Today, I had the typical conversation with a person interested in becoming a social influencer for our client, Costa Sunglasses. Their pitch – “Can I be a Costa Ambassador? What I mean is I would give you social representation in exchange for you sending me some of your products, like a swap for swap, because my social media channels have this large of a following…” (Maybe those weren’t the exact words, but you get the idea.)
After attending a seminar covering influencers on the newly official Social Media Day here in Lafayette, I realized how much other social media and public relations agencies are shifting their focus to finding influencers to support a brand. Even though we’ve worked on convincing our own clients at Ninety-Two West, it was nice to sit in a room with others that find influencers to be a positive addition to their social media programs.
So what is an influencer, and how can they benefit you?
Our client’s fan friend laid it bare; an influencer is someone with a widely followed and/or dedicated social media presence who becomes a digital ambassador for your brand. Ambassadors/Influencers have the responsibility of promoting a product or brand through social media in a way that a organically connects to their fan-base. Some companies may feel the pressure to break down the wall of communicating between a customer and a corporate or business-like persona, but an influencer can bridge the gap between representing and educating others on a product with an organic approach.
Here’s an example of how Costa’s Influencer provides us with a brand appropriate photo wearing their products:
So you’re convinced, but where do you begin? How do you set up an influencer program that is right for you? A few takeaways that stood out to me from a Social Media presentation by Laurel Hess, with ReGroup Marketing, were:
Larger brands may have the advantage of setting up an efficient and well-oiled program where interested influencers can apply online. The influencers most likely approaches the brand, and the brand then qualifies their online presence.
But for brands on a smaller scale, or those just starting an influencer program, they need to do more research and find quality (over quantity) influencers to represent them and spread their brand message. We’ve done it for clients before – searched into related hashtags, suggested profiles, tagged photos, etc. to find someone who has a connection to your brand and a significant enough following for a partnership can develop.
The relationships with influencers can start as casual, but over time, your program progresses. And as more potential influencers reach out to collaborate, there a few things to remember to keep the relationships healthy. Much like Hess’s suggestions, these tips have worked for our clients when finding influencers and starting the partnership: