How to Use Influencer Marketing to Elevate your Agency
If you’re a pop-culture fan, you may have heard the term “Break the Internet” before. But for the uninitiated, here is a crash course:
The phrase used to mean “causing it to no longer function,” but now it has more to do with dominating the conversation in the most well-populated corners of the internet, especially at the expense of more newsworthy topics. In the Webster’s Dictionary, it means showing oneself to be “a person with an undeniable talent and natural ability to use the Internet to create buzz, engage with fans and communities, and get the world to pay attention.” Last year, that was Kim Kardashian West.
Mrs. West was also in the news for breaking the Internet in late 2014 when Paper Magazine featured her with the headline “Break the Internet” for its Winter issue.
In the retail space, influencer marketing has become a massive business, as brand marketers engage celebrities and social media stars to advertise their products. Kendall Jenner “broke the internet” in 2019 when she became the face of “Proactiv” acne medication, and of course, nobody believed that she actually used it. Kim Kardashian West reportedly charges between $300,000 to $500,000 for a single Instagram post to promote a product. And at age 9, Ryan Kaji has a net worth of $120 million from reviewing kids toys on his popular YouTube channel.
Kylie Jenner is paid around $1.2 million for a single post on Instagram
At a basic level, influencer marketing is a type of social media marketing that uses endorsements and mentions from influencers– individuals who have a dedicated social following and are viewed as experts within their niche. Influencer marketing works because of the high amount of trust that social influencers have built up with their following, and recommendations from them serve as a form of social proof to your brand’s potential customers.
So it’s easy, you see? Just spend millions of dollars on celebrities to endorse your agency…Kidding.
But the point here is that influencer marketing is an important way to promote your brand, and there is a place for it in the indie agent world. We’re never going to get Lebron James to go on camera and endorse our agency. The key is to first figure out what your target audience is, and then engage with the people who influence THEM.
Our agency specializes in the real estate market, and our target audience is first-time home buyers. So, when we began developing our strategy for influencer marketing, we wanted to work with real estate agents and mortgage lenders in our area. When it comes to buying a home, most first-time home buyers rely on their realtor or lender to help with referring them to an insurance agent.
The concept for us was simple, we would reach out to the best realtors and lenders in our area and offer them free marketing. We started off by interviewing these professionals on social media videos and having them share their advice for first-time home buyers. We didn’t ask them to specifically endorse us, but instead to talk about how they can help home buyers. But invariably, they would always say that they really enjoyed working with our agency and recommended clients to us. When we posted the video to our social media pages, they shared it with their network, and the net began to spread. Homeowners and buyers working with these professionals saw our brand and wanted to get a quote. And even better, other realtors and lenders saw these videos and wanted in. We were no longer prospecting for real estate relationships. They were coming to us! Check out this video we made with one of our mortgage lender partners.
Suppose your agency focuses on small business and select accounts. Try working with respected business leaders in the community, put them on camera and let them share advice for other businessowners. Ask them about insurance, and what they look for in an agent…and watch as your brand grows.
How to create an influencer marketing strategy
An influencer program takes careful targeting and planning. You won’t find strategic success just by offering free airtime to every person willing to endorse you.
- How to find influencers and what to offer them
With any marketing strategy, research matters. Choose the social media network that you want to focus on first. You can always expand to other networks later but if you’re just starting out, stick with one. Ideally, your agency should already have some presence on this network or be looking to expand into it. Demographics vary on each network.
The industry you’re in also matters when you’re planning to implement an influencer marketing strategy. Beauty and fashion brands shine on Instagram and YouTube. Personal Lines Agencies thrive on Instagram and Facebook. If your focus is more on Commercial Lines, you will have better luck on the B2B network, LinkedIn.
During your research phase, look into the kind of influencers you’re interested in. Are you going for national leaders with massive followings? Or micro influencers with less than 2000 followers?
Research is key and you’ll find yourself returning to this step often in the process.
- Decide on goals and message
The two most popular reasons for utilizing influencer marketing are to elevate brand awareness and increase sales. However, I find that these goals are too broad, and it will be more effective to kick off your strategy by narrowing in on what your agency needs are. Perhaps you want to increase your customer base in a younger demographic…or you want to expand into a different line of business. Or you want to skip products all together and work with influencers to talk about your brand and core values.
Influencers can help you reach very specific audiences. Instead of trying to gather thousands of followers on your own, rely on influencers who have the added benefit of a very targeted audience, likely to be interested in your product and engaged with your content.
- Go out and do it
The best laid plans go to waste if you don’t act on them. When my high school coach wanted me to bulk up in the offseason he would say, “I can give you the keys to the gym, but I can’t lift the weights for you.” Same applies here and so I challenge you to put in the planning, and then go put in the work!
John Lapointe is the executive VP for Lapointe Insurance. Through social media marketing and a careful balance of participation in local networking organizations, John has built a virtual network of referral sources within the housing industry in MA, RI, and CT. The strategy has grown monthly new business commissions by over 600% since joining the agency in 2016. His vision is to be an “agent of change” in a 60-year-old family business, to create an agency that embraces change, new ideas, and where people love coming to work. John and his team subscribe to their core values of teamwork, information, growth, doing the right thing, and having fun.
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