Influencer marketing is, without a doubt, one of the most powerful tools in any brand’s social media management strategy. Aside from having a thriving presence on social media through your own social accounts, you should also build brand awareness. This can be done through word of mouth, and boost lead generation through influencers.
That said, not all influencers are your brand advocates. In fact, none of them are — not until you convert them into loyal brand followers. Or, advocates who will wholeheartedly stand behind your brand. Until you do, your relationship will be purely business.
But if you convert them into advocates, you will create a much deeper bond that will take your brand (and the advocate’s brand) to the next level in the digital world.
And if the latest social media trends are anything to go by, you will want to double down on influencer marketing in the coming months.
So today we’re taking a deeper dive into advanced influencer marketing and taking a look at how you can convert your influencers into loyal brand advocates in 2022.
1. Let’s find you the right influencers
Some influencers you’ll never be able to convert into loyal brand followers no matter how much you try. It’s just something you’ll have to come to terms with, and the sooner you do, the sooner you’ll be able to reallocate your resources towards the most promising influencers out there.
Some influencers have different goals and different values to those of your brand, which is why they’ll never invest in creating a deeper relationship — a partnership in other words. That’s why you first need to find the key influencers with plenty of potentials to become your brand ambassadors for the long haul.
Here are the best ways to find influencers on social platforms:
- Research relevant and popular hashtags
- Run the good old Google search
- Search for local influencers through geotags
- Follow trending topics and see who’s creating content
- Use social listening tools
- Try out a dedicated influencer marketing platform
These are some of the basics, after which you need to go deeper into your influencer research and start aligning your brand identity with your potential brand advocates.
2. Align your brand identity with the influencer
In order for an influencer to become a brand advocate, they need to internalize your values and everything that makes up your brand identity. Without a doubt, this is much easier when your influencer already shares your values, tone of voice, and elements of your overall identity. If they don’t and you just started working with them because they have a large following, then you’ll have a difficult time building a meaningful relationship.
That’s why a big part of your influencer research should focus on aligning your brand’s values and personality with the influencer’s personal brand and their niche and audience. Only by focusing on the influencers that share these brand identity traits can you start grooming and nurturing them to become your lifelong advocates and partners.
3. Social media for storytelling instead of promotion
Influencers promoting your brand on social media is a timeless lead generation tactic, and by all means, keep using it in 2022. However, you can also start shifting your focus on a more inbound approach, and a more organic style of brand promotion through meaningful storytelling and quality content.
In order to leverage social media for your business in the best possible way, it’s important to create engaging content instead of focusing on direct brand promotion. Even when the influencer is promoting your discount codes or time-limited deals, make sure it’s followed by engaging narratives and compelling personal stories in order to inspire and incentivize their audience.
You can help your advocates come up with these narratives by engaging your content creators in the project as well.
4. Work with Cross-Platform Advocates
Many influencers will specialize in a single social media platform, but nowadays they are slowly branching out to lucrative networks — the likes of TikTok, Twitter, and they’re even coming back to Facebook. Diversification is a natural part of the influencer’s journey, as their audiences are consuming content on more than one online platform.
When an influencer also has a personal website, a Discord channel or a dedicated Reddit thread, you know you have a great opportunity in front of you. This is an opportunity to, for example, take your Instagram influencer marketing to the next level by engaging with your influencers on every other platform.
At this point, they will become your brand advocates and start promoting you across the web instead of just pencil you in for a couple of promotional posts.
5. Give your advocates the right incentives
Of course, in order for your influencers and advocates to promote your brand and inspire their audience to become loyal brand followers, they need to be able to provide some nice perks and incentives. There are two types of perks here: the perks you provide to your influencers and the perks you provide through your influencers.
You can build brand loyalty with your customers by having your influencers deal out special deals and discount codes. But you can also build brand loyalty for your influencers and turn them into devoted brand advocates by giving them special perks that they can unlock by becoming your trusted partners.
These perks can include everything from free merchandise to higher rates per post, as well as a long-term plan to nurture your brand-advocate relationship. If you truly care about your biggest advocates, then you will open an honest dialog with them to talk about their needs and goals.
6. Allow customers to become your advocates
There are professional influencers who can become your trusted advocates, and then there are the people who just happen to become advocates by chance. Now, turning a devoted customer into a devoted advocate is not going to happen all on its own — you need to be proactive and make the first move.
Many people are already wondering how to become an influencer on different platforms, which is your opportunity to educate them, present a plan, and give them the chance to become your advocates. This will, of course, require you to reach out with a concrete plan and a partnership proposal, special perks, and incentives, and to have an interview with them.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to do this if you just want to turn a customer into an occasional influencer, but if you want a lifelong advocate, you need to build a stronger relationship.
7. Align your content strategies for 2022
Whether you’re working with customer advocates or professional influencers, there is no denying that you need to work closely with them on their own content strategies. Content can make or break your brand’s reputation and standing on social media, so you have to make sure that your advocates are posting the right, engaging content that’s in line with your brand and their personal brands.
Assuming that you haven’t skipped the above part on how to identify influencers for your brand and your long-term goals, you should now work on aligning your content and what they are going to post throughout the month. It’s important to create consistency in the narrative and to align your marketing and sales strategies with what they’re going to post and when.
Check the content before it’s published and always make sure that it’s aligned with your corporate and product brands, as well as your current goals.
8. Know the benchmarks and define your goals
When you advertise on social media and when you’re working with advocates and influencers, you need to have some benchmarks that you can use to effectively monitor and analyze your performance. After all, how are you supposed to know that your efforts are generating the best possible results if you don’t have a reference point?
That’s why it’s important to look at social advertising benchmarks and know the industry standards, which you can use to empower your advocates by optimizing their content and the way they talk about your brand. Knowing the benchmarks and KPIs will be crucial in achieving long-term success, both for you and your advocates on social media.
9. Develop your merchandise for social media promotion
You can sell branded merchandise on any social platform, and it’s a great way to boost revenue. More importantly, though, merch is a great way to build brand awareness and engagement. Many influencers have their own merch, but they will always promote and help you sell yours, as well.
Now, devoted advocates won’t just promote custom merch for your Instagram community when you have a discount code, they will actually use it every day themselves, believe in it, and advocate for it in an organic way. With that in mind, make sure to develop some cool merch that the influencer actually needs, wants, and will enjoy.
10. Empower your advocates with video
It’s important to note that video marketing is a very powerful tool in the influencer’s arsenal, not to mention that it’s the primary content type on many platforms. What’s more, people love video content regardless if they’re on IG, Facebook, TikTok, or any other network.
This can be your opportunity to take your influencer marketing to the next level and turn them into true advocates by ramping up their video views through more engaging video formats and by helping create a cohesive video strategy for your brand and their social channel. Complemented by good storytelling and compelling written content in the description, their videos can boost your brand’s recognition online.
Influencer marketing is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal, but you can go a step further. Consider turning your best influencers into long-term brand advocates, and achieve better results over the long term by using these simple tips and tactics.
After all, as a business leader, you need to focus on the lifelong value of a brand advocate instead of the immediate ROI that an influencer can generate with their promotional posts. This is how you’ll build trust and awareness in your industry, and become a household name in the years to come.