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Influencers Perform in the Spotlight

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Influencer marketing is a game of standing out. The result is a memorable — and credible — connection to a product or service.

This is where Magda Urbaniak plays the field. Whether at conferences or online, the public relations and marketing strategist leaves no influence on the table.

Together with digital marketing expert Madalyn Sklar and Nick Martin of social media management company Hootsuite, Urbaniak looked at how to use influencers and leave good, lasting images.

Most of those who are online create impressions through their Twitter profile. Martin said there are things people can do right now to make their profile stand out:

  • Have a high-quality profile photo and cover photo.
  • Have a detailed biography. Tell us about you.
  • Regularly tweet. We want to see that you’re actually active when we click on your profile.

Hootsuite goes into greater detail with its article, “Twitter Marketing: The Complete Guide for Business.”

“If you want to ensure you’re attracting the right people and getting them to click that ‘Follow’ button, you need to keep things updated,” Sklar said.

She delves deeper in her post, “11 Tips to Make Your Twitter Profile Stand Out.”

Influencer marketing works if influencers don’t come on too strong. The ideal is to be known as authoritative as well as a good fit among the average audience.

“That kind of marketing works as long as we’re looking for authorities — no matter how we define them now,” Urbaniak said. “We want to follow experts or charismatic people who we find interesting and worth listening to. Our brain likes that. See Cialdini’s rules of influence.

“Recommendations also save time,” she said. “We don’t have to look for information or product in the ocean called the internet. We get it on a silver plate. Influencer marketing works whenever it is run correctly, and Twitter is as good as any other platform.”

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Brains and Beauty

As good as influencer marketing might be, it is not a magic bullet.

“Influencer marketing is not enough,” Urbaniak said. “Smart influencer marketing, with a proper plan, including tactics and goals — that might work.

“It can work in every single niche, but I wouldn’t recommend cooperation with an influencer to my client just because it works in general,” she said. “Every single brand has different needs and challenges.”

Reliance on statistics could be a red flag.

“A huge number of followers is just a number,” Urbaniak said. “You must engage properly and know how to educate and entertain your audience.”

Working with successful influencers will give insight about how influencing works. Success is not haphazard but the result of a plan.

“As brands, we reach our audience directly,” Urbaniak said. “We don’t have to build brand awareness as it has always been done in traditional marketing and public relations for ages. Today we can ‘use’ interest, liking and trust of someone who has it already.

“That’s the most powerful part of influencer marketing,” she said. “Remember, as with every superpower, it must be used wisely. Strategy for the win.”

Influencers and brands must share common visions and values. Like any relationship, both parties need to be on the same page.

“There are pitfalls in every stage of working with influencers,” Urbaniak said. “First of all, it’s challenging to find the right person to work with. You want a real influencer, not a followers buyer.

“Secondly, we have to pay attention to the content that was already published on a specific profile,” she said. “Check if it resonates with your brand value — making sure the influencer doesn’t deny what your brand communicates.”

Regardless of relationships with influencers, entrepreneurs should not take their associations for granted.

“Always verify the appearance of content that an influencer publishes about your company,” Urbaniak said. “Mostly, items are well done, but I see many influencers who clearly don’t care about cooperation.

“Finding the right influencer is one of two the most challenging parts of influencer marketing,” Urbaniak said. “That’s based on research as well as my own experience.”

Research First

That experience is one of the keys to finding correct influencers in the first place.

“It’s easy to think you have the right person when in fact you don’t,” Sklar said. “In that case, your brand will suffer. It’s important to take your time researching and following influencers before working with them. Make 100 percent sure they align properly with your brand and audience.”

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Look for people in niches who actively engage and are helpful for others. They gain influence, not chase after it.

“Use Twitter’s Advanced Search to find influencers,” Sklar said. “Also make a Twitter list of those who show promise so you can watch their feed closely. Call the list Potential Influencers.”

Knowing technology shortcuts can help productivity during influencer searches.

