The digital influencer audience is extremely discerning. Just like their non-virtual counterparts, they want to buy products they love and feel good about purchasing again.
They’re just more selective about which brands they associate with. But why? Because the world of social media influencers has a reputation for being shallow and self-serving. It’s not exactly unfair; many of us have been exposed to examples that support that impression.
But it’s still a double-edged sword. On one hand, high profile influencers are less trusting of brands in general, making it harder for marketers to reach them directly as targeted advertisements are less effective in targeting this group than other demographics. To reach these savvy consumers, brands must first understand what makes them tick. Here’s what you need to know:
The first thing you need to know about social media influencers is that they are extremely selective about their affiliations. If you read for a moment that this group is “brand-conscious,” don’t imagine them swimming in free stuff from every vendor that comes a-calling. Influencers are not looking for free products.
They’re looking for a reliable, authentic relationship with brands that they trust to make decisions based on their best interests and not on what will line the company’s pockets. The irony, of course, is that the word “influencers” implies that such relationships are one-sided. However, the best influencers make their audiences feel like they’re part of a community. Rather than buying what’s in style, the best influencers help their followers make decisions based on their own interests and needs.
In short, brands that can offer influencers a way to connect with their audiences on a personal level will have a much easier time convincing them to work with them.
In the past decade, social media has been rocked by scandals that have impacted both influencers and their audiences. From the discovery that fake followers were being purchased to inflated engagement rates, the public has reason to be suspicious of the numbers being thrown around by influencers.
To build trust with this new audience, then, you must be transparent about your methods, your metrics, and your promises. No longer can brands hide behind the “trade secret” excuse. If you want to reach influencers, you must be prepared to be open and honest. And this is not a one-sided request. If you expect influencers to be honest about your brand, you must be equally open about your policies and practices.
If you’re looking for a way to prove to influencers that your brand is genuine, start by publishing your media kit to your website and linking it from your social profiles. Be sure to include any relevant legal or contractual disclaimers that are standard for your business.
Brands must produce quality content; marketers must write for their audiences, not for search engines or for the people writing their paychecks. Influencers have to produce engaging content on a regular basis, and they can’t be expected to produce high-quality work without the right tools and resources.
If you expect influencers to produce work that speaks to your audience’s needs, you must provide them with the tools they need to make that happen. By all means, work with influencers who are already using your product. But don’t just dump a box of your product on their doorstep and expect them to use it. Engage with influencers who are already working with your industry (even if they aren’t promoting your brand). And don’t stop there.
The digital world is full of racial, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity. Influencers reflect this heterogeneity, and brands who can find ways to engage with them based on their interests, not just their skin color, will be able to reach a wider audience than ever before.
Not only does this help brands expand their reach, but it also helps them reach new audiences that are not being served by mainstream advertising. When you walk into a typical shopping mall, you’ll see a lot of brands that are not particularly relevant to your life. But the influencer space is not a mall. It’s more like a neighborhood bazaar.
To reach a wider range of customers, you must be willing to work with influencers who come from a variety of backgrounds.
If you’ve done your research and you’ve managed to find influencers who are a good fit for your brand, you’re almost there. Now all you have to do is build trust. One of the best ways to do this is to make sure your influencers get the support they need to promote your brand effectively.
This includes everything from providing them with materials that will help them build connections with their audiences to helping them promote your brand in organic posts. What you don’t want to do is pay influencers to do what they would have done for free. This is called “shilling” and it is a surefire way to destroy the credibility of your brand. If you’re serious about working with social media influencers, you must be willing to invest in their campaigns and support them in return.
Once you know what makes an influencer tick, you can start looking for the right people to work with. Here are a few suggestions. — Reach Out Directly — Social media influencers want to be approached by brands. If you’re willing to put in the effort to find the right person, there’s no reason you can’t initiate the conversation yourself. — Network with Other Brands — Digital communities are extremely social.
If you’re working in an industry with influencers, there are likely plenty of groups where you can start making connections. — Hire a Consultant — If you’re not sure where to look, you can always hire an agency to find the right influencers for your brand. These specialists know how to find people who are a good fit for your products and services.
The digital influencer audience is discerning and all too aware of the possibility that they might be being manipulated or “shilled.” These consumers want to feel like they’re part of a community where everyone is being honest and transparent.
This means that brands need to be willing to put their best foot forward and prove that they appreciate their customers and their needs. Because if there’s one thing that the best digital influencers have in common, it’s that they’re not to be trifled with.