“Influencer Marketing” is all the rage. It is popular – and should be – because influencers (no matter what you call them) are people others trust and who can influence how people perceive your brand.
Traditional marketing is you telling your customers why they should purchase your product or service. Public Relations is different, in that someone from the media tells your story for you – ideally in a positive way but this is not in your control. Influencer Marketing is sort of a combination of traditional marketing and traditional PR: brands engage influencers (ala marketing) to tell their story for them (ala PR).
Of course, this only works if “influencers” (which could include bloggers, those on social media, or even those with offline communities) have an audience and that audience finds the influencers credible – in other words that the influencers truly have influence.
There are multiple ways to engage with influencers but I’ll divide them here into two main strategies:
Work With the Stars
Some brands have decided to work with the stars. This could include those with national fame, like Kim Kardashian who has 120 million Instagram followers. But it could also include the relative “star” of the niche you are pursuing – that wine blogger whom everyone labels as the cream of the crop. This method involves quite a bit of work:
- Identify potential influencers
- Calculate the size of their audience
- Determine the “quality” of their audience as it relates to you
- Contact influencers you believe are a good fit
- Create a working relationship with those influencers (ie pay them)
- Provide them your product or service
- Reinforce their social media postings with your own social media accounts
- Follow up to ensure they do what they say they will do
Another strategy is to worry more about an influencer’s niche and less about his or her reach. So rather than that star wine blogger, this strategy would suggest pursuing a number of wine bloggers with less reach but who have great credibility with their audience. Forbes Magazine suggests this strategy is the Marketing Force of the Future.
At our three influencer conferences (Wine Media Conference, International Food Blogger Conference, and Beer Now) you can pursue both strategies but the second is the most relevant. Yes, the stars attend and you can make relationships with them. But the real benefit of a blogger conference is to bring hundreds of micro-influencers together in the same room. We do not limit attendees to our conferences based on their reach. Instead, our attendees are self selected because they are passionate about their subject and it is this passion that makes them credible with their audience. As a sponsor, you can then serve your product or present your message to these folks without having to spend the time and money to analyze, segment, and narrow down to get what you hope will be the right fit.