When influencer marketing first started making waves it was mainly focussed on reaching the audiences of people with very big followings. This usually meant paying to partner with celebrities or trying to build relationships with journalists. But this has evolved significantly in recent times.
Now, anyone with even a small authority among their peers or following can be an influencer, because we have learned that motivating one person to action is more powerful than broadcasting an empty message to millions.
But if they’re not already operating as self-proclaimed influencers, why would you put the work in to helping your customers become influencers at all? Put simply, customers convert other customers. AdWeek reports that 92% of us trust recommendations from other people, even strangers, over content that brands create and publish themselves.
So now you know why it’s important, this is how you achieve it:
Amplify your existing customers
One of the simplest way to turn customers into influencers, is to find those who are already influencing their small networks and help to spread their influence wider. But first you have to find them. Monitoring social media will allow you to track conversations – be they mass channels for consumer brands or B2B hubs like LinkedIn. Forums are another good place to mine for mentions and brand advocates. When you find the positive sentiment around your brand, amplify it by sharing it further across your online channels, tagging customers and thanking them. This tends to encourage more of the same behaviour.
Outside of digital, physical on-the-ground staff are also primed to identify potential influencers among your customers. They hear positive stories every day. They see people in-store taking photos and posting online. Encourage them to spot these customers and make them known to you.
Ask for customer feedback
If your customers aren’t yet communicating publicly about you, give them a way to do so, and give them something to talk about. You could ask for feedback. You could run a competition where you want to glean personal stories or customer testimonials. It could be as a simple as encouraging customers to use a hashtag or upload content that you can find and follow to watch engagement taking place in real time.
Attract existing influencer appreciation
Everyone wants a piece of the online influencer pie these days, from bloggers to Instagram stars, but with the rise in popularity comes the rising price to play the game. However it may be that there are customers of yours already among the existing influencer crowd. To find them, you simply have to reach out and begin to build a relationship that is mutually beneficial.
A main part of what influencers see as their primary function involves sharing information that is of value to the community they have built around themselves. So give them that information. Provide samples, experiences, exclusive invites, promotions or new information that they can use in their content.
Give them a platform
From a technical point of view, this doesn’t have to mean creating entirely new platforms for customer feedback (although some brands have done so very successfully ). It may be a matter of tapping into the existing technology such as the user generated video collation here at Vox Pop.
But you are most likely using your own platforms in your marketing communications to engage with and thank customers, you’re just not fully optimising those opportunities to convert customers into influencers. When it comes to thank you emails, pop-up contact forms on your website or new product announcements, begin to think of all these as chances to ask for customers to advocate for you within their own networks.
Reward your customers
Just like with professional influencers, customer influencers should be treated well. Their dedication to your brand and help in growing it shouldn’t be taken for granted. Yes, giving them news and information to share is valuable, but so to is the retention of their custom. So look after them.
Think simple listening tools for feedback, exclusive offers, or a peer-to-peer deal that helps them to help others while they help you. You could then reward them for performance, as you would any sales lead generator, with discounts or offers for referral business.