5 Steps on how to find & approach an Online Influencer

26th May 2017

Author
Jamie Monteath Digital Content Producer

5 Steps on how to find & approach an Online Influencer

An introduction into Influencer Marketing

In today’s digital marketing world where attention is the goal, brands are turning to Online Influencers to capture customers. But what is a Online Influencer? And how do you go about working with one?

Fear not! We have outlined 5 simple steps on how to find and approach a Online Influencer; this guide covers how to carry out online influencer research and measurement for their digital marketing campaign.

Working with an influencer is different every time, but following these 5 steps should set you up for success.

Of the brands that use Influencer Marketing, 57% use the relationship to promote and distribute content

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An introduction to Online Influencers

I have broken down the process of the influencer journey into 5 steps. There is no one size fits all for a campaign but following theis process will inform the approach you take with your influencer.

01. Choosing Your Influencer

02. Listening

03. The First Engagement

04. The Pitch

05. Influencer Nurturing

This is to be used as a guide and by no means the only approach available, s feel free to interpret and use what is useful to you and your circumstance.

Before we begin, lets discuss why you would use an influencer?



Why use an Online Influencer?

Simply put, your targeted audience will trust them more than a brand most of the time. They have the personality you would be associated with, the audience you want to like you and are more inclined to listen to what they have to say.

That’s the truth of the matter. This trust can cause an action, which can lead to conversions. This should not be under valued.

Augere Communications & Marketing published scenarios as when brands would use influencers for their marketing campaigns.

what do brands use social influencers for



• 76% for the launch of a new product or a new brand
• 57% for the promotion and distribution of content
• 50% for the organization of events and webinars
• 44% for crisis management
• 22% for corporate communications

In this article, I am assuming that you are working with the influencer like 57% of brands do - for the promotion and distribution of content. The impact an influencer can have working with a brand on a campaign, in no particular order, can be:

• Reaching a wider/new audience
• Increase credibility of the content by association with the influencer
• Create online conversations around the content
• Increase likelihood of publications giving coverage to content and collaboration

All the above can increase the likelihood of increased traffic, links, authority, credibility and conversions for the brand.

Key takeaway:

Ensure that influencer marketing is the right approach to take for your brand based on what you are wanting to achieve



01. Choosing your Online Influencer

Before choosing an influencer, we must define what an online influencer is. An online influencer will usually have a mixture or all of these qualities:
• An authority, trusted and respected from their audience in a particular niche
• Someone who can cause an action
• Sustain their audience engagement on all channels
• Strong affinity with their audience

• High reach across website and social channels

• Online content they create is high quality

• Online content they share is high quality

Social Influencers like Rand Fishkin & Kanye West



I am aware that terms such as 'trusted’, ‘respected’, ‘high reach’ and ‘ high quality’ are all subjective terms. You have to define what the criteria for these terms are. Please keep in mind that what may be ‘high reach’ in one vertical may not be ‘high reach’ in another. Do your research before taking any further action.

How do you determine the right influencer for you?

To determine which influencer is right for you, you need to define what it is you want the influencer to help you achieve. The objectives of your campaign will impact on the influencer and volume of influencers you choose to target.

You should set your objectives at the beginning of the campaign and understand what success will look like for you. The objectives could be and are not limited to:

• Increase organic traffic or referral traffic by X%

• Increase conversions (sign ups/downloads) by X%

• Data capture

• Increase social following of a particular or all brand platforms by X%

• Earn X quality links

You need to ask yourself questions regarding the campaign and the influencer. What is the key message of the campaign? What influencers are in line with this message? What influencers would naturally fit with your brand and campaign message?

Lady Gaga & Free Agent



Does this work? I would say no. It’s unnatural, mildly comedic and unlikely that Lady Gaga would have a strong influence over the financial software markets audience.

You should also ask yourself “What is the purpose of the influencer for the campaign? Do they act as an informer or an activist?”

Informer = gives information about brand or products

Activist = seen to be involved in an experience with your brand

Building an influencer list

You can use a number of tools to help discover appropriate influencers. There are many on the market just now like Group High, Buzzstream for previous contacts and my personal favourite, Buzzsumo. There are PR discovery tools like Gorkana and Cision and do not underestimate the power of a simple Google search to find new tools. Top 10 or 20 lists like this one can be golden for someone looking for new influencer discovery tools.

