It’s no secret the world of social media isn’t the most welcoming to newcomers. It’s a sea of people and brands trying to be heard, and if you’re not already known, it’s hard to begin targeting influencers or to become one yourself.
In this post, we will give you tips for targeting influencers when know one knows who the heck you are.
In fact, “influencer marketing content delivers 11x higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing,” (TapInfluence).
The trick is targeting those influencers. It’s no easy task — especially when just starting out — but we have a few tips to make the process as painless as possible.
First, What Exactly is an Influencer?
An influencer is what every newbie strives to be.
They’re the ones collecting hundreds – even thousands – of likes and comments on every post.
And just one mention from them can open major doors for anyone just starting out.
Influencers are online leaders who are active on social media channels and blogs. They tend to have big followings, and their audience is generally extremely loyal.
For example, influencers can be:
- Industry experts
- Popular bloggers or YouTubers
Influencer marketing is the process of using influencers to expose your brand and message to a much larger audience (i.e. their very big, very loyal audience).
Targeting Influencers: Why Do Brands Need Influencers?
People listen to people they trust.
So, if someone they like and respect has something great to say about someone else, or a recommendation to make, they’ll listen. They might even take action.
Which is exactly how influencer marketing works. Catch the ear of an influencer, and by extension you catch the attention of hundreds more.
And the numbers don’t lie.
Fact: 74% of people turn to social networks for guidance on purchase decisions. (Ogilvy Cannes, 2014)
Fact: 49% of people say they rely on recommendations from influencers when making purchase decisions. (Twitter and Annalect, 2016)
Fact: Twitter users report a 5.2X increase in purchase intent when exposed to promotional content from influencers.
Fact: Interest in influencer marketing has risen more than 90x from 2013 to the present.
Fact: 40% of people say they’ve purchased an item online after seeing it used by an influencer on Instagram, Twitter, Vine, or YouTube. (Twitter and Annalect, 2016)
Needless to say, influencer marketing is something you want to take advantage of.
Once the right connections are established, influencers do more than just say nice things about your brand. They inspire people to take action.
Kissmetrics explains that influencers: “are generating content about your brand, they are recommending your brand to their loyal following, and they are inserting themselves into conversations surrounding the niche of your brand.”
It may sound too good to be true, but it’s not. Below are a few tips to help you get started.
Targeting Influencers? Start With a Strategy
When you’re just starting out, you need to think of influencer marketing like any other kind of marketing.
It’s its own beast, and requires its own strategy.
And whether you’re a marketing nobody or an established brand, your strategy should involve these three steps:
- Identify an influencer
- Reach out to them
- Have them share your content
Find Your Audience When Targeting Influencers
Finding the right influencers begins with finding the right audience.
Which means making sure that the influencers you plan to target are speaking to the audience you’re trying to reach.
Sure, they may have 50,000+ followers, but if their target audience is teenage girls and yours is housewives, they won’t do you any good.
This means that first, you need to be zeroed in on who you’re trying to target. As a newcomer, identifying your audience is the first step in any successful marketing strategy.
Once you’ve found your audience, you can get to work on finding influencers.
Look For Engagement, Not Numbers
It’s not all about the numbers. It’s about engagement.
Take it from Mark Walker, Head of Content Marketing at Eventbrite: “don’t just look at reach – consider engagement as even more important. Someone with a really engaged following of 1,000 will do more to amplify your content than someone with 10,000 social connections they don’t engage with.”
This means that you need to look at the number of shares, retweets, and comments a user gets, rather than number of followers.
Tools like Buzzsumo are designed to help you do just that.
To use it, simply enter in the topic or keyword you’d like to search and it will pull a list of the most popular content in that subject area.
Then, you have the option to click “view sharers” and filter by average retweet to find the top sharers. If you find someone who regularly shares content in your niche, they might be an influencer you should consider reaching out to.
You can also use the tool to find top authors, see how many Twitter followers they have and their reply ratio. More on that here.
Write Tailored Content To Begin Targeting Influencers
As you find the biggest influencers in your industry, you’ll begin to notice the kind of content they produce, like and share.
And if they’ve already shared something on a certain topic once, they’re likely to do it again.
So this is exactly the kind of content you need to be writing.
For example, if you’re a wedding coordinator and you notice specific influencers have a history of sharing posts about budget weddings, make sure your content strategy includes budget tips.
