Being an influencer was once the domain of just a few select characters. In fact they weren’t called influencers back then, they were called ‘celebrities’ and they were paid big bucks to promote big brands. (Think Nike and Michael Jordan, or Pepsi and Madonna). Then, less well-known celebrities got in on the action and before we knew it, every reality tv star in the world had a product line or service to sell. Hello Mylene Klass.
And then came the ‘Influencers’. These people are the online celebrities of their chosen niche. Teenagers you have never heard of have crowds of screaming fans swarming below their hotel bedrooms – their stardom coming not from music, film or tv, but from YouTube, Instagram and blogging. These are the new celebrities who bring passionate followers, and plenty of cash with them.
Just like the celebrities of old, there are degrees of stardom involved, and niche markets to fill. So whatever your product or service – be it health, home, beauty or babies, and whatever your budget – you can be sure there’s an influencer to match.
So how do you go about finding and engaging them?
If you’re new to the whole social media/influencer world then a great way to begin is to search for your niche online. For example, a quick Google of the term ‘Irish Parent Bloggers’ will bring up a whole heap of lists and bloggers to hone in on. ‘Irish food bloggers’ and other terms relevant to your business will do the same.
You then need to follow, comment, like and share their posts. Show them that you see them, understand them, and appreciate what they are doing.
Another way to find your niche’s key influencers is to find the hashtags being used by them, and follow those. This can lead you from just one influencer to a whole community of them: #babywearing #pottytraining #pblogger are all examples of popular hashtags.
Outsourcing your blogger/influencer outreach to an agency or expert in that field is a great way to get a head start on building those relationships. You could even try approaching an influencer you follow online to do it for you.
However, if you are keen to do the outreach yourself it’s important to know who you are dealing with. For example, you wouldn’t ask Taylor Swift to promote your yogurt for a few free pots, would you? But a new up and coming food blogger might be delighted to share her snaps of your hamper of goods on Instagram. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at how wrong some brands get it. Remember – the bigger the influencer the more you can expect to pay for their work (and endorsement).
It’s key to remember that influencers spend a lot of time, money, effort and knowledge building up their audiences and creating their content – so don’t expect something for nothing. Generally speaking, influencers of all levels are very professional and knowledgeable about their industry – so don’t be afraid to ask their advice either. And whatever you do – try not to offer ‘exposure’ instead of payment. That old line may well do you more harm than good in the online world.
Good luck out there!