A plan to earn your way into the hearts of Internet influencers

internet influencers

By Mila Araujo, {grow} Community Member

Influencers are already beginning to get weary of the lame approaches brands and agencies take to try to coddle up to them. You have to earn your keep with today’s busy influencer. How do you do that?

The thought leaders of the web take their word seriously and they don’t want to be seen as sell outs. Providing ways for influencers to highlight your product or service in a way that aligns with their personal brand and mission is the only approach to influencer marketing.

If you are thinking of “buying influence” for your brand, it is unlikely that any of the Internet “stars” out there are going to engage in paid promotion of products unless it is directly related to their area of expertise, their audience’s interests, or their own personal interests, here’s why:

People who have a strong level of influence have three important factors to consider:

  1. They have established authority based on their knowledge and experience in their field
  2. They are reliable and trustworthy – in other words, their opinions are honest and cannot be bought
  3. They must remain consistent in their direction to maintain this authority. It will confuse their audience by marketing or promoting totally unrelated items

Non-profits have an advantage in the influence marketing space, since their message is usually is based on human emotion and a story that can be of interest to a diverse audience.

Before engaging with influencers, get to know their topics, their values, their passions and concerns before engaging, Tailor your message in a way that will make your product or service relevant to them.

So who can brands turn to for influence marketing?

The key to finding influencers is by providing people with value directly related to their field of interest.

  • Give them something that makes their lives or work more efficient (tools, technology, apps)
  • Offer an unusual experience (huge opportunity in the travel and hospitality industry).
  • Solve a problem
  • Create content that will be highly valued by their audience
  • Offer exclusive access. They don;t want to run an infographic or review the same product being sent to a thousand other people.

Influencers are tired of getting mass emails asking for ad space, or random requests that shows the brand took no time to learn about who they are. It’s insulting really — influencers have tons of information out there, yet a brand can’t be bothered with doing their research on who the person is before sending these requests?

Focusing on respecting the human aspects of the lives of influencers is the absolute only way to break into this area with genuine results.

Influencers are people first.

A brand interested in influence marketing should create partnerships with Influencers, not “buy outs”

  • Include budget for creating or supporting events that highlight the brand’s own vision and values – they will find like-minded influencers from these activities
  • Don’t ask to be the primary focus of an article or review. Be satisfied with a mention in a genuine way.
  • Inviting influencers to share their points of view on your brand pages, rather than on the Infuencer’s own channels. This protects the influencer from polluting their own channels with unrelated content.
  • Focus on respecting the human aspects of the lives of influencers. Deliver value, not an expectation of brand entitlement.

Your Turn – What do you think?

  • As an influencer, what are you looking for from brands and companies?
  • How do you balance content integrity versus opportunities for monetization?
  • What brands are doing influence marketing well? Which ones are is driving you crazy?

milaMila Araujo writes about Leadership, Social Media and Customer Service for several sites, including her Perspectives blog  which explores different angles and  ideas into understanding  social media and how to use it to drive business forward and build community. She is the producer of the 140 Conference Montreal. Connect with her on Twitter @Milaspage

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  • Ralph Cipolla

    Mila – Excellent piece – from a general perspective, as well as the specific, actionable points you offer. It addresses an area that I, as one who recently formed a new small (just me) consultancy, have been pondering. You have helped confirm my initial instincts as I begin to crystalize ideas.

  • Great article, Mila.
    “Influencers are people first.” They’re not commodities which is why I feel the term, “influence marketing” comes off a bit mercenary. The influencer as a hired gun.
    I think many brands confuse “influence marketing” with “celebrity endorsements.”

  • Cathy

    Thanks for this piece. I get daily requests from businesses for free publicity in my blog and it’s a major annoyance. If they were reading this, I’d say: If you want me to spend the time to give you free publicity and put my brand at potential risk, READ MY BLOG to see what my readers actually care about. Consider that I’m already busy writing posts, delivering presentations, and answering a ton of questions, so instead of asking me to do yet more work for you, consider how you could help lighten my load. For example, point me to RELEVANT content that will save me time and make me look good, not just the stuff that makes you look good. I get so many off-target requests for free publicity that I’ve set my email system to automatically delete any email with the phrases most often used by the clueless PR people.

  • I tend to avoid sponsored content.

  • Nice post, Mila. I like that you refer to it as a partnership with the influencer. That’s exactly what it is, two parties working together for the benefit of the audience. It should be a win for everyone involved.

  • Thank you for the comment Randy, I also avoid sponsored content. I accepted to participate in one project once because it fit directly in line with my values, and because of this it turned out realy well, but for the most part – sponsored content without and tie in to your blog’s mission is a real sell out – people see right through that. Certainly not the way I want to be thought of…

  • I hear you Cathy, I’ve actually stopped reading these kinds of requests entirely. It amazes me that they haven’t put more focus on building a strategy – imagine what the blogs look like where they do see “success” – its a huge waste of time and effort. Im happy to stay out of it. Thank you for your comment, I think setting up those filters is a great way to save the time and aggravation!

  • Same. 🙂

  • Very very true and well stated! This is definitely new ground, and the approach way too many brands are taking is the same route as the “celebrity endorsement” – unfortunately a celebrity endorsement styled promo is probably the most disingenuous approach when they have a solid audience. Making it easy for an influencer to integrate the situation or product with their natural behavior is the most winning solution! I’m really hoping brands will start seeing this as the opportunity to seek out, as opposed to what seems to be the current trend.

  • Wonderful, Im so glad these ideas are helpful for you. Congratulations on launching your consultancy!

    I think it takes a little more creativity to identify and tailor experiences for influencers that will work well and provide results, but I am willing to bet the yield will be far greater. Its a partnership – not a buy out. That’s what the goal needs to be 🙂

  • Thank you Steve!

  • This is exactly how it is, Mila. it has always been about finding how you can help a person make it easy to share their influence with you. Nothing wrong with that, spokespeople are everywhere and many times if we don’t see a spokesperson for a product or a brand, we wonder what is amiss with that product.

  • First, @Milaspage:disqus so great to see you here, we haven’t connected in a while.

    Second, I couldn’t agree with you move on EVERY point. Just today I’ve received 4 pitches… Not one mentioned what the benefit would be to me or my audience for highlighting their work/client…

    …and worse than that none of them tried to pay me, (playin’, kinda).

    The systematized influencer outreach movement is one a LOATH with a passion.

    Great work.

  • It has been a while Ryan! So nice to see you.

    I can’t help but think those using this “systemized influencer outreach” are like a breed of their own, and frankly, they are totally disconnected from what is happening. I’m not sure we have any way of reaching them, I’d be interested to see the kinds of stats their method of “outreach” generates. I think the way they target their “influencers” lacks integrity and their results would likely show similar quality.

    Meanwhile, on a whole different level, I look forward to seeing the larger brands fine tune their approach, this is where I think true influence marketing has the opportunity to shine with strong partnerships and value delivery on all fronts.

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