Influencer – that’s a buzz word.  You’ve probably heard a lot about how you should be finding influencers and having them help with your branding.  But what is an influencer?  Do you have to pay them?  How do you find them to begin with?

These are all questions I know you’re asking.   You are probably also thinking – I’m a bank, this won’t work for me.   Please don’t ever think that again.  You can implement any kind of marketing strategy you want!

So let’s start – What is influencer marketing?

According to a recent Forbes article
In·flu·enc·er mar·ket·ing | Noun

A nonpromotional approach to marketing in which brands focus their efforts on opinion leaders, as opposed to direct target market touchpoints.

Which then breaks it down into two categories, paid influencers and unpaid influencers, which I agree with.  This is important to remember.

An influencer can come in many forms, maybe it’s a customer, an employee, a leader in your community and many times you may not even know how much they share their opinions about your brand.

Let’s talk about the two different kinds of influencers.

Free:

We all love free, especially when it comes to social media.  More likely than not, your bank has a very small or non-existent budget for social media marketing.  So if you start saying you want to have paid influencers, that may be too much.  Free is also where you will find some of your most genuine opinions but less consistent promotion.

Personally, I consider anyone with a voice to be an influencer.  Someone who speaks publicly about your brand is an influencer.  They are influencing anyone who listens to them, whether it’s on Yelp, Facebook, Instagram, or a blog.

Paid:

One word of caution on paid influencers:  You may be able to pay to influence someone’s opinion but you aren’t paying for them to give you a 100% positive one.  Paid influencers are the next level.  You may be paying them with a free service, a gift card or even with a token of appreciation for their opinion.  These influencers are often ones you seek out to weigh in on your brand.  You value their opinions and you should be very familiar with their following.   According to Sprout Social, influencer marketing is the most cost – effective customer acquisition method with $6.50 made on every dollar of influencer marketing.

How do I find Influencers?

Goal

In order to find your influencers, first look at your goals.  What do you want them to talk about?  Is it a community event you’re sponsoring, is it a new product or service, a new branch?  Find someone who really connects with that goal.  For example, if it’s an event, look for a like minded business or your chamber, business association, etc.  If it’s a new feature on your mobile app find someone who loves mobile and maybe is involved in the FinTech industry.

Reach Out The Right Way

We’ve all been there, you connect with someone on LinkedIn and before you get confirmation you’ve been connected with them – BAM! You get an InMail with them asking for 10 minutes of your time and to help them out.  You’re first reaction is likely a sigh.  Don’t be that guy.

Reach out to them by following their content, engaging with it and establish a relationship.  This may take time but it will pay dividends.  Share content with them that they may find relevant (Right Relevance is great for this!)  The conversations will follow but, BE PATIENT!

How do I keep them following?

Be Thankful

They may give you a nice shoutout, review, retweet you, etc.   Make sure you acknowledge their actions, even if it’s just a “Thanks for the RT!”

Keep The Conversation Going

Don’t be one way.  This is the biggest problem I see with influencer marketing campaigns.  You want them to share your latest and give an opinion but you don’t do the same for them.  This really should be rule # 1 when it comes to influencer marketing.

Paying Them

You may decide to start paying for influencers.  You could of course pay them through a gift card or cash but why not send them something really awesome that will get you more traction!  How about a package of cool swag with your brand with a gift card?  Even better, if it has a hashtag on it, they are sure to share it!

Tracking

Set up tracking to find out what people are saying about your brand.  This may include something like Google Alerts, Brandwatch, NUVI, or Hootsuite Insights.  You’ll be able to see who is talking about your brand, what they are saying, what the overall sentiment is, and if you need to respond.

Influencer Marketing in Action:

At Avidia Bank, we launched our Cardless Cash feature in our mobile app in 2015.  Leading up to the launch, our brand ambassador team, the Avidia Smarties, shared testing of this new feature on social media.  This drove people ask a lot of questions about this new technology.  As the following of the Avidia Smarties and Avidia Bank grew on social media, we started to notice we had a group of influencers following us that came from the bank industry, fintech and local organizations.

We nurtured these relationships by continually engaging and supporting these influencers as I mentioned above.  We became cheerleaders for them and they became cheerleaders for us.  They shared news of when we launched new products, our new website and our community initiatives.  We reciprocated and now have a network of influencers who we collaborate with on a regular basis.  The network of influencers, combined with our own Avidia Smarties and employees, reached over 300,000 people on social media, 7,000 retweets and re-blogged 9 times in the first hour of a recent press release for a new service our commercial banking side is offering.  This was all done with free influencers!


So, what are you waiting for?