You have an industry celebrity in your midst. It’s time to use them.
One of the trendy topics in marketing this year has been so-called “influencer marketing.” It’s not a new concept by any stretch. Using spokespeople to promote a product or service dates back over a century in this country, and likely back several centuries in various other parts of the world.
But what makes the present different from the past, and what separates influencer marketing from classic celebrity endorsements, of course, is the ability of just about anyone to be “an influencer,” thanks in large part to social media.
If you’re not versed on how important influencer marketing has become part of the overall marketing mix, consider that 94 percent of marketers who have used influencer marketing believe it has been effective for them. And nearly half of marketers said in late 2016 they expected to increase their budgets for influencer marketing this year.
The crossroads of brands looking for a marketing boost and an easy method for influencers to earn income has led to an understandable explosion in influencer marketing, from A-list influencers (think Kardashian) to “microinfluencers” that have small numbers of dedicated followers in an important demo or psychographic. This infographic illustrates the overall recent growth of influencer marketing.
While it may seem on the surface more applicable to the B2C space, associations have a unique opportunity to use influencer marketing for substantial benefit. In most cases, it’s more akin to the aforementioned idea of microinfluencers.
Consider this: The leaders in your industry are among your members, right? The experts; the thought leaders; the rock stars of your niche. You can take advantage of their clout and notoriety.
Approach these highly respected and recognized celebrities of their trade to advocate on behalf of the association. Encourage them to provide, like, repost and retweet association social content. Ask them to promote their appearances at meetings and events.
One association taking advantage of this concept is AMC-Institute. AMCI distributes a semi-monthly email newsletter through MultiView to its membership. Leading each of these newsletters is a featured article written by a well-known figure in the industry.
“We have a committee of very dedicated AMC Institute (AMCI) members who wanted to ensure that all members (and potential members) were aware of the many benefits of being a part of the AMCI community,” AMC Institute Associate Executive Director Erin Carter said. “The ability to tap into specialized expertise in the AMC community has always been at the top of the list in terms of member value and need.”
These informative stories provide useful information to members while reinforcing the reputation of the association at the forefront of its trade.
“This channel provides easy access to insight and counsel on issues and opportunities that are most important to the AMC community,” Carter added. “Our communications platforms provide a one-click access point to the leading thinking and innovative solutions that are moving AMCs and their association clients forward. So just as our members are looked on as a trusted source to their associations, AMCI can also act in that capacity for our members.”
Another example from the B2B space can be drawn from a 2014 ebook compiled by TopRank Online Marketing and Content Marketing Institute, who collected advice from some 40 influential members of their industry to produce a treasure trove of advice and insight from recognized companies like Facebook and LinkedIn.
The upside of using influencers for your association is probably obvious, but it’s also important to approach it tactfully, and not haphazardly. A recent article in Associations Now touched on attracting and growing influencers, but a previous article also pointed out the need to properly maintain the relationships to make it continually beneficial for both parties.
“…Too often these tactical programs recruit influencers into campaigns, push out content, and then abandon them when [the] budget runs dry,” Brian Solis, a principal analyst at Altimeter Group, says. “This does not promote nor foster long-term, meaningful relationships.”
None of your members may have the social following of Taylor Swift or Barack Obama, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a substantial benefit waiting for your association through a thoughtful use of your influential members.