Why Taking A Personal Approach To Business Can Yield Big Results

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Almost everyone has heard, “It’s not personal; it’s just business.” While this phrase sounds okay on the surface, adopting this belief is actually more damaging than you’d think for your employees and customers.

Business is inherently personal because companies are made up of people who aren’t interested in one-size-fits-all approaches. No one wants to feel like a cog in a wheel, which is why taking a personal approach in business often leads to better performance and greater satisfaction in your work.

If you want to take a personal approach in your business, this starts with how you treat your employees and customers. If these relationships aren’t as strong as you would like them to be, here are some strategies for improving them.

Taking A Personal Approach To Employees

Salary will always play a role in an employee’s job satisfaction, but now, a higher salary doesn’t have as much negotiation power as before. The “great resignation” has forced many companies to see that their old ways aren’t cutting it in the current environment. It isn’t just recommended to take a more personal approach to your business relationships—it’s a necessity to keep your team from migrating to the competition.

Employees need to feel that their work has meaning and, more importantly, see how it contributes to the greater good. Here are a few ways you can begin taking a personal approach with your employees:

Be transparent: There’s nothing more frustrating than working in a job where it feels like management is constantly withholding information. You’re not protecting your employees from anything—you’re creating unnecessary anxiety in the office. Be honest with your team and let them know what’s happening in the business—they’ll be more committed to the company because of it.

Provide opportunities to advance: It’s hard to experience job satisfaction if you don’t feel like you’re growing and getting better at what you do. Look for ways to give your employees opportunities to advance, and talk to them about new positions that will be available as the company grows.

Remember birthdays: Don’t let staff birthdays come and go without acknowledging them. Mark the dates of all your employees’ birthdays in your calendar and order them a cake, or something similar, to celebrate. It may seem like a small gesture, but it will go a long way toward showing your employees you care about them.

Taking A Personal Approach To Customers

Your customers drive your business, so you need to consider their interactions with your company from their point of view. Staying connected to your customers and showing them you care about their opinion will build long-term brand loyalty, much like it would if you were in their shoes.

One of the easiest ways to do this is by simply thanking your customers for their business. If you’re a small business, you may be able to call each customer personally and thank them for their support.

Another option is to send cards thanking your customers for their business. You can also send holiday cards to show your appreciation, but you don’t just want to engage your customers when things are going well—it’s just as important to reach out when there’s a problem.

Instead of seeing complaints as a hassle, use them as opportunities to strengthen the relationship with your customers. Mistakes are inevitable, and when you apologize and do what you can to fix the problem, it builds trust with your customers.

Taking A Personal Approach Can Lead To Bigger Business Results

As a business owner, you need to find ways to motivate and inspire your employees. Happy employees will be more productive, more engaged with their work, and more creative, which can also lead to lower employee turnover rates and help your bottom line.

Your goal with each customer is to increase the customer lifetime value (CLV). A high CLV means that customer brings in more revenue for your business. By building credibility and trust with your customers, you’ll lower your customer churn and, of course, make each customer more impactful for your longevity.

As technology becomes more advanced, it’s easy for businesses to lose sight of what really matters. We can automate processes and communicate with our team/customers through apps for convenience, but if we don’t focus on the human component of our relationships, simplicity becomes much less important.

When you take a personal approach in business, you treat your employees and customers as individuals and look for personalized solutions to every problem. You look beyond your CRM and Slack to find ways to build strong relationships—an old approach to a new challenge. Take the time, put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and strategize to implement systems that benefit your team and customers just as much as your profit line.

CEO & Founder of National Business Capital, the leading fintech marketplace offering streamlined small business loans. Read Joe Camberato’s full

Source: Why Taking A Personal Approach To Business Can Yield Big Results

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Accelerate Customer Success And Brand Loyalty With Data

 

Recently, financial services and telecommunication providers have experienced significant challenges. They encountered digitally savvy competitors, increased expectations for online customer service (pre-and post-pandemic), and higher case volumes of agitated customers. Meanwhile, remote work affected the productivity of service staff, daily operations, and more. But they aren’t the only service-driven industries reacting to disruption and increasing consumer expectations.

Quality of service can mean the difference between keeping or losing customers, so organizations need to examine how, where, and when they engage with them. A single customer view looking at experiences across service, marketing, and commerce is essential. Unfortunately, many businesses struggle with disparate data and disconnected applications that obfuscate that view. That means service fulfillment and relevant technologies must step up to help organizations deliver more consistent, seamless, swift, and personalized experiences for customers who agree “good enough” service won’t suffice.

Transforming your service strategy and operations with data leads to better business results. A data-driven service approach is making a positive difference in the financial services and telecommunications industries and can also help your business achieve these benefits:

1. Enhanced, personalized customer experiences across all channels

2. More productive, empowered service agents influencing success

3. Increased efficiency, prioritization, and automation throughout service operations

4. Reduced IT complexity and costs leading to higher margins

The Risks Of Poor Customer Experience

If customers experience less-than-stellar service, there’s a greater risk of switching to competitors. In fact, 80% of consumers will switch after just one poor experience1—driving businesses to compete on more than price and choice. There are other serious downstream effects: increased customer churn, diminished reputation and trust, stalled growth, and attrition of employees, agents, or leadership.

