5 Critical Ways to Rethink Influencer Outreach (and See MASSIVE Returns)

What’s your opinion of Influencer Marketing/Outreach?

Do you think it’s unpredictable, crazy expensive, ineffective, or hard to nail down? You wouldn’t be alone. Lots of business owners are seeing it work for other brands but finding out that an effective influencer outreach (IO) campaign is NOT a dime a dozen.

Too often, brands hold a limited view of what IO really is.

👉🏼 They see it as just sponsoring a Youtube video or getting a celebrity endorsement.

👉🏼 They get hung up on the fact that some mega influencers charge thousands of dollars for a single post, so they never get into IO at all.

👉🏼 Or, they end up throwing money at an influencer for a couple mentions and then rarely see a return.

And, sadly, they never experience what a fierce sales/marketing hybrid influencer marketing could be for their brand.

Friend, it’s time to rethink influencer outreach so you too can experience its power. Ready? Let’s dive into 5 questions we need to ask about this trending marketing strategy:

What Even Is Influencer Outreach?

Influencer Outreach includes a lot more than you may think. It’s basically a different form of content marketing (a more fun one in my opinion!) that lets you tap into brand new, already cultivated audiences.

When an influencer shares your product, contest, or whatever else with their audience, you get to bypass the time-intensive work of growing an audience one by one. Suddenly, people from the influencer’s following become part of your following too. From there, it’s up to YOU to earn their purchases and their loyalty.

IO is usually associated with social media, because it does so well there. But it can also work with blogs, podcasts, the press, and plenty more!

You can use IO to promote a new product or giveaway, to generate more social media engagement & brand awareness, to get people talking about a new cause, to drive revenue and website traffic. . . the possibilities are endless! That’s what makes IO so fun and exciting – and perhaps daunting.

Who Is an Influencer?

Marie Kondo. Rand Fishkin. Kim Kardashian. Robin Long.

What do these names have in common? They’re all influencers. One has 47k Instagram followers, and another has 60 million. But they’re all influencers – that’s the beauty of it.

Usually, influencers have at least two things in common:

👍 A tribe of dedicated fans

👍 A special interest, cause, or expertise

We should be able to easily see what his or her profile is about, whether that’s fitness, disaster relief, technology, fashion, faith, etc.

Reasons someone may follow an influencer:

👉 They share a common interest

👉 They want to learn about a specific topic from the influencer

👉 They admire the person and want to stay up-to-date with his or her life

We want to focus on the first two because they hold the most influence over their audience. The people following them are more likely to take action on their advice.

It doesn’t matter if the influencer’s audience is made up of 10,000 people, 100,000, or 1,000,000. As long as the followers love and trust that person, then he or she has influence on those followers.

They’ll believe and share what Rand Fishkin (SEO expert) teaches. They’ll try the cleaning tips Marie Kondo gives and buy the books she writes. Because they’ve come to trust or admire these people.

How Do I Choose an Influencer?

1. Look Past The Number of Followers

Many strategists & agencies will tell you to pick the obvious choice: top influencers with millions of fans who already rep other brands.

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that if you have the $$ to spend and a good reason for choosing that person (other than their millions of fans). But there are other influencers out there who may be even more effective and possibly more budget-friendly too.

Someone’s number of followers is just about the LEAST important factor to consider. Yes, they need a following – but I would choose Jane with 20k loyal fans who follow her recommendations over John with 100k followers who absentmindedly like his photos but could tell you precious little about him.

Part of this under-emphasis on someone’s number of followers is due to one huge problem: Instagram bots. Instagrammers can buy fake followers, fake likes, and fake comments, diluting what their engagement and exposure is actually worth. In fact, Digiday reported that:

A single day’s worth of posts tagged #sponsored or #ad on Instagram contained over 50 percent fake engagements, according to data from anti-fraud company Sway Ops. Out of 118,007 comments, only 20,942 were not made by bot followers.

If you don’t know the tell-tale signs of bots or never take the time search for them as you choose influencers, you may end up dishing out money to someone who actually holds very little influence, which means you’ll see very little ROI.

Unless an actual person who knows these signs, and not a 3rd party service or database, is evaluating your potential influencers, you run the risk of being tricked by bots.

2. Evaluate Their True Influence

What you want is an influencer with a loyal following who trusts that person and who already acts on his/her recommendations.

