We recently discussed that when looking for your influencer community, it’s important to identify those who are willing to support your company’s mission – now, how do you work with influencers.
Now that you have your community, it’s time to start planning phase 2 – influencer engagement. Engaging with influencers – whether through a tour, one-time event, ambassador roles or social media interaction – can be one of the most powerful ways to share your message.
Research shows that shared values are three to five times more important in building trust than sharing facts or demonstrating technical skills or expertise. Consumers are more likely to trust their peers with similar concerns and interests over brands trying to sell to them or an organization with an agenda. It’s also not just about selling, but influencers have the ability to build brand awareness. Influencers have developed a relationship with their audience. That audience trusts them and is already engaging with them through their blog and social media. Influencers understand their followers and what will resonate with them and what won’t. By building relationships with influencers, brands can connect with their consumers.
One of the most important things to keep in mind, however, is how to engage with influencers. We’ve put together a list to help you navigate the murky waters of influencer engagement.
- Define your goals, community and performance metrics.
Defining what success looks like will enable you to measure the effectiveness of your engagement strategy and knowing who you’re trying to reach and what you’re trying to accomplish will also help when finding the right influencers. Goals might include the number of impressions, reach, engagement and additional follower comments.
- Know your values, then find influencers who align with those values.
When selecting someone to advocate on your behalf, it’s important to recruit and work with the right influencers. When brands work with influencers whose content doesn’t match their brand or brand values, consumers can spot the mismatch a mile away.
- Work with micro-influencers.
It’s not all about numbers. It’s easy to prioritize a celebrity influencer with a huge following, but if they’re not a good fit for your brand, their following won’t matter and your message will fall flat. The best influencers are not necessary the ones with the largest followings; the best influencers are those who reach and also engage with your community. Often, they are micro-influencers or those with fewer than 100,000 followers.
- Build relationships early and don’t stop engaging.
While you are engaging influencers to accomplish specific goals, keep in mind these are still human relationships. Start engaging with influencers online even before you reach out to them directly. Follow them on social media and share their content. Show them you care. Once you make a connection and execute a campaign, don’t stop engaging. Follow up with check in emails. Continue the relationship so that you have a lifelong advocate, even when you’re not paying them.
- Maintain credibility and authenticity through creative freedom.
Yes, you’ve partnered with influencers to get your message out there, but let them write it in their own words. Today’s consumer expects to see endorsements from the influencers they follow. Sponsored content that is authentic and aligns with the influencers values are less likely to be dismissed as just another advertisement.
- Amplify influencer-created content.
Once influencers create content, it’s not just up to them to promote it. That content was created to spread your message, so use it! If you’re executing a campaign with multiple influencers, encourage them to share each other’s content. This won’t be difficult as influencers already do this – even when they’re not a part of the same campaign.
- Use existing influencer relationships to find and build new ones.
The digital influencer community can be very tightknit within specific industries. When you want to expand your outreach efforts and work with more influencers, start with the ones you already know for referrals. They may reach the same audience, but that can be a good thing. If audiences hear the same message from multiple influencers they trust, it makes the message that much more impactful.
- Maintain transparency.
The FTC has rules for endorsement and disclosure. As the advertiser, brands are responsible for making sure their influencer partners understand these rules and how to disclose when content is sponsored.
- Stay engaged in social media conversations.
It’s not important to only work with influencers who are engaging with their audience, your brand should also be engaging in online conversations. This includes amplifying your influencer partners’ content on your social media channels, commenting on influencers blog posts (even ones that you haven’t sponsored) and joining relevant conversations your brand can speak to.
Are you thinking about planning an influencer tour, or want to know more about how to successfully engage with influencers? Contact us at Look East.