Business circumstances can change instantly. Customer interactions can portend issues with serious implications (i.e., costly compliance or regulatory fines or sharp declines in satisfaction scores). Each problem puts a company at greater risk for stolen market share you can’t afford to lose.

With a commitment to data-driven and digitally driven service operations—from the contact center to the field—you are better positioned with customers and can reduce or eliminate most risks. In digital environments, engagement barriers are often reduced or eliminated allowing customers to gain more service access, and brands to gain increased opportunities for better customer service delivery.

How To Unlock Data And Transform Customer Service End-To-End

Transitioning to data-driven service starts with leaders’ commitment to building and maintaining a cohesive data strategy spanning people, processes, and technologies that support business resilience and future growth. The next step is unifying data sources with intuitive and flexible analytics to achieve a single source of truth.

When you infuse analytics across service operations (and the business), agents and leaders gain that invaluable, complete customer view to impact personal, swift, effective service, and transform the call center from a siloed operation to an agile changemaker that affects marketing, sales, product development, and more. Tangible results include:

For financial services…

· Up to 31% increase in customer satisfaction

· Up to 29% increase in agent and user productivity

· Up to 27% reduction in customer retention

For telecommunications…

· 37% faster time to resolution

· 55% decrease in cost to serve

· 53% increase in average revenue per user (ARPU)

Let’s examine the four benefits of data-driven service and relevant resources as you focus on protecting the bottom line.

1. Enhanced, personalized customer experiences across channels

 

Customers are precious business assets, so carefully nurturing and protecting each relationship is key. Regardless of how they engage, each expects a personal interaction resulting in swift resolution. Maybe there’s a service issue and they made several attempts to get help. Or maybe there’s an opportunity to upsell their existing products and services. Unfortunately, the siloed data systems sitting inside and outside of your organization’s customer relationship management (CRM) system make it more complicated to deliver best-in-class service.

Data, analytics, and AI are foundational to digital enterprises where functional insights drive positive business outcomes. According to McKinsey, many companies using data-driven practices report above-market growth of +15%2—especially in the B2B market, but the same practices apply to B2C enterprises.

Charles Schwab relies on data to answer financial planning questions, improve customer experiences, drive operational leverage, and more. Shifting from a static to dynamic customer view with Tableau helps their call centers, branches, and headquarters staff see data errors or inconsistencies and discover insights to make product adjustments so clients’ money goes further and their engagement stays positive.

“Now those receiving and handling the customer calls are making their own impact, helping maintain higher customer satisfaction levels. They’re transitioning into a role where they’re looking at the data behind customer engagement.” Senior Data Analyst, Charles Schwab

2. More productive, empowered service agents influencing success

When agents shift from system to system trying to access information and manually perform processes, customers feel and react to the effects of disengaged communication, fragmented experiences, and long wait times. They want meaningful interaction from service staff seeing a complete view of customer and business data to influence smarter responses and actions.

As noted in the “State of Service” report from Salesforce Research, 91% of customers say they’ll make another purchase if the service is good1. With intuitive analytics, your agents can access and catalog data, then analyze it for valuable and trusted insights, and also share it with others to act in customers’ best interests. Access to pre-built dashboards like Tableau’s Call Center Accelerator gives your service team deeper views of overall service levels and helps all business leaders analyze agent performance—good and bad. Feel confident knowing data is at their fingertips to make better, quicker decisions in all customer interactions.

workforce

Thousands of customers depend on internet, cable, and phone providers to deliver reliable service. When customers use these services, ample data is created and can be collected. Verizon analyzes it with Tableau to ensure customers are satisfied, problems get handled, and departments like marketing or call centers can see patterns and behaviors to improve service. A Center for Excellence is critical as they perform analyses, support data management, and deliver insights to stakeholders for improved decision-making.

“Insights from dashboards help us optimize call center operations to reduce multiple customer calls. Monitoring these timely dashboards shows us that as the resolution rate and satisfaction index of customers go up, volumes for calls and dispatches—key cost drivers—go down. Senior Manager of Data Analytics, Verizon

3. Increased efficiency and prioritization of more complex cases throughout service operations

Before 2020, contact centers could manage traditional customer demand and service spikes. But these spikes are usually short-lived and predictable versus the unforeseen changes and new expectations growing from digital engagement and the pandemic. With a smaller workforce also handling call center cases due to downsizing, data-driven technologies that support efficiency, prioritization, and automation are necessary to the experience equation—particularly for large, dispersed enterprises.

