If you're one of those folks who has tried to launch your brand using Twitter and Instagram, you might have discovered the ugly truth all those social media gurus leave out: building an audience on social is neither fast nor free. So what if you could focus on what you do best -- i.e. create content around your product or service -- and then "borrow" an audience.
With people blocking online ads, influencer marketing becomes the logical choice. The numbers don't lie. According to Youtube statistics, roughly 70 percent of teen subscribers relate with vloggers more than celebrities on screen, and four out of 10 Millennials relate with their favorite online personalities better than their friends.
And this phenomenon isn't limited to YouTube. When it comes to information products, authors, bloggers, and podcasters often have massively loyal followings that will download, purchase and try anything they endorse.
So how do you get a busy influencer's attention? Especially if you don't yet have a ton of social currency yourself?
"First, make sure you're finding the influencers who are the best fit for your business, " says forensic strategist and keynote speaker, Steve Olsher. "These are the people that you are fully aligned with in terms of values, branding, audience, language and more.
"Next, research what the influencer's current 'currency' is and identify ways that you can help them achieve their desired objective, and then do it."
Steve and I recently sat down and shared ideas on the best ways for small businesses to break into influencer marketing when they have no budgets and scarce resources. As a successful entrepreneur, a New York Times best seller and fellow media expert, Steve has spent years honing this process.
Here are five insights that came from our conversation that I took back to my team:
1. Follow their call to action.
This one's easy. You don't have to take Steve's word for it. Just take the influncer's.
Subscribe to their channel, click like, and leave a comment. Post rave reviews. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or whatever their social network is.
It takes less than a minute, and best of all, it's free. By showing your support, you make the first step to build a relationship. After all, this is their bread and butter. The more views and followers they have the more incentives they receive.
Despite having thousands or even millions of subscribers, most of them do take the time to respond to their fan base. Being part of it allows you to reach out to them seamlessly.
It also keeps you on the loop, so you know what they like.
2. Promote them to your circle.
Whether you have 10 followers or 10,000 doesn't matter. There's really no magic number. The key is to merge your connections with the influencer's followers.
Publicly update your tribe with their latest posts. Give a shout-out about their latest works.
By sharing the influencer's feed, you provide value to them. Depending on how they react, it may or may not be noticed, but if it does, they may recognize your efforts and return the favor.
3. Support their cause.
Oftentimes, the most influential people are driven by their own calling. Figure out what they believe in and fight alongside them. Support charities they mention, or help promote one of their causes.
If you have the opportunity to meet them in person, take it. Join an event they're passionate about, so you can have the chance to talk to them face-to-face.
Show that you are both on the same page, and you're interested in working together. While this may not directly impact your business, it strengthens your ties. People are more likely to help those they consider allies.
4. Be their greatest fan.
Send them a personal note sharing how meaningful their work is. Give praise for their achievements, and thank them for their impact on your life. Leave them glowing reviews of their books on Amazon and respond thoughtfully to any critics that may be lowering their ranking.
Influential people sit atop a mountain of hard work and dedication. But they have their fair share of criticism. Validating their success is a thoughtful way of spreading positivity, and it's a way of breaking the ice.
5. Sponsor them.
Do you have an amazing product they might be interested in? Send them a sample, and ask them to review it. Who doesn't love receiving gifts?
Although it seems like you're giving away freebies, you're exchanging it for exposure. Compared to money spent on ads, this is more cost-effective.
Even if they aren't head over heels over it, their review can spark a conversation in the comment section and may pique your target customers' interest.
If they do love it, then you have a clear winner. It's already been tried and tested by someone people trust. Their fans are more likely to check it out for themselves.
The true key here is consistency.
Setting up 15 minutes in your calendar to hit your target influencer's various channels on a daily basis is really all you need. Pick 5 influencers, try it for 30 days without falling off the wagon and you will be amazed at the gains you'll make.