Once you’ve found the tool that you like to help discover the influencers you would possibly want to work with. You need to be able to arrange them in a way that helps you make an informed decision for the campaign. I would recommend doing this by either an excel spreadsheet, Google doc or a tool like Buzzstream. Here are a few column ideas to help you start you off specifically for campaign management:

Target
The target audience that this influencer has

Category
The influencers website category (lifestyle, travel etc.)

URL
The websites URL

Email
Email address

Name
Name of the influencer

Domain Authority
The domain authority of the website

Contacted
Have you contacted them yet?

Status
The status of the campaign e.g. “Sent follow up email. Waiting on reply.”

Relationship
The status of the relationship. This is critical long term.

Incentive
What is it that the influencer is receiving from you in return or what can you as a brand offer? Having a bank like this shows what you’re willing to do and can give you an understanding of what influencers want.

Social Stats
The stats of their social channels.

Notes
Any notes you want to make on the influencer example: tone of blog.



Lists for general influencer tracking can include everything above and also:

• Contact history – what campaigns have they been contacted about in the past?
• Last person to contact the influencer – who contacted the influencer last?
• Date of last outreach attempt
• Reaction to last outreach attempt – what was successful/unsuccessful?
• What content they like/don’t like – images, videos etc.
• What experiences they like/don’t like
• Results – if you have worked with them before, was it successful/unsuccessful? Why?


Incentives

You won’t work for free (at least most of us would rather not) and influencers don’t want to do it either, unless it is something phenomenal that you’re able to offer.

Take the time to think about why they would want to work with you and what you can offer them. In this instance, think about their website and their audience and what can you offer them that their audience would love to see/read.

This should be something that makes the influencer think, “Wow, yes, I want to be a part of this and my audience would love it. Sign me up!” This way, the content you’ll have created together will earned a link and natural coverage.

Potential examples of incentives are:

• A unique exclusive experience
• Exclusive content (for their website)
• News before anyone else - looks good for them if they can break the news to their audience
• Exclusive brand benefits
• Traffic
• Additional social promotion
• Payment

On the other hand, you can ask what they would like in return. This way you know what they want or can come to a compromise.

Don’t be shocked if they ask for payment to be involved, they have bills to pay too. Do accept that any link they give you from their website will be a no-follow link if you do.

Key takeaways:

Align yourself with an influencer that wants to work with you. Mutual respect both ways will work wonders in the long run.

State clearly what the goals you’re trying to achieve so you can work together to achieve them.

Build your list and maintain it regularly

Be clear on the incentives for the influencer or work on one together



02. Listen to Online Influeners



Social Listening



By understanding what your desired influencers say, how they say it, where they say it and what content they share - you to make a better call on whether the influencer is right for you or not. To clarify what we mean by ‘listening’, we mean following and paying attention to:

• The influencers website
• Social channels
• Newsletters
• Who they interact with on social media

This can be achieved by liking, following or subscribing to their channels or newsletter.

There are also loads of listening tools available to do this at scale but it comes at a cost. Some of the more prominent tools like Brandwatch are fantastic at gathering data, making listening an easier task. However, where the tools struggle is around sentiment; understanding nuances, local-lingo and sarcasm is generally, poorly done – so there is no substitute for human analysis!

When listening, bear the following in mind:

• Tone of the content – formal, informal, witty, informative?
• Type of language used – do they swear?
• The wording of their content – simplistic or detailed?
• How often do they share content? - imagery, posts, articles, videos?
• Frequency of sharing personal content?
• Anything from other brands that they prefer/advocate?

Key takeaways:

Listening helps understands the person behind the website and their audience

There are social listening tools available, but there is no substitute for human analysis.

You can store the data & information you gather on your influencer list in the notes section

Use this information to help you create appropriate incentives and content ideas. If their audience is what you’re after then pay close attention to what content gets the best reaction!



03. The First Engagement with an Online Influencer



First Engagement



The first engagement is critical as it can be the first time that the influencer takes notice of you. You only get one chance at a first impression so it’s best to make it count, right?

