Building Your Brand: 10 Key Tips to Working with a Social Media Influencer

Aaron Pearson
Co Founder, Managing Director

Would you take broadcasting advice from Oprah? What about food advice from Wolfgang Puck?

While you may not be able to get a celebrity to rave about your small business, the concept still rings true: People trust the opinions of those whose expertise they recognize. Recently, this idea has given rise to a new superstar in the digital marketing arena: the social media influencer.

In short, an influencer is someone who partners with your brand to boost its awareness. From a tweet to an Instagram post and a slew of outreach methods in between, the right influencer can do more for your business with one click than you can achieve in months of behind-the-scenes collateral prep.

Yet, for the collaboration to be mutually beneficial and successful, there must be a strategy in place. Simply cold-emailing the most famous chef in town without a plan in place won't do your local restaurant any favors. The same applies if you're a boutique shop owner appealing to a Facebook beauty guru.

Today, we're sharing 10 tips on how to work with a social media influencer so you see numbers rise, profits increase and brand recognition shoot through the roof. Ready to learn more? Let's get started.

Why Work With a Social Media Influencer?

Regardless of how specific your industry niche is, chances are there is someone out there who's talking about it, and people are listening.

The good news? You don't have to reach out to an uber-famous celebrity to reap the benefits of social media influencer marketing. But, you should be selective about who you associate with your name.

Though it can be time-consuming to find an influencer and iron out partnership details, the return is well worth the investment. In fact, Twitter recently completed a survey wherein the social media giant found that 40% of users made a direct purchase from a brand based on a single tweet from an influencer.  

Working with the right influencer can help you grow your online following, improve your trustworthiness and credibility, and turn leads into conversions. Yet, before you can start recognizing that growth, you'll need to find the right influencers first.

Finding Influencers for Your Brand

Wondering how to find influencers for your brand? There are myriad ways to go about this, but first, you'll need to determine who you're looking to influence. Start by defining your target market.

Who would you like to see your information? What demographics are you specifically trying to appeal to? "Everyone" is too vague. Maybe you're focusing in on techies. Perhaps, stay-at-home moms are the most likely to buy your goods.

Conduct an in-depth audience analysis by examining who is currently looking at your website or coming into your store. What characteristics do they have in common? From in-person surveys to advanced software tools, there are myriad ways you can pinpoint your audience.

Once you have this knowledge, you're ready to start reaching out. Start by going where your audience already is. What are their preferred social media platforms? Where do they go to shop online, read reviews and offer feedback? Then, listen in on whose voice is emerging.

For instance, if your market is retired women in Alabama, conduct an online search to see which social influencers are standing out in this space. While there are various apps you can use to make this step easier, it will likely take some virtual digging on your end. To expedite the process, consider working with a social media marketing team who can put you in touch with all the right people.

10 Ways to Collaborate Successfully with Influencers

So, you've reached out to popular social media influencers, and you've heard back from some who are interested in working with your band. This is an excellent first step! To make sure the rest of the teamwork is as seamless and successful as possible, keep these 10 tips in mind.

1. Set Goals at the Onset

Your overall goal might simply be to encourage excitement over a new launch. Or, you might want to grow your sales by "x" percent over the next six months.

Regardless of what you're trying to accomplish with an influencer campaign, you need to define it before you start reaching out to anyone. Create a business plan around this campaign so you know the metrics you want to track both during and after it.

2. Loosen the Creative Reins

No one knows your small business like you do. However, if you insist on maintaining total creative control over the entire influencer marketing campaign, it won't be long before you've lost valuable more than a few opportunities and lucrative connections.

Remember, the influencers you're working with are experts in their field for a reason. People are turning to them for advice, new product recommendations and tips. One in three of them trusts influencers more than the brand itself.

They've already created a brand around their name and, if they're successful, they understand how to deliver a professional and well-executed message.

As such, allow them to input their ideas on how the collaboration should proceed. They know their following best and are privy to the kinds of content they'll respond to. If you want to pitch a product one way, but they suggest going a different route, be open to changing your approach.

3. Partner with Influencers Who Love Your Stuff

Think about it: You wouldn't want to hear a DIY crafting expert wax poetic about the advantages of choosing one kind of car oil over another, would you? The pitch would feel inauthentic and forced.

Keep this in mind when reaching out to prospective influencers. Find ones whose vision matches yours and whose audience would be most receptive to your product or service.

This is where it's helpful to take a step back from playing a pure numbers game. Sure, a post about your business from someone with 500,000 Instagram followers is good exposure, assuming that person would even agree to do it in the first place.

