December 22, 2015 / by Katie Gaab

Ninety-two percent of consumers trust recommendations from other people, but only 35 percent of brands have a mature influencer program in place to help sway purchasing decisions through social media.

Influencers aid brands in building customer satisfaction and loyalty, expanding reach by targeting new audiences and building credibility on social media. And brands who have carved out a slice of their marketing budget for influencers have seen an average ROI of $6.50 per dollar spent.

Reaping these benefits requires a detailed strategy for selecting the right person to get the word out about your brand. Follow these five steps to create your influencer marketing program:

1. Build a List

Brands should aim for influencers who encompass three qualities: relevance, reach and resonance.

First, look for influencers who work in the same industry (and perhaps location, too). A beauty blogger based in Abu Dhabi likely won’t impact a San Francisco-based cosmetics company if they’re focused on growing reach in California.

Decide if you’re going for breadth or depth. Do you want someone with thousands of followers, or a strong voice in a powerful niche?

Aim for an influencer whose voice is amplified by social. Does the vlogger you’re interested in working with see a ton of shares after posting new content? If not, keep looking!

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2. Vet Your Options

Once you’ve identified a number of potential influencers, think about your current initiatives and which platforms you want to focus on.

Then, turn to your media database to see how your options are measuring up to your expectations in real time.

Next, narrow down your list. Who could work now and who may be good options in the future?

3. Reach Out


Use a media database like Cision’s, which provides a 360-degree view of influencers, including pitching tips, social demographics and more. Set up metrics to determine down the line if your goals are being met.

When you send a social signal, document it. Keep track of who is making contact with an influencer, how and when.

Only make the ask once you have established rapport. Be specific when you approach an influencer with an offer to work with your brand — outline goals and expectations — but don’t micromanage the entire process.

4. Maintain Contact

Like sales leads, influencers need to be nurtured.

Continue conversations once you’ve gotten an influencer on board to show you still care. Doing so will ensure loyalty and advocacy. Plus, you’ll prove your original request was genuine, and not an act.

Request honest feedback on the program, or ask him or her to be a beta tester on a new product. By involving an influencer in more opportunities, you’ll see an increase in trust and build a more long-term relationship.

5. Reassess The Relationship

Use the data taken from your outreach program to determine if your original goals were met. Did you see an increase in followers? Did your brand increase positive sentiment since it started working with an influencer?

Also, take into account any improvements an influencer may have suggested your brand make before starting a new initiative.

If your influencer temporarily dropped off the grid, or had a major life change, take those points into consideration. Not all relationships last forever, so if an influencer is no longer reaching the masses like before, it may be time to approach the next one on your list.

Influencer Marketing - How to pitch social influencers

Images: Harsha K Randrew and hobbes (Creative Commons)


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About Katie Gaab

Katie Gaab is a content marketing specialist for Cision. Previously the senior editor for Help A Reporter Out (HARO), she enjoys connecting audiences to exciting, new content. She's a dancer, avid concert-goer, foreign language nerd and book worm. Find her on Twitter @kathryngaab.