Imagine if Google’s Sundar Pichai wrote a guest blog post on your community about the future of cloud computing. Do you think your customers would be excited?
Community professionals often struggle to finds ways of getting one piece of content - a tweet, a video, a blog post, or a discussion thread - to capture your members’ attention, pushing them to engage more. It’s an obstacle many community professionals struggle with - especially since the internet is more vast than ever, making it harder to grab anyone’s attention.
Marketers have the same problem - finding ways of getting people to engage with their content. That’s why, more and more, marketers lean on ‘influencer marketing’ to connect with prospects and deepen relationships with existing customers.
Influencer marketing is about getting prominent people in your industry to create content that connects with your members or prospects in a meaningful way. In other words, it’s a way of finding someone outside your company who has klout within your audience and using their social status to engage members or convert prospects.
Although many people think of influencer marketing is done through social media - i.e. paying an influencer to tweet about you - it’s something community professionals should learn more about and implement within their communities to spark engagement. Don’t worry - you don’t need to get the biggest names out there to be effective. Find people within your industry who will resonate and plug them into your community.
Influencer Marketing Is on the Rise
According to Altimeter’s study, The Future of Influencer Marketing, influencer marketing is on the rise. It found 43 percent of survey respondents said they currently experiment with influencer marketing and 55 percent of those said they would spend more money on it next year.
Marketers who use influencer marketing find it useful because, when done correctly, it can elevate a brand’s advocacy and awareness in a way that they can’t. People trust their peers, and influencers are at the top of the pile. It’s one thing for your company to tout its own strengths. It’s something else when someone people recognize and admire talks about why they love your company.
Influencers in Your Community
At its core, influencer marketing is about creating ‘scalable intimacy.’ It’s about ensuring as many people as possible have a personal connection with your company. Although celebrity endorsements can be helpful, it goes beyond that. Influencer marketing is about building empathy within your company, and it can do so within your community as well. Bringing in well-known people builds empathy because they humanize your community, becoming the face that everyone recognizes and trusts.
So how do you, as a community professional, create a type of influencer marketing within your community?
Community Influencer Programs
As a community professional, it probably won’t be too hard to find your community influencers, especially with the help of dashboards and analytics to dive into engagement metrics. Look for both micro-influencers - your most engaged members - and traditional influencers, like popular thought leaders. Depending on your audience, you may have influencers inside your company, such as your CEO.
Even if a few ‘influencers’ are already in your community of their own accord, you can still take that engagement to a new level - and spread it throughout your community - with some strategy. A great way to get influencers to strategically engage with members in your community is to create a community influencer program.
When creating an influencer program, let your overall community goals guide your process. Are you working on creating more thought leadership and general content creation? Or do you want to increase the number of new members who post for the first time?
Create a type of ambassador program for your influencers so you can direct their influence and enthusiasm in a direction productive for your company and community. If you want to engage new members as soon as they join, include your influencers in the onboarding process. Or, if you want more people to read your blog, ask an influencer to write a post for you. Another good place to use influencers is for discussions - if you’re having trouble gaining traction, have an influencer ask a question or respond to a quiet thread.
Building Empathy and Brand Awareness
One of your goals as a community professional is to create a positive, valuable experience for every community member. As much as you would like to personally communicate with every member who needs help or needs a nudge to start engaging, that just isn’t possible.
Creating an influencer program to market within your community can be an effective way to get around that. Even if they don’t talk to each member directly, seeing an important person in your industry participating in the community gives your platform a type of credibility your company can’t give it.