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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Influencers vs. Brand Advocates Part 2

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Public Relations Blog Now that we’ve touched on the importance of integrating influencer and advocacy programs into your PR efforts, we know what you’re probably thinking. “I love this idea, but how do I get started?”

As practitioners that have spent the last few years working with influencers we can share with confidence that it all boils down to two words: diligence and connections. Building relationships with those who have clout and connections will result in greater engagement and talk value for your brand. And the more an influencer feels emotionally connection to your brand, the more likely he/she is to share your content and spark organic buzz around your brand.

Essentially there are five steps to follow when activating an influencer program. These steps start with a solid understanding of who your key stakeholders are, followed by what you want to say to them through a third party expert. Just remember that influencers are people too and what makes them tick differs from individual to individual. So while these fundamentals can help you jumpstart efforts, relationships are still built on interpersonal and customized communication.

  1. Establish Whom You’re Trying to Influence – in order to implement an effective influencer program work from the inside out. Much like media influencers are gatekeepers to your end user. Evaluate your primary, secondary and tertiary audiences. Then start looking for the right individuals who matter to those groups. Without knowing whom you’re targeting, finding a meaningful influencer can prove futile.

 

  1. ID your Influencers – This step is about 3Cs – credentials, credibility, and connections.  Not only are you looking for an influencer that is relevant to your target audience, you’re also looking for those individuals who can help you shout your message from the rooftop. Look for those with the credentials to be seen as an expert, the credibility to recommend your brand and the connections to talk about you in a way that has impact. For example B2B brand might look to leaders who are deeply connected to business operations such as an executive director of a small business association or an established author like Faith Popcorn. Whereas a brand in the pet space will want to align with a well-known veterinarian or a high profile TV personality like Cesar Milan, aka the Dog Whisperer. The key is to make sure your influencers matter and that they have the reach to help you equity for your brand. (Note: A starting point for finding these individuals is social channels like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Or set up Google Alerts linked to certain topics like ‘Pet Expert.’)

 

  1. Conduct “Interviews” – Just because an individual has a blog or a website doesn’t make them an authority. Don’t just take someone’s word that they’re an expert; do your homework. Roll up your sleeves and dive into their background to see if they are true thought leaders with credentials to support. Some questions to ask yourself include” Does the media call upon this person often for their expert point of view? Have they been media trained? Know who you’re aligning with by conducting an internal “interview” that insures you’re aligning yourself with the right partner(s).
     
  2. Lay a Foundation – once you’ve landed on the right individuals it’s time to begin outreaching and establishing connections. Look at influencers the same way you would look at media. Start talking to them through social channels or email. Introduce yourself in a meaningful and memorable way. Seed them with information and product samples. Remember, these influencers are under constant pressure to maintain their expert status. If you can help an influencer maintain relevancy and shape a story, segment or conversation you’re helping them build their brand too.

 

  1. Make time for Measurement – Simply having influencers talk about your brand isn’t enough. As with any marketing strategy you’ll want to assign metrics against your influencer program to help evaluate success. A good place to start is to determine reach goals. Do your influencers collectively reach a certain number of consumers on social? Did their posts and online conversations get shared or retweeted? If they went on air or were quoted in an article, how many impressions did that stir? We suggest assigning goals to your influencer programs and including them in your monthly measurement reports. This way you can show how you’re leveraging non- traditional channels to generate buzz.

One final thought: remember that influencing influencers take time. Like a strong media relations program, building an influencer strategy takes time. It won’t happen overnight or even over the course of 30 days. Invest your energy and time wisely, and you will be amazed at how your brand can benefit.

Read 54035 times Last modified on Tuesday, 29 January 2013
Tracy Tilson

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