In this presentation, Greg Swan (VP of Digital Strategy at Weber Shandwick) and I talk about influencer outreach and 10 specific best practices and tips for brands looking to integrate this tactic into their marketing efforts.
GREGArik is the principal of ACH Communications, a firm devoted to driving digital relevance for brand big and small online.Arik is also a nationally recognized PR/social media blogger at Communications Conversations. His content is syndicated on sites such as PR Daily, Ragan.com, MinnPost and Social Media Examiner.Arik is also the co-founder of Help a PR Pro Out (HAPPO) and the Minnesota Blogger Conference and leads the Social Media Business Summit at BlogWorld each year. He’s also a frequent speaker at events and colleges around Minneapolis/St. Paul.
ARIKGreg is VP of Digital Strategy at WeberShandwick, leads social media strategy for the U.S. Army account and has worked on State Farm, Coca-Cola and Chevrolet.Started a group for Christians and churches interested in social media called Social Media ShepherdsStarted music blog Perfect Porridge more than 7 years ago, developed into a nationally following, receiving 1,000 pitches/week
GREGThrough technology, the world has gotten smaller and more connected. We’ve also discovered that people, cultures and tastes are more different than we ever imagined. It’s about being human, being creative and pushing the envelope. Today’s marketing is about relationships.
ARIK:Relationships matter more than ever—with customers, analysts, employees, stockholders and yes, influencersWe’re closer to these constituencies than ever before—we have the ability to talk with them, get real-time feedback and collaborate with them on a daily basis—no matter where they are in the world.
GREG:Historically, broad reach and influencers are leaders in community, politicians, etc. Social revolution has given the common man the ability to influence a wide network. Now we can laser target influencers through social. Greg is a good example of this. Not official music journalist but is being treated as an influencer by marketing. Rather than focus on one newspaper, TV news program or influencer, we need to think longterm. And measurement has evolved (there’s a panel about that down the hallway)Long tail – focus on sub-tier individuals/media outlets to reach more people than one broad outreach to mass media. Reach out to the right people rather than all the people. B&C List rather than just the A List.We also measure marketing in a completely different way. Nielsen media impression to click throughs to Retweets and FB likes. We’re achieving a higher level of measurement. There’s a panel on that going on down the hallway right now.
ARIKIt may seem like conservative business has no reason to get in bed with crazy online influencers, but it can be done!
ARIK: Everyone is an influencer on certain things but everyone is not an influencer on everything. The larger the audience doesn’t necessarily equal a larger influence.Offline+online, not offline OR onlinePeople can influence behaviors/perceptions in different ways online—and on different platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. So influencer does not equal bloggerWhat does an influencer look like?
GREG: If I have a specific product, service, message to share, how do I determine influencers for my campaign?Is it measurable?Who do we know I could already tap? That over-active commenter on FB? The customer who RT’s every one of our promotional tweets? The glowing testimonial?Tools are good but shouldn’t dictate strategy
GREG:Once you’ve identified a potential influencer…Just as you would scope out a potential soulmate, consider how you approach them.Be human.Introductory outreach (e-mail/phone/in-person)
ARIK:First step: Assessment/AuditLook carefully at some key specificsThink about if/how they align with your brandWhat’s their general tone? Biting or more supportive? How does it align with your core values/beliefs?Reach, of courseAdd it all up…
GREG:As you think about your approach to influencers, it’s important to weigh reach, results and ultimate value. For example, you could send generic invitations or pitches en masse to garner results, but at what level of impact?
ARIK*Most of you will use the free tools—some exclusively*My favories: Blogrolls*Klout—not the answer, but a definite ingredient* BlogDash/GroupHigh good paid alternativesGREG: YouCast is a cool community tool that lets you track which influencers are using your assets in their posts
GREGIn this emerging world, there is an increasingly blurred line between what’s ethical, legal and what’s too new to even know.
GREG – Taken straight from FTC.gov.
ARIK:Good rule of thumb: What would Grand-ma-ma think?
ARIK:Take a look at each corner: Which is the ideal state?Which is your brand most comfortable with?Plenty of paid posts out there—are they credible? Does it matter?Again, what’s the ideal state?
Arik and Greg’s Top 10 Tips for Engaging with Influencers
GREG:First up: Personalize your program. Personalize your approach.
GREG:The no-BCC-putting-everyone’s address in the To: line. Seriously? How am I supposed to feel special and connected here?The reason you want to engage with an influencer is because of their special reach.
ARIK2 paragraphsLed with me, not herMentioned one of my posts by nameConnected that to her post idea. Short and sweet!
GREGAlthough some may see this as Twitter spam, I think it’s a great way to get my attention given the state of my e-mail inbox.
