Posts Tagged ‘outreach’

How to Use Influencers to Expand Outreach and Increase Impact

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

A client expecting his first child lamented he wished there were Cliffs Notes for all the baby  books stacked on his nightstand.  It got me thinking — I feel the same way about the amazing marketing webinars, blogs, podcasts, white papers and newsletters out there.  So many great resources and so little time to review them! I decided I’d start producing my own version of Cliffs Notes on some outstanding content.  I promise to condense it down to a five minute read, pulling out the golden nuggets so you don’t have to.

This Cliffs Notes installment is a Cision white paper on how to use influencers to expand outreach and increase impact. Enjoy.

The importance of influencers in a nutshell:

i-influencersmatches
The Shelf, an influencer marketing program, finds that 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from other people, even people they don’t know personally, over branded content.

Influencers can have a profound effect on the bottom line but they also:

  • Introduce your brand and its products or services to new target audiences
  • Offer educational resources and how-to tutorials
  • Show your products within a personal context, creating a “me, too” effect
  • Impact the message, a plus when combatting negative opinions, sentiment or reviews
  • Build long-term relationships, ensuring customer satisfaction and loyalty

Finding influencers

Identifying the people who can truly connect with your audience requires a comprehensive influencer database. (Note this is a cision database whitepaper and the cost of this influencer database will double the cost of your current cision media database. I’m planning to do a demo to see if it’s worth it so stay tuned.)

So if you don’t want to part with an extra few thousand dollars research, and use stats like Unique Views, Followers Fans, Klout, Kred, Traackr, BuzzSumo etc that will help you to consider at least these three things:

  • Relevance has to do with industry. Look for people who not only know your market but also enjoy talking about it. Location can also play a factor if you’re trying to grow reach and impact in a certain city or region.
  • Reach involves networks and platforms. You’re looking for either breadth (number of followers) or depth (a powerful niche). Both approaches work, but the choice depends on your brand’s goals and outcomes.
  • Resonance refers to social validation, i.e., engagement. 

Vetting influencers

This list of eight tips will help you vet influencers. When you reach out to influencers in the right way, everyone wins.

  1. Look at successful influencer programs. Study other people’s work. Take notes, and develop a program customized to your brand.
  2. Determine metrics for success.Establish metrics at the outset of an influencer program. It’s the only way to know if milestones and outcomes are being met. If the goal is brand awareness, determine the numbers that prove success. Also institute metrics for the outreach itself, just as you would when pitching a story or starting a new PR initiative.
  3. Document everything. Influencer outreach isn’t scalable without documented processes. Share them with the team. Revisit them regularly, too.
  4. Build a list. In this regard, influencer outreach is exactly like media relations. Use a database or tools like the ones mentioned earlier; gather contact information and other data; and keep track of who’s been contacted, when and where.
  5. Establish rapport. Form relationships with influencers. Learn what motivates them. If you know what makes them tick, outreach will be a piece of cake.
  6. Make the ask. The ask should be specific, like a call to action. Set expectations and goals at the beginning. Do you want influencers to promote, share, or create content? Give clear instructions, but don’t micro-manage.

Influencers should have full control over their content and behavior, the exception being sponsored content. In that case, they need to follow the guidelines given, typically a simple acknowledgement that they’re being compensated for the work.

  1. Measure your efforts. How are efforts faring? Are people joining the program? Sticking with it? Why or why not?
  2. Refine. Analyze the data gathered from interactions with influencers regularly. Let it guide next steps and improvements with outreach, as well as the overall program.

Relationship management:

To be successful with relationship management, consider these eight tips. They will help you define and implement the process.

  1. Stay in touch. Stay in regular contact so that they feel cared for and don’t think they’re a checkmark on a list.
  2. Ask for feedback. Ask them what they like about your influencer program and what they don’t. The more involved they are, the likelier it is that they’ll stay. Influencers can also act as beta testers for new products and services. The sneak peek will make them feel special, and it’ll give you all sorts of data to work with.
  3. Delegate the work. Influencer relations is time-consuming. Don’t go it alone. Integrate a software solution if you can afford it. It’s the only way the program can scale and be sustainable.
  4. Keep an updated list. The list of influencers needs to be updated just as the media relations one is.
  5. Document processes. As with outreach, document everything that’s being done to manage relationships. Swag? Emails? Social shares? Keep track of it. Also identify who’s in charge of what. Share that information with the team. It’ll keep everyone aimed toward the same goal and help with accountability.
  6. Monitor everything. Use alerts and social listening tools to track what’s being said about your brand. Also consider social sentiment tools to assess impact on brand reputation.
  7. Review the metrics. Metrics have a role to play in relationship management, too. How did influencers respond to free swag? The emails? How did their responses affect the overall program? There’s plenty of data to be had, so capture it and use it to improve programming, outreach and relationship management.
  8. Be ready to change. Influencer feedback and metrics have stories to tell. Listen to them. Let them guide the influencer programs you initiate as well as how you engage with influencers. Always be testing and refining.

Influencer marketing is impactful. It grows brand awareness and reach. It can even boost the bottom line. But most of it all, it can make your brand a little more “human.” You can also read the free white paper here.