“Automate this process as much as you can,” Urbaniak said. “Use platforms like Upfluence, NeoReach or TapInfluence. They will help you to find dozens of people in your niche. It’s worth it to check social media monitoring tools like Brand24 or BuzzSumo.

“Still, you can never skip a final check by yourself,” she said. “What you should check? Quality and type of content, and real or fake followers. There are tools for that, too.”

The tools include IGAudit, HypeAuditor, FakeCheck and similarWeb, which will show an estimated number of unique users.

Rather than aim for the grand scale, it pays to find those who work up close and personal.

“Micro-influencers are individuals who have between 1,000 to 1 million followers,” Sklar said. “They are considered experts in their respective fields.”

Urbaniak added that these influencers are regularly active online.

“They deliver fresh, original and interesting pieces of content and — depending on source and definition — have less than 10,000 followers or subscribers,” she said.

Working Together

Whether micro or macro, latch onto an influencer who meets the company’s needs. It’s the influence — focused or otherwise — that meshes with a particular marketing strategy.

“I see a couple of reasons to choose micro-influencers,” Urbaniak said. “That micro-influencer might be smaller but seem equally or even more engaged — because of feeling ‘closer’ — to a community.

“Secondly, cooperation with micro-influencers is a good option when your budget is pretty limited in contrast to creativity,” she said. “You can grab influencers’ attention and ask for publicity in exchange for other than financial benefits.”

As it turns out, influencers might have more than money on their minds.

“Micro-influencers are often more engaged and happy to work with brands,” Urbaniak said. “Appreciate that cooperation and deliver better content — more creative, more sophisticated, more original.”

Sklar agreed that the small operators are coming into their own.

“Now is the time to use micro-influencers,” she said. “They are highly targeted and typically cost a lot less.”

Influencer marketing has evolved through the years.

“It’s been growing like crazy in the past five years,” Urbaniak said. “It’s more professional, that’s for sure. Businesses and influencers know more about how to work to not lose credibility and interest. Legal regulations introduced in the United States, United Kingdom and Germany have certainly helped.

“Still, there is room for improvement,” she said. “We can see brands and influencers who have totally no idea how to run influencer marketing campaigns. That sometimes leads to ineffective actions, wasting budget and embarrassment.”

In addition, audiences are becoming aware of sponsored content.

“Yes, the audience sees when content is just a hard promotion without any good and clever idea to present a brand or product,” Urbaniak said. “We all — influencers and brands — have to work harder and better.”

Familiarity has fed into the growth.

“Influencer marketing has become so much more popular now that brands are understanding the power of micro-influencers,” Sklar said. “They are easier to attain and cost less.

“It used to feel like only the big boys could afford influencers when it was a generic term,” she said.

Social Affliction

Along with in-person gains, influencer marketing has affected social media. This is unfortunately true when influencers abuse the system and users can’t be sure of what’s truth or fiction.

“Influencer marketing has changed how influencers communicate with the audience,” Urbaniak said. “The way influencers work with brands and create content has a huge impact on what we see in social media today.

“On the one hand, this relationship is really good — brands are way, way more human,” she said. “Many of them have learned how to work with influencers and benefit. Business — public  relations and sales — is profiting a lot.”

That places even greater emphasis on maintaining credibility.

“The audience stops believing influencers who are more focused on chasing their next cooperative arrangement,” Urbaniak said. “It’s obvious they want to turn their social media profiles into advertisement columns.”

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Jim Katzaman
Jim Katzaman is a manager at Largo Financial Services. A writer by trade, he graduated from Lebanon Valley College, Pennsylvania, with a Bachelor of Arts in English. He enlisted in the Air Force and served for 25 years in public affairs – better known in the civilian world as public relations. He also earned an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science in Public Affairs. Since retiring, he has been a consultant and in the federal General Service as a public affairs specialist. He also acquired life and health insurance licenses, which resulted in his present affiliation with Largo Financial Services. In addition to expertise in financial affairs, he gathers the majority of his story content from Twitter chats. This has led him to publish about a wide range of topics such as social media, marketing, sexual harassment, workplace trends, productivity and financial management. Medium has named him a top writer in social media.

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