Contacting Influencers Every relationship has a beginning. Considering context and content when contacting influencers can dramatically increase ROI for time spent on influencer outreach. You’ve got the perfect campaign and the perfect influencer in mind - now what?
Have they posted about your issue, brand or product in the past? What has been the tone of the post? Positive? Negative?
Have they posted about being “pitched” in the past and being turned off? Have they talked about someone who reached out to them in an effective way?
What do they write about and in what context are they likely to write about your issue, brand, or product?
Are they serious? Do they like to make people laugh?
Following the Leaders By following industry guidelines examined here (like WOMMA’s Honesty ROI) and asking your self a few simple questions, you can ensure your influencer outreach is ethical and effective – helping to develop a strong working relationship.
The Honesty ROI To help marketers navigate changing government regulations related to bloggers, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) created the Honesty ROI as a self-assessment tool. Honesty of Relationship 1. How will we ensure bloggers disclose their relationship and participation in this marketing program? Honest of Opinion 2. What measures are in place to ensure we are not influencing bloggers to say anything other than their own honest and genuine opinion? Honest of Identity 3. Does this program mislead the public in any way that could damage the reputation of our company? These are the three core questions for any influencer engagement, for WOMMA’s full 20 Questions For an Ethical Assessment visit: http://womma.org/ethics/assessment/20/
Send the blogger a personal email (no cut and paste jobs) and clearly identify yourself.
Tell them why you are specifically reaching out to them. What was it about their blog that makes them relevant?
If you get a response from the blogger indicating that they are willing to engage, follow up right away: send product for them to review or additional information they’ve requested.
Don’t pester them unnecessarily, but build relationships with influential bloggers who are relevant to your company or campaign so that you can approach them again in the future.
Good Influencer Contact: Why it matters What I don't like is when I receive an email, from a reader, letting me know that a giveaway has NOT been received…What THESE bad marketers don't see, or seem to want to understand, is the time it takes to switch laundry....Twitter...cook dinner...blog...clean up cat puke...go on Facebook and check in on my teens...and then surf the Internets for articles on how to better manage my time! I want to personally thank ALL of you for showing me (and my family) nothing but love and respect and highly recommend you to all of my blogging friends and readers!
Social IRM (Influencer Relationship Management) is the discipline of building and managing relationships with influencers. It's built on the principles of social media - respect, trust, and a true value exchange between brand and influencer.
Jason Avant, looks forward to working with brands/agencies on a regular basis when they respect and value his participation.
Social IRM: What the Future May Look Like “ As the demand for bloggers increases, I can only draw similarities from other places. It's common for authors who want to get on speakers' circuit to have a speakers agent. We should expect a bloggers' agent to appear that represents top bloggers to brands, conferences, and beyond.” – Jeremiah K. Owyang, Forrester, August 2009
Legal Issues with Compensation Blogger compensation presents both a legal and an ethical issue for brands and blogs. Following government regulation and guidelines, WOMMA framework, and best practices will guide you in these murky waters.
Issues with Compensation: What the FTC Says “ While decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.”
The blogger is spending time organizing an event for the brand
We have contracted the blogger as a consultant for social media campaigns
The task we have asked the blogger to complete (i.e.-running a micro contest) requires a significant amount of administrative time on the blogger’s part
When should compensation be disclosed? Always.
When Compensation is NOT OK
The blogger is being compensated to write a positive product review
The blogger is compensated to post about a product or service they would not be posting about without being compensated
Either the blogger or the brand has not fully disclosed the compensation
Issues with Compensation & Influencer Outreach
In any outreach email where you are offering something, you should include a section that drives them to disclose, for example:
“ Thanks for taking part in our program. As proud members of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA). We fully support the recent FTC Guidelines on Endorsements which call for full disclosure of any ‘material connection’. That simply means that you should post on your blog or site in a clear manner that we gave you this “X” to be able to experience the product. Your opinion remains your own. You can also link to the Code of Ethics at WOMMA to demonstrate your support for best practice disclosure http:// womma.org /ethics/code/ “
Q: Can the brand be held liable for statements made by bloggers considered “endorsers?” A: Both the blogger and brand can be held responsible. So, be clear in your communications with influencers and get ready to story-correct if they make improper claims.