92% of consumers say they trust recommendations from their peers above all other advertising. In this interview, Shane Barker explains how influencers can help you to better engage your target audience with your content.
Companies are allocating high budgets to marketing to stand out from the crowd. According to Gartner, companies are now spending around 12 percent of their annual revenue for their marketing strategy on average. Those expenses include market monitoring, content production, and content distribution. For some companies, those expenses can be much higher: for example, Salesforce have invested 49 percent of their revenue in sales and marketing in 2017!
However, allocating high budget to marketing doesn’t necessarily mean that your company is going to successfully reach your target audience and ultimately, increase sales! Your content won’t bring any value if it doesn’t reach the right audience. Think about it: about 50% of content produced by marketing teams goes unseen. Indeed, customers tend to distrust brands: 25.2 percent of U.S. internet users have used ad blockers on their connected devices in 2018. You may then want to rethink your content distribution strategy!
Shane Barker, digital marketing consultant, explains how influencers, including your own employees, can help you build brand trust and reach your target audience in an effective way:
Hi Shane, you help companies to build effective digital marketing strategies and you also help individuals grow their online reputation. What's your story, how did you decide to become a digital marketing consultant?
So the background story is that I started doing digital marketing for my own companies. The company, Hot Pad, was the first company for which I stepped into digital marketing.
There was a lot of money involved so I learned how to do SEO and how to use other marketing tactics to grow the company. I also hired a few experienced people to help me.
That’s how I jumped into the digital marketing space, working on my own websites. I gradually learned the tricks of the trade and succeeded in improving search rankings, brand awareness, and revenue.
It was then that I decided to help other businesses gain more traction using strategies that worked well for me. I practiced, learned more over time, and helped numerous brands grow their revenue. That’s how I got into becoming a digital marketing consultant. That’s my story!
Can you tell us how influencers can help brands to better connect with their target audience?
Influencers are people who have established credibility in a specific niche or industry. They have highly engaged followings who not only trust them but also heed their recommendations.
If you want to connect with your target audience, it is even better to identify and partner with micro-influencers in your niche. Though they have a smaller reach, they can help you engage a more targeted group who are most likely to be interested in your products or brand.
Would you say that influencer marketing is more relevant to B2C brands, B2B brands, or any business that would like to build a H2H marketing strategy?
I would say that influencer marketing is more about building human-to-human (H2H) connections.
"Both B2C and B2B brands can leverage influencer collaborations to connect with their audiences and drive more engagement and conversions".
I can quote many great examples of B2C and B2B influencer marketing campaigns that prove it works for all kinds of brands. Influencer marketing works well for various industries too.
American Express, Nordstrom, Daniel Wellington, Lord & Taylor, TopRank, and H&M are a few brands who have aced at leveraging influencer partnerships to grow their business.
What are your tips to find the right influencers in a specific niche?
When looking for influencers, you first need to understand who your target audience is. This will help you analyze potential influencers and evaluate whether or not they are a good fit for your brand.
You can search for influencers on social media using hashtags such as #sponsored and #ad. And you can use tools like BuzzSumo, Grin, and Upfluence to find the top influencers in your niche.
It is even better to use Mention and Google Alerts to identify influencers who are already talking about your brand or products.
Make sure that the influencers you choose meet the following parameters:
- Relevance: Look at how aligned their audience and content are with your products, services, and brand’s voice and messaging.
- Engagement: Look at how much their audience engages with their posts. Do they like, respond, comment, and share the influencer-created content? If so, how often?
- Authenticity: Look at how trusted the influencer is. Do they create authentic content? Are they really influential or have they just inflated their following?
Remember, the influencers you choose to work with can either make or break your campaigns.
Engaged employees can also help to build a trustworthy brand, what are the best practices to help employees to become micro-influencers?
Happy employees, just like happy customers, can prove to be great social media advocates for your brand. They can work as micro-influencers for your brand as their followers are likely to trust and relate to the content they create or share.
"In fact, you can also help employees to become micro-influencers and get them to amplify your brand’s presence significantly".
Here is what you should do:
- Identify employees who are active on social media and who are passionate about your business.
- Encourage your socially active employees to connect with industry influencers on social media. This will help you amplify the reach of your content.
- Incentivize and reward the potential micro-influencers in your employee base. You can use employee advocacy tools to offer both monetary and non-monetary rewards.
- Monitor and measure results. Look at how well each employee helps you reach and engage people.
Employee advocacy is a growing trend. You should also leverage the power of influence your employees have to get more people to trust your brand.
According to you, what are the best ways to build powerful and long-term relationships with influencers?
Long-term influencer relationships can help you connect with your audience more effectively.
If you want to build strong relationships with influencers, you should:
- Approach influencers with relevant collaboration opportunities only.
- Connect with them as a person first, and then as a brand.
- Clearly define your expectations.
- Offer fair compensation.
- Provide creative freedom.
- Provide adequate time.
- Practice transparency.
How do you see influencer marketing evolving in the next few years?
Influencer marketing is a booming industry and it will continue to grow. You can expect brands and marketers to focus more on micro-influencer partnerships. The industry is likely to see a greater demand for authenticity too.
About Shane: With over 20 years of experience in digital marketing, Shane Barker helps businesses take their marketing strategy to the next level whether their goals are improving brand awareness, driving targeted traffic, generating inbound leads, or increasing sales revenue. His expertise in influencer marketing, content marketing, product launches, and SEO has already helped brands grow their revenues to $5 million+. In parallel, Shane helps individuals build their personal brand online. Recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Influencer Marketing, he has been speaking extensively about influencer marketing at conferences such as Influencer Marketing conference and Influencer Marketing Days Conference. He has also contributed to numerous websites including The Huffington Post, Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur and Search Engine Journal.
Are you interested in learning more on how your employees can help you take your marketing strategy to the next level? Feel free to check our eBook “How Employee Advocacy Boosts Content Marketing” for more tips!