GREGRemember that long tail, long-burn approach
GREG:The U.S. Army has a program called Inspire Stories where social media influencers receive unfettered access to ask any questions, live Tweet and update social networks from the ground, take video or photographs to best capture their experience, and write about their immersion and what they learned. Since the program’s inception in 2010, Inspire Stories has produced significant results by facilitating 11 activations, resulting in multiple positive blog posts that have reached more than 10 million people.
ARIKFor HAPPO instead of focusing on “A listers” for PR bloggers like Shankman and Solis, we reached out to more of the mushy middle—people we thought would have more time and interest in REALLY being engaged as HAPPO champs
ARIKAs part of one client campaign, we pitched Sarah Evans for a product review (paid). She loved the product and even wound up meeting the brand team at a local event. But, one thing we’ve always had in mind with her was her abilty to serve as a credible media-trained spokesperson for the brand.
GREGThis student from Macalester asked if I’d like to help sponsor/promote an event series in Saint Paul. The value to me was very attractive.
ARIKExample of a ask that wasn’t compelling—asking me to “spread the word” about a conference I’d have to spend 2000 to attend. Out of state. On an airplane. Away from my family. You get the idea.
ARIKMentioned a specific article in the first line.Provided context on how that article helped her (proof she actually read it)Bonus points: Mentions her frequent comments on my blog
GREGActually not a bad pitch. Has some background, some pull quotes, a media page with download link and an mp3 I can post. But, they sent me my own pull quote
ARIKMetro Dentalcare Twice a Day campaign in 2010 and 2011Pitched local blogger Missy BerggrenEnded up collaborating with her on the campaign—helped provide ideas on the pitch/campaign, how it would resonate with other mommy bloggers, etc.
GREG:Here’s one where a musician knew I’d written about Creed scaring away wolves and wrote up his 7 ways a nickelback CD could help you survive a plane crash.
Raise your hand if you like Nickelback. (plays song to prove they’re horrible)
Anyway, I took this musician’s pitch, edited it up a bit and posted it with full attribution
And below the fold, I even posted one of his songs, a video to his kickstarter page where he is raising money for his debut album and suggested readers give money. This was my highest read post last month.
GREGOnce you’ve got an influencer on-board, keep them engaged. For Army, we frequently send updates to our influencers or see them at conferences and just say hello or ask to grab dinner.
GREGHere’s an example from last week where I posted about a band, and the publicist immediately replied back about another band offering tickets and to post a track.
GREG: So I just had to try a (legal) version of this.
Will read underlined portions and point out the Sponsored bug. Guess how much I got paid for this?
ARIK:All these tips are great, but if you don’t measure, evaluate and adjust you’ll never move forwardLearn from your victories—and, more importantly, your mistakes
GREG: In summary, as the marketing landscape continues to change brands and influencers will surely continue to walk hand in hand. As long as marketers remember to 1) Be Human and 2) Treat influencers as they would like to treated, success is only a blog post away.
Blogs, Bribes and Blasphemy: 10 best practices for Influencer Outreach
Blogs, Bribes and Blasphemy: Engaging Influencers in a Changing WorldOctober 12, 2011@arikhanson | @gregswan<br />
Who is an Influencer?<br />Everyone – in certain circles<br />Offline vs. Online<br />“Influencer” does not equal “Blogger”<br />Attributes:<br />Has an opinion – that people respect<br />Can impact perception, sales, behavior<br />Can spark/quell a crisis<br />
Choosing Your Influencer<br />How can an influencer help me achieve my business/marketing objective?<br />Is my brand prepared to hear/address genuine criticism?<br />Who is already an advocate for my brand?<br />Tools or lists should not drive thought process<br />
Road to Romance<br />Flirting<br />Dating Period<br />First Date<br />Second Date<br />First Base…<br />Man-to-man talk with Dad<br />(background check)<br />
Personality > Looks<br />Assessment: <br />Online and offline audit<br />Do they care about our brand?<br />Tone (snarky/salesy)<br />Potential reach (friends/fans/followers)<br />Value: <br />For Influencer<br />For Brand<br />
Is this Legal? Is this Ethical?<br />(flickr CC: sully_aka__wstera2)<br />
Is this Legal?<br />Bloggerswho make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.<br />“Bloggers or other word-of-mouth marketers”<br />‘Material Connections’ (payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. <br />Receiving cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement.<br />FTC.gov<br />(note: Greg and Arik are not legal counsel)<br />
Influencer Engagement Tips<br />Personalize/individualize<br />Be brief. Very brief.<br />
