Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, once remarked, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you."
These are words of wisdom, to be sure, but I think vast masses of marketers fail to apply this wisdom to their marketing campaigns.
Influencer marketing, while not a brand new concept, is becoming more refined and sophisticated every day. Thanks to advancements in computing technologies and data analytics, marketers have a degree of insight into audiences unprecedented in human history. It’s possible to sift through leads with pinpoint precision, using criteria like gender, best time of day to get in front of them, even what magazines and TV shows they like.
But, if you’ve never reached out to anyone before, you may be filled with jittery anxiety, and be unsure of the best way to approach an influencer. Today, we’re going to take a look at the best practices regarding reaching out to an influencer to help you feel more confident.
Step 1: Identification
If you feel that you have your thumb on the pulse of your industry, chances are you already know some influencers, but odds are there are multitudes more than you imagined. Your first task is to rustle up some influencers, which is easier today than it has ever been before.
Tools like FollowerWonk and AllTop can pull up top bloggers and vloggers in your industry in just a few seconds, and furthermore, provide you with statistics and metrics to help you judge the amount of influence they wield. FollowerWonk is able to quantify their tweets, followers, how long their account has been active, and a subjective social authority score.
Step 2: Research
After you have identified a list of potential influencers you would like to reach out to, it’s time to do a little digging and research each influencer. You may find that some of the biggest influencers in your niche or industry are overused, and for that reason much harder to successfully contact. It may be advantageous to contact a medium-small influencer.
Also take the time to peruse their blogs and video content to see if they’re really a good fit for your goals. Dig through the influencer’s posts and videos, and rate the content you see. It’s also a good idea to read through the comments (if there are any) to get a feeling for how much engagement the influencer has with his or her audience.
Step 3: Interact with Your Influencer’s Blog for Visibility and Goodwill
If you find some content that really resonates with you or content you think would add value to your audiences lives, share it.
Furthermore, interact with the influencers blog or vlog by signing up for the newsletter or subscribing to their channel. Feel free to leave a comment too. Why? Because this helps you become visible to the influencer, puts you on their radar, and let’s them know that you genuinely care about their work.
Put yourself in their shoes. Would you be more apt to collaborate and work with someone who is actively engaged with your blog and content and actually appreciates it, or some stranger materializing out the digital ether? If you can, try to answer questions in the comments section of the influencer’s content to flex your mental muscles and add value for the audience.
There are several other ways you can interact with an influencer before actually reaching out to them to request cooperation, including the following:
Linking to their content (but only if you think your audience would value it)
Sending the influencer an email identifying a website mistake the influencer overlooked
Mention the influencer on social media with a thank you type post (e.g. Thanks for the great post @ExampleInfluencer)
Step 4: Reach Out to the Influencer
Most people think this is step one, but the reality is you need to put in the work of building a relationship if you want to set yourself up for success. Only after you have identified, researched, and built a relationship with the influencer should you reach out to them for cooperation. And what do I mean by cooperation?
That depends a lot on what your mission is.
You may try to simply run an ad, whereby the influencer will insert a plug into one of their videos or a link in their content. You may be seeking a guest post, or I’ve seen some vloggers actually give an individual face time on their vlog. If you’re not from the same region, you can easily use an app like Skype or FaceTime.
Step 5: Be Specific
We've helped many brands reach out and build influencer relationships, and most have gone very well. There are, however, those that don't hold up their end of the deal. This could be due to poor communication and expectations set up front (by you or them), or it could be that they were just a poor choice to start with.
It's very important that both parties in the agreement have defined what they'll do, what assets will be created, and who owns what at the end of it. If you plan on using their pictures, namesake, etc in the future, make sure you have that in the agreement up front as well.
And I mean be specific - if you expect them to take at least 10 pictures with your product, or tweet five times over the next month, then put that in there.
Step 6: Maintain Your Relationship
After having successfully collaborated or cooperated with an influencer, it’s a good idea to maintain that relationship. Keep in touch on a semi-regular basis, or continue to interact with their blog or vlog. Even if they’re a small fish in the pond, you never know which ones are going to grow or go viral. If you are mentioned in a vlog or blog, it’s also a good idea to create a link to the influencer’s post on your site.
A Note Regarding Email
I did want to take a moment to discuss the initial email you use to reach out to the influencer. The largest thing I think should be avoided is using an email template, especially one that you didn’t create. Influencers are inundated with requests and emails, not only from their audience, but also other marketers.
The last thing you want to do is create a first impression of being disingenuous. There is less distrust of strangers on the Internet these days than in decades past, but using a template could erode trust. Instead, it’s better to hand craft your emails for each influencer on a case-by-case basis.
Influencers Can Really Help Your Brand Grow
If you’re nervous to initially reach out to an influencer, I’d recommend reading How to Win Friends and Influence People. It’s a great way to build confidence before reaching out.
Last but not least, I wanted to remind you that the key to successfully collaborating with an influencer is being genuine.