How to Use Influencer Marketing

(Episode 2 of 2 with Jason Falls)

How to Use Influencer Marketing

In the last episode with Jason Falls, we discussed why and how we should reframe the way we think about influencer marketing. In today’s episode, we’ll dive deeper into principles from Jason’s book Winfluence. Specifically, we’ll look at purposes, principles, and applications of influencer marketing.

4 Purposes of Influence

As we discussed in the last episode, influencer marketing can be a great way to increase brand awareness, build credibility, and ultimately, increase our sales. However, the purpose of influence typically comes down to these four reasons:   

  • To Persuade: We want to convince the audience to buy our products. 
  • To Build Association: We want to align ourselves with influencers in our industry. 
  • To Gain Validation: We want to gain ratings and reviews to validate the value of our products and services. 
  • To Build Enthusiasm: We want our customers to be excited and passionate about our brand so they share it with others. “The ultimate goal for any brand is to create an audience [who is] passionate [and will] advocate and market for you,” Jason said. 

How to Strategically Approach Influencer Marketing 

With those four purposes in mind, how do we strategically approach influencer marketing to achieve those purposes? How can we persuade our audience to buy our products, build association with influencers in our industry, gain validation, and build enthusiasm? Jason explained that it starts with knowing our core goals. 

“You have to have a really good foundational understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish and what success looks like so you can plan accordingly,” Jason said. “If you don’t understand where you’re trying to get, . . . if you don’t plan to measure, if you don’t look at your goals on the front end of the campaign or year or program, . . . then you don’t know what data traps to set along the way to find out whether or not you’re getting there.” 

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We can ask ourselves, what does success look like to me? What do I want to accomplish with this strategy? If we don’t understand where we want to go, we won’t get very far. We should start by deciding our goals, writing them down, and then developing a plan. If our goal is to generate awareness, we will want to look for influencers with a lot of reach. If our goal is to generate conversations, we want to look for influencers who are good at persuasion. 

“Once you have that goal, then you pick the influencers, you develop the messages, and you execute the programs that fall in line with [those goals,]” Jason said. “If you’re constantly optimizing and measuring your goal, at the end of the day when you get to the end you’re going to be . . . happy with the progress you’ve made.”

In addition to understanding our goals, we should also have a very strong understanding of who our ideal customers are. We need to have a clear understanding of our audience so we can find influencers with that same audience. The influencers we choose to work with should have an audience very similar to ours. They should also follow these six principles of influence. 

6 Principles of Influence

Arii, an Instagram influencer, had over 2 million followers, and yet, when she launched her own clothing line, she couldn’t even sell 36 t-shirts. The media used her story to show that influencers aren’t really influential; however, it was only because she was missing six key factors. Jason used her example in his book to show us what Arii could have done differently to have more influence. 

These six principles are what successful influencers use and what we should look for when choosing an influencer to work with. Instead of only looking at how many followers an influencer has, we should pay attention to whether or not they follow these principles of influence. 

1. Reciprocity 

In order to gain from her followers or customers, Arii needed to give them something of value in return. The principle of reciprocity is that when we give, we often get things in return. 

Arii’s content on Instagram mainly consisted of pictures of herself in fashionable clothing. While people enjoyed following her, there wasn’t much value in her content. Arii didn’t give fashion tips, share where she bought her clothes, or give recommendations of where to shop. She didn’t give anything to her audience so they didn’t feel the need to give anything back. They didn’t purchase her clothes. However, if she had provided value to her audience, they would have been more willing to purchase her products. 

2. Scarcity 

When Arii launched her clothing line she didn’t create scarcity. She simply launched her product and told her audience to buy whatever they wanted. However, in order to create demand, she could have created scarcity to encourage her auceince to purchase her products. 

Instead of launching everything at once, Arii could have sold 100 outfits, where only the first 100 people could buy her clothing. This would help create a greater demand as it puts a limit on her products. She could then come back later and then, depending on popularity, release more clothes afterwards once the others had sold out. “If there’s something out there that’s scarce that you can’t get ahold of, people are going to want that,” Jason said. 

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3.  Authority 

When we consider partnering with influencers, we should make sure they have authority in their niche or industry. Have they built credibility? Do they share their knowledge or expertise? Have they become an authority figure?

