The first post I wrote for Econsultancy was about finding influencers in your industry.
I’ve been here exactly one month today, so to celebrate I thought I’d do a follow-up post on the same subject. Yeah, I know how to party.
This time I’m going to be focusing on five things to bear in mind when approaching those influencers that will help persuade them to get behind your campaign and enable you to build ongoing relationships with them.
Show them something they care about
Influencers are much more likely to get behind your cause if it is something they actually care about. One of the easiest ways to find out what they care about is to see what they’re talking about on social media.
Stephen Fry, for example, has historically been quite vocal about prostate cancer causes on Twitter, so he is likely to be interested in sharing something related to that disease.
— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) February 4, 2015
Similarly, blogger and anti-poverty activist Jack Monroe was an obvious choice to promote Oxfam’s poverty blog as it’s a subject she’s already actively involved in.
Make them look good
This is a slightly less cheesy way of saying ‘offer them something of value.’
Influencers care about their fans and their reputation. If you can offer them a partnership that makes them look good then you’re already halfway there.
The National Forest Foundation played on this idea nicely with its Retree Project campaign.
It’s fashionable to care about the environment these days (thankfully), so The National Forest Foundation got influential Instagramers Jaime King, Megan DeAngelis and Aidan Alexander on board to help spread the word about the campaign using the hash tag #Retree.
The campaign worked because it enabled those influencers to show their support of a good cause, meaning they had a reason to share it (I’m not suggesting they did it purely for personal gain, but like I said it’s all part of building their reputation online).
Campaigns like the Ice Bucket Challenge and No Makeup Selfie worked for this very reason. People feel good for sharing it because they know they’re doing a positive thing, but it’s also a way for them to show others that they care about charitable causes.
Avoid PR speak
The Econsultancy editorial team gets emails every day from PR people looking to place guest posts written by their clients, but a large proportion of those emails read like they’re mass-produced in a buzzword factory.
It’s not up to you to tell an influencer that your product is ‘market-leading’ or ‘at the cusp of innovation.’ People can make their own minds up about that.
Just tell them, in plain English, what your product or campaign is all about and why you think it would interest them. The more honest and human you are, the less likely they are to ignore you.
Make it personal
Along similar lines to the above point, don’t just copy and paste an email to every influencer in your industry you like the look of.
Approach them with a personal message instead. Relate your campaign to a specific project they’ve been involved with or something they’ve spoken about on social media in the past.
This approach will take you much longer, but it is far more likely to get a result. It is painfully obvious when something has been copied and pasted with just the names changed around, and any influencer will be able to spot it.
Don’t dump them once the fun is over
Influencer relationships are like any other: if you ignore that individual once they’ve given you what you wanted they’re not going to love you for it.
Once an influencer has helped you with a campaign, keep in touch. Update them with how the campaign is going, ask them about their own projects and just generally keep the conversation going.
It’s basic manners apart from anything else, but it also means they’ll be much more likely to want to help you again should another opportunity come around.
Conclusion: it’s a relationship, not a sales transaction
Even though you’re (hopefully) not asking for any money, when you approach an influencer to help boost your campaign you are essentially selling to them.
But treating the process like a sales transaction is probably the best way to ensure you won’t get the response you were hoping for.
If you’re honest about why your campaign might mean something to the influencer and approach them in a personal and straightforward way, you are much more likely to find somebody who is willing to get on board.