Whether we’re shopping for a new pair of shoes, researching a flat-screen TV we’ve been eyeing or investigating a new solution for our business, we often seek social validation.
This validation can come in many forms: through our peers, analysts, authors, celebrities…even everyday people we may admire or view as experts in our particular field. That’s what makes influencer marketing so effective. It taps into our innate need to validate our decisions and gives us access to the thoughts, opinions and insights of people we trust — even admire.
There many ways to incorporate influencers into your content strategy and creation. And now, there are even more tools and tactics to find them for your own campaigns. After you develop a short-list of ideal experts, the real fun can begin…
1. Make contact
You or someone on your team should be the go-to contact for all influencer conversations and relations. If you have an email address, great. But if you don’t, engaging through Twitter or LinkedIn is a great way to make direct contact, especially if you’re targeting someone who frequently posts on social.
Don’t inundate them with too many details; start by giving them a summary of who you are, the company you represent and a high-level view of the project and any corresponding deadlines. Ask if you can send them more details or if they have time to connect for a quick call to discuss. Giving them a quick snapshot of the project, your goals and expected launch date will help them determine whether it’s a good fit and if they have the time to participate.
2. Focus on the value
More often than not, influencers read interview requests and project proposals and think: What’s in it for me? Who can blame them? They’re usually managing their day-to-day workload, in addition to speaking at events, traveling, attending meetings and working on longer-term projects like books and podcast series. So you want to make the value as clear as possible. Why would it be worth their time and energy to participate in your project? What are you promising them for their time?
Some companies have budget to allocate towards influencer relationships and compensating experts for their participation. But the truth is, most don’t. Nonmonetary perks, such as linking to their work (books, website, etc.) and including their headshot and details on their expertise usually present value to influencers. But if you can offer more perks, such as extensive social promotion or VIP passes to an event you’re hosting, that’s even better.
3. Make it easy
Like I said earlier, influencers have a lot on their plate. A surefire way to frustrate them and get them to ignore your requests is by making it difficult for them to participate. Let’s say I’m writing an E-book focused on retail trends and predictions, and I want to incorporate insights from experts in the field. What’s the best way for me to get responses? Allow them to share feedback through the channel that is most convenient for them: an email Q&A or phone interview. Showing influencers that you’re flexible and are willing to work with their availability makes them feel at ease and more willing to keep the conversation going.
I usually recommend suggesting email Q&As, since many influencers prefer to mull over their responses and do some in-depth editing. However, phone interviews are preferred by some, especially if they travel frequently or don’t have a lot of downtime. Give them the opportunity to review content for accuracy so they feel more comfortable with participating.
4. Share the final product (and results)!
The worst thing you can do is sever ties with an influencer once you get what you want from them. It makes it seem like you only wanted to use them to generate a few leads and don’t really care about the relationship. This would put any other influencer campaign or project you were thinking about to a screeching halt.
Keep the conversation going by sending a follow-up note to all influencers with the final link to the blog or content asset. Even better: create a bit.ly link and share a few customized social posts that they can use to get the word out. Putting this extra time and attention into following up will show you not only care about the performance of the piece, but about maintaining a relationship with the influencer. After a few weeks or months, send another note to them to update them on how the content is being promoted and how it’s performing with your audience. If you need an extra promotional push, your influencers will likely be more than happy to help.
Engaging and communicating with influencers is an ongoing process. It takes a lot of time and effort to determine how to incorporate them into your content and truly nurture relationships so they drive value for you, your business and, of course, the participating influencers.
Don’t be afraid to test different tactics and engage with different influencers to see what works and what doesn’t. You’ll find that it’ll vary depending on the goal of your campaign and the individual person. However, following these four steps is a great way to kick-off conversations.