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May 03 Influencers: The Target Audience Brands Can't Afford to Ignore

How influencers can activate your target audience.

Every good marketing strategy starts with a clear definition of the audiences we're trying to impact. We give audiences cute little names like "Moms on a Mission" and "Tech Ninjas". We spend hours pouring over data about their interests, digital habits, and income levels. Then we set a strategy to reach these folks, plan out timing, do some creative work and hit the launch button. Just like that, we're reaching the end consumer with a powerful marketing message months in the making.

The Importance of Online Influencers

But end consumers are smart. They recognize messages coming from the brand and often take them with a grain of salt. While brands are becoming more trusted in the age of the transparency, we need to consider ways to get our messages out there from the mouths of people our end consumers trust -- and that's where influencers come in.

Select Advertising Types by Format (North America only) from Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey, Q1 2015 Select Advertising Types by Format (North America) Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey, Q1 2015


They have proven to be more powerful than TV ads, banner ads, social media posts, and every other form of brand owned messaging imaginable when it comes to influencing purchase behavior.

In fact, the study, conducted by Nielsen Catalina Solutions in conjunction with Carusele partner TapInfluence and CPG company WhiteWave Foods, found that the influencer campaign generated $285 in incremental sales for every 1000 viewers. TapInfluence notes this is 16x higher ROI than the average digital marketing campaign analyzed, and 11x better return than a traditional banner ad campaign.

~Jim Tobin, Carusele

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A Shift in the Influencer Marketing Landscape

Great! Influencers sell product. Now how do you activate influencers for your brand?

Facebook Marketing Cartoon
We used to say influencers wanted four things:

1. Content

2. Credibility

3. Traffic

4. Backlinks

As you well know in trying to produce your own branded content to keep up with the pace of social media, producing great content is hard work! And it's not any easier for online influencers, whose awesome content is what makes them appealing to their followers. So when many influencers were starting out, they appreciated brands reaching out with content ideas, then benefited greatly from the credibility, traffic and backlinks brands could offer them.

Today, it's a seller's market and the power dynamic has flipped. Most influencers don't need brands to help them build a following. Today, they're using their followings to make money from the brands who need them and what they're looking for from brands has changed. Sure, they still enjoy the traffic and credibility working with large brands affords them but a single theme emerges: RESPECT.

In this November 2015 CrowdTap poll, influencers say factors that make working with a brand appealing come down to respect for their craft. And that respect is shown through creative freedom, relevancy and compensation.

It all comes down to respecting their craft. Today's influencers want three things:

1. Creative Freedom

2. Compensation

3. Relevant Work

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Two Influencer Engagement Strategies for Every Brand

There are two ways to work with influencers and brands should never pick just one. By coupling broad-reach influencer activations with slow-drip relationship building strategies brands can end up with an army of influencer advocates who create powerful and sustained content about their brand, reaching audiences for an insanely efficient price tag.


Broad Reaching Influencer Activations

These are the types of campaigns brands are comfortable with. They're large activations designed to support a core brand message, product launch, tent-pole campaign, etc.  Influencers should be hand-selected based on content and audience fit, then compensated fairly to produce sponsored content that aligns with both their unique point-of-view and the brand's core message. This content reaches the influencers' following and is often discovered by those searching for related topics via search and social networks.

Brands can even take this approach a step further by layering in targeted content marketing campaigns like we do at Carusele to extend reach far beyond the influencers' own networks of followers.

A unique approach to influencer marketing designed to get authentic brand Content Everywhere®


Building Influencer Advocates

Let's start by getting grounded in reality. Brands are selfish and impatient beasts, rarely willing to give without an immediate return. But this my friends is where so many brands fall flat when it comes to influencer marketing.  Like any other form of media distribution, buying reach from influencers to make a traceable impact on your bottom line is going to cost you. But there are ways brands with budgets large and small can engage and benefit from influencers when you're not investing six figures -- but you'll need to get comfortable with playing the long game.

Brands Quid-Pro-Quo with InfluencersYou'll need to get comfortable in building real relationships, ones that are mutually beneficial.

You know when you get married, and people say the key to a happy marriage is to be selfless? To give more than you receive? No? Never got that advice? Well that's how you should think about building long-term relationships with influencers. In the short-term, it's going to feel like a lot of giving, with very little "getting". But in the end, you'll find out just how fulfilling that type of relationship can be. Let's go back to what all influencers want when they're not asked to give anything in return.

What you'll find, is that by giving influencers these things regularly, through everyday activities, you'll end up with real brand advocates who talk about you even when you don't pay them. Having built some equity over time, you'll probably find when you do ask for something, they're willing to do more for less and often end up giving more than you asked for in the end.

So, are you in for the long game? Check out these 8 ways to build influencer relationships for your brand to get you started.