10 Steps to Building Your Social Influencer Army
Social Media Influencer’s, or those who are actively liking and sharing content on social media channels, open up a new world of opportunity for brands to connect with consumers more directly, more organically, and at scale. By nurturing your own influencer army, and not just focusing on those being followed by thousands, you will create authentic fans who will assist in telling your stories.
Social marketing is about connecting with the people who are, or will become, your customers. Social media enables that connection. It doesn’t matter how massive the influencer audience is, but more importantly, how connected you are with your future social influencer army that is important.
Building your social influencer army starts with your approach. Once you see the sentiment around your brand, you will understand where to begin in developing content and relationships with your followers.
Follow these steps and watch as social media becomes your best marketing asset.
1. Look and Listen First. What do your customers LOVE about your brand? Forget strategizing about what Hashtag you should add to your photos or videos. Do you know how much your brand Hashtag is already being used? You should.
Do you know who is already talking about your brand in Social Media? I’m not talking about the big “Influencers” who have thousands of followers on Instagram or Twitter, but the ones with a few hundred followers, but are actively engaging with you now. You already have an army of brand ambassadors – now it is time to strategize and user generated content marketing plan to take your efforts to the next level.
2. Unleash the power of the Hashtag. Hashtags tied to posts on social media channels like Twitter and Instagram essentially categorize and tag strings of conversations together.
Following Hashtags allow you to listen to what real users are talking about, and to see what kind of content they’re posting. Monitor what relevant Hashtags are being used already, and then use this to kick-start your brand Hashtag strategy.
In addition, it is a good idea to look at the Hashtags being used organically on social media and join the thread. Get specific with the Hashtags you use, and be sure that they are broad enough to be seen, but specific enough that they are related to your brand.
In the example below, an Instagrammer posts about her new apartment using broad Hashtags like #Homeowner #Toronto and #Condolife. The condo developer could join the conversation, Like the post and welcome her to the building using the building Hashtag.
Caution. Don’t overuse the Hashtag in your posts. Once you have discovered the few that work to position your content within the right threads of content to grow your visibility, don’t Hashtag for the sake of it. 2-5 Hashtags as an example for an Instagram post is good. With that said, once you have taken the time to see what Hashtags have the most reach, and are most relevant to your brand – those are the ones to work with.
3. Define your goals and measurable objectives. Clearly define what your key-performance indicators are in your social media marketing. Are you tracking how much of your content is being shared? Are your customers sharing content with your brand? Are they providing recommendations to others? Are they reading or writing reviews? Is it photo’s that best tell your brand stories?
It isn’t the number of Likes and follows that is important, it is the engagement with your content that should be measured – and more important than that, the lead back to the point of conversion.
Drive posts as much as possible back to a place on your website, Blog or landing pages for your followers to continue the conversation with you.
Measuring Social Referrals back to your website or Blog in Google Analytics as an example is a great benchmark in seeing how effective you are in truly engaging your influencers and in making them a perspective customer.
4. Give Credit. Credit and props are the currency of Social Influencer Marketing: A like, Re-Tweet or share of content makes your followers happy. If a brand likes a photographers post on Instagram, or better yet – shares that post, or features it on their website with a shout out to the poster, the Instagrammer will quickly become a brand fan and join the influencer army. Beyond that, the influencer will likely become a regular contributor of content, and likely have positive sentiment around the brand.
Identify and amplify top performing content. Amplify the top performing content that users share around your brand. Boost a post on Facebook highlighting a great review, or great photo submitted by a fan. Social media content is somewhat perishable, but not if you can learn to leverage great content in meaningful ways.
Nova Scotia Tourism pulls in top Instagram content tagged with the Hashtag #VisitNovaScotia and displays it on their website. This results in beautiful and authentic images for the Province, and loyal contributors who are proud to display their work on the website. This also results in more visibility for the photographer, as Nova Scotia credits the image and provides a place to Follow the Instagrammer.
The simple feedback, thank you, or shout out to good content about your brand is all your influencers need. Do more than just push out content. Engage, like, respond and listen and your influencer army will build quickly.
5. Be transparent. You need to build awareness and trust around your brand, provide value to your audience, listen and be thankful for feedback, good or bad.
6. Be Creative and authentic. Do you know where your audience base and customers hang out on social channels? Take Netflix for example. They are acutely aware of what is being said about them, who their audiences are, and where they are spending their social media time. Netflix has been successful in crafting both content for viewing, and their marketing around the brand based on their users.
7. Don’t put your social media on autopilot: A generic, cut and paste response is never a good idea on social media. Be genuine and show that there is an actual person on the other end of a direct message, response or post. Most social users don’t expect a reply, so be sure to schedule time to reply. It is simple but powerful.
Your influencer army wants to know that you “get them.” Adding humour, or inside jokes to your posts will go along way to making your influencers even more engaged. Be creative with stock photography and other content you have.
8. Leverage technology Technology can help streamline your social processes, enable you to enhance your presence and maximize how efficient you are with your time. Tools like Buffer or Hootsuite to manage content, and search Hashtags to assist you in listening are key to ensuring you can follow steps 1-7.
9. Promote your ambassadors. Once you’ve started to build your army of ambassadors, start promoting them as much as they promote you. Showcase their work, write a blog about them, provide behind the scenes information for them and highlight them as the powerful and respected 3rd party that they are.
10. Tell your stories. Social media is a place to have conversations. Storytelling is the best way to connect with those who are likely to become your social influencers. Tell you stories in images, video’s, in snaps – on social channels where your target customers are spending there time.
There you have it! Follow these steps and watch as your battalion of influencers elevate your brand to new levels. Once you have the trust and admiration from your followers, and they see that you have that back for them – they will advocate, protect, share, and become your brand’s best asset.
By Alicia Whalen, Co-Founder www.Hashtagio.com
ABOUT ALICIA WHALEN: Alicia is a digital media marketing expert, blogger at ideahatching.com and the co-founder of Hashtagio – a Searchable, Shoppable and Interactive user-generated content marketing and publishing platform. Connect with Alicia on Twitter or LinkedIn and read more about digital marketing on her Blog.