In 1998, when the manufacturer of a breakfast cereal needed a way to appeal to more families throughout the country, they looked to then-superstar NFL quarterback Doug Flutie. The result was Flutie Flakes, a Doug Flutie-branded breakfast cereal that used the popular sportsman as a clever way to get more market share. It worked incredibly well.
This is an excellent example of Influencer Marketing, which is a decades-old marketing technique aimed at tapping into the power that well-connected social influencers have within their follower, reader, or fan base. This tactic is almost as old as advertising itself, and recently, many influencer marketing successes are seen by using Internet-based platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
What Exactly Is an Influencer and Influencer Marketing?
An influencer can be said to be any person or organization that has access to an established audience. Radio hosts are influencers. Twitch.TV streamers are influencers (in fact, some of them make up to $10,000 an hour for their paid promotions). YouTube creators are also influencers. It could be said that there are millions of influencers currently providing content for their audiences. The better influencers are the ones with credibility among that audience, and the best influencers not only have credibility but persuasiveness as well.
So, who do you know that has access to a large number of captive consumers who also view the influencer as credible? Is this person or business capable of selling an idea or experience to their audience? If so, you’ve found yourself an ideal influencer to work with as part of your overall marketing strategy. You might think that the next step is to start writing checks to them in exchange for their promotion of your product or service.
But, there’s a better way to approach influencer marketing.
Help Influencers Help Themselves
There’s a difference between celebrity endorsements and influencer marketing. Endorsements only deliver as much in results as the money will afford. Alternatively, influencer marketing is more of an ongoing partnership that seeks to lift both parties up – the influencer and the product or service provider.
Influencers know that to curate and grow their subscribers, viewers, listeners, or readers, they need to provide them with thoughtful, valuable content. If you can work with them to achieve this, financial compensation might not even need to be a part of the discussion.
Here’s an example: let’s say you’re a manufacturer of hiking gear. Boots, backpacks, camping stoves, that sort of thing. A quick search on Twitter reveals thousands of outdoorsy types like to connect with that would be interested in your brand. By engaging influencers like this, offering to have them review products or mention brands in exchange for cross-promotion, an organic business relationship can be forged.
Before long, tweets about your product can be retweeted three times over. YouTube views of videos praising the build quality of your sleeping bags can reach into the thousands. People start talking more and more about your products, and the next thing you know, your website traffic skyrockets.
All the while, the influencer grows in her credibility, content value perception, and overall social media presence. It truly is a win-win.
Want to learn more about influencer marketing and other best practices related to growing your business online? Get in touch with Altitude Agency today.