One question we hear is, in summary, "I know influencer marketing is a good thing. But I'm not sure how to go about engaging influencers. What's the route from point A to point B?" We've talked a little bit about sources you can use for gaining Snapchat followers, but we didn't get into the nuts and bolts of how to contact them in a day-to-day environment. Well, not until now:
Know What You're Asking For
We know it sounds a little Zen, but you have to know the question before you know the answer. Start by deciding what you want: Do you want more followers? More retweets? Guest bloggers? Snapchat people to share with? People on LinkedIn to take part in your conversations? Potential testimonials? Consider both the channels you want to target and just what you what from an influencer. Make a list and write it down. This is your starting point – and it also shows you if you need to pay influencers for their work, or settle for a simpler relationship.
Create a "Reach Out" Template
One problem we sometimes run into is that, through the course of the day, you may run into potential influencers or their posts, but you just don't have enough time to do anything about it – certainly not enough time to sit down and write an entire email asking for their help or starting a relationship. One solution that helps immensely with this process is a reach out template, or a basic message template that provides an introduction and request with some blanks left to fill out (maybe create a longer version for emails and shorter version for quick messaging). It's a great starting place, especially for engaging influencers that are on your radar but not high priority topics. It also helps removes a few of those "too busy" excuses.
Use a Contact Database
If you don't have even the time to shoot off a template email, at least add a name and contact information to a database. This does not have to be complex: You could have a spreadsheet with three different sections – people you haven't contacted yet but need to, people you have contacted but haven't yet responded, and people that you have added as influencers through successful contact. Even this simple division is a huge help when it comes to reaching out. Otherwise, a few months in it's going to be very difficult to tell how your influencer work is going and who you've already contacted.
It's poor manners to ask for an influencer's follow or content if you haven't even followed them yet! Before sending out the first message, take time to follow your potential influencer. This also helps you learn a little about the influencer, information that you can use in some of those blank spaces in your template letter. Remember, if you're already following a contact on one channel, check to see if you are following them on others, too! This expands your reach as well as helps you get more "yes" responses.
Offer the Carrot, Not the Stick
For important influencers, the content of your message is very important. Remember, these people may get dozens of requests each day for their various kinds of influence – most of which go ignored. How will you stand out? Here's a great piece about getting Arianna Huffington as an influencer that describes this challenge well: Essentially, you don't want to bludgeon or bloviate. Instead, offer praise, talk about a few specifics (maybe the last articles they wrote), and have enough empathy to understand how they feel and how busy they are. If possible, offer services or benefits in return for their response, too!
Balance Patience and Repeated Contact
Nothing is more annoying to influencers than repeated, annoying contact from the same company – something that happens frequently (there's even a funny little comic about it). Show as much patience as possible here. If it's been a few months and you haven't heard anything back, then it's all right to try another message. But don't send messages every week – that's no way to treat your influencers.
Know When to Push
There are generally two different times when it's all right to push more – to reach out and make a very specific request or offer, even if you have contacted the influencer recently. Take note of these exceptions:
1. When you notice an influencer has made a particular request or complaint, and you can offer a solution.
2. When you are releasing a new product or service that is directly related to the subjects that the influencer covers.