Today, interactive analytics with built-in AI help your staff confidently understand all customer data and service performance in their workflows, which helps them be more predictive and proactive when choosing how to act on behalf of customers. AI-powered analytics also fuel speed to insights for better contact routing, improved call center and field staff capacity, and automaton of more cumbersome, time-intensive processes.

For example, a single dashboard displaying call center KPIs in Tableau can help management see and know where to optimize operations—from streamlining or eliminating multisystem dependencies to automating low-value processes that hamper productivity and communication. This frees up service staff to help more customers and address more complex cases.

Inconsistent, fragmented data at Telstra made pipeline, revenue forecasting, and quicker delivery of new technologies to customers difficult. But the combination of Sales Cloud and CRM Analytics transformed how they deliver customers new solutions and measure business value. Sales Cloud provides a complete view of enterprise customers and enables sales to forecast and collaborate for more meaningful interactions. CRM Analytics also helps line of business managers and service staff stay focused on how to achieve their business KPIs.

4. Reduced IT complexity and costs leading to higher margins

By using a self-service solution like Tableau, gain highly configurable, manageable, and customizable analytics to increase performance clarity and create faster, more accurate business decisions or predictions. IT is no longer a bottleneck, and service operations staff, business analysts, and executives have a clear understanding with direct visibility of the customer journey and what factors extend or detract from success.

This can translate to better planning with staffing, forecasting, and seasonality to reduce service costs and maintain high-quality, year-round customer engagement.

Growing through mergers and acquisitions, strategic data became vital to business operations for JPMC. IT made data easily accessible for business teams through Tableau so domain experts could keep up with industry changes, regulations, and risks, and optimize for customer success. For example, marketing operations analyze the customer journey to inform promotional materials and products like the mobile application and branch managers examine retail data to implement better banking experiences.

“We put Tableau on our robust customer data sets…to quickly ask questions like ‘How many customers have a Freedom and a checking account, and use the mobile wallet.’ ” Director of Analytics, JPMorgan Chase

Embrace Data-First Service And Win With Customers

In the competitive, highly regulated environment facing financial services, telecommunications, and other industries, leading with data-first service creates a winning position. Grow and protect valued customer relationships with the help of a world-leading analytics solution like Tableau combined with Salesforce, the leading CRM, to connect with customers in more meaningful ways across every channel—every time.

 

Allison (Ally) Witherspoon Johnston, Senior Vice President, Product Marketing, Tableau. Allison leads the Tableau product marketing team and has worked at Salesforce

Source: Accelerate Customer Success And Brand Loyalty With Data

Related contents:

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Building a Community For Your Brand

Critics by smile.io

Imagine having customers that continue to engage with you beyond your products. This is a sign of a loyal brand community, and some of the most successful businesses are strong because of it.

Building a great brand community can be done in three steps:

  • First, you need a captivating reason for members to join.
  • Secondly, you need to make it worth their time to engage with each other and with your brand.
  • Finally, it has to be easy and valuable for members to share your community with others and help it grow.

Once you have all three steps working together, you’ve got yourself a brand community.

What is a brand community? A brand community is a group of customers who are invested in a brand beyond what is being sold. So, while this might be a new idea for you, many of the world’s best brands have been putting community building to the test for years.

To get an idea of what this community building looks like in action (and to get you inspired to build your own), let’s take a look at 10 of the best brand communities and what makes them so great.

Gymshark

Gymshark is one of the fastest growing fitness apparel brands in the world, and their incredible growth is largely fueled by the strong community they have built around their brand. Using their Gymshark Central blog as a hub, they make it easy for new and returning customers alike to dive into their community without having to do any heavy lifting.

With articles loaded with tips, tutorials, and exercises, their blog is jam-packed full of health and fitness related information that has clearly positioned them as their members’ go-to source for anything health and fitness related. This makes it easy for customers to decide to purchase their products as a way of strengthening their connection with the fitness community.

Gymshark’s strong value-add marketing strategy is also evident through their team of athletes. With a huge social following of their own, each athlete is handpicked to represent the brand to their own communities. This gives them the chance to individually engage with their own loyal fans on a personal level as a reflection of the Gymshark brand.

When you combine these social interactions with their strong purchase intent, Gymshark customers are given many opportunities to continue engaging with the brand over time, and almost as many opportunities to share their Gymshark experiences with their own communities.

This is most clear at Gymshark’s many pop up shops that spring up across the UK. Featuring special sales as well as live classes, demonstrations, and appearances from Gymshark athletes, these are highly-anticipated events that have community members waiting for hours for the doors to open in the hopes of scooping up some exclusive gear and meeting up with other Gymshark fans.

By growing their community both on-and-offline, Gymshark is a prime example of what it means to build a brand experience customers can’t wait to be a part of.

Charlie Hustle

There are very few things that can bring people together to form a strong community like sports can. Rooting for your favorite team automatically creates a connection with other die-hard fans, and that’s exactly what Charlie Hustle has taken advantage of to create their brand community.

