Working with online influencers (for example bloggers, YouTubers, Instagrammers, etc.) is a common practice nowadays as their large followings are an advantage to companies’ marketing efforts. They can be brand ambassadors, though sometimes distinguishing influencers from advocates can be confusing.
According to Jay Baer of Convince and Convert, influencers are the “high-tech version of celebrity endorsements” to support your brand, often paid handsomely, while brand advocates are often highly satisfied and loyal customers who take it upon themselves to promote your brand, because they genuinely value it.
Advocates can be gained and kept with a strong marketing and communications strategy, but influencers can give your strategy a boost, as they have established their authority and credibility in a particular niche. But establishing connections with influencers isn’t easy. Like your brand, they have a reputation to protect. Here are some tips for searching for and securing brand influencers, straight from well-known personalities in the Philippines.
Write a good pitch
A good pitch isn’t mass produced. It should sound like you’re talking to them personally. Research to make sure (to the best of your ability) that their audiences would be interested in what you have to offer, and include that value in your pitch. Take the time to check for typos and most importantly, double check the spelling of names.
According to Shalene of purplepieces.com, it’s “annoying” when companies or PR agencies send emails without proper salutations. Shalene also “hates” emails without any personal note in it, for example if the email was empty except for a PDF attachment or media release kit.
Earth of earthlingorgeous.com said, the “most annoying” e-mail format is when it starts with ‘Dear Blogger’ or ‘Dear Media Partner’. For her, a blogger is an individual – you might think a group blog, with multiple writers, are an exception to the rule, but if you research properly, you can target the right writer. Lesson: if you send an email to an influencer, best practice is to write the person’s name at least.
Research will avoid a bad first impression and help target your message to the right people. To start, check the ‘About’ or ‘Contact’ pages of blogs and social media accounts.
Be clear about your objectives…
Requesting backlinks for search engine marketing might be a sore spot with some influencers, but a little honesty can go a long way in finding the right partnership. Earth says she rarely gets such requests, but if the link is relevant to her post, “there’s no problem”. She will often include at least one relevant link, whether it is requested or not.
…But don’t dictate what to write
Because they have cultivated a large following by following their own strategy. If you’ve done your research, your objectives and theirs should be on the same page. The amount of control your company has over the message is up to you, ranging from salaries to freebies for influencers, but remember, the more natural it looks, the more it will get the attention of readers. Word-of-mouth recommendations from a trusted source is very powerful, especially as online and offline spaces blur into one.
If you’re looking for a sugar-coated message and ultimate control, head to advertising, not social media influencers. The majority of successful influencers share their true opinion, to maintain credibility with their followers. While their work is worth every penny, the core values of their blog or social media assets should remain. After all, they became popular because of their refreshing honesty, in most cases!
Influencers give PR agencies and brands access to large audiences, therefore, approaching it as a partnership is a necessity. Value and treat influencers as your partners to succeed. As with any professional relationship, if influencers are happy, they can go beyond what the contract stipulates – and more importantly, you could work together on multiple projects in future. As part of a wider marketing and communications strategy, social media influencers can help create social media advocates.