Arii hadn’t established any authority in the fashion world. She simply posted pictures in stylish outfits. She never established her credibility or expertise in fashion and style. When someone is considering buying clothes, they will most likely choose buying from a fashion designer over someone on Instagram who simply posts interesting pictures. When we are looking for influencers to work with, it is much more important to find someone with authority who has only a thousand followers compared to someone with millions of followers and no authority. 

4. Consistency 

An influencer should also be consistent. Not just consistent in posting content, but also consistent in providing constant value. While Arii consistently created content, she didn’t consistently recommend products or share fashion tips. She didn’t give her audience a reason to trust her recommendations.

5. Liking 

Would you rather buy something from a random person or from someone you are familiar with and like? A great influencer will often share personal details about their lives with their audience or reflect their personality in their posts. By showing their unique selves, people will be more likely to feel like they know them, like them, and then buy from them. 

Because Arii’s content was pretty superficial without a lot of depth, her audience still didn’t really know or like her. They may have liked her aesthetic, but they didn’t necessarily know and like her. Arii didn’t create an emotional connection with her followers; she was still a stranger to them and so her audience didn’t feel the need to buy from her or support her. 

6. Consensus 

When a large group of people start buying products, there is a natural pull for everyone else to buy it. When a product is trending or our friends all buy the same brand of shoes, people end up wanting to buy the same things. 

“At the end of the day, we’re all lemmings to a degree,” Jason said. “If a bunch of people were buying products within the first hour, if you saw the sales go up and we had a bunch of people posting reviews and saying, ‘Oh my gosh, I got one of the 100 orders,’ now all of a sudden, there’s this natural human nature for us to . . . follow the crowd as purchasers.”

Because Arii wasn’t able to create that initial buzz and consensus that her clothes line was going to be great, she didn’t create that strong demand and desire to purchase her products. Something she could have done is, before launching her products, give free products to other influencers and friends and get them to write positive reviews and promote her products. That would help create a consensus and encourage more people to buy from her. 

How Businesses Can Become Influencers 

By paying attention to these six principles of influence, we will be better able to find the right influencer for our brand, someone who can really make a positive impact on our business. We can also follow these principles to become influencers ourselves. 

To become influencers, we should treat our business as if it is a personal brand and study the way influencers in our niche establish their own credibility and trust. Not only do they follow the six principles above, they also create content to increase their credibility and value. They are going on podcasts, writing blog posts, sharing great content on social media, sharing thoughts and live videos, etc. 

To become an influencer, we should focus on increasing our online presence and establishing ourselves as an authority in our specific niche industry. 

How to Use Employees as Influencers 

Another way we can use influencer marketing is to use our own employees as influencers. We can encourage them to post positive reviews about our products or talk about our services with their friends and families. 

There are a lot of companies out there that don’t let their employees talk about their products publicly, but our employees can be the first circle of people we can communicate with who can carry our brand message forward. We don’t have to require them to do anything, but we can find the employees who want us to be successful and show them ways they can help with our marketing. For example, we could give them free sample products or give them content they can share on social media. 

I think one of the most effective things that I’ve seen with employee influencer marketing is allowing them to say things that are positive as well as negative. This will help us find things that need to be improved on while also building our credibility. When influencers, whether it be us, a third party, or our employees, can tell the truth about the behind-the-scenes and not just the good stuff, they’re going to have a lot more influence. There is almost a power that comes with imperfection as it makes us more real. 

Key Takeaways

Thank you so much Jason for sharing your stories and insights with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:

  1. We should seek to gain influence to persuade, to build association, to gain validation, and to build enthusiasm. 
  2. To effectively implement influencer marketing, we should start by understanding our goals and our ideal customers. 
  3. When working with an influencer, we should look for one that follows the six principles of influence: reciprocity, scarcity, authority, consistency, liking, and consensus. 
  4. We can become an influencer ourselves by treating our business as a personal brand, increasing our online presence, and following the same six principles of influence. 
  5. We can have our employees work as influencers for us as well. 

Connect with Jason

To learn more about or connect with Jason:

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    About the author

    Nathan Gwilliam

    Nathan Gwilliam

    I help organizations navigate tectonic shifts that are transforming the business landscape, so they can optimize marketing, accelerate profits, and make a greater difference for good.

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