This sporty t-shirt brand offers customers the chance to show their hometown pride through their Kansas City dedicated clothing. A brand community doesn’t have to have members across the globe to be successful–sometimes keeping it local helps you score big.

What customers love most about Charlie Hustle is the feeling of community that is intrinsically  displayed in every t-shirt. From their vintage-made-fresh style to the Kansas City branding on each piece of clothing, customers are easily recognizable as a part of the Charlie Hustle community when they wear their tee.

It’s not just the fashion that draws customers in, though–Charlie Hustle’s Communi-Tees line is dedicated to raising money for a local organization. For example, their Nelson-Atkins Museum Tee raises money for educational programs at one of Kansas’s most famous landmarks. Allowing customers to support a cause that’s so close to home is what makes Charlie Hustle’s brand community so successful.

Along with their socially responsible values, Charlie Hustle offers a rewards program to keep their brand community engaged. Their Bleacher Club Rewards encourages customers to keep hustling their way through a tiered VIP program to reach all-star status in order to unlock exclusive rewards like event invites. With a brand that values local community engagement so much, this type of experiential rewards are a perfect fit.

Charlie Hustle has knocked it out of the park by creating a brand that celebrates hometown pride and gives customers an outlet to interact with like-minded individuals.

Starbucks

The Starbucks brand has been synonymous with community for quite a while, thanks to how well they’ve crafted their brand image.

For starters, when you enter a Starbucks cafe you aren’t greeted by mere employees—you’re greeted by Starbucks partners.  This is the term Starbucks uses to refer to their baristas, and this small detail helps make inclusion in the brand community something felt by everyone, not just the customers that come in to get a drink.

Outside each cafe’s walls, Starbucks has continued to do an amazing job of strengthening their community with a number of social initiatives to boost member interaction and engagement. One great social impact initiative is the volunteer matching service they created to help partners and community members engage with each other, and help those outside the community that need assistance.

Between the annual #redcupcontest holiday cup decorating contest and the countless #psl (pumpkin spice latte) photos customers post every fall, Starbucks has taken full advantage of the power of user-generated content to build a community, reposting some of the best-tagged customer photos on their corporate social profiles.

However, this all pales in comparison to the crowning jewel of the Starbucks brand community: their Starbucks Rewards program. As a Starbucks Rewards member, customers can earn Stars for making purchases, playing games, and attending bonus point events.

They can then cash those Stars in for free products, or save their stars for even sweeter reward. With the integrated mobile app, customers have access to their rewards wherever they go. Starbucks even celebrates their community members by offering a free birthday treat to their program members on their special day. Offering personalized rewards like this one help your community members feel connected to your brand. After all, who doesn’t love free coffee?

Glow Recipe

The cosmetics industry is perhaps one of the strongest community-fostering industries out there. With beauty buffs constantly seeking out product recommendations and reviews, having brand advocates to vouch for you is absolutely essential.

With all-natural, fruit-inspired skin care products, Glow Recipe aims to make skin care fun for their customers. Their website is filled with everything customers could possibly want to know about their products from tutorial videos, customer reviews, and skincare product recommendation quizzes. They’ve even included a Glowipedia to allow customers to know exactly how to achieve their favorite look. This type of value-added content creates a strong brand community by giving customers so much more than just face masks and cleansers.

Glow Recipe strengthens their brand community by offering content that really matters to their customers. In order to celebrate their community of empowered women, they’ve started their Boss Babes interview series, which features female entrepreneurs. By offering content that goes beyond their products, they’ve shown a true dedication to the values of motivation, empowerment, and confidence that are so important to their customers.

Glow Recipe knows how important their community members are for their success and that’s why they’ve created Glow Miles. Customers can see how valued they are through this VIP program that offers them exclusive rewards like early access to products and sales and invites to events. Their strong brand centred around female empowerment and confidence creates a customer experience that’s just as beautiful as their products.

The Walt Disney Company

When you think about brands that have a huge community of followers, one of the first ones you probably think of is the House of Mouse. For a company that was founded nearly 100 years ago, Disney has done everything possible to make their brand not just a media company, but a complete entertainment experience. With beloved characters like Winnie the Pooh and Donald Duck, their films and stories are the perfect vehicle for building lasting emotional relationships with each of their customers, no matter where they are in the world.

From the United States to Tokyo and everywhere in between, Disney fanatics are all connected by a deep love of all things magical. This shared passion has led to a number of exciting traditions inside the Disney community that bring people together, including Dapper Day and cosplay meetups.

Perhaps the most exciting event, however, is the D23 Expo. This annual gathering is sponsored by the Official Disney Fan Club, D23, and welcomes members of the Disney community to come together and celebrate all things Disney. This three-day event is the highlight of the year for the most avid Disney community members, and is a fantastic opportunity for new and old fans to meet, create more lasting relationships, and share their own experiences with each other.

