Practitioners Guide to Social Influencer Engagement


Published on

  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Practitioners Guide to Social Influencer Engagement

  1. 1. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement A collaborative work of industry peers Brought to you by PR Newswire The ideas and suggestions expressed in the content of this eBook are those of their respective contributors and are not necessarily those of PR Newswire.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved.
  2. 2. Table of contents INTRODUCTION By Sarah Skerik, Vice President, Social Media, PR Newswire ................................... 1 CHAPTER 1 – What’s an Influencer? The Influencer Next Door, By Malcolm Atherton ........................................................ 2 Mass & Niche: A Deadly Combo, By Chad Lio ............................................................... 4 The Evolution of the 800 lb Gorilla, By Todd Price ....................................................... 6 Listening Equals Influence, By Sebastian Rusk .............................................................. 8 CHAPTER 2 – Finding & Gauging Influence Choosing the Right Influencer, By Noemi Pollack ........................................................ 10 Measuring Your Social Brand and Optimizing Your Score, By Yael Even-Levy.... 12 The Three “V’s” and How You Can Use Them, By Sudip Chakraborty & Brianna Harney ......................................................................................................................... 15 Creating Your Perfect Blend of Influencers, A summary of PR Newswire’s Targeting Influencers in the Sea of Social Media video ............................................. 17 CHAPTER 3 – Engaging Influencers Three Essential Rules for Influencer Engagement, By Ruth Fine ............................ 21 Five Ways to Build Strong Bonds with Social Media Influencers, By Margot Heiligman .............................................................................................................. 23 10 Strategies for Ultimate Influencer Engagement, By Steph Russell ................. 26 How NOT to Pitch a Social Influencer, By Howard Greenstein ............................... 28 Twitter as a Luxury Marketing Tool to Reach Influencers, By Megan Sterritt ... 31 The Conversation is the Platform, By Christy Belden .................................................. 33 CHAPTER 4 – Turning Influence Into Brand Advocacy How to Make an Influencer Want to Sing Your Tune, By Anne-Marie Kovacs ... 37 Turning Influencers Into Your Brand’s Voice, By Tom Bishop .................................... 39 Building a Social Media & Marketing Strategy for Influencer Engagement, By Lee Anne Forbes .................................................................................................................... 3 4 The Cadence of Influence, By Vatsala Isaac .................................................................... 45Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved.
  3. 3. CHAPTER 5 – Measuring Influence & Maintaining Relationships Measurements That Matter, By Jared Hendler .............................................................. 48 Measure and Maintain Relationships, By Adam Blitzer ............................................. 51 What My Daddy Taught Me About Social Media-How To Be A Giver Online, By Andrea Walker ..................................................................................................................... 54 Understanding and Growing From Advocate Insight, By Matthew Clyde ......... 57 WILDCARD CHAPTER 6 – A Little Extra Food For Thought Optimizing Your Social Media for Search (SSO), By Christy Belden ....................... 61 How To Really Engage Your Influencers With Gamification, By Toby Beresford ...................................................................................................................... 64 CONCLUSION By Sarah Skerik, Vice President, Social Media, PR Newswire ....................................... 68Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved.
  4. 4. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Introduction By Sarah Skerik, Vice President of Social Media, PR Newswire The terms “social networks” and “social media” make it easy to forget that people – more than a billion of them worldwide – are the means by which conversations propagate and ideas spread. Smart communicators factor the human element into the communications plans they develop and the content they create. Every group of people, whether you’re talking about an informal cluster or people conversing via hashtags on Twitter, a private group on Facebook or a coffee klatch at a local café, has its own influencers. Respected and quoted by many, influencers are the members of the community who sway opinions through a combination of personal expertise and social connectedness that put them at the center (and often at the start of) many conversations. Influencers exist for every imaginable topic. They might be hobbyists, academics, journalists, professionals, or simply the person next door. Each brings a unique point of view to a conversation, and developing relationships with them is important for brands building a connected digital presence. In this paper, we delve into the different kinds of influencers you’ll find, their role in shaping online conversation and how brands and organizations can build valuable relationships with key influencers within their markets and as well as become influential themselves, ultimately driving their audiences and influencers to them.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 1
  5. 5. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 1 What’s an Influencer? Who Are They? The Influencer Next Door By Malcolm Atherton, Account Manager, PR Newswire One of my favorite cartoons of all time is from the New Yorker. One dog is seated in front of a computer and is looking at another dog. Computer dog says to the other dog, “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” Makes me laugh every time. Now, look around. Do you see an influencer? I’ll wait… (pausing for effect….) I was thinking of Mark Schaefer’s excellent session at September’s Content Marketing World on influencers and, in real life, nobody knows you’re an influencer. Ask 10 people to define “influencer” and you’ll likely get 10 answers. Celebrities, thought leaders, folks with high influence scores (see Klout, PeerIndex, et al.), and so forth are likely to be uttered. Finding and targeting influencers is the goal for many an internal Marcomm team and/or agency as part of ongoing strategies. So, who are these people… these influencers? Chances are that you walked by one today. The new influencers is ‘The Every(wo)man.’ According to Mark, you can identify who is influential in a variety of ways without Klout & Friends.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 2
  6. 6. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 1 What’s an Influencer? Who Are They? • Are they writing meaningful content? • Are they providing consistent engagement? • Do they have a relevant audience? • KEY Does their content MOVE (shared, commented on, etc.)? Influencers can ebb and flow. Your next door neighbor may be consistently influential about a topic today but the neighbor across the street may be influential about a near and dear topic tomorrow. They are moving targets but the payoffs can be substantial. Consider Mark’s tale of Calvin Lee, an unmarried 42 year old who is painfully shy and owns a design and brand strategy company in Los Angeles. Oh yeah, he posts over 200 times a year and has over 80,000 followers on Twitter. Calvin is active online, authentic, and has developed a large and loyal following of folks who likes what he has to say and moves his content. Some groups you may have heard of – Audi, House of Blues, South by Southwest – have provided Calvin with cars to live with for a while, concert access, trips etc. because they know that he’ll create tons of content (pictures, videos, blog posts, tweets, etc.) and they’ll gain access to his followers. Win. Win. How do you find your Calvin? Research, listen, and identify folks who have the RITE content (relevant, interesting, timely, entertaining) that resonates well with audiences relevant to you. And when you see your neighbor and you give that friendly wave, just ask yourself…..“Influencer?”Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 3
  7. 7. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 1 What’s an Influencer? Who Are They? Mass & Niche: A Deadly Combo By Chad Lio, Digital Marketing Manager, The Hoffman Agency It’s an age-old marketing question that must be re-imagined for social media: do you publish content for the masses or target a specific niche that provides the most value to your brand? The truthful answer is both. But how do you go about this, while still promoting growth in your online community? Let’s break down each market. Mass Media Numbers don’t lie in social media. It’s inevitable that a potential subscriber/fan/ follower will look at your brand’s fan base to help them decide whether to like, follow or subscribe to your brand. As much interest as they may have in your brand, the fact that you have a limited initial following may deter them – and, therefore, become a hindrance to your brand’s mass visibility. Benefit: Generating content for the masses gives you a wide-open approach. Your content will more than likely connect with fans that you never knew were out there. You remove your brand’s limitations by introducing yourself to a large community base. Publishing to such a large crowd, you’re bound to accumulate fans specific to your brand in a given social media platform. Drawback: When marketing to the masses you may spread yourself too thin. Your brand contributes hours upon hours of creative and passionate content to share with the world, but let’s face it: a lot of the world is not interested. Is it worth the expense, time and energy to create content when much of it will be ineffective by falling on “deaf ears”? Is it useful to publish content to markets that are not specific to your brand or your location? Niche Media What’s a better way to promote your message than connecting with the community that appreciates it the most? Although relatively smaller inCopyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 4
