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How To Connect With Influencers: Q&A With Stacey Miller and Natalia Dykyj

Digital stars are now even more popular than mainstream celebrities – even Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars, according to a recent survey from Variety.

Influence is shifting, and your audience is looking to social media influencers to shape their opinions. If you aren’t partnering with those influencers, you’ll miss out on major opportunities to boost brand awareness and connect with your audience.

At their “Team Up With Social Media Influencers” webinar on Wednesday, April 20 at 2 p.m. ET, Cision’s Stacey Miller and Natalia Dykyj will delve into the best ways to connect with influencers to better reach and engage your audience.

Here, the pair gives a sneak peek at what’s in store for the webinar and answers a few questions about influencer marketing:

Want more tips on influencer marketing? Register for the free webinar today!

What are the main benefits of aligning your brand with influencers?

There are three main benefits of aligning your brand with influencers.

1. Increased reach. While traditional media is still important and can shape your brand’s story, because of the permeation of the web and social media, anyone with a voice can influence your brand and its buyers. So now instead of a select group of people that might shape conversation, that group has exploded to a much larger size.

2. More credibility. We see it every year via the Edelman Trust Barometer and the Word of Mouth Marketing Association: people trust people like themselves. And that won’t ever change. Hearing recommendations and conversations from peers rather than brands increases trust, credibility and the likelihood of purchase.

3. Influencer marketing is an evolved marketing and communication strategy that helps your brand cut through the noise. My good friend Mark Schaefer calls it “infobesity,” that is we are bombarded with so many branded messages and advertisements that our audiences are paying less and less attention. To help those messages break through, nurture and rely on trusted peers and recommendations through influencer marketing.

How do you know which influencers to target? What makes one influencer a better match for your brand over another?

Target-Influencer

Target influencers based on a couple of factors: how deep their involvement is in your industry (are they a broadcaster of news, a commentator or a conversationalist?), how loyal and dedicated their following is (notice I didn’t jump immediately to how many followers they have, because that’s not always an indicator of influence), how often they’re talking about topics that are related to your brand/industry and how often they influence conversation and engagement from their networks. Bonus points if they are an original content creator.

Pro tip: Target influencers who aren’t involved with other brands already. They’ll dedicate more time to you if you engage with them and harness the opportunity more than another influencer who may have multiple brands vying for their attention. Look for the influencers flying under the radar.

Do you recommend targeting a large group of influencers or only focusing on a few key contacts?

I recommend focusing on a few key contacts who match the criteria above, especially if you’re just getting started in an influencer relations program. Start with a small pilot group, and figure out an engagement schedule that works for your goals.

Some brands engage daily, some weekly, some monthly. Start small at first to figure out what you can handle before you expand the program.

What is the best way to reach out to and engage influencers? How can you increase the likelihood that they will respond?

Phone-Influencers

You can reach out to engage with influencers in a variety of ways. The common thread is to always foster that one-to-one connection. Phone calls, emails and in-person meetings are great. If you’re traveling or going to a conference and have influencers in that city, ask them to meet you.

One way to connect with influencers no matter where you are is via social media. Think of a traditional media relations strategy through social, and transfer those components to influencer marketing. Engage with them daily with mentions, comments, shares or likes. Add to the conversation or ask them questions. Invite them to a Twitterchat or highlight them on your social media accounts. Doing this on a consistent basis will increase the likelihood they will respond.

Pro tip: Flattery goes a long way. People love being recognized and feeling like they’re a part of something larger. Dunkin’ Donuts used to do this by highlighting a “Fan of the Week” and posting a photo of their most active customers on their social media banners. A little recognition goes a long way.

What are some of the ways to build relationships with influencers on social media?

Here are a couple of great ways to build relationships with influencers on social media:

  • Create an engagement schedule where you carve out time to target influencer content by commenting, reposting, liking, etc.
  • Invite influencers to contribute content to your sites or be featured
  • When an influencer or advocate (budding influencer) talks about you, send a handwritten note or token of appreciation in the mail to create an extra special connection
  • Support their initiatives without asking for anything back. If they are promoting something they’re passionate about, help them reach their goals
  • One-to-one interactions are key
  • Keep them ahead of the game and inform them of new initiatives before others know to increase loyalty (you could perhaps call this a beta group)

What are some of the biggest influencer marketing mistakes brands make?

Don’t: Treat influencers like commodities. Influencers are people, and your program shouldn’t aim to “use” them. Treat them as valuable friends, and they will do the same in return.

Don’t: Make an ask right off the bat. Just like media relations, nurturing and holding relationships for a period of time ensures the success and reciprocity of influencer programs.

Don’t: Forget to disclose to your audience if you’re compensating an influencer for their time or content. Not doing so could get you in trouble with the FTC.

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Images via Pixabay: 1, 2, 3

About Maria Materise

Maria Materise is a content marketing specialist for Cision. Formerly a copywriter, she enjoys creating content that excites and inspires audiences. She is an avid reader, movie trivia geek, Harry Potter fanatic and makeup junkie..

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