How to use customers as brand influencers

Influencers are all the rage nowadays. Some influencers can command astronomical fees for a post. Numbers range from a few hundred, to tens and hundreds of thousands. That puts them out of many businesses’ price range. But the principles behind influencer marketing can still be used, that is, providing potential customers with more authentic inspiration and reviews of your products. Instead of aiming for influencers, you’ve got an untapped source much closer to home. Customers are the best influencers a business could ask for. Here’s how you can uncover and use them to your advantage.

Discover them

The first step to using your customers as influencers is to uncover them. There’s usually a few loyal customers who will rave about your brand to their friends and family. You’ll usually find these customers online. Check your Facebook page to see your top reviewers, or find out who Tweets positive things about your brand. You can also check any Instagram posts you’ve been tagged in or that uses a specific company hashtag, and review sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor.

To go a step further, if you want to encourage your customers to talk about your brand, give them the right tools. Set up a dedicated company hashtag. Put all your social media handles and hashtags on all your marketing materials – including offline ones like brochures and labels. Get people involved through online competitions. The more people are used to interacting with your brand online, the more likely some influencers will appear in your feed.

Communicate with them

Once you know who your customer influencers are, reach out to them. Drop them a message to let them know you appreciate their loyalty. Offer them exclusive releases to review or special offers from time to time. If you want to go a step further, create a special influencer group where the members receive updates on all your company’s new products and offers.

Keep it genuine

People appreciate honest reviews. Therefore, any outreach you do carry out needs to be genuine. Don’t offer your influencers too much as it can come across as bribery. Instead, consult with them for their opinions, offer them products to try before anyone else, and occasionally send them discounts or gifts. Make it a relationship where both of you benefit, but where both can be honest with each other.

Share and comment on their posts

Social media was designed to be social. When someone shares something about your business, make sure you thank them and get involved in the conversation. If that person regularly posts about your company, don’t comment or share every single post. Just select a few to be a part of. Otherwise you might not come across as genuine.

Bring them into your team

Your customers are your biggest advocates, and can be your strongest critics. Harness their power and their voice. Actively seek their opinion, especially if your customers have a large following. Arrange meetings between your influencers and your marketing and product teams. If you open up the lines of communication, your customers will offer you genuine feedback. Especially if they are a long-time fan. Those insights can help shape your marketing plans, product development, and overall business strategy.

All businesses have a loyal pool of customers hidden somewhere. The trick is in finding them and engaging with them. Once you achieve this, you’ll tap into a goldmine of information. There’s the added benefit of creating more authentic marketing campaigns that really communicate the value of your brand. Your influencers are your online word-of-mouth. No other marketing campaign can beat a customer recommendation.