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7 Steps to Authentic Influencer Marketing, Part Two

Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

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In our series about working with influencers in authentic and meaningful ways, we’re now moving into Step 2 through 5 in this post. If you’ve come to this post before reading the first one on why you should collaborate with influencers and how to start your research, you can check it out here. For those keeping track at home, here are all the steps of the series:

how to do influencer marketing list-2

Let’s jump right in where we left off. Now that you’ve identified the influencers who may be a great match for your goals and brand, you’ll want to have a place to keep track of all of the interactions and details as your relationship progresses. A document or spreadsheet can help you look objectively at qualitative and quantitative data about influencers as well as focus your efforts and not get sidetracked.

Step 2: Add them to the Engagement Pipeline

Focus is the name of the game for this step because it will help you develop the right relationships with the right influencers for your brand. This is where the Engagement Pipeline comes in. I developed and tested this spreadsheet with clients that will help you maintain your focus on the influencers you’ve researched and organize your team. In the following steps, I’m going to use the example of adding influencers for a fashion brand.

The best way for you to get started building your engagement pipeline is to:

1. Create your spreadsheet
Get a copy here.

2. Customize your spreadsheet
Customize the columns based on social networks or other site information that may be relevant to you.
– For example, for the fashion brand, Instagram would be more important than Twitter. In that case, you’d pay more attention to the influencer’s Instagram metrics than ones from her Twitter profile.

Mack Web - social profiles for Engagement Pipeline

3. Create a tab for each audience group
Duplicate the first tab for each of your audience groups and label them accordingly.

Engagement Pipeline GIF

I like to divide up my audience groups by behavior or common issues, not by demographics (tip thanks to Matt Ingwalson). After all, two very different customers (demographics-wise) could end up buying that same pair of Frye boots. Grouping people only by their demographics without regard for their common interests can lead you to miss patterns of behavior that may be more important to your end goal (in this case, encouraging their readers to become aware of and buy your brand’s shoes).
– In this scenario, I’d divide up the audience segments into tabs like fashionable moms, DIY fashionistas, shoe fiends, etc.
– For further clarity, I’d add in a description of who falls into this group. For the shoe fiends tab, I’d add a note like: For the fashion-conscious group that prioritizes shoes above other accessories or even clothing.

creating tabs for Engagement Pipeline - Mack Web

4. Plan for adjustments
Add a “Removed” tab (or whatever you want to call it) so that you can keep track of people you take off the list. Don’t hold on to influencers because they should have been a great fit. Rather, keep working on the relationships that actually are a great match. It’s not always easy to tell who’s going to be a great match based on just looking at their blog or social media profiles so allow yourself the flexibility to remove influencers who just aren’t the right ones for your goals and your brand.

5. Fill in the details
Continue to fill in necessary details and information on the pipeline as you do your research.

6. Update your Engagement Pipeline as you go
Refer back to the Engagement Pipeline along the way, remembering to update it with conversation, pitching updates, or notes. This will help keep your whole team updated on what’s happening with each of your influencers.

The last thing you need to know is that it’s inadvisable to add a lot of people to this list for each audience group at the start – you’ll never be able to keep them all straight when you start interacting with them on social media or on their blogs. Start with 5-10 people in each segment. If you find more people than that in your research, add them to the bottom of the list in that tab under the heading “NEED TO RESEARCH FURTHER” or something like that.

need to research further on Engagement Pipeline

You will need to switch people out and add new people in based on responsiveness and fit for your purposes so it helps to have the research already halfway done when that happens.

Step 3: Follow influencers every which way

Chances are your influencers don’t just live on Twitter or on their blog. You need to find all the places where they are active and follow or subscribe to them there.

This is important: don’t follow them and then pitch them a minute later. You’re following or subscribing to their stuff because you plan to read it and you genuinely think it aligns with your brand. If you were an influencer, you’d know in no time if someone emailed you, but had never been to your blog or checked you out on Twitter.

If you aren’t authentic here, you’ll get mostly no’s in response to your pitches, which isn’t going to help you reach your goals of brand awareness and community building or increase profits for your brand.

Here are ways you can follow the influencers on your Engagement Pipeline:

Begin with their blog (if they have one)

  • Find it and subscribe to receive emails.
  • IFTTT has some good recipes for getting blog posts sent to your email, too.
  • Add them to your Feedly blog feed if you can’t subscribe to them or don’t want to get emails every time they publish a post.
  • Make an effort to check it every day or every other day.
  • Being timely when commenting on blog posts goes a long way to building relationships.