2. Be Brief. Be Very Brief<br />Hi Arik,For starters, you are one of my favorite PR bloggers, and I especially love all your recent posts about Instagram, including how brands can use it as well as 17 amateur and brand Instagrammers (to name a couple of posts).As a fellow wannabe photog, I also am slightly obsessed with Instagram. I have an idea for a guest post related to Instagram, and it's fast growth rate (to the tune of 150 million photos or 15/per second) The idea is the five reasons why I think Instagram will replace Flickr in the near future.I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Cheers!<br />
Influencer Engagement Tips<br />Personalize/individualize<br />Be brief. Very brief.<br />Don't solely focus on the "A listers"<br />
Larry Henry @ Army 10th Anniversary NHRA Race<br />Eric Jude Cortes @Army Reserve <br />Pre-Deployment Training<br />Medical Student @ American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress<br />Foodie Matt Armendariz <br />@ Army’s Culinary Arts Competition <br />Bloggers @ BlogWorld & New Media Expo<br />David Banks @ Combat Situations Unit<br />Lee Oddenjumps<br />with the Army Golden Knights<br />@CK_Lunchbox Goes to Airborne School<br />Medgadget @ Brooke Army Medical Center<br />Military Spouse Blogger<br />@ Army Commander’s <br />Conference<br />@bookieboo Does Basic Training at Fort Benning<br />26<br />
Influencer Engagement Tips<br />Personalize/individualize<br />Be brief. Very brief.<br />Don't solely focus on the "A listers“<br />Don't forget about offline activities<br />
4. Don’t forget about offline activities<br />
Influencer Engagement Tips<br />Personalize/individualize<br />Be brief. Very brief.<br />Don't solely focus on the “A listers”<br />Don't forget about offline activities<br />Make your ask compelling<br />
5. Make your ask compelling<br />“Help us out with publicity in exchange for… branding, press release, free tickets…”<br />
5. Make your ask compelling<br />Hi Arik,<br />As your blog was named as one of PRWeek’s “required reading,” we believe that your readers will be interested in knowing about the upcoming NEXT conference in November. <br />Taking place on Tuesday, November 9 in New York City, the conference features the individuals, organizations and case studies leading the charge in the new age of digital and interactive media, through a mixture of keynote addresses, speaker panels and practical workshops. Some of our speakers include: Michael Roth, chairman and CEO, Interpublic group; Ray Day, VP of communications, Ford Motor Company; Julie Hamp, SVP and CCO, PepsiCo; Ray Kerins, VP, worldwide communications; head of global corporate media relations, Pfizer; and Bethany Sherman, CCO, Dow Jones & Company.<br />We hope that you can help us by spreading the word about the conference to your readers as this will be an event that shouldn’t be missed. For more information and to register, please visit prweekus.com/NEXT2010. Please let me know if this will be a possibility.<br />
Influencer Engagement Tips<br />Personalize/individualize<br />Be brief. Very brief.<br />Don't solely focus on the “A listers”<br />Don't forget about offline activities<br />Make your ask compelling<br />Lead with them - not you<br />
6. Lead with them - not you<br />Hi Arik!<br />Liz Belilovskaya here. I’ve been enjoying reading your articles, especially “HAPPO HOUR: The First-Ever Face-To-Face Happo”--very insightful and interesting. Being that I just started working for a start-up company in NYC and am absorbed in learning about public relations, marketing and interesting consumer incentives, the post was rather helpful. You may have seen some of my comments from time to time. <br />
Influencer Engagement Tips<br />Personalize/individualize<br />Be brief. Very brief.<br />Don't solely focus on the “A listers”<br />Don't forget about offline activities<br />Make your ask compelling<br />Lead with them - not you<br />Collaborate - don't preach<br />
Influencer Engagement Tips<br />Personalize/individualize<br />Be brief. Very brief.<br />Don't solely focus on the “A listers”<br />Don't forget about offline activities<br />Make your ask compelling<br />Lead with them - not you<br />Collaborate - don't preach<br />Always have a follow-up ask<br />
8. Always have a follow-up ask<br />After confirming coverage: ALSO, want to give away tickets? Share a track with readers?<br />
Influencer Engagement Tips<br />Personalize/individualize<br />Be brief. Very brief.<br />Don't solely focus on the “A listers”<br />Don't forget about offline activities<br />Make your ask compelling<br />Lead with them - not you<br />Collaborate - don't preach<br />Always have a follow-up ask<br />Disclose paid relationships<br />
Influencer Engagement Tips<br />Personalize/individualize<br />Be brief. Very brief.<br />Don't solely focus on the “A listers”<br />Don't forget about offline activities<br />Make your ask compelling<br />Lead with them - not you<br />Collaborate - don't preach<br />Always have a follow-up ask<br />Disclose paid relationships<br />Measure, Evaluate, Adjust<br />
In summary<br />Influencer engagement <br />(flickr CC: thompsonchan)<br />