  8. 8. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 1 What’s an Influencer? Who Are They? numbers, you want the biggest advocates on your side marketing your brand. They engage, they influence others; but most importantly, they are loyal. Benefit: You have a truly passionate online community. They consistently voice their opinions of what your brand can change or achieve more efficiently. They have no problem taking the time to share and spread the reason why you created your brand. Drawback: Although the loyalty will always be present, you tend to appear small, thus not as influential as major brands. Brands that market to the major masses may not grow a community that is as passionate, but their visibility becomes a catalyst for large numbers of impressions. The larger you become, the more opportunities your brand has to become “the top dog.” How to use both for a successful community Often, building a community starts with mass media. As you publish engaging content to the masses, keep note of specific fans/followers/subscribers that consistently engage and share your content. Create a separate list of these advocates – it will eventually evolve into your niche market. Once your numbers are significant enough that they will increase organically, create an advocacy campaign for your niche market. These can be special offers, exclusive content, or anything that reassures that they are part of something special and should be appreciated. You’ll find that balancing the two markets will drive greater growth than would be possible by catering only to mass media or niche media.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 5
  9. 9. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 1 What’s an Influencer? Who Are They? The Evolution of the 800 lb Gorilla By Todd Price, Director of Business Development, Yellow Dux On June 29, 2012, the up-and-coming rock band Dirty Americans headlined Michigan’s “Bike Fest on the Grand” festival. The next day, 1980s rock god Skid Row closed out the festival. How is it possible that a rock group you probably never heard of can share the same stage with a band that has sold out arenas and made three multiplatinum records? The answer lies in that music, like social media, revolves around consistently delivering fresh content that is relevant and valuable to your audience. While the story of these bands is nothing new (one on the way up and one on the way down), the parallel between their experiences and the social media landscape is striking. In social media, someone with high name recognition but little substance can be matched or outweighed by a niche influencer whose frequent and relevant words on certain subjects carry the discussion topic forward at an alarming pace. For example: • Rush Limbaugh hosts a nationwide radio show, authors several books and does numerous TV spots. Twitter followers = 232,411. • Maria Popova filters web stories and creates a daily digest for all relevant items in the Internet world. Twitter followers = 196,235. • Justin Verlander is the reigning MLB American League MVP from 2011 and doesn’t engage much with social media. Total Facebook Likes = 3,176. • John Axford is a middle reliever pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers who consistently uses social media to reach out to fans. Total Facebook Likes = 13,973 It’s easy to see that social media is changing the nature of the 800-pound gorilla. In fact, there aren’t many of those left. Due to social media, the old notion of theCopyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 6
  10. 10. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 1 What’s an Influencer? Who Are They? megastar – or mega brand – is being replaced by a larger number of 300-pound gorillas who are building solid followings by creating good content, and then maintaining their name and their mark by continuing to provide value on a consistent, long-term basis. Dwayne Johnson (also known as the Rock of WWE wrestling fame) has said you should only put forth items of value in social media. To become a leader in your field, you must continuously provide value and consistently good information on the topics you enjoy. If you just fill the air with random posts or promotional information bits, your message will eventually fade into the background noise, unnoticed. Try to follow comedian Dane Cook for a week and time yourself when your refresh button explodes. As someone who tweets EVERYTHING he does, the idea of bringing value to the audience is lost. Think of your social media as an announcer at Kmart. If you keep making irrelevant announcements, everyone will eventually tune you out. By bringing forth value in what you post, your message will eventually get you from passive engagement to active engagement to influencer in the social media realm which you hope to dominate. To bring the message home, let’s go back to music. Jimmy Buffett released his first nine albums during the 1970s. But he also released four new studio albums, 10 live albums and two compilation albums all spread over the last 10 years. Twitter followers = 605,364.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 7
  11. 11. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 1 What’s an Influencer? Who Are They? Listening Equals Influence By Sebastian Rusk, CEO/Founder, Listening seems to be almost non-existent in today’s marketplace. Sadly, many brands have been misled into believing that social media platforms exist as an advertising tool. Brands believe they can pitch their product and shove their message down consumers’ throats. The reality is, “push” strategy is yesterday’s news; social media makes it all about “pull.” So how does a brand focus on the pull of its audience? It starts with something we should have been taught when young: listening. The simple idea of listening to your customer gives them a voice. Social media gives your consumers an outlet to let their emotions fly. Whether they love your brand, hate your brand or feel anything in between, they turn to social media to express it. This in turn allows you to better understand your brand. The sales cycle has been completely reversed now that word-of-mouth popularity is at an all-time high. From a business standpoint, social media platforms enable you to achieve three objectives. The first is to build an online community where you don’t currently have a presence. The second is to provide that audience with valuable, tangible content and information. The third (and perhaps most valuable to your brand) is to engage with the community and get a true sense of what THEY want. This is the time and place to forget about your needs; it is about the customer. Once you become the “go to” source for your audience they will, by default, want to do business with you because you haveCopyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 8
  12. 12. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 1 What’s an Influencer? Who Are They? provided them with valuable information. They know you genuinely care about them and what they think – that goes a long way. All of this is causing a rapid shift in the meaning of “influencer” today. Influencers used to be celebrities – those in the stardom spotlight. Now, influence is moving to those online personalities with a large following. Bloggers and YouTube stars, etc., now have the power. All of these “modern day” influencers have one thing in common: they listen! They don’t try to pitch or come up with some transparent strategy to sell an audience. These influencers care about what their community wants and says, to which they respond accordingly and their success shows. The most exciting part about this amazing shift is that anyone can become an influencer. Why? Because we are all capable of listening and sharing our passions. Most times our passion becomes the brand. There has never been an easier time to start a business or build a brand because it is so easy to figure out what the community wants. The online tools available to us today didn’t exist eight years ago, but today they are in abundance and many are free. The only thing left to do is to take advantage of them. Utilizing the simple idea of listening allows your brand to realize and embrace the fact that it’s not about you or what you want to tell the customer, but rather about what THEY want. Once you clearly understand what your customer wants and make sure they get it, you are now influencing them. You have now added them to your voluntary army of ambassadors for your brand, not because you asked them to, or persuaded them to, but because you listened. You showed them how much you genuinely care, and they chose to do business with you. Want to be an influencer? Start listening.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 9
