The emergence of social media brought direct and immediate access to everyday consumers. With each new social platform comes a group of expert users who are able to inspire, empower and encourage large fan bases. The voices of influencers have become especially pertinent and widely accepted by brands.
The definition of “social influencer” differs for each company: Does your brand want Justin Bieber to tweet about its upcoming events? Or a trusted tech aficionado to provide his/her thumbs up about a new product through a blog post? What about getting some out-of-the-box photos from a sponsored road trip in front of as many eyeballs as possible on Instagram? The list goes on.
Depending on available budget, potential partnerships with social influencers are endless – they can be as niche and specialized as desired – but does the relationship come to a halt after campaign results are reached? Here are a few tips about how to maintain strong influencer conversations:
- Clearly communicate the incentive: Just like with traditional media relations, you play an essential role as the mediator. When you first initiate outreach with the influencer, be transparent about your brand’s expectations from the get go and vice versa, relay how social influencers and their audiences can benefit from participating. Beyond an obvious payoff (i.e. exclusive access to a new car, an all-expenses paid trip, a free subscription service, etc.), explain how the experience you’re offering will align with a social influencer’s overall voice, objectives or followers.
- Keep a steady drumbeat: Whether I’m following up on behalf of a client in the travel, technology, environmental or food/wine industries, I use the same general rules. In the past year, Twitter launched a polling feature, Facebook Live was introduced and Instagram brought us some snazzy new filters. Use these moments as opportunities to gather an influencer’s thoughts. Similar to how you analyze previous coverage before pitching press, take a look at an influencer’s channels ahead of your outreach efforts. Maybe his/her New Year’s resolution is to explore a new social platform, or they are picking up to travel the world for the next year – gain as many insights as you can and identify similarities.
- Embrace introductions: Influencers frequently interact with each other, so maintaining a friendly rapport with one person can lead to future partnerships. After you’ve wrapped up a successful collaboration with a social influencer, suggest that they connect you with others who might be a fit for your brand. Always respond to an introduction and keep in mind that influence in the social world has the capacity to skyrocket (in either direction) overnight. In other words, get on as many radars as possible, as soon as possible. If you’re pitching a topic, event, product, etc. that you know isn’t relevant to the influencers you have close relationships with, share it anyway and ask if someone else in their network might be interested.
These are just a few initial thought-starters to leverage future conversations with social influencers. Keep thinking things through as you encounter new scenarios and start your own mental list: Did you connect with someone who is only responsive via social media? Opt for direct messages on a platform rather than email. Know that someone operates best in group settings based on their previous work? Figure out how to offer an experience that engages some of their closest friends.
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