Best practices for influencer marketing are just beginning to emerge. But, already, we are beginning to see the power of this approach from several recent campaigns. Long story short: influencer marketing can be disruptive, but it also cannot be ignored.
Here are some tips from the Influencer Marketing Summit 2013 sponsored by Sysomos last week:
Do your homework.
Research the tastes of the influencers you are looking to court. Understand what makes them tick. For example, if you know that a celebrity loves his or her pet or believes strongly in the fight to end homelessness, use that to your advantage.
Don’t expect to change an influencer’s voice.
If you reach out to a blogger known for a provocative writing style, don’t expect him or her to change that to match the tone of your campaign. There’s a certain amount of risk involved influencer marketing. You need to understand that influencers may take certain liberties in reinterpreting your message.
Do consider your market.
An influencer is only as good as its audience. And if you have a niche message, authority matters more than audience size. Seek out influencers who have developed trust and loyalty within your target market. For example, when the Cleveland Indians wanted to boost their social media audience, they didn’t seek out a celebrity. Instead, they invited a handful of local fans to be part of the first Tribe Social Deck. The resulting audience growth was impressive.
Don’t rely on rankings alone.
Klout and other social influence scales may be useful as a cursory indicator of someone’s online profile. But as soon as you dig deeper, you will realize that these tools can’t be used in isolation. For example, if you want to influence beer drinkers to select your brand, you don’t need to approach people with Klout scores over 80. Instead, you may do better approaching people with a small but dedicated online following.
Do make influencers feel special.
Because social influencers are not operating in a competitive news environment, they are often not motivated by traditional PR sweeteners: exclusives, embargoes, etc. But they still appreciate recognition. Get creative with your incentives – like this package offered by the eCommerce site PaySimple, complete with pink fur handcuffs. Many brands are experimenting with in-person events or behind-the-scenes access to let influencer know that they appreciate the information they share.
Don’t give up.
If an influencer is unresponsive or inaccessible, examine who’s in his or her circle. Often one degree of separation can make all the difference.