As the influencer marketing industry becomes more and more robust, the definition of “influencer” has also evolved. Long gone are the days that only celebrities and famous thought leaders could influence the public. Businesses and brands recognize that influencers have more nuances and niches that can surpass the size of their reach. In fact, everyone has a certain degree of influence: employees, friends, family, and most importantly, your diverse customer base.
They are a natural fit for your brand and have already proved their loyalty by purchasing your products. If you haven’t started to explore how influential your consumers can be, now’s the time to question why and how to leverage your best ambassadors.
Who are your best influencers?
There are different tiers of influencers that you can consider:
- Superstars: Celebrities, industry thought leaders, famous public figures.
- “Traditional” influencers: People with a recognizable following on social media, most likely to have frequently worked with brands.
- Inner circle: Your customers, friends, employees.
- Self: Your own brand’s social media, or personal account to self-promote.
Depending on your budget and goals, you can choose one or several of these influencer types to reach your audience. It is common practice for brands to leverage a mix of influencer types, in order to maximize their audience reach.
Creating the perfect mix of influencer channels
If you exclusively only work with celebrities, for example, you risk the chance of appearing ungenuine. (Remember when every celebrity star was promoting the same weight loss gummy bear?) On the flip side, if you only rely on your customers’ word-of-mouth, it might take longer to reach a larger audience. Having a good mix of influencer types doesn’t only increase the quantity of your outreach coverage, it also increases the quality as well.
In the world of marketing, repetition features highly! The Financial Brand reminds us of how people are more likely to make a purchase after seeing an advertisement multiple times. In the world of marketing, repetition features highly! (Ok, I’ll stop!) By diversifying your influencer types, you have a better chance of sharing your brand’s message via multiple channels. In other words, when an influencer, some of your friends, and a member of your family all recommend a product, you are more likely to purchase it compared to just one recommendation, right?
Last but not least, utilizing these different channels of influencers helps you segment and target your niche audience more accurately. While a large profile influencer can help get your brand on the map, a much smaller, every-day user like one of your customers, can get your brand on the radar of those who resonate on a more relatable level.
Why customers, employees, and fans make the best ambassadors
If you have already worked with influencers, you will know that there are essentially three important requirements for a fitting collaboration:
- Authenticity: The influencer must love your product in order to vouch for it.
- Representation: The influencer must represent your brand well, such as similar messaging, aesthetics, values, etc.
- Practicalities: The influencer’s size, platform, schedule, etc. must fit your budget and other business demands.
Using the same principle to look for influencers within your circle, you will quickly recognize that most of your customers, employees, and brand fans fit the first two requirements. They are already familiar with and in love with your brand and products, as well as already being a part of your customer base.
With that in mind, you automatically save time and effort when building your influencer database. Utilizing your customers as your influencers also strengthens the relationship and loyalty between your brand and the customer. Furthermore, it is a particularly fulfilling brand awareness and sentiment sequence when customers and fans become influencers for your brand.
How to get them onboard
The simple answer is: Just ask. Especially since your customers, fans, or employees are already expressing loyalty through purchases and online engagement, the idea of ‘officially’ partnering with their favorite brands could be irresistible. Let’s explore a few best practice techniques:
- Look into your customer database or your brand’s social media accounts, and directly reach out to customers/followers.
- Automate a referral program where customers can send their unique links to friends or family for discounts.
- Provide customers with a discount/free gift/free shipping in exchange for their social media information and collaboration.
- Run a “brand ambassador” or giveaway campaign. For example, “Tag us in your selfies wearing our product for a chance to become the next face of our brand!”
- Sell merchandise with your brand’s name on it. (Glossier, a makeup company, sells seasonal merchandise with their name on it. For example, their pink Glossier sweatshirt sold out quickly, and customers who rocked the outfit immediately became their influencer!)
- Include visually appealing wrapping, freebies (stickers, add-ons, etc.), or other personalized goodies (names, thank you notes, etc.) so customers are encouraged to share their experience with you on their social media accounts.
(Tip: The Upfluence Live Capture tool makes this process seamless and effective.)