To pick an influencer like that, don’t just look at their follower count. Dig deeper, looking at things like:

✔ Ratio of likes/comments to number of followers

✔ Kinds of comments – do they even relate to the post? Do the followers understand the purpose of it?

✔ The influencer’s interaction with fans – do they talk at their followers or with them?

✔ Engagement trends that indicate popular kinds of posts

✔ Conversations around posts that indicate a subset of the audience

Remember that 100k followers does NOT automatically mean thousands of purchases. Often times, an influencer with a smaller following who is fiercely loyal will serve you far better.

How Do I Pitch Influencers?

Pitching doesn’t need to be an anxiety-inducing ordeal. Your pitch just needs to be sincere and show you’ve done your homework.

Here’s a pitch that’s NOT going to work:

Congrats on all your success. I have a new book you may like. [insert details about product here.] If I send you one for free, could you post about it?

Please, NO. This sounds like a thrown-together pitch you’ve copied and pasted a dozen other times. It sounds like you know nothing about who this person is or what their audience cares about. And it sounds like you have no real game plan – or money to pay them with.

This does you a major disservice. Because at this stage of the game, nothing should be further from the truth. By now, you should know ALL about them. So let your pitch reflect your work.

Here’s a quick snippet of a more personal example:

Your reading suggestions are so much fun! I loved your review of [book name]. I’m a local author who’s been really impressed with your community. I’d LOVE to talk with you about a few ways we could work together to bring more value to your reading community and promote my latest book at the same time.

Show them that you understand what they’re all about. Make it easy for them to see how your product/service relates to their audience. And explain that you already have an idea for how to work together.

How Do I Run a Killer IO Campaign?

1. Don’t Watch from the Sidelines

Influencer marketing isn’t something you just drop in the lap of an influencer and then walk away from. (At least not if you’re wanting to see a return on your investment!) You, someone from your team, or the freelancer you hired to run your outreach needs to stay involved the whole way through.

Too many people walk away from the project after the campaign has been explained and the contract has been signed, essentially leaving their influencer in the cold. Don’t let all your careful vetting and planning go to waste just because you didn’t stay with it until the end.

Give the influencer instructions for their work, eyeball what they’re going to share before it goes live, and make adjustments wherever needed throughout the campaign. This should not offend influencers (especially if you explain you’ll be doing that beforehand).

In fact, if you pay well and are easy to work with, they’ll appreciate your hands-on approach because they know it will ensure the campaign’s success and improve their chances of working with you again. They’ll be grateful to receive guidance about your brand and objectives, because they understand that you know your brand and your campaign goals better than they do.

You’ll also need to monitor the campaign’s performance and take notes of what to tweak or avoid next time.

2. Design a Clear Plan Ahead of Time

One random post by an influencer here and another one there (no matter how many followers they have!) is only going to bring you scattered, fragmented results.

You need a cohesive plan that moves toward a specific goal – whether that’s customer advocacy, sign-ups, pre-orders, etc. Choose your goal and decide how you’ll measure your success in meeting it.

For example – our goal is brand awareness, and our campaign will be a success if 500 people follow our Instagram account and 250 people post about us.

This goal and measuring stick should guide you as you choose your platform and your influencers. They should also guide you as you form the campaign itself.

As you may have guessed, a campaign should consist of more than one or two posts. Campaigns that run over a length of time (even if it’s just a week), with multiple, goal-oriented posts by one or more influencers, will consistently earn you nurtured leads.

Remember, move through the campaign with the influencer. Don’t just watch from the sidelines. No one will make sure your plan happens if YOU or someone from your team doesn’t.

You need a clear goal, clear definition of success, and a clear plan for getting there. And that’s something that depends on YOU, not the influencer.

Closing Stats

A killer IO campaign, from selecting the influencer to running the campaign itself, is not something that can be automated or left solely in the influencer’s hands. It requires time, research, planning, and direct involvement from you and your team.

If you do all these things, the rewards are astronomical. IO has been the #1 new customer acquisition marketing strategy since 2017. And, according to Inc., influencer marketing brings 11x higher ROI than traditional digital marketing.

IO is worth pursuing if you have someone who understands how to do it right and who has the time to do it well.  If you’re interested in outsourcing this DYNAMITE marketing strategy, PM me – I’d love to hear about your brand!


Originally posted on Jessica’s LinkedIn.

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