  13. 13. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 2 Gauging Influence Choosing the Right Influencer By: Noemi Pollack, Founder and CEO of The Pollack PR Marketing Group Nielsen reported recently that consumers trust “real friends” and “virtual strangers” over newspapers, TV, magazines or ads.1 This trend, coupled with the increased value of third-party endorsements and positive word of mouth, demonstrates a fundamental need to earn trustworthy endorsements from influencers in today’s increasingly consumer-driven environment. The challenge for brands, however, is not just finding an influencer – it’s finding the right influencer. The brand Influencer waters must be carefully navigated because there are risks in engaging them. Brands should consider three important qualifications: how much influence the influencer has, whether or not he or she influences the right target audience and, finally, the degree to which an influencer is consistent with the brand image. If an influencer is speaking to the wrong audience or their personality conflicts with your brand, then trusted consumer advocacy will not be effectively earned. Measuring Influence Influence is a commonly used word with a very broad definition. Without dissecting the etymology of the word, suffice to say it refers to the act of compelling someone (or a group of people) to a particular opinion or behavior. In other words, a successful influencer would be one who can incite others into converting, whether that means purchasing a product/service or agreeing with an idea.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 10
  14. 14. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 2 Gauging Inflluence Since influence is more than merely being heard, one must look beyond metrics such as audience size, friends/fans/followers, website visitations and impressions. There should certainly be a baseline expectation of a person’s network size, but that should not be the only metric. Influencers should be weighed more in the quality of interactions they have with their audience, the amount of responses they earn with their interactions and, perhaps most telling, the evidence of positive conversions. For example, looking at the number of Facebook friends is not enough. Do the friends interact and engage with the influencer? How many comments/likes does an influencer produce with each post? Is there evidence of conversations in which the influencer has swayed the opinions and/or behavior of audience members? This information can be found through an influencer’s blog, through Twitter mentions and any other platform on which he or she is active. Qualifying the Influencer’s Audience Determining whether or not a person is influential is not enough, alone. Your brand advocate could have sway over millions of people all over the globe, but if those people are not the right people for your brand, that influencer may as well be shouting in a vacuum as far as you are concerned. Age-old market research tactics can ensure that the right person is saying the right message to the right audience. Vetting a potential influencer’s audience need not be time-extensive and costly. One can simply research his or her online network and view their profiles. What types of organizations do they like/follow? Do they respond in a positive way to brand messages similar to yours? Would they buy your product or be influenced by your ideas? The influencer’s offline audience can be researched as well. What organizations is the influencer involved with? Do their affiliations and offlineCopyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 11
  15. 15. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 2 Gauging Inflluence activities support or conflict with your target audience? If you had the budget, would you pay to advertise to this influencer’s audience? Aligning Personalities If you are engaging an influencer to become a brand advocate, or even if you are paying them to be, be clear that on many levels you are relinquishing control of your brand to this person. Therefore, it is paramount that the influencer personality and the brand personality be aligned. If the influencer’s communication style, general personality or personal opinions greatly conflict with your brand, then you could have tremendous exposure and heightened risk of negative word of mouth. In essence, influencers behave as brand spokespeople – but unlike real spokespeople, brands don’t have direct control over their message. So a brand should be comfortable with an influencer’s voice, style and public positioning. In a Nutshell When actively pursuing influencers, take the time to gauge their level of influence, as well as their target audience and public persona. When there is a perfect match, then brand advocacy is effective and far-reaching. 1. ielsenwire. 2009. “Global Advertising: Consumers Trust Real Friends and Virtual N Strangers the Most.“ Retrieved from global-advertising-consumers-trust-real-friends-and-virtual-strangers-the-most/ Managing Your Social Brand and Optimizing Your Score By: Yael Even-Levy, PhD, Instructional Design Technologies Manager, PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP Social media is here to stay; it is no longer perceived as a passing trend. Many companies are using social media both internally and externally to improve theirCopyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 12
  16. 16. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 2 Gauging Inflluence outreach and external reputation, and many have teams that monitor and evaluate its impact on their corporate brand (e.g., public online identity). The same concerns that companies have about their brand apply to individuals as well. After all, unless you assess your efforts, how will you know if your messaging is effective and impactful? Here we focus on you, the individual, and provide you with best practices for measuring your influence and optimizing your social brand. All tools mentioned here are free, and you do not need to be a social media guru or a programmer to use them. Utilizing Social Media Analytics The most useful social media analysis tools go beyond number of followers, likes or page views to validate that your messaging is working by measuring your online influence. The tool PeerIndex uses algorithms to measure the speed with which you find and share content on any specific topic, and the volume of your sharing on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites. It gives a total score ranging between 0-100 based on three key components: your Authority, Audience and Activity. If your content is re-tweeted or commented on a lot by others, for example, your Authority score will be high. A total score of 20 is average. A score of 40 or above is high to very high. You can influence your score by sharing more content and with greater velocity, but you have to keep it relevant and high-value in order to get comments and re-tweets. Keep in mind that many will not follow you if your score is low. Another tool is Klout. It measures your influence based on your ability to drive action on a scale of 1 to 100 by using data from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedInCopyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 13
  17. 17. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 2 Gauging Inflluence and Foursquare. It measures how many people you influence (e.g., true reach), how much you influence them (e.g., amplification) and how influential they are (e.g., network score). In addition to your score, Klout provides you a score analysis and visual graphs. Klout also offers perks and badges based on your score. These are exclusive products, coupons, or experiences that you earn based on your influence. Apparently, some influencers have earned perks like laptops and airline tickets. If you’re using a Chrome browser, you can add Klout to your Twitter account and view Klout scores next to names of friends and followers. Optimizing Your Score Improve your social media ranking by implementing three easy steps: validate, improve and interact. When you validate, you unfollow those who do not follow you back after a while. Unfollow those with very low peer index scores and keep your inactive friends to a minimum. Use SocialBro to see who your news followers are, and follow them back if their peer index is high or their profile is similar to yours. Check “recent unfollows” and unfollow back if applicable. When you are done validating, you are ready to improve your score by ensuring that your friends with a low follow ratio are kept to a minimum. These are the people that have very few followers. Keep your own follow ratio high so that you’ll have more people following you than the number of people you follow. My preference is to keep my ration as close as possible to 2:1, so for everyone I follow I have two followers of my own. Of course, none of this matters if you aren’t interacting with your friends and followers and saying something worthwhile! To become a social media influencer, ask yourself why should others listen to or follow me? It all comes down to engagement and the quality of your posts or tweets. Post only meaningful content, reply to questions and re-tweet tweets of others. Ask questions, and make sure to respond to posts/questions by influential and famous users that follow you. Also, add relevant hashtags (#), participate in trending topics, create Twitter lists that focus on a specific topic. And above all, have fun and enjoy it.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 14
  18. 18. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 2 Gauging Inflluence The Three “V’s” and How You Can Use Them By: Sudip Chakraborty, President/Founder, Xypress LLC Brianna Harney, Data Analyst, Xypress LLC While analytics – the practice of extracting meaning from data – can seem overwhelming at first, its value is immeasurable when properly used. Analytics can help you identify key influencers among people already in your network, reveal an understanding of the behavior patterns of the groups that these people influence – and allow you to build your marketing plans accordingly. The well-known “three Vs” of big data analytics (volume, velocity and variety) can help you do all this. They provide a highly valuable framework for evaluating, identifying and ranking influencers in the social media world. Volume Start by capturing the volume, or quantity, of information provided by social media users to identify influencers. The magnitude of material generated by someone could be an indicator that this person is someone to whom others will pay heed. For instance, with bloggers, take into consideration specific counts for volume: how many posts they create per a certain time period, the number of words in each of these posts and the amount of comments per post. Similarly, for Twitter, capture total followers and tweets, retweets by followers and the sum of interactions occurring with other followers. Using these numbers to measure volume will provide insight as to which users are covering the most breadth, and could potentially be influencers due to their high volume of posts, tweets, and/or comments.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 15