Check them out on social media

  • Follow them on Twitter and add them to a private list or a public Twitter list if you want to catch their eye.
    • If you do a public Twitter list, don’t name it something like “Influencers I want to have write about my brand’s shoes.” Be real and appreciative of their work and their passion. Something like “Shoe Lovers” would go over better with fashion influencers.
    • Check your lists on Twitter daily or multiple times a day – Tweetdeck or Hootsuite are both great options for following updates from influencers on your list in one place.
    • You also can set up a Warble alert if you have keywords around topics you want to engage with them about or if you’re looking for certain hashtags. Here are some of the ways you can set up a Warble:

supported operators list for Warble Alerts

  • Like their Facebook page.
  • Follow them on Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Periscope, Snapchat, wherever they are active. The keyword here is active. It won’t help you to follow them somewhere where they are inactive if you can develop meaningful a connection elsewhere.

Step 4: Connect with influencers by being human and authentic

You don’t just go from being a complete stranger to someone who can be trusted overnight. This is the part that may take you the longest. But the good news is that it’s an active process and you’ll learn a lot more about your target audience along the way. So think of this step as both data gathering and engagement.

How to connect person-to-person online:

  • Converse with them on Twitter and other social media networks regularly.

tweet to an influencer example
It’s true – I love Everlane.

  • Comment on their blog posts, but don’t be fake or disingenuous here.
    • Make it real even if you don’t talk about anything related to your brand. You’re showing yourself as a real person to influencers.
      • For example, if a shoe lover influencer was talking about rain boots in a post that I wanted to comment on, I would comment on it anyway even if my company only made high heels.
      • I wouldn’t try to turn the conversation to high heels either because, really, nobody wants that. It’s off-topic and irrelevant.
        example of blog comment for influencer
    • Add to the conversation on social media or their blog in a meaningful way (go beyond “Great post!”).
      • For example, going back to the rain boots example, if I had a tip about keeping rain boots comfy warm while it was cold outside, that blog post would be an excellent place to use that tip in a comment.
  • Curate content from their blog for your brand or personal social media accounts, or retweet content that they’ve shared. Again, make it something you’re interested in or they’ll see right through it.
    • I have seen success using either our clients’ brand or my personal social media account when reaching out to influencers and building relationships. I personally like using my own social accounts so influencers can place an actual face to a name.
    • If you do use your personal social media account, be transparent about working with a brand when you send a pitch so influencers don’t feel duped.
      Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 5.23.18 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-03 at 5.59.07 PM
  • Make notes in the Engagement Pipeline about things they’re passionate about, potential collaboration ideas, blog posts that you like, their pet peeves, their secondary interests (e.g. they love M&Ms and pugs as well as shoes), and anything else that may help you in the future. You may also find other research avenues related to influencers through your connections so make note of those in the appropriate tabs.

I can’t tell you exactly how long this step will take you. Sometimes I’ve interacted with an influencer for a few days and made a great connection. Sometimes it has taken 3-4 months to build a real relationship.

However, if you’re not finding your brand has much in common with an influencer (even if you thought they’d be a great match during your research phase), don’t hesitate to add them to the Removed tab. Don’t forget: building an authentic relationship with an influencer who is a great fit for your brand will help you reach the goals you set.

Step 5: Help them before asking them to help you

This can be as simple as answering a question on social media or sharing their blog posts regularly on Twitter. It can get as complicated as interviewing them or getting a quote from them to use in a blog post on your site.

tweet about Jimmy Daly enewsletter

For example, a tweet about an enewsletter I like from an influencer
in the email marketing space

The key here is to help them get what they want. It will allow them to be more successful and you will earn that trust you need in a friendship. By doing this regularly, you’ll be showing them that you help those you consider friends, which may cause them to be more open to the pitches you send over.

And that’s the subject of the next step in this influencer marketing series: developing your pitches.

Steps 2 through 5: Check!

Last time, you established your goals and who you want to reach. After this post, you now have a copy of our Engagement Pipeline spreadsheet customized to your needs and have added in your research about the influencers you want to build a relationship with. Now it’s time to observe your influencers and work on building that relationship by helping them before asking them to help you.

how to do influencer marketing list - 3

It may seem like a lot to do, but this pre-work before developing the ‘ask’ will make a big difference to the response you get from influencers. After all, would you rather work with someone who’s taken the time to get to know and help you, or someone who cold emails you asking for a favor? I’d personally rather help a friend out.

Influencer Marketing Part 3: Steps for when you have the relationship

In the final post in this series, I’ll go through the steps of what to do when the relationship has progressed and you’re ready to pitch an idea. With all this pre-work done, influencers will be more inclined to work with you on collaboration than they would if you contacted them out of the blue with a form email.

Part One: What is influencer marketing, reasons why you should do it, and how to research your influencers
Part Two: How to add influencers to your Engagement Pipeline, follow influencers, connect with them by being human and authentic, and help them before asking for help
Part Three: How to develop the ask and keep the relationship alive

Author Ayelet Golz

More posts by Ayelet Golz

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