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Influencers. So hot right now. It seems like everywhere we turn there is a self-proclaimed “influencer” promoting a new product, service, or e-book they have written on social media.
There’s a surplus of influencers across a wide range of industries. Marketers continue to gravitate towards leveraging these relationships to supplement their digital marketing efforts. A whopping 94% claim the practice is effective.
Although the value of linking your brand to an established expert in your field may seem obvious, getting these experts to agree to tell your brand’s story is a challenge of its own.
What is an #Influencer?
As previously mentioned, nearly anyone with a social media profile and a little bit of cash can buy enough followers and use the hashtag ”influencer” in their posts. This is why savvy marketers and PR pros should understand real influencers have not only reach but also real-world experience. This combination allows them to comment on topics and…well, influence the behavior of their audience.
Some well-known influencers in the marketing space include Neil Patel, Joe Pulizzi, and Dharmesh Shah. Thought leaders, journalists, celebrities, and even your peers can all fall within the umbrella of influence depending on the topic of discussion.
What types of influencers should I work with?
Influencer marketing is growing because it allows marketers to align their brands with trusted sources within a space. While some brands will be able to splurge on big-time celebrity endorsements, Adweek suggests building relationships with influencers who have a smaller, but more loyal following. “When it comes to celebrity accounts, who have maybe millions of followers nobody actually believes that a celebrity is a real fan of a product they’re trying to sell.”
One company that has done this particularly well is Glossier. By using their expansive network of micro-influencers, Glossier was able to expand by 600% from 2015 and make its way on to Fast Company’s list of most innovative companies.
How do I build these relationships?
The first step in building your list of influencer contacts is making sure they are a fit for your brand. Marketers should take into consideration who their audience is and ensure they do, in fact, have a following of real people and not one made up of bots. Measures are consistently being taken to help with this by social media platforms, but marketers still need to keep an eye out and understand how to spot fake accounts. Typically, fake accounts have a high follower count but low engagement. According to Forbes, “The rule of thumb is that accounts should have at least a 10% engagement per post”.
Second, marketers and PR pros should get in the conversations which matter most to them and use social media as a way to stay connected. Twitter is particularly useful for keeping up with your contacts in real-time. PR veteran Jesse Ghizori uses Twitter specifically to amplify his PR efforts and says “Liking or replying to posts that you relate to can be a great way to strengthen your relationship.” Social media also gives marketers and PR pros a less-intrusive way to regularly make touchpoints with their influencer contacts than by phone or email.
Clearly identify the WHY up front will greatly increase your chance of receiving a response. – Jered Martin, Co-Founder & Chief Operations Officer, OnePitch
Another important step to building influencer relationships is to be sure, when you do approach them, the exchange is mutually beneficial. What is the value? Not only for you and the brands you represent, but also for the audience you are trying to reach. This is especially true of journalists and news outlets. OnePitch COO, Jered Martin, says “Clearly identifying the WHY up front will greatly increase your chance of receiving a response.” Ask yourself why your message is important and what the impact to the audience would be.
Last but not least, be sure to genuinely thank the people you work with. This seems like a simple and obvious task, but still gets forgotten by even the most experienced of marketers and PR pros. Thank yous do not need to be elaborate, but a simple handwritten note will go a long way. The thank you note also allows you to keep an open line of communication with your influencer contacts. A recent thank you I have sent read as follows:
Thanks so much for including us, [Joe]! We will be sure to share the article everywhere within our network.
If you are working on any other PR related articles, we have been gathering a ton of valuable information on how journalists and PR pros interact with one another and would be happy to help be a resource where we can.
At the end of the day, influencers (whoever they are to your brand and audience) are real people looking to make mutually beneficial connections. The more you show interest in what they value, the more they will be willing to connect again with you in the future.
- [Name] changed for privacy
- A version of this article originally appeared on Carney.co