Did you know that the most trusted form of advertising is peer recommendation?
According to global information company, Nielsen, 83%, or 8 out of 10 global consumers trust word of mouth recommendations from friends and family. Aside from that, around two-thirds say that they trust reviews from other consumers posted online. Compare that to advertising from owned media (company websites, corporate social media, etc.) which still got a healthy 70%, yet arguably lagging behind. Social media influencers can be your in to both of these avenues.
Blogs are the third most influential in purchasing decisions behind retail sites and brand sites, according to Social Media Examiner. Entertainment magazine Variety noted that YouTube personalities scored higher than traditional and mainstream celebrities in relation to influencing purchases among teens.
With the continued growth of online advertising in the past few years, these statistics are to be expected. Consumers trust one another’s opinions instead of those dictated by company-mandated advertising. They know that content creators on the internet are one of them. Content creators are engaging and relatable. They are passionate about their craft and participate in the discussion with their fan base.
It’s a no-brainer. Brands should partner with social media influencers as a part of adapting to this new status quo. Yet, influencer marketing often results in unsuccessful branding opportunities. In a digital influence report by Technorati, this failure is usually caused by brand expectations on time as well as irrelevant pitches.
- 68% of respondents said that brands expect that these influencers are always free.
- 50% said that there are a lot of irrelevant pitches.
- 38% stated that brands are not listening to ideas on what would work on their followers.
- 38% complained about the negotiating rates.
- 24% said that brands did not come through with their negotiated payment.
Looking at these numbers, there is indeed a huge gap between marketers and influencers. While bloggers and social media influencers rank highest for consumer influence and trust, miscommunication and misalignment of expectations affect their reliability. Technorati also noted the lack of uniform measurement for the success of the campaign. For instance, influencers use page traffic while marketers measure likes and shares.
If you’re looking into tapping this influential resource, then you should take note of their pain points. Here are some ways on how to create a successful collaboration with social media influencers.
1. Give them their creative freedom.
You are in no position to dictate what content should be shared by your influencer. You can suggest, but don’t dictate. Trust me on this.
Influencers are passionate about the wants and needs of their audience. They did not just get their Facebook or Twitter followers overnight. All of them are built through careful fostering of their relationship. It is built around authenticity where influencers and followers share a common passion. Their relationship grows from this authentic interaction. A marketer-dictated blog post created specifically to be shared is a violation of this authenticity. Don’t be surprised if this kind of tactic is received poorly by both the influencer and their fan base.
The goal then is to introduce your brand in an authentic, organic way. It follows that you should give your influencer full creative control on what type of content he or she creates. Interesting content leads to more engagement in your brand anyway. Furthermore, allow them to state that what they are doing is sponsored. Trust and transparency are the building blocks of relationships after all.
2. Know their platform and how they blog.
It’s easy for us marketers to say we are masters of social media promotion. But looking through the perspective of influencers, we might take an insight or two that is entirely different from what we are used to. In the same Technorati report, only 14% of influencers said that brand marketers are knowledgeable about their blog and its content. That is an appallingly huge missed opportunity for successful partnership.
I did say you should give them creative freedom but that doesn’t mean you should not do your part in the creation of content. In looking at your potential partner, do take note of their format as well as their well-received content. They know how to engage their followers. You know how to tap into these potentials and turn them into actionable social media promotion strategies. By combining these two, you’re creating the foundations of a mutually beneficial relationship. And while we’re at it…
3. Create a mutually beneficial relationship.
Technorati also found out that only 16% of influencers think that marketers are interested in building a relationship with them. This is frankly disappointing.
Relationships take time. It doesn’t mean that you send an email to an influencer, and he or she posts it as is, and you’re done. It’s not just about you. That’s not how it works.
Be responsive. Content creators are just like your ordinary consumers. Especially if they are passionate about your industry, they will have a lot of questions. Make it easy for the influencer to work with you. Be responsive when they pitch their ideas or state their opinion on your ideas. Provide accessible contact details. Establish trust and be consistent with your actions.
4. Pay attention to their community.
Their community is their platform’s lifeblood, the same way your consumers are the lifeblood of your business. Partnering with social media influencers essentially aligns the two. Thus, you should pay particular attention to the type of social media followers they have.
Take note of your buyer persona and determine if they will belong within the values that you set for your business. Finally, stay informed on how your partnership is received by their community. Who knows? You might get another valuable insight.
6. Giveaways are your friend.
One thing you should recognize about influencers is that they are also a part of your target market but with a significant difference. They are the leaders of their respective communities. Their opinions are valuable to their followers. Content creators follow brands in social media to keep up with their activities and to learn about products and services.
Influencers prefer receiving first look and review opportunities for new product releases. They also like to give prizes and giveaways to audiences. If you’re confident with your product, then this is a great way of engaging not only the followers of the influencer but the influencers themselves.
7. Compensate well.
You want to motivate your social media influencer to partner with you. He or she should feel acknowledged and rewarded for whatever they do for you. Do take note that compensation does not necessarily mean monetary compensation, but it is always welcome. Most, if not all of them, do get their revenue from blogging.
But aside from money, there are other ways for compensation. Simple sharing of their blog posts in your corporate Facebook and Twitter, even those that are not related to your brand, are a great way to nurture their connection with you. Giveaways as previously mentioned are also great incentives, especially if they are passionate about your industry and your brand. You could also put them in a focus group to discuss ideas for your future products and services. Finally, get them in touch with your own business network who wants to engage in influencer marketing too.
As both a marketer and a content creator myself, I know the great potential of building a relationship with influencers. Just like the internet, influencers and their followers are shaping the way social interaction happens. It’s up to us marketers as to how we could adapt and use this to our advantage.
Do you partner with social media influencers? How was your experience? Comment your story below.