Consumers today, trust information from a third party more than a brand itself and there’s no better endorsement a brand can get than a nod from an influencer. If anything has become more apparent to marketers this year, it’s the value of reaching potential customers through influencers.
Having even just one relationship with an online influencer can have a significant impact on your business. Influencer endorsements can come in the shape of a share, a quote or a link to your site/blog post. They provide social proof that your blog post is worth reading, your website is worth bookmarking or your name is worth mentioning.
Business owners seek relationships with influencers because these people help shape consumer decision making by popularizing products and ideas, and promoting things across multiple channels. But how do we connect with them? The good news is that many top influencers happen to be fairly accessible, even when you think it’s impossible to connect with them.
Unfortunately, most people treat influencer marketing like any other business transaction. They end up coming off as self-serving; they fail to prove their value to influencers, and their campaigns flop before even taking off. Don’t see influencers as an opportunity for backlinks, likes or re-tweets – see them as an opportunity to connect and become their friend!
Here are some ways you can connect with them…
1. Begin with Whom You Already Know
Start with your existing connections and lists online and segment them according to their area of expertise. Pay attention to:
- The number of followers/connections they have
- How active and engaged they are with their community
- Relevance to your niche
Reach out to the people you want to forge a relationship with by sharing their content. Comment on their blog and/or social media, join their professional groups, and tag them in your posts. As you promote other brands, chances are they will start noticing you and your business.
2. Don’t Just Say ‘Hi’, Offer an Interview
On social media, don’t just reach out and introduce yourself – go a step further and offer to interview the individual, either over e-mail or meet for lunch or dinner. This can be framed as an interview that you want to post on your blog or simply an opportunity for you to pick the person’s brain. Successful people often enjoy telling their story. This will not only benefit you and your brand, but also the influencer in question.
3. Know What You Can Offer and Do it for Free
When you connect with an online influencer, it is important that you know what value it is that you are bringing. This could be something as simple as your time, your graphic design skills or your talent for short sales. You should offer to donate your time and skills for free. When you offer enough value and deliver a good product to an influential person you create an opportunity for that person to recommend you to his or her network.
4. Minimize the Hassle for Them
If you want influencers to share your content, or talk about your brand with their followers, make sure it’s not a hassle for them. Try to keep things as effortless as possible so they’ll be more open to helping you out – provide them with all the information they’ll need without them having to ask you. Additionally, make it clear what you expect from them in return – whether you want them to just mention your brand name or review your product in detail or create unique content featuring your product, etc.
5. Give Them Creative Control
One of the things influencers hate as much as brands that don’t pay enough is brands that are far too controlling of what the influencer posts. A majority of influencers don’t work with a brand more than once if the brand is too restrictive with their content guidelines. This trend suggests that it’s crucial for brands to provide creative control to the influencers they work with, otherwise, it could frustrate the influencers and make them feel less inclined to portray your brand in a good light. Plus, dictating every aspect of the content your influencer should create could harm the quality of the content itself.