The tactic we’re referring to here, of course, is called “influencer marketing.” And especially in the outdoor industry — where a handful of influencers have big sway in their respective outdoor-industry segments — it has real potential give your brand a serious lift.
Read on to discover 10 tips for choosing the right outdoor influencers to boost your outdoor-oriented brand, and working out a win-win arrangement in the process:
1. Know your target
Before you even begin researching potential influencers, develop an idea of what type of influencer and audience you’re looking for. Influencers come with a range of following sizes — possibilities include nano, micro, mid-tier, macro and mega influencers. And while their numbers may not be as high, even nano influencers can be worth your while if they have the ears of the right audience. And of course, you’ll want to leverage an influencer with clear connections to your brand’s market segment — and followers with a strong potential to gravitate toward your brand.
2. Go beyond the numbers
During the process of researching the best outdoor lifestyle influencers for your brand, remember that bigger is not always better. A large following is great, of course — but having have the right audience fit for your brand is most important. Look for influencers with followers who share characteristics and interests with your best customers, so you can gain more like them. Also, seek out influencers whose content is relevant to the products or services you are looking to promote.
Answer these questions regarding your candidates: Is most of the content they produce and share pertinent to your industry? Do they engage well with their followers/audience? Do they seem authentic? It’s easy to find an influencer, but it takes time and careful consideration to vet out the ones who really care about the products they’re promoting and not just in it for the money.
3. Seek out active audiences
Another consideration to keep in mind: Try to find influencers with a highly engaged following. When an influencer’s audience members do a lot of commenting and sharing, they’re more likely to spread the news about your offerings one you’ve managed to win them over. And if you can eventually turn them into brand ambassadors, having highly talkative/expressive ones is a marketer’s dream.
If an influencer has 100K followers but only gets an average of 150 likes and 10 comments per post, the big numbers may not produce much the way of results. On the other hand, if a nano-influencer with just 2,500 followers gets over 300 likes per post and 30+ comments, the higher levels of engagement might indicate a greater level of influence over those followers — and a higher chance that they’ll be able to sway consumers toward your brand.
4. Leverage influencer location
When seeking out influencers, you’ll want to look for ones with strong and engaged followings, as mentioned above. But it’s also good to find ones located in areas of the country where you’d like to expand on your coverage.
Further, keep your influencers in mind when you are looking for photos that you might use on your social pages, for example. You may find an influencer in Montana, and you may currently have very little imagery of your product in that type of environment — so that person could really help you expand your library. Reach out and ask if you can pay for a few shots if you see some really good work and want to use it elsewhere.
5. Find candidates with the right rates
Influencer rates are wide-ranging, and at least for most brands, cost is obviously an important piece of the puzzle. Does your brand have a specific budget in mind for your influencer-marketing campaign? If so, start your search by eliminating any influencer candidates whose rates fall outside your budget. There aren’t really standard influencer rates, so reaching out to individual influencers and finding those out is important. There are also a handful of helpful websites out there that can assist you in your search, with Upfluence and Post for Rent being among the leading ones.
6. Be aware that cash payment isn’t always required
Not all influencers require a cash payment for their services. Rather, many are more than willing to provide social media posts and sharing of other content focused on your brand in exchange for free products and/or services — so this is always a good place to start your negotiations. Don’t assume from the start that you’ll have to pay them in cash, but be ready to if needed.
7. Set clear expectations
Even with an arrangement involving free products or services rather than direct cash payments, make clear exactly what your brand expects the influencer to do in the relationship. Both parties are better off if the expectations are made clear up front. Putting together a simple contract is always a good idea, as this ensures that the influencer understands you’re serious about your brand and that he or she is representing you when sharing any brand-related content.
8. Make it easy
Give the influencer all the details and instructions you can regarding any content they’ll be sharing or producing, and communicate this information as clearly as possible. Some of the ways your brand can deliver clarity regarding the influencer’s work with you include providing a Google Drive link where they can upload and/or download images, a detailed list of your hashtags and social links, and any taglines you’d like for them to use.
9. Stay on top of things
Keep in touch with your influencer, and provide him or her with detailed information about your brand and what it has planned next regarding promotions and seasonal rollouts. Many influencers work for a number of brands, and giving them ideas for content will help keep your brand top of mind.
At TBA Outdoors, we often set up a group email or a Facebook group for the brands whose influencer relationships we manage, and these tools often prove extremely useful for keeping in touch and sending info out to influencers, and vice versa.
10. Keep them close
The influencer relationship shouldn’t be a one-and-done deal. Try to check in with your influencer(s) regularly to see how they are doing, and to ask what they might need from you. For optimal and long-lasting results, work to develop a close relationship with your influencer(s), overcommunicate with them, and treat them like family! Further, when they do good work for you, reward them. The gift doesn’t need to be a big one, and everyone enjoys a surprise once in a while.
All said, if you can build a strong relationship with your influencer(s), it will pay dividends for your brand in the long haul.
Could your outdoor brand use the help of a group of experienced marketing professionals to ramp up your influencer-marketing efforts? At TBA Outdoors, our fully integrated marketing firm boasts a team of seasoned specialists (and outdoors fanatics) who can cover all aspects of marketing — including influencer marketing, email marketing, SEO, brand strategy, creative, social media, e-commerce, analytics, public relations and much more — all in one place. And as certified brand strategists, we can also help you with the big-picture adjustments sometimes needed put your outdoor brand on a course to long-term success.
To get started with professional guidance ranging from a simple website analysis to a comprehensive strategy tailored to boost your outdoor brand’s overall performance and identity, contact us today.