How To Develop an Influencer Outreach Strategy That Converts
What Is Influencer Outreach?
There’s been a huge hype within the last few years around social media “influencers” and as marketers we’ve learned how to tap into these influencers to drive brand awareness, increase traffic from social media, and in turn drive sales. Essentially influencers are people who have large followings and are almost like celebrities to their followers.
Influencers can be bloggers with high site traffic, social media gurus with large followings, or individual people who have developed strong followings. We specifically target social media influencers in the Instagram and YouTube space, depending on what the client is looking for – either images, videos, or both!
How We Approach A Cross-Departmental Strategy
Our Social and PR teams each have a love and passion for the influencer space, which is why we developed a cross-channel strategy that incorporates the strengths of our PR team’s relationship-building and outreach as well as the social listening and research aptitude of our Social team. The collaboration allows us to have an extremely efficient process, where we divide and conquer in order to get faster and better results.
Every client requires a different type of influencer. This is why we begin our process by handpicking influencers to match our client’s unique needs. We have thoroughly built out lists of influencers across every vertical from fashion to fishing, that never stops growing.
Before we contact any influencer on behalf of a client, we develop a content strategy that helps us create a cohesive aesthetic between all influencer photos. This content strategy assures that we have a use for the photos in place, and can perfectly match the image that the brand is trying to represent on social.
We begin our outreach process on social by contacting the influencer as the brand through the direct message feature on Instagram. This allows us to build relationships with influencers as the client so they have an understanding of who they will be working with from the start.
We ask for the influencer’s email so we can move the conversation over to our PR team to build the relationship and coordinate product placements. Once we have received all contact information, we add the influencer data to our master influencer database where our PR team can then pick and chose the best influencers for the client at the time.
Once we onboard a client and have the strategy for the images fully ironed out from the Social team, our PR team then hand-picks from our database of influencers the individuals who we believe best represent the brand. Organization is key in this step, since we want to make sure we are reaching out to people who we think would be interested in the brand, who we want posting about the brand, and keeping track of these influencers in one centralized location.
We organize our influencer outreach, just like our other tiers of outreach, through excel sheets living on the Drive. This allows for visibility with the whole PDM team and keeps us organized with areas for notes and status updates.
Once we conduct outreach via email, we nurture the relationship and build rapport with the influencer. We share messaging points, potential captions and answer any questions along the way. We also facilitate sending product and getting the rights to the influencer’s branded image so we can repurpose for our clients.
It’s critical to have every influencer we work with agree to share their images with the client even if they prefer to have the image watermarked. One of the main goals of influencer outreach is to leverage the images we secure for our client’s marketing initiatives and we need their consent in doing so. Our PR team ultimately secures the social coverage from the influencer and then we monitor engagement of the post with the social team.
Developing relationships with influencers allows us to leverage the same influencers across different client accounts where they would still be a fit, which is why ongoing communication is so important.
Best Practices When Communicating With Influencers
When you’re communicating with influencers, you’re communicating with another human being – not a robot. These people want to feel like you’re actually invested in not only the success of your client, but also the success of the influencer. Flattery goes a long way.
- Call out a recent social post that you liked or compliment their feed or style. The key here is to be specific. Saying “I love your feed” or “Your style is amazing” might be too vague. If you mention something like “That striped sweater with the printed pants was so fun, love it” then you’ve hit the sweet spot and they know you’re paying attention and you didn’t mass email 50 other influencers with the same line.
- Get to know them. Ask them how they are doing or how a recent trip you saw they went on went rather than just talking business.
- Be casual. Influencers usually have vibrant personalities and like to keep it real, which is why they have developed large followings of people who are inspired by what they post on social media. If you’re using corporate lingo, it might not work in your favor with an Instagram. It’s much easier to develop a relationship that is both professional and personal if you keep your communication colloquial rather than sterile and full of business jargon.
- Be specific in your ask. Once you build rapport with an influencer, you want to make sure you are clearly defining your campaign and what you expect from them.
The Ideal Brand For Influencer Marketing
While influencer outreach is a great way to introduce your product to hundreds of thousands of people, it is still not a good option for every type of product. There are five key factors to look at when deciding if your product would be a good option for an influencer outreach campaign.
- Type of Product: B2C companies are a better fit for influencer outreach than B2B since the influencers post reach direct consumers.
- Target Audience: Certain audiences are not as prevalent on Instagram. While Instagram is slowing growing its reach into older demographics, currently over 50% of its’ users are under the age of 30. It is also largely used by women, in fact, over 65% of all Instagram users are women. With that being said, through careful influencer consideration, you can find accounts that match your unique demographic no matter what it may be.
- Accessibility of Product: Instagram influencers with under 50k followers will often accept product rather than payment for their posts. If your product takes weeks or even months to ship, Influencer outreach may not be the best option for you. Social moves quickly so you’ll want to get your product into the hands of your influencers as promptly as possible. Additionally, if shipping your product is extremely complicated or expensive then the cost and headache of getting your product in an influencer’s hands might not be worth it.
- Cost of Product: Since you are exchanging product in return for a photo or two on Instagram, you want to make sure that it is worth the return. Typically products with an MSRP under $150 are within a good product value for influencers. If your product is over that cost, it doesn’t mean influencer outreach can’t work for you, but you may want to explore offering an e-gift card or a strong discount.
- Aesthetic of Product: Instagram is extremely visual channel so to make Influencer Outreach valuable to your brand, you should have a visual product. Influencer outreach is more than just getting brand awareness, it’s also a great opportunity to receive high-resolution images for you site. You’ll get more value from your Instagram influencer campaign if you have a visual product.
How To Leverage Influencer Images Cross-Channel
Once you receive great images from your influencers, what do you do next? Utilizing your high-resolution Instagram images in a crucial part in making your influencer campaign a success. We recommend using the photos to build your website and blog content, create visual testimonials on your social channels, and even in your ads campaigns.
Using the influencer photos in your blog posts is a great way to increase your brand legitimacy and brand image. Rather than using stock photos, Influencer photos can give your blogs a professional, unique visual advantage. Social is one of the easiest ways to utilize your influencer photos. Rather than just simply reposting, use the photos as a testimonial.
By asking your influencers to make their caption a product testimonial, you can take a quote directly from them and link back to their profile. This builds credibility as your audience can further read how that influencer loved your product. A more unique way to put the creatives to use is in your social advertising campaigns. Use the influencer photo as your hero image and update the tagline to be a part of the testimonial.
It’s a great way to use original content to grow your brand awareness. Always remember to ask your influencers for permission (and to sign an image release!) before you use any of their photos for your marketing efforts.
Influencer outreach is its own unique realm of PR and social media combined. It’s so important to speak with social influencers as human beings and connect on a personal level. You can often get your brand portrayed in a better way when you’ve established a relationship with the influencer.
Also, keep in mind that securing coverage on Instagram isn’t the final product of your outreach efforts. Brands and marketers should leverage these awesome images and the credibility that the influencers carries on social media and even paid social. Want to talk influencer? Give us a shout at [email protected] or [email protected]!