How to use influencers

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When you’re a startup you have to think of creative ways to promote your brand and social media is a great tool for this. Building a following can be challenging, but using the influence of others can bring a boost to your channels!

Influencers are people who have power over an audience, who listen to what they have to say --usually on social media.

Getting an influencer to endorse a product usually costs money, but influencers come in all shapes, sizes and follower numbers.

Today, we'll take you through a few ways to connect with them to build a relationship and get more followers from engagement. If people see that someone of power or influence has endorsed you for whatever you’re doing, chances are they’re more likely to follow you. But before you know how to use influencers, you need to know who to pick.

1. Identify

First figure out which influencers are relevant to you, and not the ones that you like the most or who have the biggest following (although this can help). If your business focuses on travel, then influencers relevant to you might be senior social media managers at Airbnb, Tripadvisor, Expedia or other similar travel agencies. Remember to focus. You might enjoy looking at Ed Sheeran’s Instagram but targeting him as an influencer for your business might be completely irrelevant.

Just as you would research journalists who can write about you, research influencers who should know you.

2. Organise

Create a list and think what you want from your targeted influencers and what you can give that will interest them. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking on your own terms but it's important to always be empathetic. Think first what value you can provide, then dive in. Additionally, organise your profile, make it look slick and make it stand out from other accounts. You want your branding to be memorable, but not annoying or invasive.

Your research will help you to decide what the best approach may be to engage with this person.

3. Engage

It’s now time for contact. The two main ways to do this are through the main social media channels and email. DM them, ask them questions, flatter them, express gratitude, and whatever you do, always provide something of interest. Tell your story where possible (but don't send swathes of text!) and highlight where your two brands run complimentary. Show them the opportunity.

Do this by researching what their interests are beforehand and then making the effort to send content that is personalised to them. For example, if you work in the sleep tech space and want to engage Arianna Huffington, which tweet is likely to stimulate a response?

“Thank you so much @ariannahuff for all your research on the importance of sleep, it helped my business so much”

Or

“Love your work on sleep @ariannahuff, what are your thoughts on smart beds and sleep tracking technology? Are they worth the cost?”

The difference doesn’t seem great, but it is. For the first tweet, you have somewhat mentioned the influencer’s interest but the second tweet is much more inviting for a response. Not only are you asking a question, but you’ve taken the time to understand the space this influencer is in and provided a more personalised tweet, increasing the incentive for a reply. This is the mindset you need to maximise engagement.

4. Build a relationship

Remember the 3Rs. Relationships are built through Rapport and the Right intentions. It would be unwise to engage an influencer just once. By developing a relationship you can exchange value in the longer term.

You do this by staying in contact and providing the other person with something that is valuable to them, which could be anything ranging from a certain service to a funny message exchange on Twitter. This is the process of building rapport and will help strengthen the relationship.

5. Measure your results

It’s great to engage influencers and foster mutually beneficial relationships, but this needs to have an impact on your business. So, if you do get engagement from an influencer, look at the statistics. If sales are going up, ask yourself: is this due to the influencer or some other correlation? The point is, always be savvy and results-driven. If it works, invest!

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* This post was originally published in our newsletter The Communications Workshop. Sign up to get more free tips on communications and marketing here!