We work with a lot of businesses and companies that tend to ask two similar questions:
“What more can I do to get the phone ringing?”
“How can I increase traffic to my site?”
One of the most tried and true methods of accomplishing these tasks is through word-of-mouth marketing. It’s simple: the more people know about you and your business, the more they’re likely to trust you and consider the product or service you have to offer! This is becoming increasingly important as social media has become the primary avenue in which these conversations begin. In fact, a recent study from the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that when we lack enough evidence to make a purchasing decision on our own, we’re more likely to copy other people’s choices, especially if they’re people we trust. In the land of word-of-mouth marketing, we call those referrals. But when referrals are combined with social media, they form a powerful marketing strategy that your business can benefit from: influencer marketing.
How influencer marketing works
As a business, influencer marketing is when you find individuals and entities online that have prominent or large social media followings. By reaching out and striking up partnerships with them, you can create opportunities for your brand to be seen and heard by their audience. For example, if Shelly is an author and wants to promote her latest children’s book, she could get the best exposure by sending copies of her book to popular parent bloggers who like to review literature for their kids. Because these bloggers are so popular, if they like and endorse Shelly’s book, their readers are going to be much more likely to buy that book than if they had simply just seen an ad on Google for it.
How about another example? Let’s use Richard’s automotive company. They sell and service cars, and want to get more people to visit their dealership. What can they do besides a traditional ad in the newspaper? Get more of their customers to review them! By asking for feedback (while simultaneously striving their hardest to provide a top-of-the-line experience) Richard’s automotive company is building authority. As consumers, we often turn to business reviews during our research for a product or service, and the more reviews a business has, the more it is likely to be seen as trustworthy. Influencer marketing comes into play when Richard can strike up conversations with well known Twitter users, bloggers, or thought leaders in his community. If you can prove yourself as an asset to those users, and gain their trust to utilize your product or services, the endorsement they give will be much more powerful than a review from an average customer.
Can new or small businesses take advantage of this?
Definitely! There’s often a hesitation that a strategy like this is only available to big brands, who can reach out to top athletes, celebrities, bloggers, and Youtube users, to set up large partnerships that are out of reach for most small businesses. However, this doesn’t mean that small businesses can’t take advantage of influencer marketing! It starts by thinking local—start with influencers in your community and area, and build your way up from there.