In the past, a social influencer might have been called a brand ambassador. These special people were patrons so enamored with a brand that they went out of their way to recommend it to family members, friends, and anyone who would listen, using their influence as a trusted source of information to drive the consumer decisions of those in their social circles.

Today, social influencers fill a different role, and although they are similar in some regards to a traditional brand ambassador, there are notable distinctions. For starters, social influencers have a much larger audience.

These popular individuals have managed to amass huge followings on social media platforms. Many attribute their popularity to celebrity status or professions as pundits or bloggers, just for example. In most cases, they are not tied to a particular brand, but they can definitely use their social status for the purposes of promotion.

There are more important differences, though, when it comes to advocating on behalf of your business. For starters, do they even like your brand? This is essential if you not only want to gain their support, but also ensure a passionate recommendation.

In addition, these people have their own agenda. You want to take advantage of their outreach to raise awareness of your brand, but they want to please their followers and, in most cases, increase their following. Can you help them to reach their goals as they help you to reach yours?

The truth is that you can make use of social influencers and create truly successful marketing campaigns around them if you know what they can do for you and how to utilize this resource appropriately. Here are a few tips to help you create your first social influencer campaign.

Find the Right Influencers

This is not always easy to do. Sure, Taylor Swift has a lot of Twitter followers that you’d love to encourage to support your brand, but what are the odds she’s going to plug a construction company or a dental office she hasn’t used? Slim to none.

The point is that you need to identify social influencers that are not only well-connected, but also connected to your industry in a way that makes sense. Remember, you have to sell yourself to these people to an extent, and targeting key influencers will make it easier to convince them to help you, not to mention convince their followers to support you.

Foster Relationships

Social influencers don’t get where they are by taking a pay check from every company that wants a plug – being viewed as sellouts would be just as damaging to their reputation and rapport with their audience as it is to any companies or causes they support. This means you’re going to have to work hard to get in their good graces.

Some may not be receptive at all to your attempts to woo them. Others may be too quick to take your money, post a plug, and call it a day. Neither type is particularly desirable.

If key influencers don’t respond to repeated attempts to make contact, they’re clearly not interested and you shouldn’t waste your time. Those that are all too eager should be given a second look. If they’re only in it for a payday, they’re not going to lavish your brand with the attention needed to be truly influential.

Don’t fret if you seem to find only extremes. Building relationships takes time and effort. Treat your first foray like a job interview, researching social influencers so you can explain why you think your brand is a good fit with theirs and how the relationship can be mutually beneficial.

If possible, find ways to show your interest in them first, such as by following them on social media, liking and sharing their content, and generally building a social bridge that allows you a better opportunity to float your professional proposition. Fostering relationships before you launch into a pitch is a good way to increase receptiveness to the idea of forming a partnership for marketing campaigns.

Keep the Word-of-Mouth Approach

Once you’ve got key influencers on your side, it’s time to craft your campaign. This is a very different process from creating, say, commercials or website content. What makes social influencers special is that they have word-of-mouth appeal, and this is where brand ambassadors and their modern brethren intersect.

You don’t want influencers to come across like they’re pushing ad copy. Their plugs need to feel spontaneous and unsolicited. On your end, you can definitely create a marketing campaign that revolves around a set timeline determined by mentions of your brand by your key influencers.

However, you need to let them do what they do best, which is raise awareness of your brand in their own words and in their own way so that followers don’t feel like they’re being marketed to, but rather as though they’re getting valuable advice from a trusted friend. This is the lynchpin of any successful social influencer marketing campaign.

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