working with Social Media InfluencersAs we wrap up our week of educational content, I wanted to spend one more day talking about influencer marketing.

In this case, social media influencers.

Everyone knows they should work with social media influencers, but where to find them, create the right program, pitch them, and lead a successful program?

This is the million dollar question…and it’s not so easy.

Today’s consumer no longer puts much stock into paid advertising.

Less than 10 percent base buying decisions on company-sponsored ads.

They do, however, pay attention.

Our job is to find the social media influencers who our consumers pay attention to, and create the right program that makes everyone happy.

Simple right?


Don’t Try to Control Your Social Media Influencers

Last year, I was pitched as a social media influencer in the PR industry.

The product is really amazing—and we actually use it every day.

So the partnership was a really good fit.

But it lasted only two months.

They had zero idea how to work with social media influencers and kept wanting to dictate what I wrote about—both here and on their blog.

It was not in my voice, not how I would recommend something, and not comfortable for me…at all.

I patiently (which is hard for me) worked to explain how programs like these work.

Showing them how you—our readers—might react if it seemed disingenuous didn’t work.

So I walked away.

Dictating what your social media influencers say and do is mistake number one.

They’ve built their communities by being transparent and authentic and engaging.

You definitely want to harness that—and I can even understand your wanting certain messages in things.

But to require them to say things exactly as you would? To try to control what they say and do?

That doesn’t work.

Don’t Focus Solely on Big Industry Names

Once you get comfortable with the idea that you can’t control your work with social media influencers (just like you can’t control your work with journalists), you can get to work.

The first task is to define the social media influencers in your industry.

One of the biggest mistakes people make at this stage is going after the big name social media influencers who have lots of fans and followers.

Sure, those people may have a ton of influence, but they also may be expensive, or too busy, or have a conflict.

That shouldn’t prevent you from asking them, but you also want to cast a wider net.

I know I would much rather work with a handful of social media influencers who have a few hundred followers or readers each, but have really high conversions.

Do Your Research and Customize

Yesterday, I showed you how to use Buzzsumo to create three lists for your influencer marketing efforts.

You can also use a tool such as Traackr to identify those who are credible within your specific market.

One way to do this is to figure out who has a rapport with industry leaders and target those people.

So they may have a few hundred followers or readers, but they also are BFFs with the people who have large followings.

That’s your sweet spot and the reason your customers will pay attention to their insights and shares.

This also means they are non-persuadable and unlikely to promote just for the heck of it.

Their influence is derived from their integrity as much if not more than their knowledge and connections.

Most social media influencers have their own criteria for promoting products and services.

Rather than trying to crack the code, curate what they’ve been sharing in the last 90 days or so.

Then look at it in aggregate form:

  • How does that fit with your brand?
  • What is the consistent thread and does that fit what you want to do?
  • How much influence do they have among their readers/followers?
  • If you look them up in Buzzsumo, how much engagement do they have?
  • Are they stronger on one platform over another?

Getting answers to these questions over 90 days will help you determine if they’re a great fit for your brand.

And, if they’re already talking about you, that’s an added benefit. So look for those who already use your product or service.

Do Make a Good First Impression

Once you have your 90 day reseearch, you can customize a program or opportunity that will fit their interests.

Then is time to connect, but first you must figure out the best way to do that.

  • What are their pursuits?
  • What conferences do they attend?
  • Who have they written about lately?
  • What’s their latest rant or rave been about?

If you start with one social media influencer, that may be all you need or the others may fall into place more easily.

Just one key ally can open doors to multiple large dollar opportunities.

Take the time to do your research, customize a program, and make a good impression.

Most social media influencers welcome calls and opportunities to connect.

It’s how they’ve built their reputation and their ability to provide their insights.

You can even cast a wider net and offer an opportunity to your most loyal customers or those interacting regularly via social media.

A social media influencer program is long-game strategy.

It’s not a set-it and forget-it process.

The pay-off lasts longer, so it’s worth the research and the nurturing for repeated independent, listened-to experts (and consumers) singing your praises.

image credit: Traackr

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.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich