As a marketer, you have probably heard of the term “influencer” before. As part of any campaign, influencers are sought after to help draw attention to an event, create awareness for a cause, or to promote a product or service. If you’re wondering how you can engage influencers to support your next campaign, it’s important to understand exactly who an influencer is and what they can do for your business.
Simply put, an influencer is someone who has created a high degree of notoriety and credibility within a specific industry or area of interest. Before the term was coined, an example of an influencer in traditional media would be a film critic like Roger Ebert. His career was built around his knowledgeable and refined opinion on films, and he gained a loyal following for himself. If he gave a movie two thumbs up, people would flock to the box office to purchase tickets. Conversely, if he did not like a film, his devoted followers would avoid it like the newest plague. As you see, his opinion, credibility, and popularity all converged to influence the purchasing decisions of others.
Today, someone like YouTuber Jake Roper could be considered an influencer. Roper produces video content for the channel Vsauce3, which currently has an audience of over 3 million subscribers. His content focuses on fun, educational shorts that combine science-fiction lore with real world science. This platform has led to him partnering with film studios, video game developers, and other key figures in the consumer technology space. These companies want Roper to feature their products, not because he’s an engineer with a PhD, but because he has the ability to effectively influence the market in which they operate in a way that engages viewers.
However, these big-name personas may not always be the best option when gearing up to execute your next (or first) influencer marketing campaign. Sometimes, starting small and building up to the Eberts and Ropers of the world will work better in your favor. That’s where micro-influencers come in.
A micro-influencer is someone who has established reliability and credibility within an industry, but they may not have a following as large as a big-time influencer. Typically, due to their lower engagement traffic on their platforms, they may be more easily reached by email or phone. However, to have the most fruitful partnership with an influencer of any size audience, you will want to remember some best practices for communicating with them.
Here are seven tips for best engaging with any type of influencer in your target industries:
1. Extend a Partnership Offer, Not a Sales Pitch
When you reach out to an influencer, be friendly and personable. Approach an influencer as if you’re looking to form a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship rather than just a one-and-done transaction.
When an influencer agrees to review your product on their YouTube channel or feature it on their blog, do not try to control their message or turn it into a sales pitch. As influencers have built their brand on sharing their honest opinion, you must be prepared for influencers to mention all aspects of your product or service, even features that they dislike.
2. Be Sure Your Brand Aligns with Their Area of Interest and Values
Do your research before sending a pitch to an influencer. Their content may cover a broad range of topics, or it may be rather niche and narrowly focused. Do they promote any specific messages that your brand can align with? If so, that easily opens the lines of communication. Be sure to identify influencers that work directly within the industries that you serve.
3. Remain Available
Remain available to influencers after they have agreed to partner with your company as they may have questions or concerns that need clarification. Be sure to consistently check your emails and provide a direct phone number where they can reach you.
4. Set Contingency Plans
As Murphy’s Law states, “What can go wrong, will go wrong.” In the context of influencer marketing, be prepared for your expectations to not be met. Do they want to cancel a review of your product? Did they give you a poor review? Have measures set in place to outline what you should do from a communication standpoint just in case a review does not go according to plan.
If you do not want to take too many risks when partnering with an influencer, consider sending them a sample or demo version of your product with no set agenda. Send it to them and ask them to try it out, and if they like it, to contact you again to coordinate a review or feature. This takes the pressure off of both sides and does not communicate any high expectations. Thus, the risk factor decreases.
If a partnership with an influencer proves fruitful, be sure to also promote it! This gives your audience third-party validation of the quality of your products and services and it also provides the influencer with more exposure.
Make the Connection
Are you looking to form beneficial partnerships between your company and an influencer that works within an industry you serve? Contact us to see how we can help.