Today’s marketing and advertising spending is ballooning into astronomical figures. Marketers are forecasted to boost global ad spending this year to $540 billion while the amount invested into total media advertising is expected to reach $200 billion by 2016. Often overlooked for these glitzy media campaigns, word of mouth is still the most effective form of marketing with 92% of consumers believing recommendations from friends and family over brand advertising. Over the past decade, this conversation has spilled into the online world and now the majority of consumers view online reviews left by individuals they’ve never met as highly-credible and important to their decision making process.
The question is how do you actually get the ball rolling in developing a word of mouth campaign? Especially for small brands and businesses without a huge digital footprint, spreading a message poses a serious challenge. The critical piece in getting started developing a digital word of mouth campaign is to foster engagement between your brand and its target market. Social media is an easy place to start in posting content such as blog posts, pictures, and videos. Using the proper hashtags to target a demographic or particular user base is cost-effective and helps build organic traffic. However, this also means that it may take some time to really get the ball rolling in terms of traffic and conversions.
Not to be seen as a shortcut for sustainable organic traffic, but to be thought of as more of a catalyst, recruiting micro-influencers can bring an injection of attention and traffic to your brand and website. Developing organic word of mouth is a simple concept, but one without any single sure-fire formula. The one constant in this marketing strategy is to be as authentic as possible. Therefore, targeting and cultivating micro-influencers versus big name celebrities is preferred.
Unlike celebrities that are household names and represent the campaigns of global brands (ex: Gatorade using Michael Jordan in their “Be Like Mike” campaign), micro-influencers usually have less than 10,000 followers on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, or Instagram. What these individuals lack in name recognition nationally they more than make up for it with their strong passion to their niche, and an often fiercely loyal audience. Whether that niche is sweater fashion, hipster bicycles, or premium artisanal pickles these micro-influencers are experts in their interests with a sizeable following that look to them for guidance and inspiration.
When recruiting these individuals to help drive engagement with your brand, website, and product, it’s important to make sure there is a strong fit and correlation between your company’s and micro-influencer’s values. Many feel that they have an implicit obligation to their fans and followers to not promote a product or service that they themselves don’t love or use. The online reputation of these individuals depends on their perceived authenticity and trustworthiness. By trying to force a relationship to happen that’s not quite the right match could end up hurting both your company and the influencer you’re recruiting.
Weekly Sneaker Rotation/CharlieDubnut – A college aged guy living in Canada, Christian Cantelon, posts videos on YouTube documenting his daily life along with his love for sneakers. Also very active on other social media outlets like Instagram and Twitter, this type of content creator is very accessible for a small brand trying to build organic traffic through influencers. Brands that could collaborate with him include clothing and apparel companies like socks, belts, pants, bags, etc. as he frequently mentions and shows off what he’s wearing and why. Additionally, lifestyle brands whose main demographic is young people can also team up with Christian and appear genuine since he is so integrated in the college atmosphere.
Ellensinwonderland – A second example is this fashion video blogger from London. Passionate about style, clothing, and accessories, this micro-influencer has a relatively small following of around 6,000 subscribers, which means that she could be easily accessible, even for smaller brands. Also, collaborating with this individual means that both you and the micro-influencer would be just as invested in building each other’s followers. Success for the brand could benefit the blogger, and vice versa.
Once your brand has had some early success in creating a buzz and driving traffic to its website, whether through organic means or micro-influencers, it’s time to start creating your own circle of influencers. The best way to take the relationships you’ve built with your customers and followers to the next level is to reward them for their support and loyalty.
There are many ways to “go the extra mile” in the customer’s mind. Here are some examples to get you started.
1) The easiest way to start is to present early stage customers with special discounts and offers to encourage further purchases. These should be as personal as you can make them in order to convey your appreciation of their patronage. If you have too many customers to write individual emails, email management software like MailChimp can help you group customers by their location, place in the conversion funnel, and much more to help make email personalization a manageable task.
2) Another way to show your customers/followers that you appreciate them is by giving them exposure on your social media channels. As the saying goes, “it’s the thought that counts” and often just retweeting or reposting a photo and tagging that user can provide a bump in their brand loyalty through this little act of personalization marketing. The best part is, this method is completely free!
3) For your best customers, going the extra mile can earn you a significant increase in brand exposure and recognition by sending them a surprise gift in the mail. Even if it’s a small sample pack for them to enjoy, or a new product that you’d like them to try out, these micro-influencers often positively post about this unexpected delivery. Everyone likes surprises and by getting your influencers in a positive mood, you’re likely to see posts on social media from them touting the high quality of your product or service.