While each of these experiences are magical in their own right, the pinnacle of a true Disney community experience is physically going to one of their parks. Gathering with a crowd of other wide-eyed enthusiasts to take part in the rides, sights, and sounds of the world of Disney is the ultimate expression of what it means to be a member of this worldwide community.

inkbox

If you’re looking for a brand community that makes you feel like part of the family, look no further than temporary tattoo makers, inkbox. Their original products were inspired by the indigenous tribes in Panama, who have been tattooing for thousands of years as a function of family and community. To echo these values of inclusivity and togetherness, inkbox’s inkfam community is built around making sure their community members know just how much they’re valued.

With their #tattoosfornow hashtag, they let their community members submit photos of their freshly applied tattoos to be featured on the brand’s website and social channels. By showing each member of the inkfam that their engagement and belonging in the community is valued, inkbox shows exactly the kind of brand they are. That desire for belonging is exactly why over 1000 photos have been tagged with the hashtag, meaning they have a lot of customers that love their ink and love being part of the inkbox family.

The values we enjoy most as part of a family are acceptance, openness, trust, and support. By tying their community to these values, and doing everything they can to live them out, inkbox has built a community that feels safe and inviting–like a family you’re already part of.

Lululemon Athletica

Athleisure has been on the rise for a number of years, and few brands have had as much of an impact on this trend than Lululemon. With luxurious yoga gear serving as the heart of their diverse product line, Lululemon’s brand community is built around empowering their customers to lead a healthy, active lifestyle.

One of the key ways they do that is by offering accessible, invigorating experiences to their community members. If you’ve never tried yoga before, Lululemon gives you a chance to join them for a free yoga class or to come to one of their other larger festivals and events. At all of these gatherings, community members can sweat, meditate, and retreat together from the chaos of everyday life. For their most dedicated community members, they’ve even gone as far as opening an experiential store in Chicago, offering several fitness studios, a juice bar, as well as their high-quality athletic gear.

How Lululemon Uses Lifestyle Marketing to Create a Strong Brand Community
Lululemon has transformed their business into a lifestyle brand. Discover which of their strategies are the key to building a brand community for your own small business.

Even though these events do a lot to keep members engaged, Lululemon also recognizes that they need advocates to help their community grow. To help draw a crowd to their events, Lululemon has an active ambassador program that features a number of athletes and leaders in fitness, nutrition, and business. As independent brand ambassadors, these leaders evangelize the Lulu brand, serving as a living embodiment of the brand’s values in the real world.

Joining a new community can be intimidating, but Lululemon has done a lot to make the barriers to both their sport and their community as non-existent as possible. Since great brand communities have to be accessible, by embracing the values of both athleticism and leisure, Lululemon has made their brand community easy to try out and join, but still exciting to engage with through their events and ambassadors.

Itzy Ritzy

Parenting is emotionally rewarding but can also be confusing, so it’s no wonder that in the necessity of sticking together, parenting communities are some of the strongest and largest you can find. Unsurprisingly, the brand community surrounding Itzy Ritzy is no different. Having created a value-add marketing strategy with different types of content, they’ve become a go-to destination for info about everything from diaper bags to teething tools.

Their commitment to their community is most evident in their parent profiles featured on their blog. These interview-style posts outline not only what some of their most loyal customers love about their brand, but also their own personal parenting stories. This type of authentic user-generated content help inspire future customers to join the Itzy Ritzy community to continue getting the support they need.

These type of customer stories are one of the best ways their members can share their experiences with others. To make that sharing process even easier, Itzy Ritzy runs a referral and rewards program that rewards their happy customers for sharing the brand with their friends. This makes it beneficial for customers to leave product reviews, use a unique referral link, or share the Itzy Ritzy brand on social media.

By giving their customers a way to make engaging with them valuable, Itzy Ritzy has built a foundation for a strong and quickly growing brand community. With so many resources for educating their customers and celebrating their parenting lifestyle, new and returning customers are quickly welcomed into the Itzy Ritzy family and shown how beautiful and valuable it is to be a parent.

Building a great brand community is easier than you think

What each of these awesome brand communities have in common is that they know what their customers care about. With this knowledge at the helm, these 8 brands have built a community around enabling their customers to live out those values through a complete and rewarding brand experience.

Whether it’s through rewards, special events, user-generated content like newsletters, or brand advocates, the world’s biggest brand communities give their members the tools to bring other like-minded individuals into the brand’s story, the motivation to keep them engaged, and the power to spread the love as far as they can.

Community doesn’t get much better than that!

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Why Your Idea of Influencer Marketing is Outdated

While influencer marketing has become a mainstay for marketers, this doesn’t mean that marketers should start getting comfortable. As social apps start to integrate more creative functions to suit their users’ needs, an increasing number of users have started to become creators in their own right.

Anyone with a smartphone can create content, but those that create unique, high-quality content have risen to join the ranks of top influencers.

However, marketers often only consider partnering with ‘traditional’ influencers — influential tastemakers that usually have a large following. While these individuals may not necessarily create posts of high quality, their ability to leverage their fans makes them attractive to marketers seeking to promote their brand.

