My last post dealt with tips for creating a B2B Social Influence Strategy. One of the tips suggested was: Identify your online influencers, which got me thinking about how I approach engaging the influencers. Identifying them and engaging with them are certainly two different things.
So here are 5 recommendations on engaging influencers based on my experiences.
1. Walk before you run.
Ive found it incredibly beneficial to the success of outreach campaigns to hesitate before jumping into the online conversation with influencers. Listen first. Talk later (really hard for this loud mouth to do). Ive noticed that the influencers Ive identified for my clients are engaged in multiple forums and in each they have a specific tone to their online discussions; some are very professional in nature, others light-hearted; some focused on information sharing, others in more active online brainstorming sessions; some are very high level discussions, others are more technical. Understanding the context of those dialogues allows you to choose which facet of the influencers online activity you want to engage them in.
2. Who Are THEY influencing?
Too often marketers focus on the influencer as a singularity in their outreach efforts. Its equally important to monitor who you influencers influence. And then identify how your message & strategy can be crafted to leverage that second tier…and turn them into influencers for you.
3. Be Selective.
If you take the advice in #1 above, this should be easy. You will have a greater impact and viral effect if you are selective in which conversation you seed or respond to. Trying to engage in all conversations will get a lot of short term buzz maybe but theyll quickly tire of the banter. Listening and patience are a virtue in influencer marketing within social media.
Remember, its not about you. Its about them and the community. Focus on the dialogue and content that will provide value to the influencer and their audience.
At the same time, theres nothing wrong with using the filter: whats in it for me when deciding which discussions to get involved in. If you see no short or long term value in branding, leads, awareness, etc then its probably a good discussion to not get involved in it.
4. Focus on relationships, not sales.
This is the hardest one for most of us. Influencers know you’re a business and that businesses need to sell products or services. They also know they are not your paid sales people. Determine (by research or simply asking) what will add value to their business, blogs or brand and what will add value to their audience and then provide the content or tools that will promote that.
Doing so will build a mutually beneficial relationship that will reap rewards. Social Media at its core is about online conversations, connecting with others and building relationships. Social Media marketing then, is about leveraging those connections & relationships to sway the conversation towards and end goal. Trying to circumvent the process (skipping the relationship building and overtly selling) will back fire more often than not.
5. Establish and communicate mutual goals.
Once you’ve identified what they need and you need from the relationship, set realistic metrics for success and review frequently. Engage your influencers by asking their opinions on their success; ask what they’ve received from the relationship too. Share your results and find ways to modify the content or tactics that will keep both of you happy.
These tactics have performed well in both B2B and B2C programs, but the key is always to create a plan and work it. What tactics have you used successfully or not? Feed the community.
Feed Your Community, Not Your Ego