Social media influencers might have had a bad rap recently, but plenty of businesses are still open to working with them. The key is to spend time researching the type of social influencer that will add the most value for you – and extend your audience in the right direction. If it’s an avenue you’re currently looking into, here are a few guidelines for choosing an influencer and how to approach them.
1. Decide your budget for your social influencer
What is your budget for working with influencers? Are you in a position to pay influencers in exchange for their services? If not don’t worry – many influencers, especially new or micro-influencers, are open to writing about products and services for free if they have an interesting angle. And if they get to experience the service / keep the product afterwards then so much the better. An example of how this works: a personal trainer reaches out to a health and fitness influencer and offers her six complimentary sessions in exchange for exposure on her social media accounts.
2. Keep your target audience front of mind
You must ensure your audience matches that of those influencers you wish to target – it doesn’t matter how many followers they have if those followers wouldn’t purchase your product. Influencers’ followers need to have the same demographics as yours, so make a list of your target audience’s locations, ages, needs, interests and so on, so that they’ll be front of mind when you start to research influencers.
3. Research social influencers with the same target audience
Using keywords that describe the needs and interests of your audience, search Google and social media, and review the resulting social accounts. Tabulate all the likely influencers along with key details such as their location, follower numbers and post regularity. Also, make a note of their main branding messages – this will come in handy when you reach out to them further down the line so you can demonstrate that you understand their personal brand.
4. Decide your terms
Will you be paying the social influencer? Will you be paying them ‘in kind’ i.e. with your product or service? Which platforms would you like them to promote you on? How many posts would you like them to do, how regularly and by what date? What format would you like the posts to be in – written, videos, photos or a combination? What tags and hashtags do they need to use, and what links would you like them to include? Having all this information ready before you approach an influencer is key to demonstrating professionalism and making your requirements clear, leaving no room for misunderstandings later on.
5. Reach out
With many social influencers working remotely at all times, a traditional business meeting probably isn’t going to work for you in this instance unless you’re actively targeting local influencers who are in a position to meet up. In fact, most influencers prefer to be reached by email or social media message anyway, so draft a message outlining your offering and what you’d like in return. Be polite, concise, clear and specific, and make sure you show that you’ve researched them and understood their personal brand and their audience. Demonstrate why you think you would make a good partnership together, and how it would be beneficial for both of you.
If they say yes: great news. Now is the time to confirm the exact terms of the arrangement – make it very clear what you’re going to offer them, and the specifics of what you want in exchange. Some influencers require the other party to sign a contract so do be prepared for that.
If they say no – don’t worry about it, it won’t be personal. Some influencers keep brand partnerships to a minimum in order to make their posts as authentic as possible for their viewers.
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