Influencer marketing is not a term that immediately sparks egalitarian images. You can be forgiven if the word “influencer” conjures a vision of a conventionally beautiful, impossibly skinny young woman on a beach selling a diet product that, frankly, sounds like a scam.
If you’re in the camp that has a knee-jerk negative reaction to the term “influencer marketing,” we understand why. But the fact is, influencer marketing is on the rise. And it may not look like what you’re picturing.
Yes, those flat-belly tea ads are one side of influencer marketing. But upon closer inspection, the world of influencer marketing is much more complex and diverse than that. Influencer marketing can be smaller, simpler, and less fad-focused than you think.
Even serious brands and B2B organizations have something to gain from smart influencer marketing. You just need to know where to find the right influencer. Lucky for you, they may be right around the corner or even on your own company Slack channel.
Influencer marketing can be smaller, simpler, and less fad-focused than you think. Even serious brands and B2B organizations have something to gain from smart influencer marketing. You just need to know where to find the right influencer.
Why lean into influencer marketing now?
Influencer marketing has been on the upswing for years now, but 2020 saw a 20-30 percent rise over the holiday season.
There are several factors at play here. First are the logistical benefits of influencer marketing in a COVID world. Influencers can act as their own cast and crew. Hiring an influencer to snap a selfie from the comfort of their own home is a lot simpler than having a whole team of people go through COVID testing and maintaining stringent safety protocols on set.
The other COVID reality is that consumers are spending a lot more time online. Our screen time is on the rise for both business and pleasure, so regardless of whether you’re trying to reach an individual consumer or a B2B decision-maker, you’re sure to find them on the internet.
Finally, there’s the not-insignificant matter of turning to online communities for comfort in a challenging time. Many have felt isolated and lonely over the past 13+ months. Our routines have been disrupted, and regular in-person groups have been disbanded. The internet has been a safe, inherently socially distanced gathering space. Many people have rallied around individual influencers with whom they feel a personal connection or sense of shared beliefs or ideology.
The power of micro-influencers
“Sure,” you concede, “People are looking for community and connection online. But my organization is a B2B that sells to the healthcare industry. Influencer marketing can’t possibly be for me.”
It’s time to rethink your restrictive definition of the term influencer. There are individuals with influence and clout in every arena. No, your B2B healthcare platform won’t be hiring a reality television star or Instagram model, but is there a respected individual in your orbit with an online presence who could speak to your target audience?
In fact, research now shows that these smaller, more niche influencers garner better results for advertisers regardless of industry. Buffer found that influencers with between 1,000 and 5,000 followers got higher engagement on sponsored posts than those influencers with 10,000 or more followers.
The beauty of micro-influencers is that they’ve already defined their niche for you. They’ve gone through the trouble of cultivating a particular following, and when your product or service aligns with their personal brand, it can be a match made in heaven.
Find influencers in your own backyard
Now that you’ve redefined the term influencer start looking around. Do you already know someone who could speak well of your brand online? Even if you’re not ready to dive into the deep end of #SponCon, you might get your feet wet by turning to your own team.
Is there someone in a leadership role who’s grown a solid LinkedIn following? Or perhaps there’s a Twitter maven in your marketing division. Consider opening up a dialogue with them about sharing content about your business.
Of course, it’s easier to do this when the individual is excited about working for you and engaged in your organization’s mission, so make sure your company culture is strong before you consider tapping folks from your team to serve as brand ambassadors.
If you’re looking for your team to act as an online cheer squad, make it easy for them to spread the word about your brand online. Do you want to brag about a new product launch? Create a post on your company’s official social channels tagging the individuals who worked on the launch and thanking them for their hard work.
Those individuals will be more likely to reshare the post if they get a notification about a tag, thus spreading the word about your big launch with their networks.
A scenario like this is a win-win-win. You build goodwill with your team, generate additional reach for your content, and demonstrate to those in your employees’ networks that you’re the kind of business that likes to celebrate the individuals behind your success publicly.
The power of online communities is more apparent now than perhaps ever before. Individual influencers have spent time cultivating followings of like-minded folks, and brands can partner with the right influencer to tap into those existing networks. Whether that’s a big-name influencer or Corey from HR is irrelevant. What matters is that you’re working to build a genuine, individual connection between your brand and individuals who have a vested interest in what you do.