  19. 19. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 2 Gauging Inflluence Velocity Volume alone, however, is not enough to determine if a user has substantial influence with others. Consider the notion that, for example, Twitter-user A has 500 tweets and user B only 200. But A completed these tweets over six months’ time and B did so in one month. Therefore, A is tweeting at a rate of about 83 tweets per month compared to B’s 200 per month (a 41.5 % higher rate). This example shows how velocity is also critical to your analysis. Velocity is captured using rates of volume-over-time, such as the rate of blog postings or tweets (as described above). By analyzing velocity for specific periods over time (such as monthly over the course of six months or a year), these rates can show whether a user’s volume production is accelerating, constant or decelerating. Acceleration is ideal, though it’s important to keep in mind that acceleration is likely to eventually plateau or even decrease even for the most influential users. Finding users who have accelerated at a constant rate can help you identify ideal influencer candidates, because these consistent users have a high likelihood of gaining followers or commenters steadily over an extended period of time. High velocity means new material is being produced constantly, which can translate into a continuous increase in number of people influenced. Variety This final “V” is different than the previous two in the sense that higher volume and velocity is always good but “more or less” variety is not essentially “good or bad” – that depends on your marketing needs. For example, a potential influencer who covers a wide variety of topics will likely impact a broader range of people – ideal if you are planning to broaden your customer base. A lack of variety, however, could mean the potential influencer is a specialist in a particular area. Even though that person does not cover a wide array of topics,Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 16
  20. 20. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 2 Gauging Inflluence he/she could have extensive knowledge in one field that makes results in a trusted source who influences others very deeply. So, when assessing the variety of potential influencers, keep your objectives in mind to decide whether more or less will be a greater asset to your marketing plan. Verdict Although this is not one of the “Vs” of data analysis, the verdict here is this: to find influencers among people you already know you must analyze the three “Vs” to identify social media users who have a high volume of material, produced at a rather quick velocity and cover either a wide variety of topics or concentrate on a topic of interest to your marketing needs. Once you find those who meet your criteria, use the framework to evaluate and rank the influencers in a way most applicable to your goals. For your objectives, volume (or reaching the highest number of people) may be the key priority. Or, perhaps your goal is to market to a broader customer segment, so variety is your top concern. Regardless of your preference, rate the influencers by what you feel is essential to your marketing campaign. After you reach your “verdict,” you will have pinpointed the influencers among people you know, thus opening up valuable marketing opportunities. creating your perfect blend of influencers A summary of PR Newswire’s Targeting Influencers in the Sea of Social Media video Social media has taken the world of public relations in entirely new directions – far beyond traditional media outreach and into new realms online. The ocean of information and conversation gets deeper and deeper. To navigate this sea of social media communicators need to focus on influence. More specifically, you need to scale your brand and your brand messages to all of the new breeds of influencers who are making waves in social media. Who Are They? Which Ones Will Work Best for Your Brand? Experts talk about the 1-9-90 rule of social media. It’s an important way to think about the big, medium and small fish in the sea of information and influence known as the social sphere.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 17
  21. 21. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 2 Gauging Inflluence The Pros and Cons of Targeting Big, Medium and Small Influencers The big influencers, the big fish – the 1s – are not hard to find. If you’ve been targeting traditional media, you may already be on a first-name basis with some of your biggest influencers as they have moved onto Facebook and Twitter. The social influence scorekeepers have them on their radar. But, they’re harder to engage, because everyone wants a piece of them. And while their reach could be in the millions, that might not get you very far. Studies show that people turn to their real friends, not the biggest influencers, when they are deciding, joining, purchasing – in a word, actually acting on your messages.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 18
  22. 22. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 2 Gauging Inflluence What’s more, the risk of targeting the biggest influencers can be high if they have negative things to say about your brand, yet the potential reward is equally high. The 9s are easier to engage than the biggest fish, and should be more influential in your sphere. Many of the digitally born 9s are deeply knowledgeable about what interests the people in their networks, and their devoted audiences know it. However, the 9s are not always easy to find. Many social media monitoring tools can help you identify them, but a bit of data digging is also required, as you’ll likely uncover a few false positives along the way. The 9s are equally influential in getting their audiences to act, and not act based on their recommendations. But this risk does not necessarily eclipse the reward! Establishing a connection with your 9s can give you access to a powerful group of influencers – and the loyal audiences who follow them. And what about the 90s? These small fish are really hard to identify. After all, we are talking about real friends, and real friends of real friends. They can be time-consuming to engage, and clearly, have a limited reach. Still, small can be very powerful. Consumers like what other consumers have to say, and that could mean a huge opportunity for you.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 19
  23. 23. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 2 Gauging Inflluence To reduce your risk of wasted time, start with the most valuable and easy-to-find 90s – the most active users in your own social sphere. – and make them your superstars. As for cultivating additional 90s out there, being visible is key. By giving these fish food for thought through active, ongoing communication, you can help plant the seeds to grow these relationships and your time investment. The fish in the social media sea are not created equal, but they all have value. In the end, your own communications strategy and objectives will help your formulate the right mix of influencers to target. Your strategy will help you determine how to weigh the potential for quick wins with medium influencers versus the long-term proposition of courting the biggest influencers and how to consider the cost/benefit ratio of pursuing the smallest fish. There are metrics and analytical tools that can help you calculate all this and more. Now, go fish!Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 20
  24. 24. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 3 Engaging Influencers three essential rules for Influencer engagement By: Ruth Fine, President, Social Icing, LLC One of the first social media questions many companies ask is, “What kind of content is appropriate to share on my social media profiles?” To answer this question, you must first understand that one key to the success of any online campaign is to consistently provide information that is relevant, up-to-date and useful to your intended audience. That’s why successful online social media campaigns follow three essential rules captured in these words: dialogue, value and party – as in inclusion of third-party content. Let’s discuss these three elements in detail. 1. Dialogue (vs. Monologue) To be successful in your efforts, remember that communication is a two-way street. To engage influencers, your social media presence should be engaging. Posting tweets, status updates or other “monologue” communications should be in proportion to dialogue actions such as re-tweets, mentions, shares and comments. In other words, make sure each social channel offers multi- dimensional communication. If you spare effort in this area, your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts can end up falling flat and looking spammy – a quality that any online brand manager should seriously avoid. Remember, your social media channels are an extension of your brand: make it count.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 21
  25. 25. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 3 Engaging Influencers To start off on the right foot, consider what kind of information your subscriber wants to know. For instance, if you’re a plastic surgeon, your audience may be interested in makeup and other cosmetic products. In that case, you’ll want to create your content around this topic, eventually branching out to other health and beauty topics. If you’re an accountant, perhaps the latest financial news may be interesting to your subscribers. Once you’ve identified the type of content that makes sense for your subscribers, it’s time to share it. This is the surprisingly easy part. A daily tip or suggestion, a comment on a recent news headline or even a quote of the day can be a great way to get going. Start off small: anywhere from one-to-four daily tweets, status updates or comments is all that it takes to get your social media campaign up and running. 2. Value The concept behind any social media campaign is to provide value for your audience. For example, there must be an incentive for subscribers to follow or like you online. Enter blogging, coupons and specials. Just like any other major campaign, you’ll want to map out an editorial or marketing calendar for your online communication strategy. For instance, if your company sells children’s items, you’ll probably want to pencil in an online special in the months of August and September just in time for back-to-school. Or, if you’re a professional, consider offering a free consultation, coupon or any other kind of special to your subscribers for liking your Facebook page or for following you on Twitter. There is always something you can offer to your audience that adds value. Blog on relevant information that your audience will find useful. Keep current in your industry and let people know what’s happening in your world. Adding your spin or slice of advice to a hot topic in your industry not only creates authority,Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 22
  26. 26. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 3 Engaging Influencers but it adds value to the subscriber who is already interested in what you have to say. And, hosting the blog on your website can also boost your website performance in terms of search engine optimization (SEO). You never know who will discover your blog post and become your latest customer or client. 3. Inclusion of third-party content No subscriber wants to be bombarded with constant commercial messages from your brand – that’s one reason why it’s essential to include third-party content as part of your communication strategy. Third-party content refers to articles, news stories, photos, videos or other multimedia sourced from websites that do not belong to you. For example, sharing a relevant article from the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times – or any news source for that matter – is a great way to include third-party content on your social media platforms. Not only will you retain your existing audience, but your chances of growing your influence – and your audience – also increase significantly. Pepper in an occasional article or video and you’ll create the type of social media profile that subscribers look forward to joining, in addition to upping your influencer engagement. 5 Ways to Build Strong Bonds with Social Media Influencers By: Margot Heiligman, Director of Solution Management, SAP Five years ago, my role at SAP was business influencer marketing. We had a three-pronged approach that worked soundly: 1. IDENTIFY the influencers who are involved in “deals” 2. ENGAGE influencers in engagement models which produce a two-way- street relationship 3. EVERAGE influencers into marketing programs LCopyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 23
  27. 27. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 3 Engaging Influencers This approach is still valid today, however, the opportunity that social media influence brings extends beyond marketing. Today, social media monitoring enables us to identify influencers on a topic, brand or product. It also provides sales, marketing and service professionals ways to segment social engagement into selling, marketing and serving actions, respectively. Sales – Which influencer is the right person to support a prospect’s question in a pre-sales scenario? An example: we had a prospect find us on Twitter and ask if we knew of a reference customer who had the same needs and use of our solution. A customer-influencer was perfectly suited to contribute in this scenario, and we brought him into the conversation. Marketing – An influencer who blogs and promotes content to a wide following may be your best marketing influencer. Customer Service – An influencer who is using your product and monitoring for questions/issues may be the best to advocate and support you in an online community. There are numerous examples of companies who do this very well – such as giffgaff, the UK-based telecommunications company. Giffgaff’s influencers handle nearly 100% of customer questions. We engage with social-impact influencers and look (on a real time basis) at which social channel conversations represent sales opportunities, which constitute marketing content, nurturing, or offers and which represent topics around customer service – such as product use questions or issues. At SAP, we have deployed solutions to enable social selling – including SAP Sales OnDemand – in order to bring collaborative selling to our own internal “sales warriors.” To monitor for influencers and to engage customers who are having conversations about using our solutions, we use SAP Social Customer Engagement OnDemand. We are monitoring the conversations taking place and benchmarking the way social influencers can have an impact. Often, conversations around “finding” social media friendly influencers that business customers or digital customers value segue into deciding which online tools – like Klout or Kred – should be used to measure an influencer’s impact. Individuals such as PR professionals, influencers, customers, prospects, marketers and call center agents all play an influential role – they are creating conversations and seeking thought leadership around your products and services.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 24
  28. 28. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 3 Engaging Influencers So how do you build a lasting engagement with the right social media-friendly business influencers relevant for your business customers today? 1. Participate in the trending topics – Check out Google Trends or HashtagBattle to ensure that your topic has a voice in the social web and that you sit squarely in the center of it with those who hold court there. 2. ersonalize – Ask yourself if the influencer content you are sharing is of P value to your customer. An influencer can be a customer, a social network, an association, a news site and more. If their words are relevant and of value to your customers – share. 3. ngage proactively – Follow the social thought leaders’ tweets and RSS E their blogs; use (at a minimum) Google Alerts or other social media management tools to find relevancy and share insights. 4. Show that you are human – Don’t be afraid to add your initials or name to tweets or social messages to influencers. Acknowledge mistakes and correct them. Pick up the phone if you’ve built enough of a rapport. Follow through. 5. Take the high road – Know that how you engage with influencers and customers will define your reputation. Be trustworthy, and an exemplar of openness. Foster two-way-street relationships with socially engaged influencers. Do your homework, using social tools to identify influencers who cover various segments. Include influencers who are cross-topic and multichannel so that customers can find them. Be sure to understand the strengths of the influencer: will they assist in your sales approach? Will they promote your products, solutions and services of value to their followers? Which influencers like to provide helpful tips, training or answers to inquiries about your products?Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 25
  29. 29. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 3 Engaging Influencers Monitor, listen, moderate and foster engagement. Enable your cadre of social influencers to participate in your social sales, social media marketing and social customer service opportunities. And you’ll be ready to identify, engage and leverage the next key social influencer who speaks to, and benefits, your customers. 10 Strategies for Ultimate Influencer Engagement By: Steph Russell, Online Marketing Strategist, Pulled Having a blog, whether it’s your main site or a complement, is a crucial part of your online marketing to build relationships with your influencers and your customers. In particular, it’s important that you play up your blog to your influencers, who stand to make a big impact for you and spread the word about your content to their loyal listeners. By building a strategy around your blog to encourage and reward your influencer’s engagement beyond basic content, you can begin to reap greater brand recognition and build stronger relationships with your influencers. 10 Actionable Strategies for “Ultimate Influencer Engagement” 1. Blog or Forum Moderators Find the influencers who are most active in your blog comments or forum and invite them to moderate. They’ll help get conversations started. 2. Guest Posts If you know who your influencers are, offer them the chance to guest post. You and your influencer will both walk away with some great exposure and a new relationship.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 26
