Social media can do much more for you than help you create brand awareness or sell your products and services.

If you social media correctly, you can turn your followers not only into customers, but also into brand influencers.

Influencers are people who promote your brand on their own network. They might share a product they just bought and talk about how much they love it, or they might talk about how your service has improved their lives. They might even talk about an exceptional customer service experience they had.

Ideally, these influencers would have quite a large following so that their influence could be quite substantial. However, even influencers with a small following can help promote the success of your business.

Here’s what you need to know about how to build social relationships so you can get more of these influencers and get the most from these relationships:

Influencer Types

While anybody can be an influencer, you really want to look for people of stature to make the most of the opportunity.

The best influencers are typically:

  • Bloggers
  • YouTube personalities
  • Social media experts
  • Celebrities

Even among those types of influencers, there are some who are better than others. Good influencers have specific traits, as well as a large and active presence online and on social media.

Influencers should also be experts and leaders in their niche. They should have authority in their field, and they should be able to start topics trending based on the conversations they lead.

Influencers should be active and engaging. That means that they frequently participate in conversations with their followers, rather than just posting content or sharing opinions without a back and forth.

Finally, influencers should genuinely care about your brand or believe in its quality. If they are insincere in their commentary on your brand, their followers will see right through it and the message will ring hollow.

Why You Need Influencers

The benefits of influencer marketing are extensive.

Influencers lend your brand more credibility because they are considered objective third parties. You aren’t paying them to say what they are saying (usually), so they are seen just like people leaving reviews for your company.

Influencers also help you gain access to larger audiences through their own network, and that helps you to get more leads and customers. Those leads are also higher quality and produce better sales.

Research has shown that influencer marketing is the fastest way for businesses to get new customers. For every dollar that brands spend on influencer marketing, they are able to make $6.50. That’s a significant ROI!

Blogging has been shown to be the top platform for influencer marketing, but social networks of all types are also effective.

How to Approach Influencers

There are essentially two ways that you can approach potential influencers: Ask them directly or build a relationship with them over time.

The direct approach could look something like, “Hey, we think our product would really benefit your audience because x, y, z and it would be great if you would share a link” or “We noticed that you purchased x. If you’re happy with it, would you mind sharing your experience with your customers?”

You could also offer to send a product for review.

The advantage of the direct approach is that you get results faster and you don’t have to spend as much time on the back and forth. However, the major disadvantage is that many people are bound to ignore your email because they think it’s spam.

The slower approach is to build a relationship over time by participating in conversations on blogs and social media, tweeting at the person, linking to their content and so on. The key here is to do these things with no immediate suggestion of wanting something in return. Over time, the influencer will get to know you and appreciate the efforts you are making.

Once you have established a relationship, you can ask for a link, a mention or a review. However, most of the time, these things will happen naturally if you are doing a good job at relationship building. Most people want to reciprocate, so if you are promoting them, they are likely to promote you back.

Attaining influencers through long-term relationship building will give you a higher success rate. Influencers will also be more excited to work with you since they know you better.

This approach takes longer, but it will be well worth it in the end. If you’re not careful, your efforts can go unnoticed, so make sure you are contributing value when you are interacting with the influencer.

Influencer marketing can make a huge impact on your brand, so work on building those relationships so you can start reaping the rewards. You’ll quickly grow your brand and start meeting your goals.