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Jeff Cann

Influencer Marketing: Five Ways to Strengthen Relationships

By: Jeff Cann | August 22, 2013 | 
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Influencer marketing

By Jeff Cann

For as long as brands have been in the business of selling, they’ve also been in the business of building and leveraging relationships with influencers – hoping  their opinions and authority might affect others and drive sales.

The concept of influencer marketing is nothing new, but what has changed throughout the years is how brands are establishing, nurturing, and leveraging these relationships.

Studies show the bigger influencers receive close to 10 opportunities to work with brands each week. Smart PR pros already know influencer marketing isn’t limited to “Let us tell you about X, now go talk about us.”

Brands that win are willing to try new tactics to engage influencers and build lasting relationships.

In today’s digital landscape, influencer marketing is likely already part of your game plan. The challenge is how to take your strategies to the next level. To help get you started, here are five ways you can strengthen influencer relationships.

Create a Feedback Loop

Influencer marketing should focus on building relationships and cultivating feedback, not just driving transactions. You won’t be successful if you simply treat influencers as sales tools. Instead, open up lines of communication and create opportunities for influencers to provide feedback on your products and services.

Give them early access to new products or a first crack at special content, offers, and news, and then ask them to share their thoughts with you. The influencer will appreciate the opportunity for their voice to be heard, and your brand can gain invaluable insights.

Co-create Content

Co-creating content with influencers is an effective way to deepen relationships, and both sides have something to gain from it.

For example, earlier this year Marketwired partnered with TheCommunityManager.com to create a co-branded eBook in celebration of “Community Manager Appreciation Day.” By sharing insights and advice from seasoned community managers, the book helped reinforce TheCommunityManager.com as the go-to site for community management resources and information.

It also helped Marketwired build new relationships in this community, while also creating a meaningful spike in web traffic. In addition, the eBook received more than 25,000 views on Slideshare.

Lesson learned? Don’t be afraid to get creative. When you think beyond the blog, that’s where the magic happens.

Take the Relationship Offline

Plenty of companies use social media to identify and engage with influencers online, but savvy marketers take things one step further by creating experiences and interacting with influencers offline as well. Online jewelry retailer BaubleBar recently took online offline by hosting an in-person event for members of TheLi.st, a platform for accomplished, connected women.

At BaubleBar’s Soho popup shop, influencers were treated to a unique offline experience, including special discounts and freebies, as well as valuable networking with other members of TheLi.st. By creating a “real world” experience, the brand simultaneously deepened relationships with influencers, connected with new potential customers in their target demographic, and sparked user-generated content sharing online.

Showcase Influencers’ Expertise

When you first began researching influencers to connect with, you likely started your search by identifying the experts who were leading the conversation within your industry. Now that you’ve established a relationship with that person, why not give them an opportunity to share their expertise with your audience? This could be as simple as inviting them to become an expert panelist for a Twitter chat, or as complex as inviting them to join an “influencer advisory board.”

Surprise and Delight

In the words of author Spike Jones, “surprise and delights are just that — surprising and delighting.”

Take Outback, for example. In 2011, they decided to surprise one of their most loyal fans, Dave Parsons, by sending him a package of 40 gifts for his 40th birthday – along with a challenge to spread the love and share the gifts with 40 other people.

By making this super fan a brand rock star for the day, Outback deepened a key relationship and expanded its online footprint by sparking new conversations around the birthday festivities.

Influencer marketing takes time, creativity and attention, but when it results in credible buzz, increased sales, and new customers and business opportunities, it’s easy to see this as a wise investment of marketing dollars.

How are you engaging influencers?

P.S. We have Jay Baer joining us on August 29 for a free webinar about his new book, Youtility. You can register here.

About Jeff Cann


With more than 10 years experience in online measurement, media, and marketing, Jeff Cann brings perspective and unique insights to the world of social media analysis. As manager of the strategic agency team at Marketwired, Cann works with some of the world’s largest agencies and brands to implement successful social media monitoring initiatives, and help them gather insight and intelligence from their communications efforts. Much of Cann’s work focuses on optimization of data collection, and understanding the message and metrics around content collection.

16 comments
dbvickery
dbvickery

We are looking at a feedback look approach right now to engage influencers - perhaps get some earned media, build trust, and get feedback to make our own products better.

So, thanks for the timely post.

SarahJocson
SarahJocson

Good relationship is  that you can jump into full force to begin your business venture.



ryanruud
ryanruud

Good post Jeff. I like the reminder of taking relationships offline. It's a reminder that has far reaching impacts even beyond the influencer marketing topic, into other realms in our hyper-digital-connected world.

40deuce
40deuce

Thanks so much for letting Jeff post here. I've been working with Jeff for years and he really knows what he's talking about when it comes to helping our Marketwired Sysomos customers make the most out of their social media.

We really appreciate the opportunity.

Cheers,

Sheldon, community manager for Marketwired

Latest blog post: Learning Is Fun... Seriously

dave_link
dave_link

Great post, Jeff! The most common misconception that I see in most influencer campaigns is that these campaigns consist of nothing more the blasting a press release to a groomed list of recipients.

Want the type of campaigns that generate more than a flash-in-the-pan response? Buckle in for the long haul, because those relationships take time to build and usually involve multiple engagements over time. Not to mention a good deal of flexibility on the part of the brand and a willingness to help shape your content to the influencers audience.

True influencer marketing is just as you laid out above - a relationship that has real synergy and mutual benefit; not simply another megaphone through which companies can shout their messaging. 

Trackbacks

  1. […] building solid, genuine relationships with the right influencers, PR professionals can reach thousands more potential eyeballs with their message than they can hope […]

  2. […] Building relationships with influencers (or contributors) is a great way to boost the visibility and reach of your content. Take a look at blogs such as Hubspot, Moz, and Spin Sucks to see guest contributions from influential writers in their industries. […]