If you pay any attention to current trends in social media then you’ve likely heard someone reference, “Influencer Marketing.” According to Tracckr, “Influencer Marketing is the process of identifying, researching, engaging and supporting the people who create high-impact conversations with your customers.”
Many people think that Influencer Marketing can only be used by big brands or corporate entities who want to sell more of their magical weight loss vitamin via the help of Kylie Jenner. But most schools I work with don’t have the $1,000,000 budget to pay a celebrity to help raise awareness of their next event or initiative. In fact, most schools aren’t thinking about the many micro-influencers who may attend or have attended their school - or even those who own a business within the local community.
Word of mouth marketing expert Saul Colt says “The value of micro-influencers is that their audience will be far more targeted than a famous persons. I’d always speak to 300 people who will actually care about my message or product than 4 hundred thousand who will forget me an hour later or worse wonder why their time was wasted because their not the target.” In other words, you may have low-hanging influencer fruit just around the corner, and they have access to the ears and brains of the niche community that you want to reach. Why spray and pray when you can strategically target and partner with existing neighborhood relationships?
Why Bother Spending the Time to Identify Micro-Influencers in Your Community?
There are many reasons that a micro-influencer may add value to your school marketing efforts and one of those reasons is fairly obvious - cost. More than likely, the local shop in town who has a great niche product or service and several hundred or thousand Instagram followers would be willing to post about your event or initiative if you made it really easy for them. Odds are, if your local shop owner has a local social media following, some of those followers would be interested in what’s new at the school. That same shop owner may very likely have a child who is a member of the school district already - thus providing you with an easy in.
Another value that micro-influencers bring to the table is that they likely already have an established voice and consistency to their messaging that their followers expect and accept. This contrasts what a schools social media community is used to hearing about. When an influencer sees value in your initiative and speaks about it online they carry with them the trust they’ve earned with their followers.
How do you approach a potential micro-influencer?
The first step to any effective marketing strategy is planning and identifying who you are trying to reach. Start with the local businesses that your students frequent. Does your local candy store have an engaged online presence? How about the local grocer? Perhaps a former student is now a leader in the community or even the local Chamber?
What we want to do is identify who your target audience is. If you’re hoping to promote the next Fine Arts event then you want to identify the influencers who have a more local following. If it’s a fundraiser for student needs after a natural disaster, that might have a more national appeal. Just remember, it’s one thing to identify a few influencers but it’s another to do your best to respect their time, efforts, and community by ONLY asking to help promote an event or initiative that actually aligns with their community. Otherwise, you’re just using them and no one wants to be used.
Once you have identified several influencers in your community break them into categories so that you’ll know which influencer to reach out to that aligns with each event or initiative that you wish to grow awareness around. Now, we are ready to make our first outreach to the potential influencer we wish to deal with.
If the person that you have identified is local you may find it easiest to either call them or visit them in person. Go into this well organized and with a plan, it is important to know exactly what it is that you’re looking for them to do. If you’re hoping they’ll help promote a sports event then go to the meeting with potential tweets that they can personalize already written. Make everything as easy as possible for them. After all, they’re doing this fairly altruistically.
Prior to the meeting or phone call, brainstorm all of the ways that this person or organization could benefit by partnering with the school - one of which is that they will undoubtedly reach people they normally wouldn’t since the school will be happy to retweet or re-share their content.
Other ways the local Influencer will benefits:
More community engagement by showing they’re supporting your school
Increased exposure to parents, students, and potentially new shoppers
Potentially attracting new fans and followers
Easy to use content that can help them keep their social media profiles active and engaging
Warming of the cockles of their heart knowing they’re helping your school
Now that we have identified Influencers, approached them, and got some buy-in, we have one final task: equipping them with easy to share content. This means assigning a student the task of composing tweets that our new Influencer can use as a template or use directly within their social media efforts. The best social media content sounds human - like marketing expert Chris Brogan says, “Marketing is about connecting with your customer’s story.” This means, the content you suggest for your Influencers should have a human voice, connect with their followers, and not be too salesy.
With all the hard work almost done, it’s time to work on the final step - relaying these suggestions to your new community Influencer. One simple way of doing this is by calling them well in advance of the event/initiative you want to promote and informing them that you have written several pieces of potential content that you’d love for them to share/retweet/post to their own social media. Remind them of the Influencer program at your school and let them know that the school will happily retweet/share/regram their content once it goes live.
Other ways you may want to partner with Influencers in your community:
Offer a school event hashtag sponsorship that will be announced at each event and included on brochures and posters. “Don’t forget to use #GoEagles on your social media posts when talking about tonight’s game! Hashtag sponsored by Coresetti’s Market - find them online @Corsettis!”
Tag the Influencers in posts to help more people from your community find them on social media. By tagging your local Influencer on Instagram you’re making it very easy for your own Instagram followers to click over to that Influencers page - essentially providing FREE advertising for their business.
Film a promotional video/snap/tweet/post from an Influencers location - helping more people see their business and the alignment they have with supporting your school.
For example: If your local pizza shop who has 2,000 Insta followers agrees to re-share some content, do them a solid by filming a short video from their shop. This gives them additional free exposure to the community and you an a chance to “check-in” to their location on social media, which can also help more people find your social media profile.
Engaging with Influencers is an exciting and potentially great way to earn more attention from an additional world of social media users who may not follow your school already. Be sure to have fun with this process, be organized, be prepared for some people to not want to take part, but also be prepared to see great results!
How about you, have you engaged any influencers at your school?
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