It is no secret that social proof, or the tendency to see an action as more desirable when someone else has taken it, has an incredible impact on consumer habits. Product reviews, customer testimonials and celebrity spokespeople are all prime examples of ways in which marketers and advertisers use the approval of others to sell goods and services.
The premise is simple and incredibly effective. The consumer thinks, “If this person I trust likes the product, then the chances are good that I will like it, too.”
The internet and social media have made it easier than ever before for ordinary people to spread their ideas and opinions – including those regarding products and services. Now, more than ever before, consumers are making their voices heard. This increase in consumer power has given rise to a new kind of marketer – the influencer.
What is an Influencer?
When people think of influencers, they tend to think of big names like Kim Kardashian – well-known celebrities with millions upon millions of social media fans. But in reality, most influencers exist on a much smaller scale, with some micro influencers having as few as 2,000 followers. Sure, followers and reach is an important factor in defining an influencer, but what is even more important is how influential they are.
You may be asking yourself, “If followers do not define an influencer, then what does?” What gives someone enough influence to make them a valuable marketing tool? Well, there are three primary factors commonly used to identify an influencer.
- Reach – This is the most obvious factor. The wider someone’s reach, the greater their potential influence.
- Credibility – People follow influencers because they have expertise in a certain area. Style influencers are on the cusp of the latest fashion trends, DIYers are admired for their creativity and skill. Whatever the category may be, followers look to these influencers for inspiration and guidance. The result is loyalty and trust – a commodity most brands only dream of.
3. Likeability – Influencers tend to be great marketing tools for brands because they have already mastered the skill of marketing themselves. Their charisma, persuasiveness and salesmanship draws people to them and keeps them interested.
The Value of Influencers
Looking at the above criteria, it is easy to see why influencers are so valuable to brands. They already have a captive audience that likes them, trusts them and views them as an authority. By partnering with an influencer to promote a product or service, a brand can easily tap into the influencer’s network of loyal fans. Think about a person you admire or look up to. If they were in support of a product, would you be more likely to purchase it? I think most of us would say yes.
The Amazon Influencer Program
Due to the proven profitability of influencer marketing, influencers can be found across every corner of the web. From bloggers and vloggers to Instagrammers and Snapchat stars, thousands of people make their living every day by partnering with brands and promoting products to their followers.
Last year, Amazon got into the game by launching the Amazon Influencer Program. Much like the company’s Associates Program, in which participants get paid when shoppers click through to Amazon product pages, Amazon’s Influencer Program allows users to create personalized Amazon pages filled with their own product recommendations. Each time a shopper purchases a product from the influencer’s page, the influencer is compensated.
Who Are Amazon Influencers?
When Amazon launched its Influencer Program early last year, it was open to users across Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Since then, the company has expanded its membership to include YouTube influencers, as well.
Once a user applies, Amazon reviews their account and determines their eligibility based on:
- The size of their following
- The engagement of their audience
- The relevance of their content to Amazon shoppers
Only the applicants that meet all of the above criteria are accepted by Amazon into the Influencer Program. Users who apply via Twitter or YouTube will get an immediate response, while Instagram and Facebook applicants are more carefully vetted and can expect a response within 5 days.
What are the Benefits of Working with an Amazon Influencer?
Amazon’s Influencer Program has one very important advantage over other marketing tactics. It offers a direct link to commerce that tools like search engines and social media sites simply cannot provide.
Through the Amazon Influencer Program, a shopper can make a purchase immediately after clicking through to the influencer’s page. In these circumstances, the barriers to purchase are extremely low and the chances of conversion are much higher because the product is backed by the character of the influencer.
Influencers across sites like Facebook and Instagram can certainly use the platform to push products, but nowhere is a product as immediately available for purchase as it is on an influencer’s Amazon page.
How Does This Differ from Amazon Associates?
Launched in 1996, Amazon Associates was one of the first online affiliate marketing programs in existence. As Amazon Associates, bloggers and website owners can create product links and earn referral fees whenever a shopper clicks through and makes a purchase.
The Amazon Influencer Program is very similar, in that it rewards users for linking to products and pushing purchase, yet it allows for a wider pool of participants because it does not require members to own a website or blog. Instead, influencers have access to their own Amazon landing page where they can compile all of their recommended Amazon listings.
This gives users greater flexibility and allows them to share their Amazon page across a wider range of digital platforms, including:
Finding an Amazon Influencer Partner
After making the decision to pursue an Amazon influencer, the next challenge becomes finding the right partner. In doing so, look for an influencer who has a large, engaged following that matches your target market. With so many influencers flooding the market, you should have no trouble finding a strong candidate in your area of business.
Start by making a list of blogs, YouTube channels and social media accounts that align with your product and target market. As an expert in your product category, you likely already know of a few popular blogs or influencers off the top of your head.
From there, use a search engine to research additional blogs in your niche. Compare the content to your product and ask yourself, critically, if readers would truly be interested in what you have to offer. If the answer is yes, add the blog to your list of potential influencer partners.
Don’t be afraid to extend your search to related topics beyond your product. For example, if you sell protein powder, you may want to consider searching beyond “protein powder blogs” to content surrounding “workout blogs” or “fitness blogs.”
Apply the same strategy to other channels, using #hastags relevant to your product to find compatible social media influencers. Once you have a comprehensive list of potential influencer partners, you are ready to reach out to influencers.
Making the First Move
We recommend reaching out to potential partners via their channel of choice. If they are primarily active on Instagram, send them a direct message. If they are more heavily focused on blog content, an email might be better. Showing that you understand their platform of preference can go a long way toward impressing a prospective partner.
Regardless of the channel, keep your communication concise while demonstrating the value the partnership could bring to both parties.
✓ Explain how you plan to compensate them
✓ Demonstrate the value your product offers their audience
✓ Be clear about what you are asking from them
✓ Give them several options to increase their chances of replying and make them feel like an equal partner
✓ Include a clear call to action and next steps
The goal is to eliminate any possible confusion and reasons to say no. Get them excited about the potential opportunity and make it easy for them to respond. Once you have a bite, work cooperatively with the influencer to create a fair, mutually beneficial contract. The best partnerships, like any relationship, are based on shared trust and respect.
A Few Words In Closing
While some major players like Nike, Coca-Cola and Dove have found deep and meaningful ways to connect with consumers and build brand loyalty, most brands are still looking for better ways to foster relationships with consumers and drive purchase.
Enter Amazon influencers. By borrowing equity from those who have already built trust among their followers, you can establish a solid foundation with consumers and help move them down the purchasing funnel. One positive referral from the right influencer can be 10 times more effective than any sponsored ad or digital campaign you run.