Daunted by the seemingly insurmountable task of identifying an influencer that ticks all the boxes? Look no further than your own customer base for organic influencers. They are your brand’s strongest advocates, ready to promote your products to their sizable social media following. Their genuine interest in your brand makes them the ultimate candidates for authentic influencer partnerships!
Why brands should leverage customers as influencers
Working with influential customers as a way to pinpoint audience targeting? – sounds too good to be true! In Influencer Marketing, it’s typical to search for an influencer who has followers in your target audience based on customer demographic data. Yet, a major benefit to working with influencers directly from your customer base is that you’re guaranteed to be working with someone who truly gets your target audience. Both in terms of demographics (things like age, sex, location) but also psychographics (the mindset and affinities of your costumer). They are one after all!
Working with influential customers can be more authentic. To avoid the trap of unrealistic partnerships, an influencer should be compatible with their brand partner or else the collaboration risks coming off as inauthentic. Of course, working with influencers who are already customers helps resolve this skepticism around promotion. If they’ve used the products or service in the past, by de facto they’re much more believable advocates.
Influencers who already support your brand are the easiest ones to recruit. Upfluence analysts found that influencers who have expressed brand affinity (for example, a positive brand mention on social media) have the highest open rates during the outreach phase. This means that working with customer influencers can reduce time spent on outreach, expedite the recruitment process, and improve ROI (as monetary offerings can be supplemented with coveted samples/brand experiences… but more on that later.)
Finding influencers in your customer base
Now, thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever to pinpoint “organic advocates” or influencers among your consumers. We suggest two approaches to brands: looking back to find past influential customers and looking forward with the aim of catching future influential customers.
Retroactively identifying influential customers:
- Using social listening tools to find influencers who have mentioned your brand online.
- Analyzing your existing social media following for influencers.
Building a network of influential customers:
Asking customers to share their social media at checkout via a tailored pop-up in exchange for special rewards gives brands the opportunity to analyze their customers’ social data to identify those with the biggest and most engaged audiences across social media channels and therefore have the potential for brand partnerships.
E-commerce brands can seamlessly integrate Upfluence’s Live Capture tool within their e-commerce site to collect and analyze the social profiles submitted in this way in order to build a network of their brand’s most influential customers. Once key influencers are identified, the Upfluence platform will support the full implementation of an influencer marketing campaign from influencer outreach, content creation, payment, and analytics.
Brands can also proactively promote ambassador opportunities on social media, newsletters, and via dedicated landing pages.
How to activate influential customers
Influencers who already support a brand are uniquely suited for ongoing mutual partnerships.
- They know what the brand offer is
- They can be incentivized by product
- They’re confident referring it to others
We recommend that brands leverage their influencer’s “organic affinity” by mixing and matching aspects of referral, affiliate, and brand ambassador programs. The idea is to create an offer that influencers can’t turn down. It should be fun, on-brand, and mutually beneficial.
You can incentivize influencers with experiences like inviting them to launch parties, sending them a new product to test before it goes live, even offering influencers an allowance to their online stores. Since the influencer is already a customer, it’s good to mix payment with non-monetary value… diversifying the offer keeps the influencer involved and differentiates your brand from another that may only offer money. If the goal is to create more authentic content, nurturing ongoing relations (outside of just money) is the only way.
For brands looking to improve their influencer marketing partnerships, activating their customer base is the obvious next step. From what we’ve seen at Upfluence, exploiting pre-existing relationships has benefits at each stage of the influencer process: from identification and performance to program longevity. By working with customer influencers, brands can expect:
- Easier onboarding
- Greater audience-match
- Longer-term, more dynamic partnerships
- Better content
All of which implies better ROI because,
- Reduced time and resources are being spent on outreach and negotiation
- Better matching audiences are more likely to convert
- Ambassador programs rely on a mix of monetary and non-monetary compensation
- Valuable content can be repurposed in future marketing materials
Most importantly, though: influencers who have organic interest in a brand make for more authentic advocates in the eyes of consumers.
We’re not suggesting that brands pull influencers exclusively from their customer base… (It is possible to find compatible personalities who’ve never heard of a brand before). That being said, we urge brands to add this strategy to their toolbox moving forward.
Working with customer influencers is surely a step towards more authentic influencer marketing– a critical edge in today’s saturated ads landscape. So if there are influencers in your customer base, now is the time to activate them.