While creators can become influential and influencers do often create their own content, they aren’t one and the same. Marketers shouldn’t make the mistake of conflating them. Here’s why:

Influencers and content creators have different impacts on their audiences

Marketers increasingly understand the need to shift from ‘vanity’ metrics such as ‘likes’ towards engagement metrics such as ‘views’ and ‘impressions’. This also means that influencer marketing isn’t used just for the purpose of attracting eyeballs. Brands must engage the individuals that best suit their campaign objectives and KPIs.

For example, a beauty brand looking to raise brand awareness might engage a beauty influencer to create a sponsored post, then track impressions on their posts, or audience growth on their social media.

A YouTuber that uses the same products as part of a morning routine video or beauty challenge, on the other hand, can generate interest in your product that leads to greater click-throughs to your product page.

The main difference is that influencers act as an amplification channel for your content or product, driving awareness through reach, which can generate sales with the right target group.

Content creators, on the other hand, incorporate your product into their own content styles — be it beauty routines, funny challenges, or breathtaking photographs. These creators may not have a large following, but often have loyal audiences that are already interested in the form of content they produce. As such, they score greater points for relatability.

Think of influencer marketing as a form of brand partnership

Gone are the days when influencers are willing to plug your brand or product in exchange for free goods or cash. Influencers now hold greater accountability to their followers, meaning that it is imperative for them to be honest about sponsorships and create more authentic content.

According to Campaign, some factors that determine if a user decides to follow an influencer include how “real” their content is, how well-intentioned their posts are, and whether or not the content or products they endorse are in keeping with their usual style.

This means that influencers are likely to be more selective with the brands that they choose to work with. An influencer such as Liv Lo (@livlogolding), for example, builds her personal brand around her sustainable lifestyle and the use of environmentally-friendly, organic products. Liv Lo features cruelty-free skincare brands on her Instagram page and isn’t shy about criticising brands that aren’t as supportive of environmental initiatives.Instagram post Liv Lo

Top influencers hold even greater prestige and control. Apart from being awarded ‘verified’ badges on platforms such as YouTube or Instagram that cement their status as top dog, high-profile influencers are being provided exclusive features that allow them to directly drive social commerce.

Last year, Snapchat invited 5 top influencers to gain access to their in-app store function, allowing these influencers to sell their merchandise straight from the app. Instagram’s Creator profile, which was initially beta-tested on a small group of users, now allows influencers and creators to have more flexible profile controls, access to a dashboard of performance metrics, and the ability to create shoppable posts.

Creators are also being recognised for their influence. Events like VidCon celebrate the unique achievements of video creators and educate brands on how they should navigate the changing influencer landscape.

It’s clear that marketers can no longer expect to mould an influencer to their needs. Instead, marketers must learn to accept that influencers and creators are their own mini-brand. A successful partnership, therefore, depends on aligning the needs and values of both parties.

In order to find the right partners, use Meltwater’s Influencer Marketing Software or Klear’s Influencer Discovery Platform. We help you to find influencers based on your audience’s demographic as well as your target market, industry, or topic. Their fans are already familiar with brands in your industry, ensuring that your content effectively targets the right audience.

Just like celebrity endorsements, influencer partnerships work well in the long-term

Influencer marketing should not involve too many one-off partnerships. As consumers seek out relatable, authentic content, “momentary endorsements” become less attractive to most brands and influencers. After all, consumers place less trust in influencers who readily promote a variety of brands.

Marketers should strive to create long-term partnerships with the influencers that they engage. While long-term partnerships generally reflect well on both the brand and its partner, these partnerships also help both parties solidify their fanbase.

Influencers who work with brands on a longer-term basis can leverage a variety of posts that better reflect their relationship with the brand over time. For example, an influencer is likely to attend events hosted by the brand, speak about related social issues, and review the brand’s products. If an influencer praises the brand’s offerings, their fans are more likely to believe them.

Brands that embark on long-term partnerships may also benefit from the influencer’s follower circles. These audiences are likely to relate the influencer with the brand and thus confer a sense of trust towards the products that they endorse. This also means that audiences are likely to feel a greater emotional connection with the brand, leading to more sticky customers.

Content creators, too, are valuable partners. Brands that make creators their partners can turn the artists’ style or content form into a part of their brand identity. This is especially true for organisations that manage recurring events.

Arts House Limited, for example, manages the Aliwal Arts Centre, which organises the annual Aliwal Urban Arts Festival. While the lineup for each year differs, the Urban Arts Festival consistently showcases local street dance crews and musicians. The festival has become synonymous with local street culture, while the Arts Centre has become the go-to venue for local indie dance and theatre shows.

Brands like Arts House Limited show a keen understanding of their own appeal and their audience’s interests. Likewise, brands that seek to effectively engage influencers as long-term partners must create campaigns that appeal to their key audiences.

