Getting influencers to talk about your brand isn’t easy. You need to be part of the online conversation to make an impact, and it’s tougher than ever for mainstream advertising to be the watercooler topic it used to be.

Because of this, global brands are relying on paid influencers more than ever. This relatively new market means a star like Kim Kardashian can command up to $500,000 for one Instagram post. Even celebrity pets are getting in on the action.

Back in the real world

But how do things work for the rest of us? With most businesses now using social media in one form or another, it’s important to amplify messages and engage with customers, users and stakeholders. Influencers are a great way to do that. But for financial, strategic or ethical reasons you might not want to pay.

Putting together an influencer list is relatively easy. From compiling a simple wishlist of people you’d like to see talking about your product or service (if you know your market well, you can probably do this off the top of your head) to using a paid social listening tool like Brandwatch or Affinio to take a deep dive into audience habits.

Eight top tips

From my own experience with clients, I know it’s all too easy to make that list, and then not have a clue what to do with it. Ruxandra Mindruta is influencer manager at Brandwatch; here are her top tips for engaging influencers:

1. Event activation: if you’re running an event, save a few exclusive tickets for influencers. Nothing builds a strong relationship better than a face-to-face meeting. Don’t simply invite them, let them know why you think the event will be good for them. The great bonus of connecting with people this way is that they then go on to talk about your event.

2. Guest blogging: if you have a corporate blog, ask people to write for you. If their tone of voice and values match your own, this can be a great reciprocal relationship.

3. Influencer takeover: consider letting an influencer run one of your social channels (eg, your Twitter account) for a 24 hour period. Chances are the influencer will promote this on their own channels, and bring new leads to your site.

4. Content research: when you’re about to publish a new blog post or a new report, try involving your influencers from the beginning – ask them for a quote, feedback on an early draft, or help with research. When the thing is published, it’s likely they’ll mention it.

5. Interview series: run an interview with some of your favourite influencers, put them in the limelight (for example, Brandwatch has done this with data visualisation experts and content strategists).

6. Community engagement: In some cases getting onto an influencer’s radar can be quite challenging: comment on their blog, engage with their conversations, add value to their conversations to make yourself noticed.

7. Product feedback: if you think an influencer has the time, ask them to post some product feedback online. You give them value by giving them free access, and obviously if they post a positive review then that’s highly beneficial to you.

8. Spontaneous campaigns: one of the best campaigns for Brandwatch was one in which they created a “Top Trumps” card deck of social media influencers. There were 14 influencers in the deck and each one was sent their own personal deck of cards. This was a great ice breaker – and brought in “unprecedented levels” of engagement.

I’d love to know if any of these tactics have worked for you. Or if you’ve tried any other way to connect with influencers? Do share your feedback in the comments.

Photo: Laura Ockel via Unsplash