Humans are social animals. We rely on our circle of family and friends for support and assistance. We also tend to trust people we admire and often model our behaviour after theirs. This simple fact along with the explosion of the internet and social media has led to the rise of digital influencers – and consequently, influencer marketing.
But what exactly do influencers do and why should event organisers consider using them around their events?
We spoke to Oleh Koropenko from 99firms.com, a top listings site for online marketing agencies, who shared with us some insight on the value of influencers and how organisations can use influencer marketing to boost their events. Have a look at what he had to say:
Who are Influencers?
An influencer could be anyone from an A-list celebrity to your next-door neighbour. The only criterion is that they must have a substantial following on some type of online platform. They could be running a blog, creating a podcast, or own a popular social media account. Influencers act as a useful marketing tool precisely because they have a fanbase that already trusts them.
When it comes to marketing, trust is essential. Let’s say that you’re planning a conference about SEO for startups. You have all the standard options when it comes to promoting the event. You can put ads on Facebook, for example, and hope that they’ll be convincing enough to encourage people to book a seat.
Here is what the influencer marketing approach would look like in this scenario: What if you could get MOZ founder, Rand Fishkin to speak at the event? He left MOZ last year to strike out in a new business venture. He’d be able to speak as both an SEO expert and an entrepreneur.
Even if it wasn’t possible for him to be a speaker, he’d still make an excellent choice of influencer for promoting the event. He’s positioned himself as one of the leading industry experts when it comes to SEO.
He’d get the word out to his existing followers. His audience trusts him, so if he said that your conference was worth checking out, you’d get a lot of traction. This type of word-of-mouth recommendation is usually worth much more than a media ad.
This is true on one condition—you must choose your influencer wisely. If you don’t make the right choice, you could end up footing the bill and still not getting the results you’d hoped for. Let’s go over some hacks which will make the process of hiring an influencer as painless as possible and mutually beneficial.
Hack #1 – The More the Merrier?
When it comes to followers, it might sound like the “the more, the merrier” is a good philosophy to follow. In theory, it makes sense that the higher the number of people who receive a message, the better. Let’s do a thought experiment and explore whether this is actually the case. You’ve decided you want maximum exposure, so you settle on industry experts like Rand Fishkin or Neil Patel as your influencer.
After all, they’ve got millions of businesspeople following their advice. If one of them promotes your event, you’re getting the message out to millions. Before you start celebrating, though, let’s think about it logically. Let’s say that the conference is being held in London.
What fragment of Fishkin and Patel’s millions of followers is from London? How many would be able to attend the conference there? Also, what percentage of their followers would be interested in SEO as it affects startups? If you take those factors into consideration, you’re narrowing the range of their influence substantially. That’s assuming that you can afford to hire them as influencers.
On paper, hiring Fishkin or Patel makes sense for maximum exposure. In reality, finding a more local influencer who has a more carefully-defined target market would be a lot more cost-effective. Add the fact that engagement drops as the number of followers grow, and you’re better off looking for someone with a moderate following of 1,000 to 10,000 people.
So, let’s change our thinking from seeing the ideal influencer as someone who has an impressive number of followers, to someone who might have a smaller but more relevant following. You need to align yourself with an influencer who has a target audience which is similar to yours.
How can you effectively personalise the attendee experience? How much of it should you do? And how do you measure the results? Learn how to engage more with attendees by getting your FREE copy of ‘The Event Planner’s Guide to Personalisation’
Hack #2 – Look Out for Fake Followers
Another reason not to rely solely on the number of followers on social media, in particular, is because people can “buy” followers. These are fake accounts used to bolster numbers on the channel and might not be an accurate representation of someone’s reach.
One way to spot fake followers is to monitor engagement. A true influencer gets people talking, garnering organic comments on their posts.
Those with fake followers can buy likes and shares, and potentially a few comments as well, but the engagement ends there. Be on the lookout for a lot of generic posts, with phrases such as “Great post” that don’t go into detail or are impersonal.
Another way to check is to choose a few followers at random and click on their profiles. Fake profiles won’t have a lot of personal photos and posts and probably won’t have a lot of friends either.
Also, check how many pages the profile follows. If they’re following a thousand pages, but only have five followers of their own, they may be fake.
Hack #3 – Make Sure Your Values are in Alignment
Let’s get back to our SEO conference in London. It’s aimed at entrepreneurs who want to make it big. Now, imagine that you were able to get Bernie Sanders, the American senator to promote it.
The senator is outspoken about corporate greed and malfeasance. He’s known for saying that the wealthy need to make a bigger contribution to the welfare of the poor. These are not bad things, but how well will they sit with your audience, many of whom have aspirations of joining the top 1% in terms of wealth? To succeed in influencer marketing, you must choose a person with brand values which are similar to yours.
Hack #4 – Get to Know Your Influencer Beforehand
Do a touch of cyberstalking here. What causes is your influencer passionate about? Are there any openings you might find to start a conversation? Say, for example, that the influencer posts a picture of their new puppy. If you have a dog as well, it could be a way to start a conversation.
Follow their feeds for a week or two and see what they’re all about. Find out as much as possible about them before you consider approaching them.
Hack #5 – Build a Relationship
If you thought cold-calling a prospect was hard, you haven’t seen anything yet. Influencers are constantly bombarded with requests to promote products. Sending in a request similar to many others could result in getting ignored.
A better way around is to start getting active on the influencer’s feed. Leave insightful comments which show that you’re actually paying attention. Instead of writing a generic reply, give it some serious thought. Share their posts and let them see that you’re an active member of the community without spamming their feed.
Take it one step further and start commenting on pages that your influencer follows. Look at sharing content that would interest them. This way, the influencer will start seeing you as a valuable follower. This could help open doors when you do finally approach them about promoting your product.
Hack #6 – Think About What You Can Offer
Let’s not beat around the bush here – the influencer is the commodity, so they have the upper hand in these negotiations. This means that they are free to set their own price. That said, your company could also have a fair amount to offer, so it’s important to understand your value.
That’s another reason for you to get to know the influencer better. By doing so, you may be able to find something that would appeal to them outside of just handing over some cash.
Let’s get back to our conference example for a second. You could offer:
- Tickets/VIP passes that the influencer could give away or use
- A strategy session with one of the speakers
- Video snippets of the event
Give it some thought, and you’re bound to come up with ideas of your own. It’s also worth offering to promote the influencer’s channel or an event they’re associated with.
Hack #7 – Offer an Exclusive Deal
Another approach to convincing an influencer to collaborate with you is offering them an exclusive deal on your product or service for their audience. This can also be useful for you when it comes to monitoring how much value the influencer brings. You could give them a special deal on tickets if they use the registration discount code given out on the channel.
Registration systems can help you see exactly how well the exercise worked by totaling up the number of people who cashed in on the deal. That’s not going to be much use now, but it could help you to decide whether or not to continue the collaboration.
Think of approaching your event’s influencer as a business deal because that’s exactly what it is. Find someone who has similar values, and who operates in your niche or a complementary one. Build your relationship with them.
You have to offer a unique value proposition that they find enticing. Make it worth their while, and you could even get away with paying in product rather than cash.
Influencers need to keep their followers interested as well so they’re always on the lookout for great content and deals to share. Cash in on this by presenting a well-thought-out offer.
Taking the time to research the best approach to use influencer marketing around your events can really pay off and help you make the most of this exciting marketing tool.
Would you like similar articles delivered to your inbox? Why not sign up to our weekly EventTech Talk newsletter for tips, analysis and research reports on all the latest technology and marketing trends shaping