To quote Casie Stewart, influencer extraordinaire, “I want a relationship, not a wham-bam-thank-you-jam.” Influencer marketing works best when it’s a longer-term partnership between your brand and someone who personifies and speaks to your customer base. Since the concept of influencers as partners came up quite frequently on our panel discussion (it’s kind of neat writing a blog for a discussion I was part of!) I thought I’d go into a bit more detail about how that works and how you can maximize the effectiveness of your influencer campaign. There’s also quite a bit of misinformation floating around about whether or not you should pay influencers, and what you should pay them for, and how they compare to brand ambassadors.
First off, what is a brand ambassador?
Brand ambassadors are, in essence, happy customers. They’re happy to spread the word about your product or service, because they love it themselves. You generally don’t have to compensate them for their help spreading the message, because they feel that the value to them is being recognized by a favourite brand, and being able to share something they love with others.
Okay, so what’s an influencer then?
Influencers are different. They may have never heard of your brand before you contacted them, or if they have, never used it personally. If that sounds weird, it isn’t. You’re going to be introducing them to your brand—and you know they’ll love it because their lifestyle, beliefs, and philosophies line up with yours. It’s so important to choose an influencer who is a truly good match for your brand. Remember that your key messages should come through in every marketing piece out there—your choice of influencers can and does reflect on you.
Influencers are experts in your target market. They’re usually already speaking to the customer base you’re trying to reach out to, and they’ve been highly successful in getting their interest and trust. You DO have to pay them (at least if you want the best ones). You’re not paying them for an opinion or a blog post. You’re paying them for:
- Access to their fans
- Their knowledge and expertise on how best to present your message to their fans
- Intimate knowledge of what will and won’t fly on their communities
- Ultimately presenting your product or service to their fans in a way that results in sales
You want them to be vetting you as a fit for their brand as much as you vetted them for yours. You also don’t want to dictate how they should present your brand to their audience, or you’re really wasting your money. Give them all the information they need to present it THEIR way. That’s what their fans love, that’s what made them so successful in the first place, and that’s where they’ll get the best results for you.
And that’s what makes them partners—they’re setting the strategy under your loose direction. You’re working together, as a team, toward the best results possible.
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