Yet, that also leaves a ton of room for negative feedback. Devoted followers will question the sponsored post, your brand and the influencer behind it. To encourage continued partnership, first, find someone whose social media presence is aligned with your outlook. Then, you can compare follower numbers and other stats from there.

4. Prioritize Follower Engagement

As touched on above, an influencer with a more active, albeit smaller, follower base will ultimately prove to be a better match than someone with a million disengaged ones.

Read social media comments to gauge how active an influencer's audience is. Are they asking questions and is he or she responding? Is there some form of two-way communication taking place? Or, is it just a matter of followers mindlessly double-tapping on a photo and adding their name to an unregulated list of "likes?"

If it's the latter, steer clear. You want an influencer who is actively engaged with the people on the other side of the computer. You aren't looking for someone who posts once per day, then walks away, only checking to see how many notifications they racked up.

5. Remember It's a Two-Way Street

The influencers you choose may already have a more active following and greater name recognition than your business. That doesn't mean they're looking to give away exposure for free.

In return for them associating their name with your brand, you should be prepared to offer them a reward. In many cases, this centers on financial compensation.

However, you may also choose to invite influencers to exclusive events, offer them promotions and discount codes to pass along to their online community or even donate to the charitable or non-profit organization of their choice. These terms should be worked out before a post goes live, so both parties know what to expect.

6. Consider Engaging Influencers as Reporters

Want to optimize an influencer partnership? Consider inviting them to sponsored events, where they can take on a reporting role. This is a great way to build exposure on both sides.

For instance, if you're a small tea shop hosting a community tasting day, you can ask a local influencer to make an appearance. While there, he or she can live tweet about the event or post an Instagram or Facebook storyabout it. This will build brand buzz for your shop and initiate a dialogue around your offerings.

Especially if you're launching a new product or rolling out a new service, leveraging influencers as reporters is a smart way to invest those advertising dollars.

7. Connect Before Pitching

To increase your odds of a favorable response, it's generally unwise to direct message an influencer and ask for a collaboration without making some form of a connection first.

Influencers are more likely to partner with brands they know and trust. If you're a small business, they may not have heard of you and might be wary. To this end, spend the months and weeks before making your pitch to establish an honest connection with them.

Follow them on social media and comment on their posts. Attend industry conferences, send a few emails and get your name out there. Then, when it's time to ask about a partnership, they won't have to Google your name.

8. Host Interactive Givewaways

In some cases, an influencer will simply post about the benefits of your company, accompanied by a picture of them holding an item you sell. This is often enough to boost your numbers, yet the impact can be diminished as the influencer continues to post on a regular basis. It doesn't take long for your brand's post to get lost amid the shuffle, shrouded by more recent ones.

To keep the conversation open and the buzz going, consider working with your influencers to host a giveaway or promotion. This can come in the form of a discount code to your shop, customized with the influencer's name. Or, you might host a giveaway that requires followers to complete a series of steps before they can add their name in the hat to win.

In these cases, an influencer will normally post more than once about the contest or promotion to remind followers to actively participate before the deadline is over.

9. Accept "No" For an Answer

Sometimes, you can conduct plenty of research into how to work with influencers, make all the right pitches and say all of the right things. Yet, you may still get turned down, and that's OK.

Influencers are picky about who they work with, as they should be. If they feel your company isn't a great fit for their platform, respect their decision and keep searching. You won't do your brand any favors by groveling or pestering anyone.

10. Analyze the Campaign When It's Complete

After your partnership with an influencer comes to a close, it's essential to analyze its effectiveness. Did you achieve those metrics you defined in Step 1?

Were there any aspects of the campaign that were especially popular? Did anything fall flat or prove ineffective? Knowing the answers to these questions can allow you to make your next influencer partnership as successful as possible. This analysis will also help you avoid making those same mistakes or pitfalls in the future.

Build a Successful Marketing Campaign Today

Customer outreach is an essential part of getting your small business the exposure and traffic (both in-store and online) it needs to grow.

Yet, as a business owner, you likely have plenty on your plate to worry about. Creating a successful marketing plan from the ground up can be time-consuming, multi-faceted and complicated, and chances are you're already pressed on all sides.

That's where we come in.

Our team of experts is experienced in all aspects of brand management, from website design to social media influencer marketing. We'll work with you every step of the way to make sure your next campaign is your strongest yet.

Contact us today to learn how we can help, and let's transform your small business into a giant success.

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