The Art of Listening: Put your Influencers’ Needs Before Your Own
Today there are over two billion active social media accounts worldwide, growing by 12 percent in the last 12 months. For all the media hype that still surrounds the world of social networks, there is one thing people have come to accept: it’s not going anywhere.
Virtual networks are built on the illusion that everyone likes everyone, and everyone can be “friends.” However, what is truly needed in order for people to build meaningful relationships with each other is the synchronicity of shared experience. That’s because no matter how “friendly” your interactions may be, they are not in person.
One challenge organizations often encounter in implementing influencer marketing programs is taking those first few steps to engage with influencers. There’s often this moment of fear that you might not be following best practices, offending someone, saying the wrong thing – we all know the feeling.
Discovering the Right Approach to Influencer Engagement
Reaching out to influencers can be intimidating. What’s the right approach? What should you say and how should you say it? What should you ask for--and when? Understandably, marketers have shied away from creating these connections in favor of driving conversions. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
By understanding what matters most to your influencers, you’re one step closer to connecting with the people your customers trust the most. Thereby connecting your future customers with your brand.
Building Influencer Relationships Starts with Human Interaction
What holds true in the offline world holds true in the online world too. Relationships start to take hold primarily by listening and talking to each other. Before you can engage with influencers, it’s critical to have a good sense of their needs. Yes, you know how often they’re talking about your topic, but what does that tell you about them as people? Because, ultimately, influencer engagement is about human interaction.
Best-in-class Marketers Listen to Prioritize Influencer Engagement
Best-in-class marketers begin their day by listening. Follow in suit, that way you can monitor activity, listen and participate in relevant conversations around your topic, and prioritize your engagement. The key to building lasting relationships with influencers lies in conversations. Make sure to listen regularly to gain golden nuggets of information, which will help you uncover optimal opportunities to engage with them.
Consider These Five Actionable Tips to Help you Listen to and Participate in Relevant Conversations:
- Become familiar with the content that your influencers create and share online, e.g. blogs, twitter feed, LinkedIn posts, and YouTube videos
- Get equally familiar with their business sites and offerings (if the two are separate)
- Comment regularly on their blogs and social media posts
- Participate in non-work related conversations they are having, if you can do so without coming off like a stalker
- If you have shared personal interests, then don’t be shy about initiating those conversations or even meeting in person
Build relationships Now - Not When you Need Them for Marketing Campaigns
The hardest thing for marketers to do is aside their tactical goals when engaging with influencers. It is however the only path to success. Unless you genuinely work towards providing them with value and expecting nothing in return, all your conversations will be loaded. Give, give, give, before you get. Start more conversations for conversation-sake. Support your influencers by sharing their content and amplifying their message first. Maybe initial conversations don’t directly benefit your marketing strategy, but they let the human on the other end know you’re interested in them.
And above all…
Don’t be in a hurry to ask your influencers to do ANYTHING. The road to influencer engagement is all about the journey, not the destination. If you follow these aforementioned steps, then your influencers will be more than willing to help you at a later stage.
How Luxury Jewelry Brand De GRISOGONO Engaged with Influencers to Reach Millions
To further illustrate this point, take for example the luxury jewelry brand De GRISOGONO who leveraged influencers to engage with a new audience.
De GRISOGONO engages with key influencers all year round but events provide unique opportunities to create impact and to establish new relationships. Prior to the Cannes Film Festival 2015, the brand targeted a very small number of influencers from luxury, lifestyle, and fashion industries, and started building these relationships months before the event.
The team listened to conversations online to get to know these influencers and to offer valuable and mutually beneficial opportunities—from VIP access, photos, and interviews, to producing content featuring them to share with their own social channels.
The De GRISOGONO team uses Traackr to listen to conversations, identify the right influencers, and engage with their communities. Leveraging this insight, the team developed content plans around the events, tracked mentions and live engagement, and measured the impact of each activity. This enabled De GRISOGONO to do what no other brand had yet done in Cannes: Instead of trying to talk to millions of people, they focused on talking to a few influential individuals and indirectly reached millions.
How to Get Started with Influencer Engagement Today
- Identify the most relevant influencers for your business
- Learn as much about them as you can by listening and engaging in relevant conversations
- Engage in the conversation like a human being and remember that making meaningful connections will help your influencers become aware of your brand
People are far more likely to be receptive to what you are saying if they feel you’ve been listening to them. So listen, be empathetic, and respond thoughtfully and consistently.
Learn ways to elevate your influencer marketing practice like never before. For more actionable tips to build relationships and engage in meaningful conversations with key influencers to your brand, download The Marketer’s Guide to Mastering Influencer Engagement.