By Bryan Kramer | Commentary, Featured

If you think you don’t need brand influencers, think again

There comes a time when every marketer faces the challenge of how to build brand credibility. Especially in a marketplace that increasingly uses social media as a way to reach customers.

For many businesses, the answer is to build an army of influencers who will provide your product the positive word-of-mouth it needs to stand out among competitors. And if you think that this isn’t necessary, here are somethings to consider:

  • Word-of-Mouth directly influences of 50% of purchases decisions
  • 81% of customers are influenced by their friend’s social media posts
  • 89% of costumer testimonials were considered the most effective content
  • 25% of search results for the world’s 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content published via social media

brand influencers

With those impressive figures, there’s little wonder why companies are are looking to include influencer marketing as part of their promotional mix. So how do you go about making word-of-mouth marketing work for you? It’s easy with these simple rules.

Find the Right Influencers for Your Product

Remember that brand influencers are usually well-respected individuals who utilize social media and personal interactions to build word-of-mouth marketing opportunities.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that they have massive following on their social media platforms but rather are credible due to their expertise in a particular subject.

With all of the power that the right brand influencer can wield, how do you find the right one for your business? When considering an influencer, there are three things that you need to evaluate.

  • What are the potential reach of the influencer: Again, this should mean more than the number of Twitter and Instagram followers that person has. But how active they are with them.
  • Who are their audience: This means that you have to make sure that their main audience closely matches your brands.
  • How important does your product or service fit in with their area of expertise: Making sure that your business would be relevant to their followers to increase the impact of your marketing dollars.

If you are not sure where to begin, you are in luck. Services such BuzzsumoKlout and Little Bird are designed to give companies of all sizes a chance to identify and evaluate potential influences based on a number of factors. In addition, you can also reach out to a number of businesses like Massive Sway that represent seek to match bloggers with companies looking to get a social boost.

Treat everyone like a VIP…Well before You Need Them

Once you find the right influencers, you have to begin the important task of building a relationship with them.  Think of this is to be a long term relationship. So before you ever ask them to go out and promote your brand-you need to be willing to invest in them.

You can offer your newly selected influencers anything from time and attention to more tangible things such as samples or invitations to exclusive events. The idea is to increase your brand recognition while making all of them (no matter if they are an established celebrity or an up and comer) feel special.

Keep the Relationship Fun

Throughout this process, you have to remember that the relationship should feel natural and fun as opposed to forced and static. This is important not only to the influencer but also to their audiences. You want your customers to see the influencers as a trusted friend who is speaking positively about their experiences because they want to. Not because they have a corporate obligation to do so. Once that happens, you lose the main power of word-of-mouth marketing-credibility.

Build a Community to Keep the Conversation Going

Once you have the initial relationship established, consider creating a space for influencers and their fans to share and interact about their love of your products and services.  This can either be done by setting up a unique site that gives your influencers a chance to share content or you can even incorporate their reviews on your own.

One Business Doing Influencer Marketing Right? Bevel

The beauty of influencer marketing is that it can be easily applied to companies of all sizes. All it takes is leveraging the right influencers and staying on message.

One startup that has been receiving a lot of coverage for doing so is Bevel. If you are not familiar with Tristan Walker- you will be soon. He is the founder and CEO behind Walker & Co Brands, which is a company that creates shaving and skin care products designed to meet the unique needs of men of color.  Within the last few months alone, his subscription shaving system has been featured everywhere from the Los Angeles Times to Time Magazine.

To grow his company, Tristan decided to reach out to prominent influencers were popular within the African American community such the hosts of shows like The Read and The Black Guy Who Tips podcasts. He invited them to try his shavers which specializes in reducing ingrown stubble common among individuals with coarse or curly beards. In exchange for their free product use, he asked them to share their honest opinions as well as providing listeners with exclusive discounts. In addition, he created a thriving community on his website Bevelcode.comwhich features everything from barbershops to interviews with entertainers such as NAS.

As a result of his efforts, there has been increasing buzz over his products. There has also been buyout rumors from larger hair care companies such as Gillette.

Originally posted at SAP Commerce

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