Let’s break the approaches into 3 tiers: soft, formal and alternative.

Soft approach

• A tweet directly to them
• Joining in a twitter conversation they are involved in
• Commenting on posts
• Liking their posts
• Sharing content with them that you know they are likely to be interested in

Formal approach

• Introductory email explaining who you are/potential future collaborations

Alternative approach

• A letter
• Gift through the post

Here are some of the differences in risk between the approaches:

Soft

• Low risk
• Requires observation of social channels and content

Formal

• Medium risk
• Requires observation of social channels and content
• Requires knowledge of campaign details
• Must know if they accepted unsolicited correspondence

Alternative

• High risk
• Offline might not reach the influencer
• Requires observation of social channels and content
• Requires knowledge of personal information about the influencer
• Puts you in influencers spotlight

These approaches are by no means the only ones as ultimately; the most appropriate approach is up to you. I would recommend looking back through your listening research to make a judgement on which approach is most appropriate for the influencer and the campaign.

Some influencers have a contact me page and this can state the way that they prefer to be contacted.

Key takeaways:

Look at your listening research, use it to make a call on the most appropriate approach.

Check and double check if they have a preferred way to be contacted. This can be the difference between receiving a response and not.



04. The Pitch



The Pitch



This is it. This is the big one. You are ready to pitch your campaign to the influencer with the hope of creating a heavenly partnership.

The most important aspect to remember when pitching to influencers (or to anyone in fact) is to be entirely transparent in what you’re attempting to achieve, being clear what you’re expecting from them and what they can expect from you. This is critical when establishing trust so don’t try to cut corners or pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. This is essential for credibility and integrity within the influencer community.

How are you going to pitch?

• Email - great subject headline
• Social
• Phone
• Skype
• How do they prefer to be contacted?

Try to see it from the Influencers perspective. Prepare answers for the difficult questions:

• Who is this guy?!
• What do they want from me?
• What is in it for me? Do I get paid?
• Does this seem like a company I want to work with? Do they seem reliable?
• Does this brand represent me?
• Do we have a contract?
• How much is the other influencer, if there is one, being paid?
• When will the content be ready?
• When will the experience be happening?

So what are the key things to include in your pitch?

Who are you?

• Name
• Company
• Contact details - phone, email, twitter

What is the campaign?

• Details of campaign – product/experience/competition?
• Start dates/end dates
• Objective of the campaign
• Why it might be of interest to them
• Is there a contract?

What it is you want them to do?

• State what it is that you would like them to do
• What they can expect from you
• Participate in experience
• Host competition/content
• Product review/giveaway
• Contribute to brand content

Incentives

• State what you can give in return:
• Is the experience or content enough?
• Payment
• On-going relationship with brand – custom perks

Key takeaways:

Be clear in what you want and what influencers can expect from you. Trust is everything.

Prepare for the hard questions – you may not have to answer them but you’ll be glad that you did.



05. Influencer Nurturing

Congratulations! You pitched to your influencer, they loved the idea and the campaign was a success. Now to never speak to theme again until next time. Wrong.

A very common stage that a lot of brands and agencies fall down on is keeping that influencer engaged with your brand or your agency. Keeping regular contact is essential as it:

• Keeps influencer onside
• Influencers talk to one another. No one likes to be treated like a hit and run.

There are various ways you can keep contact with influencers without being intrusive.

Personal

• Remain active on influencers social channels and website
• Meet ups if appropriate

Work

• Email updates on client campaigns that might interest them
• Invites to upcoming client events
• Is there anything that they’re working on right now that you could be support?

Key Takeaways:

Keep contact without being intrusive.

Find out if and when they would like to be contacted again.



Let’s sum this up

These are the 5 overall tips I would give to anyone beginning their influencer journey.

01. Fail to prepare and prepare to fail – cliché but true!
02. Be honest in what you can deliver and when - your integrity will be valued
03. It is a business deal but it is also about building a relationship, trust and advocacy
04. Keep a solid record of everyone you speak to and the results of those conversations
05. There is a person behind the email - find out who they are and work with them.

If there is anything you like, dislike, agree with or completely disagree with, get in touch. We are always looking to learn from and engage with other marketers.= - so hit us up @TheDigital_Co.



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