Influencer marketing is a proven strategy for businesses of all sizes. By now, most marketers are aware of this and deploy strategies that target their key customer segments on their favorite social media platforms. However, new stars are born on social media every day.

Recently, we’ve seen trends emerge and sales skyrocket on the wings of some pretty unlikely stars, including a 74 year-old cooking grandma and Winston Churchill. Rising stars and unconventional voices can bring fantastic value to brands looking to reach new audiences or reinvigorate their messaging. Here are three ways to find these new voices and utilize them to boost sales, visibility and ROI in social campaigns.

Take a Closer Look at Your Customer Segments

All brands know who their quintessential buyers are—and likely have marketing strategies catered specifically to these groups. These are very important, but brands should also look deeper to identify revenue drivers from secondary or tertiary consumer segments.

Familiarize yourself with these new audiences and identify key voices and thought-leaders. Look at their impact and influence, not solely their follower count. Micro-influencers, with followers in the 10K-100K sweet spot, offer reach and meaningful engagement, translating to increased ROI for any sponsored campaigns featuring these individuals.

As you look to break into new audiences, you’ll stretch your brand’s comfort zone. The goal is to spark conversations in new communities without doing a complete 180 on your brand’s image. It’s possible to incorporate new voices and messaging catered to new groups without breaking from the underlying themes and values customers have come to expect from your brand.

Keep the lines of communication open between your marketing team and new and existing influencers to ensure that everyone believes the messaging put forth is best suited for the audience it hopes to reach. And while the campaign runs, don’t forget to assess feedback: engagement, clicks and purchases as well as overall customer sentiment. If an effort to enter a new community falls flat, reassess and look for ways to tweak messages and improve.

Look for Opportunities to be First-Movers

Here it’s all about flipping the script to see what emerging influencers can offer your brand. Remember, you’re looking for voices that will bring you out of your typical niche and comfort zone. Not every new influencer will be a fit—if the partnership is a stretch, then the user’s audience will likely not be a fit either. But if you’ve been seeking ways to make your brand more accessible to new audiences, approaching influencers who are active members of those audiences can be a great place to start.

Open up a dialog with these creators to gain feedback on the desires of their like-minded followers and how your sales and marketing strategy can be adapted to be impactful in these spaces. Influencers can be the key to becoming a first-mover within a new category. Users will respond to content pushed by an authentic voice they’re already familiar with and you’ll see engagement take off.

Create an Environment that’s Conducive to New Creative Voices

Remember last year’s viral Ocean Spray / Dreams TikTok? Practically overnight, TikTok user Doggface208 became the face of a cultural moment and elevated not only himself but the associated brands (in this case, Ocean Spray and Fleetwood Mac) to the top of nearly everyone’s minds. This was not a pre-planned marketing stunt and, sadly, these moments cannot be manufactured. However, what brands can do is focus less on trying to create viral moments featuring their products and imagery and put more effort behind building an environment and social strategy that is conducive to fostering creativity amongst creators while also being inclusive of your brand(s).

This means finding influencers who are popular for unconventional reasons (i.e. dance videos, music reviews, impressions) and collaborating with them on campaigns. Not only will they inject a level of creativity, but they will also provide valuable insights into their communities’ culture on apps like TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat—and can advise you on how to get involved in the latest trends and position your brand for viral success.

Turning over a new leaf in marketing can be daunting, particularly if you have tried and true strategies that your brand falls back on. Today’s social media landscape is rife with creativity and brands looking to break into new customer segments must be willing to take chances on new influencers. This approach establishes trust in an environment where ideas blend with popular culture to create truly impactful campaigns that drive awareness and sales.

Justin Kline is Co-founder of Markerly, an influencer marketing technology partner and platform working with some of the largest consumer brands in the world. Follow Justin on Twitter!

 Influencer marketing stock photo by paulaphoto/Shutterstock