Kayleigh O’Connor is the Director of Operations for inbound.co.uk, one of the agencies behind the Fitness Network. Alongside this role Kayleigh is also a professional actress, the founder of Good Grief, a keen crossfitter and fitness blogger. It was this background that led to her fascination with influencer marketing, the fastest growing area of marketing throughout the fitness world.
We spoke with Kayleigh to learn about:
– The growing importance of influencer marketing within the health and fitness sector
– How brands can use this strategy to spearhead all of their digital activity in an efficient & scalable way
– How to identify the perfect influencers for your brand
– The various ways to build and nurture these relationships
What is an influencer?
An influencer is someone who has a large, well engaged audience online, typically via social media, and who holds considerable influence among that audience.
The biggest driver of this within the health and fitness marketing has probably been instagram, as it enables people to post stunning imagery and video quickly and easily from their smartphone. Consequently there are now trainers, experts and fitness enthusiasts all over the world that use this content to build up huge followings.
What are the main benefits of engaging with digital influencers?
By engaging with influencers within your market you are able to reach your target audience whilst reinforcing the position and credibility of your brand. Furthermore, it provides a steady stream of incredible content. After all, who better to generate digital content than someone who perfectly embodies the brand and is already engaging with your audience? Furthermore, this content will not only be in the form of stunning imagery but also video, which may otherwise cost you thousands of pounds to produce.
“Who better to generate digital content than someone who perfectly embodies the brand and is already engaging with your audience?”
Another benefit that many brands don’t think about is the impact on your SEO (search engine optimisation). All Google wants to do is rank great content from trusted brands, so developing a network of influencers that increase your brand’s exposure is only going to have a positive impact on your rankings. Furthermore, many of them have their own blogs, so often the relationship will result in a link from a highly relevant domain, which is another strong signal to Google that your website deserves to rank well for its target phrases.
Finally, if the influencers have a good experience with your product/service then they can provide testimonials and reviews (again, this is great for SEO!) and you can even incentivise them to send sales traffic from their blog and social media, so in effect they become affiliate marketers for your brand.
So what are the key steps you take to initiate the relationship?
The process I use to identify and engage with new influencers is as follows:
– Know your brand – having influence is not enough. These people need to really embody your brand, so it’s essential you have a clearly documented brand identity before reaching out. Furthermore, you will always find that the stronger your brand the more people will want to be associated with it.
– Decide on the kind of profile you are after – would you rather they had a small but growing following, or a huge existing one? The advantage of the former is that they are less likely to be engaging with other brands, more willing to work for free product rather than payment, and generally more enthusiastic about building a long term relationship.
– Start close to home – most brands already have relationships with influencers that fit the brand, so look to leverage those first. A common example is PT’s within gyms. These people embody your brand perfectly (at least they should do!) and chances are many of them will already be all over social media.
– Start your outreach – one effective method is to put out casting calls on actor, dancer and model networks, to connect with talent who con combine fitness with their performance careers and may be looking to supplement their income and raise their profile. Another method is to find forums dedicated to the topic in question (a quick Google search will do), begin contributing to the community and then once you’ve built up the relationships you can start advertising your influencer opportunities.
– Check their following is real before engaging – if a person has 50,000 followers but their content only receives a small degree of engagement, then something isn’t right. Either their content is off the mark or, more likely, they’ve bought their following. Either way, these are people you want to avoid.
How do you then make the most of the relationship?
First of all I would suggest having clear contracts in place so they know what’s expected. Some more high profile ambassadors will expect to be paid, so agree the exact terms and make sure there is no room for confusion.
Ultimately, it’s all about relationships, both online and offline. You should be meeting these people for coffee and getting to know them in person, whilst also setting up groups via Whatsapp and email to engage with them daily. Groups are a brilliant way of not only developing a sense of community among your influencers, but also injecting a bit of friendly competition by, for example, offering a gift for ambassador of the month.
“Ultimately, it’s all about relationships”
You’ve also got to look at other ways you can help them. For example, are you able to share their other content and even put a bit of budget into promoting it? It’s a great source of content for you, but you’re also helping to increase their exposure. In extreme cases you may even want to make them the face of the brand, using them consistently across the website and other channels. Again, this is great exposure for them and really brings the brand personality to life.