Meltwater’s Audience Insight reports allow you to understand the communities that drive conversations on your social media channels. Our tool helps you to discover your audience’s consumption habits, analyse shifts in their demographic, and identify key influencers within these groups. You can then use these insights to determine the trends and topics that resonate with your audience.

To move ahead, brands must shake off old conventions

Now that we’ve highlighted the reasons why marketers should understand the value of both traditional influencers and content creators, it’s imperative that they formulate an influencer marketing strategy that includes both facets.

As the social media landscape continues to change and include newer apps, functions, and trends that steal the headlines, social media marketers too must adapt to make sure that they stay ahead of the curve.

By: Violet Zhang

Source: Why Your Idea of Influencer Marketing is Outdated

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How to Find Influencers to Partner with Your Brand

Did you know that influencer marketing was worth $13.8 billion in 2021? That’s according to Influencer Marketing Hub, which also reported that 59% of brands had a standalone budget for content marketing. Since 75% of those surveyed intended to dedicate a budget to influencer marketing, your company or brand may not be far behind.

Influencer marketing can tap into engaged audiences like no other. But as the number of influencers on social media grows, scouting them for marketing campaigns becomes more of a challenge. In this post, we’ll take a step-by-step look at how to find the best influencers for your brand.

Before you look at how to find influencers for your brand, you need to lay the groundwork for your campaign to succeed. Arm yourself with your brand’s current social media analytics and complete the following tasks to guide you in your influencer search:

1. Know who your target audience is

Make your influencer search laser-focused by getting a clear understanding of who you already speak to. What has your audience come to expect? And what, or who does your target audience already connect with? Audience insight reports make it simple to dive deeper into your audience’s demographics, psychographics (meaning their opinions, interests, values, and attitudes), and online behavior. They can be especially useful for brands that cater to niche audiences and interests.

It’s also a good idea to research who is already talking about you on social media. You can do this manually or get a more comprehensive look using social listening tools that track conversations about your brand in real-time and help you find influencers that mention you in their social media content. Doing this preliminary research will save you time down the line and may even lead you to potential influencers off the bat.

2. Define your influencer marketing strategy and campaign goals

With established goals, you’ll be better able to select influencers who can help you achieve them. These goals may include:

  • Boosting brand awareness
  • Creating content
  • Generating leads or sales
  • Driving website traffic
  • Increasing social media followers
  • Boosting signups to an event or newsletter subscriptions

Defining your strategy might involve choosing which social media channels to focus on. For example, if your goal is to draw more customers to your Shopify store, you may try to find Instagram influencers to take advantage of the platform integrations. But if your goal is to answer questions about a product or service, you may look for YouTube influencers who can create longer, more detailed content. As you develop your strategy, the perfect influencer for your brand may be different on different social platforms.

How to find influencers

From doing the tedious legwork yourself to getting the help of third-party software, there are many strategies for finding social media influencers. But thanks to the initial prep work you just did, you’ll know which of the following influencer search methods is right for you.screenshot of hashtag tech influencer on instagram

Method 1: Finding social media influencers using hashtags

Influencers rely on hashtags to make sure their content reaches audiences outside of their followers. In turn, you can use these same hashtags to find influencers on Instagram, TikTok, and other platforms. Searching hashtags relevant to your brand, campaign, or niche audience will give you a plethora of influencers to look at. But this time-consuming method can leave you with a long list of potential influencers and no way of sorting through them.

Method 2: Using an influencer database or influencer list

Many of the free influencer marketing tools you’ll find online offer databases that let you search through influencer profiles. Meanwhile some paid platforms —like Followerwonk, Upfluence, and Buzzsumo — have influencer databases on the limited, free versions of their software.

Klear on the other hand offers a premium influencer database which is really worth paying for. While this method gets rid of the time-consuming process of combing through social media, you’ll still have to manually evaluate influencers and establish communication with them across platforms.

Method 3: Using an influencer marketing platform

Managing relationships with several influencers across the same or multiple social media platforms can get messy when you are trying to manage conversations through DMs. Influencer marketing platforms, also known as influencer marketing hubs, let marketers search for, evaluate, reach out to, and collaborate with influencers all in one place.

Meltwater’s social influencer marketing platform lets users find the perfect influencers for their campaigns with AI-powered searches. It also allows for communication, payment, and campaign tracking directly on the platform, features you should look for in any influencer platform you consider.

How to find Instagram influencers

TikTok and YouTube are gaining ground, but Instagram is still the top social media platform for influencers, according to Influencer Marketing Hub. Here are some tips for marketers looking for Instagram influencers specifically.

Find Instagram influencers using in-app features

As we mentioned earlier, hashtags are a simple way to find influencers on Instagram. However, you can also check out the app’s Explore page. This method will work on any account that has an algorithm tuned to your brand or target customer. If you don’t have this account, it may be a good idea to make one to help with your audience research.

