How often do you buy things recommended by your favorite bloggers? More often than you’d expect, I bet.
Influencers have drastically changed the way marketing works today. They have an authentic way of communicating with a diverse segment of people. Plus, these promotions are highly credible for your brand as they come from someone they trust. The impact is often more significant than any other paid form of marketing.
However, how does a brand like yours convert short-term influencer campaigns into long-standing endorsement relationships? The answer lies in turning your influencers into brand advocates.
In this article, you’ll learn how to create that kind of relationship and nurture it. But before that, let’s look at the differences between influencers and brand advocates.
How do influencers and brand advocates differ?
Many people who aren’t very acquainted with social media tend to confuse influencers and brand advocates. However, they differ in many aspects, particularly in their relationships with their followers and the brands they represent.
An influencer is an individual who can affect the purchasing decisions of a buyer because of their popularity or relationship with the audience. Influencers usually partner with brands for different campaigns on a monetary or barter basis.
Brand advocates, on the other hand, share a long-term commitment with brands. Their partnership is not limited to specific promotional campaigns. They know the brand personally, use its products and are more than happy to share recommendations without being formally asked to do it. Because they genuinely love the brand, they might even do those without any compensation.
Brand advocates are loyal brand fans, while influencers may or may not think positively about the brand. As long as they get compensated to promote a product, everything is good!
In terms of credibility, brand advocates can still be effective with follower counts of less than 1,000. Influencers, however, must have a good following to be considered paid promoters. While Instagram doesn’t have an official follower count that an influencer should achieve to get paid, CNBC estimates that an Instagram account should have at least 5,000 followers and 308 sponsored posts a year to earn $100,000.
Additionally, brand advocates form stronger connections with the audience because their feedback is self-testified. Many influencers grow so popular that it is almost impossible to create deep relationships with every follower. Plus, many of them don’t have a genuine trust in the products they endorse and are only in it for the money. That harms credibility.
The way I see it, one of the main differences between brand advocates and influencers is the level of influence they have over their followers. Influencers leverage their follower count to earn a living. Brand advocates, on the other hand, can have a small but more loyal follower base that brands can count upon to generate credibility and revenue.
Therefore, having influencers who are your brand advocates would allow you to fetch organic credibility and influence diverse audience groups in your favor. So, how do you do that? Read on.
Picking the right influencers to turn into brand advocates
Although it would be great to build relationships with every influencer out there, the truth is, it’s not possible. Besides, not all influencers can help your brand. If you sell makeup, an influencer specializing in food won’t be able to help you. Their audience is primarily composed of people looking to cook, not to have their faces painted on, in the first place.
In other words, you need to choose those influencers you’ll turn into your brand advocates.
There are other factors you need to look at, apart from their audience. For instance, look at the types of content the influencers create. Do they align with your brand voice? Do they use humor as you do, or are they more formal?
Remember, you want people who speak like your brand unless you’re looking to reach an entirely different market. Check the influencers’ content engagement, too.
Monitor how well the audience perceives their posts and the tone of their messaging— is it positive or too critical? Look at the comments, likes, and shares. A high engagement rate is good. It means if they post content for your brand, that content is more likely to get that kind of engagement, too.
There are influencer marketing tools you can use to look for these influencers. Once you’ve made your list of potential influencers to collaborate with based on that criteria, use an email finder to look for their emails so you can send your proposal. Schedule follow-ups using recurring emails if they don’t immediately respond to you.
3 ways to turn influencers into brand advocates
With brands realizing the true power of influencers, they are looking to form deeper, long-term relationships with those who have people’s trust and have their support.
In short, having your batch of dedicated supporters who advocate your brand is the perfect kind of marketing that reaps results.
We have collated the top ways to turn influencers into brand advocates. These tips will help you find a brand advocate who would partner with your brand not just for one or two campaigns but would stay committed towards it for the long term.
1. Invite them to create content for your social media handle
To turn your influencers into brand advocates, you need to help them trust you. The best way to do this is to show you trust them, too. How? By allowing them to create content for you. A social media handover is the best way to do this.
A social media handover involves identifying the right influencers who resonate with your brand and giving them the autonomy to handle your social media for a day.
As I said, it’s essential to look for influencers whose audience aligns with yours. For example, if your product is a software/IT tool, lifestyle influencers from the Fashion and Beauty domains wouldn’t be effective as their audience would have different interests.
So, what should they do as soon as they take over your social media account? Well, they can do many things, depending on what you want. For instance, they can host a simple Q/A session on Instagram stories or a series on your podcast.
Red Bull, for instance, allowed Instagram influencer Teddy Morellec to take over the brand’s Instagram account so he could post his pictures of the Red Bull Rippers event. Teddy announced the collaboration on his Instagram account:
Here’s an example of one of his posts:
Allowing influencers to handle your social media account will also help you leverage your influencer’s fanbase. Just look at the likes Teddy got in his announcement post. That’s not even a picture from the Red Bull event.
2. Partner with them for exclusive content
Influencers create new and exciting content that keeps their audience hooked. If you partner with them for exclusive content, you do three things: Generate leads for you through great content and recognize the influencer is the best at what they do.
For the influencer, that second part is important. People–including influencers–love compliments. When you give them credit where credit is due, they are more likely to remember you in the long run. They are also more likely to get into future collaborations with you. It’s great for relationship-building.
Regardless of your brand’s size, you need to provide influencers with something around which they can create content. If you’re a beauty or wellness brand, you can send them a free product sample that they can review on their social media accounts. If you run a hospitality or tourism business, you can offer a free stay at one of your properties.
For instance, Sun Peaks, a ski resort in British Columbia, partnered with Instagram influencer Callum Snape for a showcase of its top winter attractions.
The result? Callum’s stunning images and Facebook videos drove over 200,000 views for the small ski resort. The resort also managed to nurture that relationship with Callum, who promotes the resort on his website.
3. Make your brand advocacies pay for themselves
Most influencer campaigns consist of just one or two posts. Once the influencer has delivered their content, your brand has to contact them again for future campaigns. On the other hand, brand advocates are always ready to promote your brand (and do so with a very little prompting).
One way to build brand advocacy relationships is to allow influencers to monetize their partnership with your brand. In other words, the advocacy should become self-sustaining. One way to accomplish this goal is to enroll influencers in an affiliate program.
Skillshare, an online course platform-driven primarily by content creators, has a long-standing partnership with lawyer Devin Stone, who is better known for his YouTube channel LegalEagle. In his channel, LegalEagle discusses current events and popular culture in a mission to demystify the law. With over 2 million subscribers, LegalEagle is one of the world’s largest legal influencers.
Aside from his YouTube channel, LegalEagle also posts exclusive content on the Skillshare platform. He promotes Skillshare in each of his videos and offers free Skillshare trials, customer incentives, and affiliate promos in his video descriptions. As a result of his Skillshare brand advocacy, he generates revenue through his content and attracts curious viewers who might sign up for other courses on the platform.
Brands can’t ignore influencer marketing. Influencers have the power to sway the opinions of their followers. Then, collaborating with influencers makes sense if their massive audience happens to be the same audience you’re trying to reach.
Don’t just aim for one-time collaborations, though. You want a deeper relationship with these influencers. That way, they can continue to help you reach your marketing goals even after a campaign is over. In other words, your goal should be to turn your chosen influencers into brand advocates.
Follow these three tips to build those long-lasting relationships. Allow your chosen influencers to take over your social media handle, partner with them for exclusive content, and then communicate regularly even after campaigns to nurture that relationship.
So, the next time you need someone to promote your new product or service, you might not even have to ask them for that favor. Your newfound friends might just do that for you, no questions asked.
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