  30. 30. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 3 Engaging Influencers 3. Private Members or Press Area Establish a private member area within your blog where influencers can be the first to read new content, recent press releases, hear about news before everyone else, look at new products or even vote on the new products they like the most and want to see featured. 4. Hire Them Influencers usually know a good amount about your brand or the industry/category that your brand falls into, so much so that they are capable of making a big impact. In some instances they may know more than you do. These are the influencers that you want to be a part of your team … hire them! 5. Opinions Everyone has an opinion. If you find an influencer who expresses an opinion about your product, acknowledge it on your blog. Even a bad opinion can often be made right by addressing the influencers’ issue. 6. Photo spread What better way to show off how great your product is than by featuring its influencers? Do a photo spread on your blog of influencers who are loyal fans using your product. 7. Product recommenders Use your blog as a means to find, write about and recommend similar products and services in your industry. Put together a team of product recommenders made up of your influencers. 8. Testimonials If you know that an influencer is a user of your product, ask for a testimonial from them. Or better yet, ask everyone to contribute reasons why they love your product and then select a small number of your biggest influencers as feature testimonials on your blog or website.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 27
  31. 31. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 3 Engaging Influencers 9. Blog columns Send a special invite to an influencer and invite them to have their own column on your blog. 10. Host an Event Every one loves a party! Hosting a physical event for your biggest influencers is actually a fabulous way to show your appreciation, showcase new products, take part in seminars and network at the same time. These are only some of the many strategies you could use to build relationships and engage with your top influencers. Above all, the relationship and trust you build with your influencers is what will ultimately keep them talking about your brand. How NOT to Pitch a Social Influencer By Howard Greenstein, President, Harbrooke Group, Inc I’m not really an influencer in my daily life, but I play one on the Internet. As a blogger for over 10 years with a solid following on Twitter and a regular column in a well-respected online site of a business magazine, I reach an audience companies like to target. I’ve also been on the blogger outreach side, trying to make friends and influence people to get coverage for my own clients. While I have your attention and can influence you a little bit, here’s a few rules on how NOT to pitch me and a few of my influential friends. HOW NOT TO PITCH RULE #1: Ignore My Content and Audience I write a column for start-ups. It says so on the column masthead. At least once a day I get a pitch from a company who wants me to cover a large enterpriseCopyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 28
  32. 32. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 3 Engaging Influencers tool, a solution for “SMBs with 100-500 employees,” or a 27-year-old firm. If you can’t be bothered to look at what your outreach target covers and what their audience cares about, your outreach target probably won’t bother to reply. Automated tools and lists are great, and they can really help give you guidance and direction for an outreach target list. But once you’ve gotten that list, go to the URLs, read the content and confirm that you have the right person. I do that for every outreach campaign I work on. Does it shrink the list? Yes. Would I do it any other way? No way. According to Melanie Notkin, founder and president of Savvy Auntie, the lifestyle brand designed for cool aunts, great-aunts, godmothers and all women who love kids, “The most common DOA error a publicist makes is referring to my brand as something mom-related, or pitching why moms will love the product or service. Savvy Auntie is the lifestyle brand designed for the nearly 50 percent of Americans who are not (yet) mothers but love the children in their lives. The fact that the publicist did not care enough to learn what my brand is makes the decision to not spend time caring about his or her client’s brand pretty easy.” By the way, Melanie’s influence creds include being a “Top 100 Most Powerful Woman on Twitter” and at the time of this interview, having over 80,000 Facebook fans. HOW NOT TO PITCH RULE #2: Assume I Will Do What You Ask, The Way You Ask, When You Want It Done Stefanie Michaels, CEO of Adventure Girl Holdings, Inc. (known to her 1.5 million Twitter followers as @AdventureGirl), targets an audience that is all things lifestyle, with a heavy lean on travel. She points out that, “PR people assume that you will automatically tweet, share, write about their clients.” What’s the worst pitch she’s ever received? “I had a company send me a press release with the tweet they want out there (complete with hashtag) in their header, then throughout the content. It’s like begging, a sign of desperation and a total turnoff. We finally have our own voice to use as individuals, so don’t put words in our mouths – let us use the content you send out, and come up with our own way to say it. That is, if we even want to, after a pitch like that.”Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 29
  33. 33. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 3 Engaging Influencers Notkin adds, “Any pitch that is not actually editorial but promotional and expects me as a publisher to do it free of charge is a bad pitch. When those pitches come from billion-dollar businesses, they are among the worst. Why would I spend time promoting a brand’s sweepstakes free of charge? I am a publisher first, editor second. I did not build a highly targeted and influential audience of PANKs® (Professional Aunts No Kids) with discretionary income and time relative to moms, to promote products and services free of charge – especially when there is no editorial connection between the product and my audience. With the exception of toys, I do not assign writers to write content about random products for sale.” HOW NOT TO PITCH RULE #3: Build Influence Not Relationships The best pitches come to me from communications professionals and company leaders who have created relationships with me because they know they’re providing value to my audience – not feeding me stories. They don’t seek to influence as much as to enlighten. The content they pitch relates to the things start-ups need to know to improve. That makes them valuable allies, not influence peddlers. Notkin’s take on this: “Influence is about relationships. Brands are about promise. The two work seamlessly well together. Invest in the equilibrium and the world will go ‘round.” As Michaels notes about the way she communicates online, “Stop ‘seeking to influence’ – just be honest in your thoughts and what you like, and share as if you’re talking to a friend, find your passion and have your own voice. After all, (and thanks to my heroes – the founders of Twitter), we have one, so use it. For companies: be real people, not machines, listen to your consumer, respond and don’t be afraid to misstep, that makes you human.”Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 30
  34. 34. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 3 Engaging Influencers Twitter as a Luxury Marketing Tool to Reach Influencers By: Megan Sterritt, KWE Partners, Principal Director of Account Services With continuous discussions of a sluggish US economy in 2011 and media portrayal of Mexico as an unsafe destination for travelers, Mexico’s tourism industry suffered a blow. The luxury sector was hit especially hard as many consumers found it difficult to justify nonessential travel. After developing a “personalized luxury” marketing concept and a series of mini indulgences, Marquis Los Cabos Resort in Mexico, recipient of the AAA Four Diamond and member of Leading Hotels of the World, and KWE Partners, the resort’s agency of record, needed to successfully launch the campaign, designed to appeal the importance of value to the wealthy. Harnessing the “know, like, trust” of industry social media influencers plays an integral part in launching campaigns and disseminating news to consumers. One of the main objectives of any campaign is to reinforce the resort’s luxury image. This reinforcement is vital to the continued success of a luxury brand. Support for this luxury image can be garnered from partnering with other brands of a similar cachet as well as tapping into individual influencers. Twitter users tend to skew towards educated, upper income individuals, the very groups that luxury brands intend to entice. It is important to target these individuals, and essentially go where customers are. In today’s social-media world, leveraging the current Twitter craze was essential in order to kick-start social media buzz about Marquis Los Cabos’ personalized luxury approach, as well as its new mini-indulgences concept. Another main objective to the team was to increase the number of individuals following Marquis Los Cabos in advance of scheduled Twitter flash sales. Finally, the team needed to focus on shedding a positive light on Mexican luxury tourism, cognizant that a large part of MarquisCopyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 31
  35. 35. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 3 Engaging Influencers Los Cabos’ success relies on the strengthening of Mexico’s reputation as a safe destination among social media influencers in the travel industry. So what did KWE Partners do for their client, Marquis Los Cabos, in order to achieve the aforementioned goals? • Initiated an international ‘Tweet Up’ event for Travelers’ Night In (#TNI) – a fast-paced Tweetchat of travel experts and avid travelers. The community responds to the questions, sharing experiences, ideas and new strategies. • Themed the event as a “Mini-Indulgences” remote #TNI weekend at Marquis Los Cabos, inviting top Twitter influencers with large followings to give the event maximum credibility and create a compelling reason for #TNI participants to be particularly drawn to that week’s #TNI • reated a series of events for influencers to generate more coverage and C highlight the hotel’s different indulgences. Events ranged from private shopping tour of sponsor Luxury Avenue Los Cabos and treatments from the mini spa indulgence menu to a fine leather passport cover from sponsor Hartmann luggage. A sample of the resort’s famed $1,000 Tequilas Premium Clase Azul tequila popsicle with gold flakes, considered the world’s most expensive tequila pop (a KWE “invention”) was delivered during #TNI to maximize impressions • Secured other luxury brands as co-sponsors, to benefit from their halo and contribute to added chat content – Virgin America, Hartmann Luggage, Luxury Avenue Los Cabos • uilt Twitter buzz before and during the #TNI by B »» Encouraged Tweetup participants to tweet about their excitement about visiting the resort before the event »» Encouraged participants to post images of the resort and its amenities before and after the event to keep buzz levels up • ormulated 10 #TNI questions for tweeting travelers around the globe, F including: »» Favorite hotel amenity »» Most impressive hotel serviceCopyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 32
