By Rick Clancy / Senior Director, Public Relations, Rio SEO
In my PR role here at Rio SEO and parent company Covario, I was flattered when the editor of Street Fight magazine recently asked for tips and best practices from our team at Rio SEO’s social technologies unit for an article about reaching out to online influencers.
What stood out overall in the resulting article was that the expert advice extended well beyond merely reaching influencers and engaging with them. It addressed the longer-term goal of keeping the engagement, loyalty and trust going over an extended period of time.
And while a couple tips from Thomas Kim, product manager at Rio Social, were integrated into one in the published article – about providing full disclosure and being thankful – there were several good, actionable insights provided to the editor by both Tom and Anna Jones, Rio account director, which I believe are worth sharing as well.
- Always disclose in any kind of influencer outreach that you’re the brand/marketer and if any kind of compensation is involved. Don’t try to be tricky or sneaky in fostering advocacy.
- Provide the influencer with guidelines, e.g. what’s acceptable and unacceptable in promoting on your brand.
- Ensure you have the proper measurement tools in place to define success and performance results. For instance, if your definition of success is viral lift in conversions, make sure tools are in place that can provide the right attribution in your metrics.
- After the engagement, regardless of performance, always thank your influencer/advocate and leave on appreciative, positive terms. The worst thing you can do is leave on a sour note and turn an influencer against you.
And from Anna:
- Most important: Be genuine, real and honest.
- Content is key. Give the influencers clear guidelines and let them create content, or provide them with compelling, relevant and exclusive content that they can write about/share. Influencers love notoriety and feeling important. Being “in the know” ahead of everyone else makes them want to get involved.
- Exclusivity: Invite your influencers to a special “MVP” program where they can get insider information and special treatment. Bing once had an MVP program for influencers that rewarded them with special prizes and exclusive “behind the scenes” access – the impact was huge with minimal effort on Bing’s part. Offer exclusive product trials, etc.
- Gamification and rewards: Depending on the vertical market, influencers can be very competitive. Capitalize on this by offering leaderboards, special contests, and reward their sharing.
- Reciprocity: Return the favor and give a shout-out or link back to an influencer’s blog or site when possible; share the love.
- Be in it for the long haul. Have a plan to continue to foster influencer relationships. Like any relationship, it takes continual work, but is worth it in the long run.
From my point-of-view, I’d like to add a couple of final comments.
First, strive to add value when engaging with influencers each and every step of the way. Second, just like any long-term relationship (online or off), remember it all boils down trust.
Keep these tips in mind and you’ll do just fine.