Influencer marketing involves identifying key individuals who can deliver important content to your target audience.The key to successfully contacting and working with influencers involves building relationships.
A good relationship will be mutually beneficial; it organically grows your reach while providing the influencer with something in return.
Step 1: Research your influencers
The first step to a blissful relationship is to find the right people.
Use influencer marketing tools to establish who the key influencers relevant to your brand are.
They should be involved in your field, so their followers will be interested in your content when it is shared with them. Developing a relationship with an influencer whose audience doesn’t care about your industry is a waste of both your time and theirs, so do your research and find the right people.
Step 2: Connect with influencers
Once you have established who the right people are, start stalking them – in a non-threatening way, of course.
Enter their radar by following them on Twitter, like their posts, comment on their blog.
Most influencers are active across multiple social sites, so take advantage. Whatever you do, be nice. Be positive. You are trying to build a relationship with a human, not a robot.
Not only will your name become familiar to them, but you will begin to learn what makes them tick. This will help you in your next step when you come to woo them.
Step 3: Contact influencers
Once you feel the time is right to contact an influencer, tailor a personal message.
Whatever you do, don’t send a stock message – you are trying to build a relationship here, so think of it like using a dating website, although perhaps don’t tell them that you like long walks on the beach.
You need to make them feel special, to let them know you chose them for a reason. Use your research: you now know what makes them tick, so show them you know a little about them.
You should also consider the best format to contact them in. Here at Brandwatch we find contacting an influencer on LinkedIn gets more responses than sending an email, but this may be different for you.
Try different approaches, and keep an eye on the data to develop the best strategy.
Step 4: Be honest
Don’t try to hide what your end game is.
Influencers are busy people who have a lot of potential suitors. They will know that you aren’t contacting them just so you can become friends, so don’t try to hide your true goals.
Remember, this relationship should be useful to them too, so put the focus on how you can help them, not the other way round.
Step 5: Find your influencer’s influencers
Influencer marketing works partly because people trust the influencers, so use a fish to catch a fish.
If you have a good relationship with influencers already, ask them to introduce you to their influencing friends, who will be more likely to trust and work with you due to the nature of your introduction.
Step 6: Create great content
This may be stating the obvious, but your content has to be awesome if you want people to share it.
Obviously it should be anyway, but you’ll be creating a poor impression of yourself and your brand if your content is poor, and likewise an influencer won’t want to share poor content with their audience as it will reflect badly on them.
No amount of relationship-building will change that, so make sure any content you want them to share is the best you can create.
Step 7: Segment your influencers
The same approach will not work for all influencers, so think about what motivates them and the best way to get them working with you.
Reach, activity level, interests and industry expertise are some of the ways you might choose to segment your list of influencers. You might also combine these metrics with demographic data such as gender, age and location.
Remember that reach is not the same as influence. Look beyond vanity metrics such as number of followers when deciding which influencers to work with.
Influencers with a massive social audience are great for spreading awareness.
These are the social media equivalent of VIPs. They are typically in high demand and may be difficult to engage, unresponsive to your outreach, or expect a lot of compensation in return for working with you. If awareness is your primary goal then be prepared to work hard to get these VIPs to take notice.
A cost-efficient strategy would be to look for influencers with a niche and dedicated following who possess a good knowledge of your industry. While their reach may be smaller than the VIPs, a larger percentage of their followers are likely to be receptive to your message.
Finally don’t forget about using existing customers in your influencer marketing. Giving already vocal customers the VIP treatment can help to turn them into brand advocates.
Step 8: Impress social influencers
If you are asking for an influencer’s time, make sure you can give them something in return.
Depending on what your product is, you might let them try it for free. At Brandwatch we combine a free trial with a personalized demo so they can better understand the value of your product.
Face-to-face contact is the best way to deepen your relationship and build trust, so find ways to meet them in person, such as inviting them to an exclusive product launch or treat them to a lunch.
At Brandwatch we even threw a party with several influencers invited, and have hosted Google Hangouts calling on their expertise.
If you are giving them a gift, put some thought into it – don’t just send over a pen with your logo on. Get inventive and think of something that will really delight them. We spend a lot of time and money creating quality swag in the hope of making a big impact.
Whatever you choose to do, try to stand out from the crowd by thinking of a creative way to engage with them.
Step 9: Nurture your influencer relationship
Don’t let the relationship turn sour by dumping them as soon as you’ve got what you want.
You may have found an ambassador who will continue to increase brand awareness if you continue to nurture the relationship. Nobody wants to feel used, so make sure you thank them and show that you truly value their involvement.
Following the above steps should help to build strong and fruitful relationships with influencers which have the potential to organically grow your reach to a vast audience through trusted sources. After putting in all that work you will want to know how successful your campaign has been and how far your reach has extended.