Influencers are great. The right one can amplify your brand message in ways you could never do alone. Tapping into the audiences of prominent influencers is smart practice, and brands everywhere are enthusiastic about effective influencer-outreach programs. But finding and securing the right advocates to disseminate information about your brand involves far more than just acquiring the following of influential individuals.
Authentic influencer outreach requires solid relationship-building, maintenance, and collaboration skills. Once you’ve identified key individuals who are advocating for your brand, it’s time to build a rapport that will lead to genuine interaction. Here are five simple — yet powerful — tips for maximizing authentic influencer outreach.
Pursue Influential Advocates — Not Enormous Followings
Before outreach can occur, you must identify the right influencers. And remember that bigger doesn’t always mean better! The number of supporters in an influencer’s following doesn’t necessarily predict how beneficial or influential he will be. It’s far more important to find appropriate brand advocates — those who can effectively debate the most relevant issues and pose solid arguments. However, they should pass the “eye test.” If you’re looking at an influencer who has 75,000 followers, you should expect to see a certain degree of engagement with followers who like, comment, and retweet content. If that engagement isn’t there, he might be speaking to an empty room.
To find the right influencers, start with individuals who are already advocating for your brand. Search your user community, as well as industry communities, where fans are likely engaging in dialogues that support your products and services. Within social networks, look to those who are most active with you across channels or promote news that you share.
Build Relationships Offline and In-Person — Not Just Online
Relationships that develop online — whether through email or social media — are important but not always the most meaningful. Spend time supplementing nice online exchanges with personal interactions, and the relationships you build will be more likely to last. Think about it like this: when you meet people in person, you typically get to know who they are and what their personal and professional backgrounds are. In many ways, relationships built offline are elevated, and oftentimes, there’s more incentive to maintain them. If the goal of influencer outreach is to establish a fan base that advocates for you, it makes sense to ensure that the relationship you build has solid roots — in not only the digital world, but also the physical one.
Demonstrate Gratitude for Influencers’ Audiences — Not Just Influencers
It’s easy to throw all of your influencers into one giant bucket — but don’t because they’re all different. Focus on each influencer individually. They’re all different, and it’s important to understand each of their communities and nuances to ensure you’re playing to key differentiators.
When building rapport with influencers, focus on addressing their audiences’ needs first. Answer the question, “what’s in it for me” from their perspective, and you’ll find it much easier to foster authentic engagement. Sure, you probably have a few specific things you need them to do, but it helps to show genuine gratitude by meeting the needs of their audiences first — before searching for support.
Maintain the Relationship Long-Term — Not Just Until Your Needs Are Met
An influencer’s value doesn’t end simply because your event or promotion does. In fact, for authentic interaction to take place, it’s critical to leverage the relationship you’ve built, which enables them to help you long term. Be responsive to their questions and needs, and appreciate their contributions and feedback. Find ways to continue partnering with them long after the event concludes.
Engage With Content That Influencers Create — Not Just Your Own
Finally, if you truly value the insights and feedback you receive from influencers, express it by actively engaging with content they create — not just your brand content but everything they create. With influencer marketing, best practice is to interact with them well in advance, so you don’t come across as pushy or selfish when asking for help on behalf of your brand. Besides, when you develop relationships with people who are important to your brand before you ever make a request, they’re more likely to view those requests as authentic.
Authentic influencer outreach is a lot like being a good neighbor. After identifying influential people who can help spread the word about your brand, it’s important to get to know them for who they really are. Spend time building genuine relationships, put effort into maintaining them, and be attentive to their needs before requesting help. It’s simple really. You must give to get — and that’s good neighborly advice.
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