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Influencer marketing uses popular, known, and respected individuals with a high social media presence to directly or indirectly endorse a product.
The most traditional and established way of using influencer marketing is the use of celebrities. Brands have always capitalized on celebrities’ influence and appeal to market products. Humphrey Bogart endorsed everything from cigarettes, to watches, candy and pens, long before social media came into being. These days, social media is used extensively to promote companies and products using people who are very active and have a high following on social media. According to Technorati, 86% of influencers operate at least one blog.
Other than celebrities, influencers can be highly respected journalists and authors, bloggers, entrepreneurs, employee advocates, thought leaders or analysts, or niche influencers who are platform specific, such as popular you-tubers. They are people who create a lot of content, are knowledgeable in their fields, popular, and credible.
Choosing an influencer to promote your brand requires looking at several factors: They must fit within your brand or product’s context. Is their persona and personality compatible with your brand? Do they have a following who would be interested in your particular product? How big is their following, how much reach do they have? Can they inspire their audience to action?
How can you use influencers? They may be brand advocates, they may offer recommendations based upon trying out your product or service themselves, they can appear at company or industry events, or can review new products or features. Your company can collaborate with them in various ways, from article publication to instruction on how to use a product. There must be reciprocity, that is, both you and the influencer benefit from an arrangement. Influencers can be directly compensated, your company can promote them or their blog or event, or you may collaborate on a mutually beneficial project.
Influencers come with an audience, which leads to more traffic and exposure for your company, which is turn leads to more sales. People are tired of intrusive advertising; customers today are active in searching out their own answers to problems and want to do their own research and recommendations. Influencers are a tool within content marketing, where online content pulls people into the message in a more indirect way. Customers themselves opt-in to the content, and thus come with a set of interests that make them more open to your message. Influencers also tap into their audience’s self-understanding and the need for peer acceptance and reinforcement, because they have a social influence towards specific targeted audiences.
Influencers are one tool in an array of methods which can be implemented in a content marketing strategy.
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