Building Buzz: Attracting Social Influencers with Honey, Not Money
Marketing is like beekeeping. You need something sweet to attract the bees and you have to have a queen to get the other bees to work for your hive. Using this analogy, your business is the queen bee and you should encourage social influencers to go out into the world and create that buzz. You can pay people to do that for you, or you can do it yourself if you know how to reach their sweet spot. Do you have social influencers spreading the word about your brand? Do you even know what a social influencer is? Unless you are a marketer or someone who worries about your Klout score, you probably haven’t spent much time working on influence marketing. Let’s compare the Internet to a hive. Social influencers are the worker bees and drones who do all the work for you and pollinate your business. They do it because they are sweet on you, so why should you pay them? Do you know what your Klout or Kred score is? If you were a social influencer you would know these things because you would have a high score. Social influencers are marketing gold. Influencers are the ones who spread digital word of mouth about your product or service. Influence aggregators like Kred, Klout, and others measure social capital. This is the potential of an individual to be an influence for a brand online. Social influencers are usually bloggers, Twitterers and journalists who write about your company and get people interested. Let’s say you’ve started up your own fashion line. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of fashion bloggers. If you think bloggers don’t have power, you are wrong. Bloggers now fill some of the front seats at the major fashion shows, and they are paid to be there. The Man Repeller is one powerful example. In 2010, New York City resident Leandra Medine started her Man Repeller blog in the same way many people start blogging — as a hobby. She featured photographs of herself wearing the latest fashions. The name of her blog refers to the fact that a lot of designer clothes aren’t really attractive to men, because they are made to impress other women. Not only has Leandra become a major social influencer and trendsetter, she is now famous in her own right and has already written a memoir. What started as a hobby ended up with designers coming to her to wear their clothes or promote their products. She’s become a true social influencer.
There are young people (we say young, because most of these influencers are of the millennial generation) who are fans of all kinds of products, whether it is tech, food, or some other trend, and they spend a large amount of time on social media talking about their favorite things. It’s free digital word of mouth advertising… and they could be talking about your products!
Does Money Talk?
You have to find these influencers and the aggregators have paid services to help businesses do just that. Klout, PeerIndex, Kred, Traackr, the newly launched Gush Media and a host of others will find you high scoring influencers that fit your brand — for a price. Many of these companies offer incentives to influencers to attract them.
Do you need to pay these companies to help you reach those social influencers? You can, but you can also work on building your own network of social influencers.
While having Jane Smith talk about your brand on her Facebook page to her 40 followers is great, it isn’t going to get you much attention. Out of those followers, maybe one might pay attention or decide to check out your website. Jane probably has a low score on Klout and other sites.
If you get a celebrity to wear your handmade jewelry, tweet a selfie, and rave about your product – that’s social influence, because many celebrities have high scores and people pay attention to their tweets. Social influencers don’t have to be famous, but they have to have credibility. Someone who is an expert in your industry and writes about it all the time is a better influencer than someone who has more social media followers who aren’t interested in your product.
How Do You Attract Influencers?
Serve them something sweet. Pay influencers with interesting content. People like to laugh, they like upbeat stories, and they like viral videos and information that they can share with their friends. There is a reason sites like Upworthy are the fastest growing segment in video media sites.
In order to find influencers, you have to have a heavy social media presence on Facebook and Twitter, and you have to work them constantly. You really should have a blog as part of your website. Most websites are static and the content doesn’t change on a daily basis. A blog is a more casual and personal way to share information and reach influencers. If you can’t write content yourself, you should find someone who has a way with words to do it for you. You need compelling content and images. By linking to social influencers’ blogs, you can ask them to link back to yours. This is link bait and it works. Engaging bloggers to write about your product is great, if they have followers. Bloggers who post once a month or occasionally aren’t going to be noticed in the grand scheme of things. You need someone who posts every day.
Sites like Trendhunter, Huffington Post, and Mashable post a lot of blogs and get mega hits. If you can get one of these sites to write about your business, you will gain influence. You can also learn valuable information to use in your marketing efforts by reading influencer blogs.
What are the trends and are you keeping up with them? According to Trendhunter, pop-up stores are becoming even more popular. Pop-up stores have been around for eons. A vacant storefront may suddenly become a Christmas gift shop for a few weeks or a company that has overstock may decide to rent a vacant store to sell discount books. The pop-up retail of today is like a viral video or a flash mob; it’s designed to attract attention for one or two days to promote a unique product or service. This is the kind of thing that social influencers love to attend and talk about.
While you don’t have to pay influencers money to get them to talk about your product, you can sweeten your chances by sending them free product so that they can try it out. Add the most influential people to your email marketing and provide them with insider information or previews of new products just before you launch to the general public. Give them something to talk about.