Is it possible that Tori Spelling really has to worry about renting a car? Is there even a remote chance that Khloé Kardashian wears Old Navy jeans? The answer to these is most likely, no. Yet both tweeted about just those things, and as far as the best analytics can tell, their endorsements helped business.
Content is no longer king -- curation is. It's important to influencers of all sizes that they pick the right products to share with their audiences. These influencers know their followers and want to share things that will be well-received.
This knowledge is what makes being picked by the right influencers so powerful. Your brand message will be tweaked by an expert who knows what his or her people want to hear.
So, how do brands get the attention of popular influencers? And once they have it, how do they guarantee the big names will say what they want them to?
Attracting an influencer
Whether or not you pay them isn't the issue right now. As with anything else, the best way to get a popular celebrity or blogger on board with your company's product is to build a real relationship. It isn't always easy, but here are a few tips:
Small-time influencers are usually happy to promote you in exchange for a free sample. A nice email and free product should do the trick. Don't discount their audiences just because they might be small. Those are often the most loyal devotees.
Reach for low-hanging fruit. Social listening tools like HootSuite will help you discover who's talking about you. If someone already loves you and is basically a brand ambassador, reach out and ask her to make it official.
While you're in the process of picking your influencers, start engaging them on the social media platform of their choice. Share their content,"like" their statuses, and respond to questions. Yes, this is sucking up. Deal with it.
Follow up. People are busy and sometimes emails get lost. Don't give up if the first outreach isn't answered.
Working with an influencer
Celebrities are notoriously finicky people. They can change moods in minutes, and with an audience of millions, this can be hard for your brand to manage. But celebs and other influencers are people, too. A few basic social skills should keep them talking you up in ways you actually want.
Give guidance. "Tell us what you think" is way too vague. People who aren't writers may not know what you want to hear. If the influencer doesn't know where to start, you may never hear anything.
Don't limit the influencer's voice. There's a fine line. You have to give guidance, but especially if this isn't a paid campaign, you can't give too much. Besides alienating your influencer, you don't want to strip his or her of the voice their audience listens to. There's no hard rule to follow here -- it all comes down to the relationship.
Remember your manners. Say please and thank you, even if the influencer is being compensated. Besides just being nice, saying thanks over their preferred social media will get you even more mileage out of their support.
Make it legal
If you aren't paying for tweets or Facebook posts, there's really nothing to worry about. If money or other goods are changing hands, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) demands that this is stated upfront. This is good for the influencers, anyway, because it promotes transparency with their audiences.
Any brand looking to pay for social media coverage should study the regulations and consult a lawyer. It protects you and your future partnerships.
Social media is the new frontier. It changes constantly, and that can make it hard to keep up. Learning how to attract and work with influencers can be a huge boost in the fight to be heard online.
Luba Tolkachyov is the co-founder and head of new media development at Findr Interactive.
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