Gini Dietrich

Build Your Influencer Relations Campaign with Six Steps

By: Gini Dietrich | March 31, 2016 | 

Build Your Influencer Relations Campaign with Six StepsBy Gini Dietrich

Last week we talked about influencer relations and the right way to use non-celebrities.

It was a little tongue-in-cheek and the conversation on my Facebook page about it turned hilarious.

People were using all sorts of examples of celebrities who most definitely don’t use the products they’re shilling—Anthony Hopkins and Turbo Tax, Blake Lively and L’Oreal Preference, Katy Perry and CoverGirl, and Tina Fey and Cheetos (actually, that one is believable).

The point, of course, is there are much, much better ways to do influencer relations in today’s digital world.

Influencer Relations Goals

Word-of-mouth marketing generates twice the sales of paid advertising, which means—if you don’t already—it’s time to think about how to use influencers in your marketing strategy.

Many of you asked in the comments of last week’s blog post, “But how do I find the right influencers?”

We’ll get to that.

First, it’s crucial to identify your goals.

Are you trying to:

  • Drive awareness for a product or event?
  • Cultivate communities and relationships?
  • Gain industry insights?
  • Build owned media programs?

Having the answers to those questions will not only create a turning point in a specific campaign, but it will help you build strategic and effective relationships.

It Takes Time…Lots of Time

That said, you are still building relationships with human beings—online or not—so it does take time.

You’re not going to make a top 10 list, reach out to each one of them, and have them start shilling your product immediately.

You’re going to make your list and slowly start to build a relationship with them, one-by-one.

You’re likely going to give them your product or service to try—for free—and you’re going to ask for valuable feedback.

Also remember that these people are extraordinarily busy and you’re going to be asking them to fit your stuff in to an already packed schedule.

It’s important to set expectations internally up-front. The right influencer relations campaign could take a year or more to get off the ground.

Also be prepared for one or more of your influencers to not be the right fit because they hate your product or service.

Here are some other tips to build the right relationships.

Do Your Research

What are the values of your brand? Who’s your target audience? What are you trying to accomplish?

These should be aligned with the values of the influencers you want to talk about your product, services, or event.

For example, if your target audience consists mainly of millennials, you wouldn’t want to reach out to an influencer whose audience mainly consists of parents with school-aged kids.

In a metrics-driven world, it’s easy to get distracted by the numeric value of your target influencer’s reach (follower count) versus the quality (are they reaching one or 10 percent of their followers?).

This is where understanding your target audience becomes crucial.

Look beyond the number-driven demographics.

Drill down to the behavior:

  • What kind of blogs does your target audience read?
  • Or do they even read blogs?
  • Which platforms do they engage online with influencers?
  • What makes them tick?
  • What makes them look up and pay attention to content without easily getting distracted?

The answers to these questions will help you find the quality influencers who already have the trust of that target audience.

Define Influence

Are you trying to drive attendance to a regional event? Are you looking for product feedback? Are you hoping to drive traffic to your blog about mobile apps?

Each of these goals is a different kind of influence.

An influencer who can drive traffic to your blog about mobile apps may not be able to drive attendance to a regional event if they don’t have the right kind of audience.

This is why identifying your goals before researching influencers is so important.

There needs to be a contextual fit for your relationship to be successful.

An influencer in the fitness industry may not be the best fit to help drive awareness to your newest mobile app—unless that app has to do with a healthy lifestyle.

Don’t Pitch, Personalize

The biggest mistake you can make when reaching out to influencers is treating it like a pitch.

Yes, all the articles on influencer marketing use that term, and talk about how to create successful pitches, but it’s an oxymoron.

When you’re approaching an influencer for a potential relationship, you need to make it worth their time.

Personalization is crucial, and this is where your research comes into play.

A successful, personalized outreach email has four elements:

  • The cause: This isn’t about your brand, but what you’re trying to accomplish with this specific outreach. Is it about a charity campaign? Product awareness? Event attendance? Be specific, and direct.
  • The why: There’s a reason you’re reaching out to this influencer. This part of the email should address how your cause is aligned with their values. Include personal details. Talk about a specific blog they’ve written on the same topic, a talk they’ve given, or any other they’ve directly been an influencer for the cause.
  • The benefit: Why should they care? How will this affect them or their audience? What will this relationship with you bring to the table for them?
  • The call-to-action: When making the ask, include specific materials they can refer to, key phrases, and a FAQ to answer any initial questions they may have. Always offer to continue the conversation with a phone call or email.

