Guest Post by: Jo Stratmann
With the launch of our social media influencers report this Friday 3rd December, we thought it would be useful to think more about how to engage with influencers online.
Our report road tests how well nine of the leading social media monitoring tools – Attensity 360, Brandwatch, Radian6, Alterian, Scoutlabs, Sysomos, Synthesio, PeerIndex and Social Radar – can identify social media influencers. But once you have identified your influencers, how do you go about engaging them online?
Here a few things we feel that all brands and businesses should consider before engaging with their influencers:
1. Get to know your influencers
Before you jump in and start engaging with your influencers, be sure listen to the conversation that is taking place on the blog, forum or social media platform where you are going to engage with them.
Read through previous discussion threads, conversations or any other relevant information you can find so that you can learn more about your influencer, what they are saying and how they are saying it.
Perhaps you could even segment by type of influencer, or the value they could potentially have for your brand (eg, spreading word-of-mouth about a product launch, reviewing your product or services etc).
This will help you use the appropriate tone and content for engaging with your influencer when the time is right.
2. Learn when to engage…and when not to
There’s no need to take part in all conversations with your influencers; sometimes the topic may be relevant, sometimes it might not. Sometimes it just won’t be appropriate for you to get involved with an influencer at all.
This will call for you to use your own judgement. Perhaps think about how much value you can add to a conversation or discussion. Or, assess how would you react in an offline scenario – would you join in the conversation or not?
Finally ask “what’s in it for me?”
If you can see no value in engaging with the influencer then don’t bother. Just because they’ve been identified as a potential influencer for your business doesn’t mean you have to engage with them.
3. Build an honest relationship with your influencers
As New Media Age commented in an article about engaging with “mummy bloggers“, it is important to be “authentic, accept criticism, not patronise and ask, not tell”. This is sound advice to anyone wishing to engage with influencers.
In order to build a successful relationship with your influencers you must think of all interaction as a way of building up a relationship. You should be looking at influencers as potential partners; as people who can champion your brand. Make them feel like an insider – they have a key position in your market place as they both speak to and represent your target audience, so treat them with the respect that they deserve.
Be mindful that influencers are giving you their time and expertise so make them feel valued and acknowledge their contributions.
4. Don’t go in with the hard sell
Yes, some influencers will be aware that you have a commercial interest in them. And while some are commercially astute, there are always other who eschew all commercial influence.
Instead of pushing your own agenda, expand conversations beyond your specific products, brand or messages. Think about the wider topic at hand and then build up a relationship with them before discussing anything too commercial.
5. Be realistic about the results you will achieve
When engaging with influencers it is important to understand the difference between affecting and controlling perceptions. While engaging influencers will go some way to affecting the perception of your brand and products, you cannot entirely control the outcome of your efforts.
Image courtesy of Jack Monson