KNOWLEDGE BASE Influencer Marketing In Germany
The information on this page was current at the time it was published. Regulations, trends, statistics, and other information are constantly changing. While we strive to update our Knowledge Base, we strongly suggest you use these pages as a general guide and be sure to verify any regulations, statistics, guidelines, or other information that are important to your efforts.
Influencer Marketing in Germany
There has been a lot written and discussed around influencer marketing and it’s probably one of the more important marketing strategies to engage, especially when going into new markets such as Germany on a limited budget. Spend time locating and reaching out to the key influencers in Germany who can help you succeed.
If you are already somewhat familiar with influencer marketing and would like to learn more about how to effectively use the strategy in Germany, listen to this podcast of our conversation with an important content and influencer marketing expert in Germany, Dominik Grau. If you are still unclear on what influencer marketing is, you can skip the podcast for now and come back to it after you've learned more on this page.
What is an influencer?
Influencers are people that others pay attention to within an industry, social circle, entertainment, or other target group of people. They typically have access to a network of people such as on social media, mass media, digital media, universities, trade and consumer conferences, and events. Often these influencers are well known within an industry or social group. Influencers can mention, use, recommend and critique products and services within their vast influencer networks, and their influence can help promote and advocate for a brand, as well as hurt brands. Especially powerful influencers that are really on-target can drive people to act on things such as purchasing a product, not just make others aware of a product.
Every market and group of people has influencers and Germany is no different. On most subjects you can find a list of top bloggers, and depending on their subject matter, they will use different platforms to get their messages out. The thing to keep in mind for Germany is that Germans tend to use influencers less than other countries for getting information and rely more heavily on traditional forms of media. As we’ll discuss further on, you’ll want to make sure that the German influencers with whom you are cultivating a relationship will reach your target audience in the medium they are most likely to use.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is unique in that you develop a strategy to market directly to influencers that you’ve identified in relevant prospect groups instead of the markets themselves with the goal of having the influencer market your brand to their audiences. It’s similar to “Word of Mouth” marketing except that it’s specifically targeted to people of influence. Influencer marketing is primarily accomplished through digital and social media, and at times events.
Why does influencer marketing work?
As consumers, we naturally trust the opinions and recommendations from people we have a relationship with more than we trust brands. Influencers have worked hard on developing trust with their audiences and this loyalty then allows them to introduce people to new ideas, products, and services that they think are interesting.
The network effect of an influencer connecting with their audience as well as the friends and family members is powerful.
Another reason influencer marketing works is that most people have become blind to traditional advertising because they are bombarded with marketing messages and commercials. Because people choose to pay attention to influencers, they are then open to being exposed to brands in an indirect way.
Synergies between influencer marketing and inbound marketing
Another very important modern marketing approach is “Inbound Marketing”. This is the strategy of creating content such as articles, webinars, podcasts, videos, infographics, and other desirable content that can be downloaded and viewed from your website. In order to gain access to the content, people are asked to provide their email address and at times some information about themselves. Distributing and promoting that desirable inbound marketing content via influencers with a much larger audience than yours will magnify the contacts you get from your content alone.
Determining who your influencers are
When looking to identify influencers, the place to start is to identify your target customers and people you would like to influence. What types of media do they pay attention to? What blogs do they read, which Instagram and Twitter influencers do they follow? Because Germans still rely on traditional media more than in other countries, it’s important that you do your research to understand who will be the most effective influencers for you, since the whole category is less powerful than in other countries who embrace and follow influencers. Bloggers and other influencers who connect well with their audiences and are therefore more likely to be perceived as ‘friends’ will be more effective for you in the German market.
One of the most effective ways to market yourself is to connect with influencers in business organizations called Bundesverbaende, influencer trade shows Gründermessen, Job Organizations Berufsverbände, and Business Development Institutes Wirtschaftsfördererinstitute. Often it's hard to get access to important influencers by joining relevant organizations and attending the industry tradeshows are your best first step when entering the Germany market.
A list of helpful organizations: http://www.gruenderlexikon.de/checkliste/informieren/berater-suchen/wo-beratung-gruendung/branchenverbaende
Relevant context is everything. Even though someone is influential, that doesn’t mean that they will influence the people you want to influence. A lot of celebrities have large audiences but they may not be a great fit for a B2B software company looking to reach businesses that will test their software.
Not only does relevance of the audience matter, the size of an audience also matters. Larger influencers typically have very structured ways such as tiered advertising and paid sponsorship to gain access to their audiences. They may also not be the most influential because their audience size doesn’t allow them to develop a deep relationship. Sometimes the smaller and mid-sized influencers have the best relationships with their audiences and are more flexible in testing out products, promoting your brand, and often have a variety of different pricing options.