  36. 36. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 3 Engaging Influencers »» antasy travel experiences F • Steered #TNI discussions around the topic that Mexico as a safe and family-friendly vacation destination and Marquis Los Cabos as the premier resort for affordable indulgences • reated industry research/intelligent PR angles for print media after the C Tweetup to generate offline media coverage Overall, the #TNI Tweetup was a great success! During the #TNI Tweetup, over 14 million impressions were cast, corresponding to 1.4 million+ unique impressions, a record-breaking number for the #TNI Tweetup. Close to 4,500 tweets were sent during the 90 minute event. This reinforced Marquis Los Cabos’ luxury brand, and generated positive social media buzz surrounding the resort, as well as successfully launched the resort’s customized luxury marketing program. Capitalizing on Twitter influencers reach, and luxury brands’ cache proved to be an effective way to strengthen Mexico’s reputation as a safe and family-friendly destination. The Conversation is the Platform By: Christy Belden, VP of Media + Marketing, LeapFrog Interactive In the digital space, if a conversation can be had, a social media platform exists. As marketers, we need to be a part of the conversation to help facilitate brand engagement. Capturing where and when these conservations take place is a challenge. Determining a social media platform is a crucial step in developing your social media strategy. Facebook has moved from a college-only platform to one you could almost call “mass (social) media.” This may work for some brands, but the cost of entry into Facebook is getting higher and higher, with a need for moreCopyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 33
  37. 37. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 3 Engaging Influencers resources and content. Yet having only a Facebook presence may not be the right social media strategy for your brand. Social media platforms such as Pinterest and Path are having success among social media users because they offer a different experience than Facebook. Even Twitter, which traditionally has taken a backseat to Facebook, is experiencing more rapid growth of late. What this tells us is that consumers are looking for a multitude of online experiences. Creating a social media strategy around a single platform will likely alienate customers, miss customers or not engage with them in the way they want. Worse, it will do all of the above. A multi-channel social media platform strategy will help create meaningful engagement points with consumers and lead to greater ROI. With the many conversations occurring, assessing the effectiveness of social media platforms at reaching your target audience can direct you to maximize your efforts. In choosing your social media platforms, the following questions will help you determine which are best for your brand. What are the business goals you want to accomplish by using social media? It must be a priority to understand why you are engaging in the social media space. Social media is valued as low cost or even free. However, there are a considerable amount of hours and resources involved in effectively executing a social media strategy. Many companies have chased trending, “hot” social media platforms without a clear understanding of their expectations from the engagement. Thus, when the platform does not perform the channel is deemed unworthy. Understanding the business’ goals for social media will help steer you in determining the right platforms.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 34
  38. 38. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 3 Engaging Influencers Who is your audience and where do they “live” in social media? Understanding who your audience is, and where they are currently engaged online will impact your social media platform selection. If you want to reach Millennials, Twitter may be the platform to use. Women 55+ are the largest growing segment on Facebook, whereas women 18-34 dominate activity on Pinterest. Video sharing platforms such as YouTube, Metacafe or Vimeo are good sources for reaching the ever-elusive male 18-34 audience. LinkedIn is good for reaching B2B. Whatever your target audience, understanding where they are in the social media space will dictate social media platform adoption. What type of content does your audience respond to? Social media allows a plethora of content types to be distributed and consumed by audiences. Content types can vary from a white paper to a blog to a 140-character tweet, or from a picture to an infographic to a video. Understanding the content affinity of your target audiences will help you navigate the social media waters. Which platforms can support your content needs? Upon review of what types of content your audience is engaging with, a review of the capabilities of the platforms is a must. If your audience values video, a platform like Twitter would not be the best option. If you have fans who are heavily invested in the brand and discuss the brand at length, then a forum may be the best option to house those in-depth conversations. Social media platforms cannot be everything to everyone so choose the best one to fit the expected content. What are your resource capabilities? An honest assessment of the skill set and time it will take to execute on your social media platform is important. Some platforms allow you to schedule content. If you are pushing out a significant amount of content, then this may help manage the flow. Other platforms are image-heavy and require photography and creative assets. Writing needs also will vary depending upon the platform. In addition, staff or a third-party vendor should understand the platform and the appropriate waysCopyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 35
  39. 39. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 3 Engaging Influencers to interact with customers on it. For example, it is commonplace to use hashtags on Twitter but not appropriate in Facebook. What is your burden of proof? Some social media platforms have evolved to include proprietary analytics, whereas others do not offer, or have very limited, analytics insight. If your organization is data driven, this may drive which social media platform is adopted. Understanding what the platform can provide ahead of time will go a long way to determine the success of the social media strategy. If you are fortunate and have a big enough staff or outside vendor to assist you, then you have the capabilities to be in the “Big 4 Networks” (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn) and even extend outside into niche platforms. However, companies with limited resources may be forced to choose fewer platforms. Analysis and planning of your needs will lead you down the correct path. These questions should not appear new. They are similar to, if not the same as, the questions traditional media has been asking for many years. Traditional media buyers and planners have had to select from different radio stations, TV outlets and various print publications. It is the same process in selecting social media platforms. We must tackle social media with the same due diligence we apply to traditional media. A social media platform exists for every audience. A true analysis, using the criteria above, will help you determine your needs and allow you to make the best decision for your business.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 36
  40. 40. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 4 Turning Influence Into Brand Advocacy How to Make an Influencer Want to Sing Your Tune By Anne-Marie Kovacs, Principal, BOOMbox Network Here’s the must-ask question if you are going to work – successfully – with influential bloggers: “What’s in it for the Influencer?” Bloggers, once seen as media pioneers, vocal consumers, freelancers and experimenters are now media darlings, valuable influencers and thought leaders. But even with their new position as “influencers,” bloggers (unlike traditionally paid journalists) don’t have a research team or other infrastructure to support them. And, until they get to the magic page view volumes that generate advertising revenue, most are not paid for the writing that earned them their influence and loyal followership. They depend on their own ingenuity, time, objectivity, opinions and passions to get a story published. That is what creates the authenticity their readers love and trust. This is the environment that a top brand wants to be a part of. My Recommendations for Engaging with Such Influential Bloggers Make it personal: You’ve read a lot about this already. Ironically, even in the age of Twitter and Tumblr, you want to go the old-fashioned route. It’s about relationship building. This means, no more generic blanket emails. It means doing your homework to know who you are talking to and why. It means picking up the phone or setting up a meeting and talking live. Unless you care enough to take the time to reach out to these influencers directly and in a personal manner, why should they care to talk about your brand?Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 37
