If your company is like so many others these days, you may be wondering how to recruit social media influencers or key opinion leaders (KOLs) to help your brand’s cause or improve your influencer marketing. After all, the idea of pitching an influencer to help you market your brand can easily feel intimidating. So, how do you incentivize influencers to talk about your product or brand? The following tips should help you shape your influencer marketing strategy.
Don’t Act Like a Cold Caller
Who likes to walk up to a stranger and immediately try to sell them something? Cold calling isn’t one of the most effective strategies anymore, and there’s a good reason for this: it’s all about making more pitches, all the time, and hoping you “hit” on something that will help you. Chances are, you’ll just annoy the person on the other end of the line with your “spray and pray” approach.
It’s the same thing with influencers: we’re super busy and don’t have time to hear about irrelevant products. Remember that we’re probably not getting paid for our blog posts or Instagram stories, and the chances are we’ll only work on stuff that interests our communities or us. Keep that in mind when deciding what to “pitch” us.
Interact With Your Influencer on Socials
Interacting with a target influencer on social allows that influencer to get to know you and your product. This shows influencers that you know what they have to offer. For example, you might find my posts on social media tools interesting, because it allows you to “scope out” the competition somehow. Or, you might be thinking about showing up for my next conference speech, like my presenting on influencer marketing at the upcoming Social Media Marketing World. Either way, I have gotten to know what part of my work interests you.
Once you get to the place that you’re ready to ask the influencer to help, he or she will recognize your name, recognize your company, and already have a sense of what your audience might need to see. But more importantly, you won’t be another random person who tries to “connect” with the influencer on LinkedIn and immediately pitch your idea. Perhaps most importantly of all, you’re respecting the influencer’s valuable time by showing interest in them as an individual, as someone in business, and as someone whose opinions you respect and would be considered an asset to collaborate with.
Offer up a Freebie
Remember, for an influencer, time is valuable. For most of us, the blog or podcast, or even the Instagram stories aren’t what we’re getting paid for. I, for example, mostly get paid for my speaking and consulting. Yes, some influencers get paid for their content, but the majority of us exert our influence when we find something that’s valuable to us. For instance, last year, I wrote a long blog post on various content marketing tools and indicated which ones I use. While quick entries for each product do help you sell more of your product or service, however, what really helps is when I continue to mention that item.
Continuing to mention something that I use, as a rule, means I need to have plenty of time to work with it. For that reason, when I say give out freebies, I mean this needs to be a product we influencers can use and keep. Don’t give us a free trial and expect us to use your product or service in-depth. We just don’t have the time for that. Instead of giving us one product, why not give us a few so that we can provide them to friends or members of our community for them to try out and see how they feel about your product? Finally, the most important reason not to be stingy is that you’re a friend to us. These gestures of appreciation go a long way towards achieving your goal of getting the highly-valued influencer nod.
Follow up on Your Gift
You know when you shop online, a company might send an “abandoned cart” notice to your email? Or “retarget” you with banner ads that reflect your previous browsing of their website? When I say “follow up on your gift,” I’m talking about an Influencer-specific equivalent. Depending on our area of influence, we get plenty of freebies: either in sheer numbers (for beauty products or corporate swag, for instance) or in the amount of time needed to work with them (software, marketing tools). So, you want to make sure your freebie is one of the ones we open, use, and work with. Following up and offering to help us with the product is a great way to make sure it gets some use. Not only that, but it’s good PR to build strong relationships with people who you hope will help you out. Give us a good impression, and we’re more likely to work with you.
Propose a Long-Term Relationship
If you truly want to show influencers how vital their input is to your company, offer them a long-term interaction with your brand. There are various ways of doing this. For example, if you send an influencer a Beta version of your software to test and then ask for feedback, you get an idea of what they think before it even gets to the publication stage. More importantly, though, the influencer feels like they have a stake in how the product ultimately turns out, which gives them more motivation to pitch your stuff. Another way is by hiring a brand ambassador who represents your brand over a long period. Several other options exist, of course, and before entering into any of them, you’ll want to make sure that the influencer represents your brand image well. This is the type of long-term influencer marketing program that I recommend in my book The Age of Influence.
Once you’ve recruited your influencer, take good care of them. If you work with a lot of influencers, you should have a formal program that gives them special access for their feedback. In other words, influencers shouldn’t have their ideas filed in the same bin as feedback from everyone else. Furthermore, promote your influencer, for example, by advertising what they said about your product. Don’t just let the content (and influencer) stand out in the cold. Treat them well, and they’ll treat you well in a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship. Best of all, long-term relationships often mean that influencers continue to talk about your products long after the initial influencer marketing campaign is over.
Remember, influencers are people just like up and me.
I hope these tips have been helpful to you. If there are any other useful tips you can think up, let us know in the comments.
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