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How to Pitch Social Influencers

Its 2016 (Almost) and thankfully you dont have to convince your boss that social media is a good idea. You now have a different, more exciting challenge.

Why should your company or agency use social influencers and native content in your PR strategy?

Changing Habits

TV viewerships is down 17 percent among millennials (Nielsen). However, they are not viewing less content. They are migrating to different sources. They are moving to YouTube and Instagram. They are asking someone to come over to Netflix and chill.

Changing media habits coupled with massive pushes in ad blocking, including iOS9 (TechCrunch), are increasing the importance of organic content and native advertising. It’s simple. Millennials know when they are being pitched and teens are identifying more with top YouTubers than conventional celebrities (Variety).

Its why I often say that you dont need LeBron James to sell sneakers anymore. The 20 most influential sneakerheads on Instagram will drive those purchases, at a fraction of the cost.

Brands, recognizing this shift in popularity, are including stars from YouTube, Vine and Instagram in their television commercials. Great, but the market they are trying to reach prefers to view that content on their phone or tablet – not TV.

That is why this is so exciting for PR. Organic content is PR. Consumer habits and generational preferences are pushing toward an increased use of PR over advertising.

Sure, that is always the great debate but in order to create organic content with influencers you need to create a network, leverage relationships and shape the conversation about a brand. That sounds a lot more like PR.

Want to engage your audience’s top influencers? Get Cision’s free white paper now!

Success Stories

This isnt unproven either. New companies are making millions from this strategy. In fact, the speedboats seem to be outmaneuvering the yachts right now.

Vapejoose, leveraging large communities on Facebook and Instagram, went from $0 to over $1 million in less than a year. Thats the kind of story you hear on Shark Tank. But they didnt need a shark, only the right people posting about the #VapeLife on Instagram.

Stephen Knight, Vapejooses CEO says, Social media has been our greatest form of marketing. By involving the community and building a strong user following we have been able to take our business from $1,000 a month to over $100,000 a month in under a year without traditional advertising.

Due, an online invoicing company, doubles their user base every two months. Ive got a very strong social following that drives on average 500-1000 people to my business a day,” says CEO John Rampton. “We typically convert around 3 percent of those.

Most use social influencers to drive attention immediately to their product. Rampton uses it differently than most.

We use influencers to drive engagement and followers to our own social profiles (both company and to people in the company) and build those up,” he says. “This isnt just a huge influx of customers for a day or two but a large amount of following that will stay with us forever.

Finding the Right Influencers

The big stars on any social network are obvious. They are already talking with big brands and monetizing their brand influence. They are making seven figures and are still a bargain. But you dont necessarily need them to create a successful influencer campaign.

Get specific. Get targeted. Find the second and third tier influencers that relate best to your product or service. Cision has created enhanced offerings specifically for finding the right influencers.

You dont need someone with 15 million followers. The influencers with 200,000 to 500,000 engaged followers are perfect. Find 10, 20, 50 of them. Spread out your strategy, diversify. Create a community of influencers that you can use to distribute content at any time.

Connect with influencers directly on their channel. Dont be shy. If you are a recognized brand, they will respond. If not, comment on a piece of their content to start the relationship. Or, connect with another influencer you know better to initiate the relationship.

The goals of influencers are different than a columnist. An influencer will be looking for small compensation or increased exposure. Provide value there.

CAUTION: Dont ask them to spread the word about you so they can try your app for free. Thats not enough value for them. Get creative and dont be afraid to pay. The ROI on sponsored organic content is incredible.

Viral content occurs when the right content is shared at the right time by the right people. Create an influencer content network and youll always have the right people posting at the right time. Then you are always just good content away from getting the results you want.

Influencer Marketing - How to pitch social influencers

About Jeff Barrett

Jeff Barrett is 2015’s Best Business Blogger (Shorty Awards), one of the 50 most influential people on social media (Forbes), the #1 Ad Executive on Twitter (Business Insider) and dances like Drake. Find him on Twitter @BarrettAll.

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