Smart public relations practitioners are always looking for ways to expand the visibility of their clients’ plans and programs. Adding opportunities for outreach to social influencers is one way to do that.
Identifying the Right Influencers
Identifying the right influencers involves the same mindset as identifying “beat” reporters or other key stakeholders. Look at the clients’ media channels to see if certain names keep popping up. Someone who is already a fan could be the right approach. Another approach is to find a local bloggers group or Social Media Breakfast if you’re targeting within a specific geographic area. In my hometown of San Antonio, the local bloggers group has grown to nearly 400. Over in Houston, the monthly Social Media Breakfast draws more than 60 in person and even more watching the live stream. A third research tactic is to find industry-specific conferences and identify attendees in that space.
They may be the same as media, or completely different than traditional media. But most social influencers are open to new relationships, so reach out using the channel on which they are most active or using the method they’ve shared on their About Us page and grab a cup of coffee. Find out their goals and brand alignments, and have a few ideas of where they might fit in to your current plans and campaigns. The key is to build value from the relationship.
Flexibility is the key. Many of the social influencers I’ve worked with are entrepreneurs. They wear many hats. While they may be very influential in the industry you’ve identified, they might also have a part-time or full-time job or be juggling personal and professional commitments. When inviting influencers to an event, make sure it’s appropriate and give them the benefit of a “save the date” several weeks before the event. Don’t be surprised about compensation. Many social influencers are independent media channels, so when they earn, they are successful. Look at methods of compensation and see if there is room for it in your plan.
Take Time to Measure and Evaluate
What did you hope to get out of the outreach? What did the influencer get? Did it work to everyone’s mutual benefit? Evaluate the exchange and measure its success. Look at activity (output), awareness and attention (outtakes) and change in attitudes (outcomes). You might be surprised at the dimension that social influencers bring to the table.