  41. 41. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 4 Turning Influence Into Brand Advocacy Make it worth their time – monetize the relationship: Offer paid compensation. Standard rates now range from $25 to $150 per blog post. The most valuable bloggers will not accept anything below $100. Anything less is not worth the time, research and care it takes to compose a quality, relevant and appropriate blog post. (Note on samples: That “room freshener” sample is research material, not compensation! Unless the product or service has a high retail price point ($150 and above), consider free samples as perks at best.) Make them feel privileged: Create opportunities for your selected influencers to be the first to know – about new products, new features, new anything! Consider VIP-type events. These can be a very successful way to introduce influencers to your brand AND provide them with a meaningful experience, a unique brand story to tell and remember. Make it long-term: Take the time to build the relationship and maintain it on a long-term basis. If this influencer was important enough for that one post you needed, you’ll want to maintain that relationship for all your future updates, news and launches. Make it easy: That means providing as much background information as possible to save influencers hours of research and ensuring that they will have the correct info and data. Make it easy to read, easy to find and relevant. Make it reciprocal: You want influencers to promote something of yours? They’re in business, too. How can you help promote them, help them build their network and business reputation? That is mutual value and it provides more incentive for influencers to want to work with you. But, you must first understand their professional goals. Consider your best influencers as spokespersons or ambassadors. Make them your eyes and ears: Influencers have their ears to the ground and their fingers on the pulse of their own areas of specialty. You’re paying manyCopyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 38
  42. 42. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 4 Turning Influence Into Brand Advocacy thousands of dollars to research your customers, so throwing a few questions to your ambassadors is a really inexpensive way to get information and insight. Hire them to collaborate on market research or in developing customer-facing projects or events. We are in a communications era where messages spread by influencers hold a resonance and credibility that traditional advertising does not. And, depending on the channel, these messages will have long tails and a long shelf life. In fact, a blog post lovingly dedicated to your brand or product may have a perennial online presence. With the simple steps mentioned above, you can create goodwill and encourage your chosen influencers to be enthusiastic and eager to sing your brand’s praises. Turning Influencers Into Your Brand’s Voice By: Tom Bishop, Director of Marketing and Communications, KnowledgeVision Systems, Inc. After several months of experimenting with social media and learning the best practices, you’re finally doing everything right on your brand’s social pages. You’re posting regular updates and videos, creating conversations and gaining followers. Your audience is full of influential people who share your posts and help your social presence expand. You’re a social leader, the kind we’re all trying to emulate. Congratulations! You’re ready for the next step: driving revenue. Unfortunately, this is the step where most brands stumble. The problem at this stage goes beyond the fact that social media is different than every other trackable marketing activity you can pursue. It’s that the difference is both subtle and profound and, therefore, difficult to grasp and implement. In social media, natural behavior is paramount. This changes everything about your marketing approach. Let me break it down this way:Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 39
  43. 43. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 4 Turning Influence Into Brand Advocacy • With most branding avenues, you are trying to use an activity to drive a specific behavior. • With social media, you use natural behavior to drive buying activity. Let’s say you sell backpacks. When I buy a backpack, I actively search, study and explore the options available to me, using whatever resources I can find. Most of those resources are created by the brands themselves, and they are designed to funnel my research activity toward a purchase by creating a specific path that ends at their shopping cart. But on a social platform, where I have been talking about backpacks with others, I might receive a shared link from a friend who is a fan of your brand. It is my choice whether to check out the link. In this case you are not driving my friend’s behavior or mine; you are offering a resource (the link my friend is sharing) that meets the needs of our current natural behavior. So my friend is your influencer, and what you’re trying to do is turn his natural sharing behavior into my activity path. Thus the first profound difference in social media is that influencers are not necessarily the targeted customers. Instead of trying to sell, you’re trying to lower the threshold and sweeten the incentive for my friend to share your link with me. Since you’re doing everything right, you already know my friend is an influencer and you now know that he’s shared a link with me. How can you encourage him to keep influencing, and me to convert to a customer? Let’s Establish a Few Ground Rules 1. The influencer is not necessarily the customer. This means you must appeal to the differing needs of two people, not just one. 2. It is easier to keep an existing customer than gain a new one. This means my friend may need less of an incentive than I will.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 40
  44. 44. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 4 Turning Influence Into Brand Advocacy 3. On a social platform, I’m not actively seeking to buy, but I am following up on my friend’s share because it’s in the moment. 4. Your goal is not to make a sale today, it’s to make me an influencer. That’s right, the goal on a social network is to attract me to your brand through my influencers. It is widely believed that the reason display advertisements on social platforms don’t work very well is that the behavior is different: shopping is active, while social networking is passive. As a brand, you’re best approach is to get noticed by me, by appealing to my friends for a little help. Key Ways to Use Natural Social Behavior to Drive Activity Gamification Rewards Game rewards are not about discounts or giveaways; they appeal to a user’s interest in raising his own credibility. Influencers are influencers because they like to be needed, so give my friend points or let him unlock levels the more he shares your posts. You can highlight people who reach certain levels on your own page. You can share their photos, posts and comments. They can unlock and post icons that indicate they have expert knowledge of your product. Team Programs Unlike “Refer-A-Friend” campaigns, where you reward influencers who send you names you will manage in a central database, a team system lets your influencers manage their own referrals. Social media is all about giving the users control, so encouraging them to build and lead a team is perfect for social platforms. Many charity organizations manage their fundraising events this way, and if you think about it, they are at the forefront of using influential supporters to generate interest using the team model.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 41
  45. 45. eBook The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Influencer Engagement Chapter 4 Turning Influence Into Brand Advocacy Exclusive Memberships Enable certain people to become part of exclusive programs, where you use email to send them updates about your company, pre-release software, advance promotions and event passes. Communications to these people are not about discounts, since the primary draw is how good it feels to be an influencer. The goal is to invite them to get their friends into the member group so they can become insiders too. Discount Programs Stay away. I mean it. Discounts are great for shoppers who have actively searched and are nearing the end of the sale process, but need a nudge to click “Confirm Purchase.” With social media, you are spreading the word about the value of your brand and inviting people to be associated with it. That brand association is meant to last; discounts are best for driving a single sale, not a long-term relationship. Brand Advocates (a.k.a. Rock Stars) This kind of program is for very special people who are influential beyond the realm of social media. These are people who regularly blog, speak at events and conferences and entertain. The model here is that you are sponsoring them in return for touting your brand in the popular venues they operate in. For sponsored advocates, it often means giving them free or deeply discounted products and services. Above, I mentioned staying away from discounts – and I still mean it. So these should be people who are already deeply committed fans of your brand, and who meet a certain threshold of popularity. They are the people everyone in your industry has heard of and respects. The guiding principle behind all of the above is that the purpose of influencers is to bring more people to your brand, and the point of making people influencers is to raise the likelihood of a sale when the opportunity arises. Who is more likely to buy from you when they decide to actively make a purchase? Those who haveCopyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 42