Nurture and Monitor

You’ve forged a relationship, and launched your first campaign with an influencer.

Now it’s time for you to monitor your metrics to see if that influencer is a good fit, and whether or not their actions will help you reach your goals.

This can be done through your already defined return-on-investment or specific keywords you’ve set up for the campaign.

Use the Right Tools

Everything above requires research, due diligence, and most of all, time.

We prefer two tools when building an influencer relations database: Traackr and GroupHigh.

Both have resources you can check out.

GroupHigh has a ton of relevant eBooks and their annual Virtual Summit is not-to-be missed.

Traackr has eBooks and case studies and white papers and more.

If you don’t know where to start, look at the Guide to Influencer Marketing.

image credit: shutterstock

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Start the discussion

  • I thought I could just pay a blogger to write an advertisement for me to explode my sales.

    • Gini Dietrich

      Yes. That’s exactly how it works.

  • I’d like to add that it’s important to “sniff test” what you use as The Benefit. Too often PR agencies will simply say, “we thought your readers would love to know about our product/campaign/whatever.” That’s just lazy, IMO.

    • I agree!

    • Gini Dietrich

      TOTALLY lazy! It drives me crazy. I send people to the BlackHole for doing that, which means—even if a future pitch might be relevant—I will never see it.

      • I also enjoy the lazy “personalization” approaches like, “I read this one article …” (picked up from a google search using product key words) …” and thought you’d just love to know all about my product, sell it with passion to your audience, and then let me sit back and collect my PR pay cheque while you do it for “exposure.”

        • You can ALWAYS tell when they’ve done that. I think PR pros don’t really get it until they’re on the other side being pitched by PR pros.

  • Okay! I loved this post (as I told you on Twitter). A couple of observations/thoughts (and mine are not so much measurement related although that is, I agree, CRITICAL). I watched the 2 minute GroupHigh demo, and that was valuable to me because it made me think “what would a system like that represent ME as?” and although not everything is within my control, some things are (for example 100% of the people who look at my blog and comment (like a designer I was talking to about redoing my site) DON’T LIKE THE WORD PERSPICACITY). It was hilarious and fitting to me oh so many years ago (eight) when I started the blog, but for ease of understanding and probably SEO reasons, Big Green Pen probably needs to be it. // As far as where to find influencers, in addition to the resources you mentioned — it is time intensive and analog, but people who love your client’s product are out here! Sometimes finding them is a non scientific process. I remember some story about a Wall Street exec who bought Nike stock because he walked out of his gleaming office, down to the local shoe store, and watched what everyone was buying. A non scientific but very spot-on choice in that case. // Lastly —- depending on what your client is trying to do, reach out to an affinity group who has a network of bloggers who have been (to an extent) vetted already. For example, almost all of my fitness-related influencer campaigns come through Fitfluential, not because of an individual relationship with a brand. I’m not sure from a business model perspective how much it costs a brand to use something like that but as a blogger I know I am accountable not just to the brand but to Fitfluential, and I know their expectations are high. That makes double the amount of stakeholders I want to please and do quality work for. (Or I guess you could try Howie’s suggestion. I am sure it is iron clad.) Great piece!

    • Gini Dietrich

      LOL to the last line! Oh, Howie.

  • Corina Manea

    Great great post.

    I want to stick this on every possible social media post for everyone to understand there aren’t quick fixes if you want to be successful on a long term.

    I’ll stay with: “…you are still building relationships with human beings—online or not—so it does take time.

    You’re going to make your list and slowly start to build a relationship with them, one-by-one.
    The right influencer relations campaign could take a year or more to get off the ground.”

    Thank you for writing this!

    • Gini Dietrich

      As you well know, the same goes for anything we do online. We are not miracle workers. You still have to build trust with human beings and that takes time.

  • The other thing that makes me really sad is when brands embark on an influencer campaign, but really only focus on the short-term.

    That’s part of what we talk about in Traackr’s Academy of Influencer Marketing (client disclosure, I developed the course for them, so thought it was ok to mention since you included them!). Why pour energy and resources into something you’re not going to maintain, for heaven’s sake?!

    Really impactful I.M. initiatives, like anything else – and as you pointed out – take time. It’s not a one-night stand before you move onto the next hot chick. At least, it shouldn’t be.

    • Gini Dietrich

      You really can apply a dating theory to almost anything. Of course (and you know this better than anyone), we are working with executives who want everything right now. The magic bullet. The overnight success. They really hate hearing, “Be patient.”