Create a new Instagram account and use it as you imagine your ideal customer would. Start by visiting and following your brand’s page. Soon enough, the account’s Explore page will lead you to other pages, and influencers, you may be interested in.

Use an Instagram influencers list

Do a quick Google search and you’ll come up with dozens upon dozens of ready-made lists of Instagram’s top influencers in every industry imaginable. These lists are great for getting an overview of the Instagram influencer landscape and looking at current influencer trends. One downside to these kinds of lists is that they become out of date quickly. Plus, they may not show you the best influencers for your campaign, just the most popular ones overall.

Use influencer marketing tools

Influencer marketing tools and platforms like Klear are the most comprehensive options for finding Instagram influencers. Focus your search not only by social media platforms but also by audience and metrics. With these tools, you can spend the time you save elsewhere, like co-creating with your chosen influencer.

How to choose the right influencer for your brand

Perhaps you have a few relevant influencers in mind that you think would be a perfect fit for your brand, but to really be sure they are right for you, you’ll need to evaluate them against some key metrics. Start with a Google search to gauge their reputation and see which platforms they are on, but don’t stop there. Here are some questions to ask to ensure that you pick the right influencer to work with:

1. What is the quality of their work?

Working with Instagram influencers means giving them the creative freedom to make content for your brand, so you want to make sure that the content they already make is high quality. Take a look at the content they share on the platform.

Does it feel genuine? Does it aim to provide real value to the audience? Are the captions well-thought-out? Is it captivating? Is there a storytelling element to what the influencer shares on Instagram? These are just a few ways to gauge if an Instagram influencer’s style is right for your brand.

2. Do they have an engaged community?

From likes and comments to reposts and retweets, look into an influencer’s engagement rate to have a better understanding of if their audience is an active one. Look at the comments their followers leave, what questions they ask, and how well the influencer responds to them. A passive audience is no good for a brand partnership; you want the influencer’s community to spread your message to others, expanding your reach to other social networks and online communities.

3. How large is their reach?

An influencer can have a high follower count but a low reach, which looks at the unique number of users who saw their social media post. For well-known and new brands alike, this metric is important for assessing just how many eyes an influencer really draws in. Reach is closely linked with measuring brand awareness and the ROI of influencer campaigns. Even influencers with smaller reach can produce great results.

While macro-influencers, who have between 100,000 and one million followers, can get more eyeballs on your campaign, micro-influencers, who have between 1,000 and 100,000 followers, can introduce you to niche audiences and markets. Some influencer marketing platforms can also help you evaluate influencers on this metric. Klear’s AI-powered technology, for one, detects bots and fake followers to grade influencers on their actual reach.

4. Who are they reaching?

Having an engaged community is one thing, but if an influencer’s audience does not care about your product, the ROI from a partnership will be minimal. Find an influencer whose followers are interested in topics that will lead to them converting to your brand. Influencers also have different audiences on different social media platforms. You may have to tweak your strategy depending on what channel you are targeting.

5. What other brands have they worked with?

Looking at the brands that influencers have worked with in the past can help you decide if their audience is part of your target market. Just keep in mind that if an influencer has had a long-term partnership with a competitor, their association with that brand may stick.

Start your influencer outreach

Now that you have found and evaluated the influencers you want for your upcoming influencer marketing campaign, what is the next step?

1. Reach out to them

Your first outreach to an influencer could make or break your potential partnership with them, so your first impression needs to be a compelling one that demonstrates the value you offer. Many companies kick things off by sending PR packages or free samples to influencers they hope to partner with.

Consider following them on Instagram or TikTok (or whatever social media platforms are most relevant for you) and engaging with their content. Leave a meaningful comment on a post where they mentioned your brand and express how much you appreciate their support. The more you meaningfully engage with their content, the better the chances of getting a positive response when you pitch them a campaign.

2. Craft a compelling pitch

Next, you want to craft an enticing pitch or proposal that highlights why you are reaching out, an overview of the campaign you have in mind, the deliverables you would need, the compensation you offer, as well as specific next steps and deadlines.

While it’s not out of the question for brands to first reach out to influencers on social media platforms, direct business and pitch materials to their email address of choice. This is another area where influencer marketing platforms can help you avoid guesswork and save time.

3. Follow up and stay in the loop

Once you pitch your ideal influencer, stay on top of communications and follow up. In-demand influencers get many messages a day, so yours may get lost in their inbox. Often, a friendly reminder or follow-up can turn radio silence into a yes. As your campaign moves forward, keep that level of attentiveness and attention to detail.

Even small-scale influencer campaigns involve a lot of moving parts, so we recommend consolidating them into one platform as much as possible. This makes it easier to not only manage campaigns but also maintain your brand’s relationships with influencers.

Follow these tips and guidelines closely to get your next influencer marketing campaign off the ground in no time. Fill out the form below to learn more about how Meltwater’s influencer marketing platform can make the process even easier.

By: Khalipha Ntloko

Source: How to Find Influencers to Partner with Your Brand

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