Research continues to tell us we’re in the golden age of digital media. The brands that reap the benefits understand how to create knock-your-socks off content and stories, engage relevant influencers to share their stories, and nurture the fans they accrue.
However there are still a lot of questions around the right way for brands to approach and engage influencers, and what success looks like.
The tech industry has had some very valuable conversations throughout the last two decades about CRM [customer relationship management], but not about IRM [influencer relationship management].
Call us old fashioned but we believe there’s a right way and a wrong way to engage influencers, and we feel Emily Post is on our side here. Below are nine tips we feel will set you in the right direction on your influencer relationship management journey.
Nine tips to engage influencers:
1. If you see Oprah at Starbucks, stay cool.
In the off chance that Oprah is hanging out at your neighborhood Starbucks in an intimate conversation with Stedman or Gayle, would you interrupt her latte to tell her about your new product that would just be perfect on the O’s favorite things list? We hope not because we fear you’d experience the wrath of Oprah, the most famous influencer in the world who values her privacy. While we might be eager to get in front of the right people, respecting the privacy of the right people is really important.
2. Engagements should be channel specific.
In light of tip number one, if you do approach Oprah in the right venue and she does like your product it is highly likely she will have a special channel in mind. She probably won’t want to share this on her personal Facebook page. Brands need to be mindful that influencers don’t necessarily want to share specific pieces of content in all channels. We need to respect their privacy and the channels that aren’t relevant to us.
3. When in Rome.
They say when in Rome, do as the Romans. If your influencers are brewery officionados, engage them at or about their favorite local brewery. Go where they hang out, and speak their language. Spend the time to do your homework, and show them you’ve done your research. Rather than doing 20 one size fits all letters, you’ll write one strong letter, or have one meeting and get some powerful results.
4. Take your time.
Relationships–solid ones–can take years to build. Create a rolodex of these influencers and don’t just learn their area of expertise, but understand who they are on a personal level. Today the first step to learning about your contact is some initial Googling. It’s very easy, and incredibly critical.
5. Don’t only target the most popular influencers.
Many times the second tier of influencers will be just as or equally powerful as the first tier of influencers. They’ll also be more responsive to your request. Many times the most powerful influencers have the least amount of time, and won’t work as hard on your campaign as the mid-tier influencers who are grateful you reached out to them.
6. Make it about them.
If you’re writing an email or making a cold call, your first few sentences should focus on the influencer. Don’t spend the first portion of your outreach on what your brand sells. On that note, if you listen more than you talk, you’re different than everyone else.
7. Nurture your relationships with your influencers.
Your influence shouldn’t only consist of emails. Get to know influencers through phone calls, and even meals if you are in the same city. Go to meet ups, tweet ups and their events. Understand who they are on a variety of levels, not just how big their reach is and what they can do for you.
8. Less is more.
When you write an email, think about how much content you want to read. Do you like lengthy paragraphs, or do you prefer to read small chunks of information? Think about the fact that no one ever said, wow that speech, movie, blog or contract was too short. In a time-strapped society, influencers appreciate your brevity.
9. Collaborate, don’t preach.
Often, especially when it comes to content, the influencer knows better than the brand. Co-creating collateral or content will be more powerful than if the brand were to dictate this themselves. This comes back to the power of listening.
Your relationships are everything. If you nurture your relationships, over time they will be your most competitive advantage. Get started on your IRM [influencer relationship management] today!
Linqia matches brands with influential community leaders who share authentic digital content and meaningful stories among targeted groups of people. Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Google + and YouTube.