You will want to keep in mind when working with influencers that they are very selective in which brands they will promote and you don’t have control over what an influencer will say about you.
Defining your influencer strategy for Germany
As with everything in marketing, being intentional and strategic in identifying and planning to connect with German influencers is the best approach.
Don’t put all German influencers into one bucket. Separate them by the following and develop a strategy for reaching each group:
Influencer type such as blogger, Facebook influencer, Instagram influencer, Twitter influencer, different social groups, and market types
Topic of interest and what they talk about such as technology, food, parenting, etc.
Size of audience such as larger professional bloggers, smaller non-professional bloggers, customer prospects, etc.
Priority such as audience size, openness to working together, cost to access audience, relevance, context, and level of influence
How to find influencers in Germany
There are several ways to find German influencers, all of them are helpful in narrowing down the right ones to help you reach your target markets.
By setting up alerts for the different topics relevant for you, you can monitor the German bloggers that write about the topics as well as social media influencers that discuss those same topics.
Blog searching ‘Best-of’s, Top 10’s’
Searching for reviews of the top blogs by country is a great way to get a list of possible blog contenders such as the best fashion blogs in Germany, top software blogs in Germany and other descriptive searches will help you get started. Once you have a couple of blogs you like, you can then search using comparison sites such as http://www.similarsites.com/ to find other blogs in the same genre.
Alexa allows you get a sense of how popular a blog is so you can compare the blogs you’ve identified.
Social media influencer tools
To identify social media influencers, there are several excellent free tools available to use such as Followerwonk.com by Moz, BuzzSumo.com, .Kred, and Topsy.com. These allow you to search primarily Twitter but also other social sites to identify top influencers by keywords.
Social media monitoring tools
There are many free social media monitoring tools which allow you to monitor conversations and topics of interest within different social sites. Each tool has its unique pro’s and con’s. Some of the more popular tools are SocialMention.com, Hootsuite, and so many more. A great way to monitor social conversations is by relevant #hashtags since those are very focused on topics of conversations.
Reaching out to influencers in Germany
Germans as a whole trust data, facts, and evidence rather than following emotions, so make sure that when you reach out to influencers, you are providing them with information they can use personally to trust and validate you and your product or service. You will also be providing them with the data they need to effectively share your product with their audience. You’ve got to convince them that it’s worth their time and reputation to pay attention to you.
Some of the ways you can engage with German influencers are to appreciate and reward them by following them, commenting on their blog posts, discussing topics in forums and communities, commenting on Facebook posts, re-tweeting their tweets, giving them shout outs on your own social media, and quoting them in articles you write. Again, you are building a mutually beneficial relationship with them and making it more likely that they will notice and engage with you. Germans are most active on Facebook, though in Germany Facebook is used less for B2B and B2C marketing and more for keeping in contact with friends and family. In a 2014 survey of German businesses, 25% felt that Facebook was a successful online form of B2B communications, while search engine marketing (primarily paid advertising and possibly SEO) and newsletters came in at 42% each.
There is less engagement in Germany on Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Xing, and Instagram, although it could be that your target market does pay attention to those platforms. Don’t write them off without first understanding where your market goes for information. For those who do use Twitter, for instance, many check in one or more times every day.
You can send German influencers, especially bloggers, samples to try and free product as well as interesting content to share with their audiences. Free product does not guarantee the influencer will use or talk about your product, but it’s often an effective strategy. You can also offer to give away or discount a set amount of product to their audience as a part of a contest or game.
For some influencers in Germany, you can ask if you can compensate them financially. After you have confirmed that they reach your targeted audience, that they are a legitimate, well-respected influencer, and ideally you have established a relationship with them, this is another viable approach. For very targeted influencers that are interested in your product, perhaps there is some sort of revenue share or commission relationship that makes sense.
Keep in mind that Germans are less likely than American to trust influencers. On the one hand, you are asking influencers to trust and support you, so you’ll be more successful if you’ve developed a relationship with them before asking for their attention. And on the other hand, since Germans rely less heavily on influencers for product and service recommendations, make sure that you’ve found the influencers who have good reach and are considered by the audience as a trusted source for information.
The key to a strong influencer marketing strategy in Germany is to consider a variety of the tactics mentioned throughout this page to see which work best for you. Influencer marketing is a great companion to your other marketing efforts as they will support each other.
KNOWLEDGE BASE Influencer Marketing In Germany