Let’s face it – it’s a brand influencer’s world, and we’re just living in it. Yet who is this Brand Influencer enigma? This oft-elusive person who extols the virtues of brands, thwarts negative comments with a single type stroke, and exacts mass shares with a well-timed meme? Well folks, it is you and me.
Marketers often forget that they are speaking to themselves. After all, we are consumers just like the rest of the world. We buy our favorite brands, we jump on the social bandwagon for a cause, and we express our opinions in the social space more often than not. In fact, at NOBL, we won’t take on an account that we don’t love. Why? Because to us, we always want our voice to be genuine.
So what exactly does this mean for marketers when it comes to building brand influencers online? Simply put, it means to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Treat them as you would want to be treated by a brand that you love.
85 percent of social media users believe companies should interact with customers. Which is a scary statistic for marketers who are afraid of a public #epicfail and a swift escort to the unemployment line. Be not afraid though, because by recruiting brand influencers correctly, you can mitigate some of your risks.
For the purposes of this article, we are discussing brand influencers, not brand advocates. A great explanation of the difference can be found here.
Now for the good stuff! Here are 10 tried and true tactics for finding and fostering brand influencers online:
Find your friends AND your enemies. As you work to build up a loyal following, monitor your channels closely for the perfect and imperfect brand influencer fits. For the former it is easy: They are your most loyal and vocal fans. For the latter it means taking that person who is always on the attack and showing them why YOU love the brand and why they should too. Starting with your most popular channel, monitor it closely to identify your brand’s top friends and foes. Depending on the size of your audience, on average, create a list of 10-20 people on which to focus. A good split is 80% friend, 20% foe.
Comment as appropriate to who is posting from your list. If it is young girl who posts a picture, respond in kind with, “Totes adorbs,” + some emojis. If it is a mom and you’re a mom, reference a situation with your child. If it is a person from a particular affinity group, care about what they care about too. For example, here at NOBL, we are big fans of My Little Pony, so in response to our beloved bronies we might reply, “Princess Celestia is an awesome alicorn!” And she is! (P.S. an alicorn is part unicorn, part Pegasus.)
Respond with heart, empathy, humor, and be well informed. If they are taking the time to post, they want to be heard – make sure they are and in a timely manner. They want more, so bring them into the loop by sprinkling in fun facts and new product information they can then share on your channels and on their other channels. The Posts to Page section on Facebook is a great place for these types of conversations.
Haters gonna hate but don’t shake them off…just yet. Sometimes your most vocal opponents are uber-fans who simply want you to do better. Quite possibly, they love the brand more than you do. Hear them out. Many times they can see things that you are missing. For example, did you change a policy that has been met with opposition? Enemies turned brand influencers can be your most vocal proponent and a great voice of reason for why things have changed. Oftentimes it is because they often see things more clearly and in black and white.
Appropriately like and don’t like. “Like” your brand influencers' comments to show that you agree with them and appreciate them being a cherished part of your community. Conversely, don’t like their comments if they are off – thereby setting up a pattern of what is acceptable to post and what is not. Sometimes well-placed silence speaks louder than words.
Thank them for goodness sakes! Thank them for their post via a tag if they were helpful – ex. “@Bob is right Stacy, that product is now back online! Whoo-hoo!” Fans and collectors can be great resources for historical information; so let them know they are appreciated!
Let them hold the reins once in a while. It’s ok! Sit back and relax on occasion and don’t answer a post if your brand influencer has answered the question correctly, and make sure to “like” the brand influencer’s comment. After all, it is a community; a fact that brands often forget when they go into control freak mode. You know who you are...
Show them the love! Answer them directly and a little bit more intimately if they make a comment – ex. BA: “You guys should make a dog collar that lights up at night!” Company: “Anything for a favorite fan like you, Nicole. ;) We’ll add it to our favorite requests list!” Great people = great ideas.
Be a brand ambassador! Get more involved with one of your favorite brands and see where it goes. In your day job as a social media strategist, you try so hard to control the conversation that you forget to be a part of it. Pick a brand and dive into the community. Practice what you preach.
Learn to let it go. Sorry, but you can’t control everything. As hard as you might try, your audience will skewer you if the bandwagon conductor says so. The beauty of having brand influencers is that they can be your voice of reason. All of the things you’d love to say, but can't, such as, “We didn’t make a pink version because the last time we did, we sold 1 and had to eat the remaining inventory and lay off 100 people accordingly.” They can.
By cultivating your audience and brand influencers, they become an integral part of your community in coming to your defense when needed, sharing important announcements, providing valuable historical information, and so much more. Additionally, oftentimes a brand ambassador’s voice is trusted more than the “corporate voice.” We have a slew of lawyers breathing down our necks; they don’t.
When creating brand influencers online, just remember to value all that they are and treat them like a blessing. Because, quite frankly, that brand influencer might just be little ole you.