever you mention a tool, service, or reference and individual, you automatically generate a vested interest in the mentioned party to root for the success of your post. Be specific in your references and watch them bend over backward to push your piece to the fore.
Shine the Spotlight: A direct interview with an industry-leading individual is one of the highest compliments you can pay someone online. It boosts their credibility, and they’ll go to great lengths to make sure as many people as possible know it. It’s pure quid pro quo at its finest.
Why Go Egobaiting?
‘Free’ Promotion: By transferring some of the figurative ‘responsibility’ for your product’s success in the hands of others, you drastically reduce your own workload while simultaneously lending added credibility to your work.
It gets your name out there: Aside from the more immediate bounty of links and exposure, EgoBaiting fosters the creation of working partnerships with industry leaders and peers that may well translate to partnerships and further collaboration down the line.
Cast a Wider Net: The exposure you can get through making use of influential voices in your space can sometimes be orders of magnitude larger than you would manage by your lonesome.
Share the Limelight: What makes EgoBaiting so attractively elegant a solution is the element of reciprocity in it. You make your influencer look good, they advertise your association, and they make you look good right back. It’s a beautifully efficient cycle where no good deed is punished.
Which Influencers Best Suit You and Your Brand?
The most effective way to identify which influencer will provide the biggest bang for your buck, is to work backwards; figure out the results you are looking for; work out what you need to do, who you need to reach, and where you’ll find them; and finally identify the influencer that can fulfill this criteria for you.
Note that bigger isn’t always better when it comes to marketing, sometimes an influencer with a couple thousand subscribers might prove more effective than a monster with millions. It all comes down to the three magic metrics; reach, relevance, and resonance.
As Corey Eridon put it, “Marketing is about telling god stories. Social media is about getting your customers to tell them for you.”
The magic touch effective influencers bring to the table is the ability to ignite conversations and positive buzz around your brand. This sort of organic, authentic promotion resonates considerably stronger in today’s market environment than the contrived force-feeding of products potential consumers have come to resent from traditional promotional campaigns.
Popular consensus in the marketing community has slowly become alive to the fact that consumers pay more attention and base their market actions on the word of opinion leaders and second-hand, word-of-mouth information.
The bitter truth is, today’s savvy consumers display an active aversion to traditional, targeted, marketing methods – they just don’t trust them the way they used to. This inescapable fact lies at the very core of the influencer’s power.
In summation, the world of influencer marketing, nascent as it is, is incredibly promising, and all indications point to it becoming even more powerfully relevant with time as traditional methods continue their decline into obsolescence.
The question you have to ask yourself is; will you allow your brand to go the way of the dinosaurs or will you apply all the tools available to hoist it onto the next rung of evolution? The ball is, as always, in your court.
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