I’ve done a lot of this. Recently, I made “SEO: The Movie” which was really an influencer campaign. I knew the industry would love the content and we needed influencers to be in the movie. It all worked really well together. You can watch the movie for free on YouTube and embedded here.
You have a choice when targeting influencers: go after the giants (think celebrities, industry experts), or the smaller fish.
It’s tempting to go straight for the big guys. They have millions of followers, and you want millions to read your message, right?
Not so fast. As a newcomer on the scene, it’s best to start with the micro-influencers. Generally speaking, that’s users with 10,000 followers or less.
Not only are they more likely to read and consider your request, but oftentimes their engagement with followers is much higher than those with a bigger following. Nick Mann writes an excellent article on that here.
The same concept applies to making contact with influencers. Like any relationship, it needs to be nurtured, not rushed.
So start small. Engage with them on social media, blogs and other outlets to grow the relationship and become recognizable.
Collaboration, Not Solicitation
When you do decide to reach out, make sure you’ve thought out your approach.
One way to do it is rather than just ask them to share your post, ask them to contribute.
As you do your research on an influencer, make note of their unique brand of content. Then, as you begin to write a similar post, reach out and ask them to contribute a piece of advice.
Similarly, you can propose a partnership. Develop an idea that aligns with their expertise, and ask them to collaborate with you.
This way you can leverage their expertise and they will have something tangible to show for their efforts as well.
It will feel less like a sales pitch to them, and will provide you with a powerful partnership.
And in the end, they will be more likely to share a post they’re a part of.
Reaching Out To Influencers
The best way to make contact is through email or social media. My favorite is through a niche social media site. Twitter is the worst, there is so much noise they will probably not see your DM or mention unless you follow up many times.
Let’s talk email…
You’ll want to approach it like any other email marketing strategy: keep it clean, short and to the point, with a subject line intriguing enough to earn an open.
You’ll also want to make sure you’ve done your homework. Research them and pick out a post or two to mention specifically to make the email more personal.
When you get to your pitch, keep it short and sweet — just a sentence or two will do. Outline your goal, what benefits it could provide the influencer and why they should be working with you.
And remember, influencers will need some kind of incentive.
So give them one. Even if you’re just starting out, explaining how your offer benefits them and their audience will go a long way.
Art of Emails has a great example:
Influencer emails are an art all their own, so don’t worry if it takes a few tries to get it right. The most important part is to keep trying; eventually it will pay off.
Persistence Pays Off When Targeting Influencers
The biggest downside of influencer marketing? The crickets in your inbox.
You could send out hundreds of emails, and get very few replies in return. That, unfortunately, is the name of the game.
But don’t get discouraged. Many of these influencers are likely flooded with similar requests on a daily basis, and yours very likely got lost in the shuffle.
So try again.
Start with a follow-up email, or try contacting them through other media channels. Tweet at them on Twitter or send a message on Facebook.
This can be a powerful way to get an influencer’s attention; it’s a more direct way of contact and shows your commitment to working with them.
Do keep in mind, there’s a fine line between persistence and pestering. If you don’t hear back after a follow-up email and a social outreach, leave it be.
But with any luck, some of the influencers you approached will appreciate your persistence (and excellent content idea).
Success! An influencer has responded and is interested in your proposal.
Allow yourself a momentary sigh of relief, then get back to work.
Remember, they’re doing you a favor, so make the process as painless as possible for them.
Make sure you:
- Outline your content goals
- Set participation expectations
- Prepare a timeline
- Establish a distribution campaign
Take the lead and try to cover all the details in the co-creation process. You want the influencer to walk away with a good experience (and ultimately secure an ongoing partnership).
Keep In Touch
This is a relationship, after all.
Once you’ve completed the task at hand, remember to send the influencer the final product. Ask them to send it out through their personal and business accounts.
And don’t stop there. Keep commenting, liking, and sharing their content in the future. Tag them in posts and share content they might find beneficial.
Stay on their radar, and you’ll continue to benefit from their status as an influencer.
Eventually, you’ll become friends.
Get Started Targeting Influencers Now
Granted, finding and targeting influencers takes time and energy, and lots of it. But once made, it’s a connection that will continuously pay off.
So get to work. Take a look at one of the tools mentioned above and find a handful of influencers, craft a pitch, and send away.
Using the tips above (along with some trial and error), you’ll be on your way to substantially growing your brand and audience.
If you want to learn more about targeting influencers, contact us or check out my book on the subject.