There are few better methods of outreach marketing than to tap into the vast network of followers that influencers have.
Influencers tend to be the big names and charismatic faces of a given industry or concentration, and their opinions are like gold dust to their audiences.
And influencer audiences are vast, too. So much so that a name drop can cause any brand or business to experience a seismic spike in traffic and exposure.
It's for this reason that outreach campaigns are evolving. Old fashioned email sessions are making way, in some cases, for targeted attempts to win over the key industry figures that are considered to possess the power to shape opinion and drive sales.
But how do we get these social media, blogging, or vlogging kings and queens on our side? What avenues should we go down to win an endorsement from the influencers of our niche?
Here, we've prepared the nine golden rules to abide by in order to win the favour of your industry's key influencers:
1. Find the right influencers
Sometimes the excitement of recruiting an influencer takes over from the necessity of the first step.
Before you begin tapping up your targeted social figures, allow yourself a moment for introspection. What kind of market is my business operating in? Which audiences would best respond to an endorsement?
Only fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Make sure you don't hurry the process of finding the sort of influencers who operate in a field where exposure would best benefit your business. Look around, search for who's getting the most retweets, finding themselves on the most blogrolls, or getting the most shared content on the biggest social accounts in your sector.
You don't want to run a fruitless outreach campaign by failing to prepare your targets.
2. Use the right outreach methods
When you've identified an influencer that you feel would be the right fit for your business, you'll have to decide on how best to outreach to them.
Keep your messages personalised and definitely make sure that they don't sound in any way automated - they're popular people, so they're probably used to getting messages every day.
A key issue here is how to contact them. This dilemma may be helped along by understanding the networks that your influencer is most active on. If it's someone driving opinion on Twitter or Instagram and you're mutually following each other then message away. Facebook is easier to send messages on, but intricate filters mean that there's a chance that they'll never be seen.
An ideal avenue for conversation would be LinkedIn; the business-based environment helps underline the intentions behind the message and the service is popular among active users. Alternatively, email is a classic avenue for outreach, and although getting your emails opened is trickier, you give yourself a good chance with a personalised and eye-catching relevant heading.
If you're struggling to find the right contacts for your influencers, you can use the useful email search engine, Hunter.io, or VoilaNorbert.com, to help you take the first step.
3. Don't beat around the bush
Remember to keep to the point, don't insult influencers by beating around the bush.
Make sure you're upfront and honest. Like you, influencers have a lot of business on their mind, and won't want to read a gushing 500-word email that throws an outreach proposition at the end.
If you're straying from the point in your outreach message, just remember that you'll be benefitting your influencer too. So if you feel like you need a hook, be sure to reiterate the positives that they'll get from endorsing your business.
4. Figure out what makes influencers tick
The best way of building a strong relationship with influencers is to conduct a little bit of research on them. Find out what makes them tick and search for that common ground. You're already in related industries, so that's a good place to start!
The goal here is to give your influencer outreach a human touch. The person you're contacting is used to being approached by plenty of outreachers, so by bonding with them and sharing mutual interests; it's a good way of standing out from the crowd and becoming known to your social media figurehead.
5. Get your strategy right
It's important that you leave nothing to chance. Come up with a strategy that considers your targeted influencer carefully.
If the influencer you are contacting is based in a different country then consider the time difference - a message sent at 10 am for you could be 4 am for them.
Also, be sure to plan out your communications - come up with a time frame to send your initial and follow up messages. Don't get in touch during unsociable hours or weekends; you'll only run the risk of alienating them.
While sending generic messages to your target influencer is considered bad practice, you can still use a strong template as a blueprint for a personalised message. This method removes the chance of omitting important information in your pitch.
6. Don't neglect your content
It can be all too easy to become so immersed in the pursuit of those all-important endorsements and traffic driving references that you forget to carry on producing top quality content for your blog or website.
Avoid falling into this trap by continuing to put your output first. Remember, that ultimately what gets you noticed is the brilliance of the work you produce. You can't rely on others to drive traffic to you alone.
Consider allocating a good amount of time to working on your content alongside your influencer outreach campaign, just to make sure that your output isn't neglected at any point.
7. Diversify your influencer reach
Influencers are the kings and queens of social media. But their powers over individual social platforms tend to differ. A popular YouTuber may not have made a dent in driving traffic from Instagram, and the same can be said for users of Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook.
If you want to really diversify your reach, take a look into which influencers have the most stock on these platforms and plan your outreach accordingly. It may be worth covering your bases and getting multiple targets for each avenue.
When deciding where you should attempt to reach influencers, stop to consider which platforms best compliment your product or service. Food-related products perform well with the visual support of Instagram, while technical items provide great content for YouTube tutorials and reviews, for example.
8. Always pay your "debts"
An influencer endorsement is a valuable thing. Make sure you're not one of those self-righteous so-and-sos who takes the complementary name-drop and runs away without offering something in return as a favour.
A popular way of gaining an influencer's attention is to send them a free product or service that they can, in turn, promote on their channel. This puts your brand in the shop window and gives something back to the favour of increasing your traffic.
Alternatively, a great way to keep your social media stars sweet is to invite them to a product launch or conference. Nothing helps maintain a working relationship better than face-to-face contact.
9. Don't kick your influencer to the curb
Furthermore, never kick your influencer to the curb once you've got what you want. Even if it's just a shoutout for your business name - endorsements are a risky business for influencers, and they won't want to put their name to a product that will ultimately backfire on them - so don't think that choosing your business for praise was an easy move for them.
Besides, if you continue to work well with your chosen influencer, you could have yourself an ideal ambassador for your brand. There could be more great leaps into social media stardom just around the corner for your business, so be sure to keep the social stars that you outreach by your side.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dev Sharma is founder of WPKube.com where you can find in-depth guides and useful tutorials.