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

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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