Five Ways to Influence the Influencers

Within the social media landscape, there are people who are seen as opinion leaders and influencers based on their knowledge, expertise, experience or notoriety.

These people have considerable clout because their thoughts, insight and opinions are highly valued by a large network of followers, friends, fans and readers.

For companies, the big challenge is identifying these key influencers and being able to effectively reach out to them.

It can be a daunting task because many key influencers are bombarded with requests to review services or products, or offer their views on particular trends or issues. As a result, there’s a lot of competition to get their attention.

So, how do you break through the noise to get your product or service into the spotlight? Here are some tips:

1. Do your homework. If you’re targeting key influencers, it’s crucial to know as much about them as possible – their personal and professional backgrounds, online activities (Web site, social media), interests, likes, dislikes, etc.

This will help to avoid the embarrassment of reaching out to someone with something that is relevant or doesn’t interest them. Many influencers have no problem penalizing these efforts by publicly highlighting them. To do your research, use resources such as Google, ZoomInfo and LinkedIn.

2. Read their blog posts, tweets, etc. It may take some time but reading an influencer’s content will provide valuable insight and guidance into their specific areas of interest.

This will make it possible to tie your pitch into something they have written about or are interested in. It could be something like “You have been writing a lot recently about privacy so I thought you would be interested in a new services that protects someone’s online identity…..”. This personalized pitch shows it isn’t a cold call but something that has involved some work to create.

3. Be Focused: Target a group of people who can offer the most bang for the buck rather than using a shot-gun strategy of going after everyone that could be interested in your product or service. The former lets you be focused; the latter can consume a lot of resources and time.

4. Build relationships: Rather than trying to cold-call a key influencer, it’s a good idea, if possible to build a relationship. This could start by leaving comments on their blog posts or replying to their tweets. If you start by having a conversation, it will make it easier to pitch them with some personal connection.

5. Craft the Perfect Pitch: After doing your homework and research and, hopefully, building a relationship, spend the time to create a pitch that is personal, relevant and interesting.

Given many key influencers like to be stroked, ask for their opinion and advice about your product or service. As well, think about offering a “carrot” such as product/service evaluations or free trials.

What are some of the other ways to effectively reach out to key influencers?

16 Comments on “Five Ways to Influence the Influencers”

  1. I’d also say be careful in identifying which influencers to target.. Just because someone has a large following, doesn’t mean his/her influence will be transferable to you. Focus on influencers in the industry you serve.

  2. This is a great start for a list, especially for PR people. Influencing the influencers is definitely an art AND a science. As someone who works at a digital agency in the social media space – and someone that people reach out to in an attempt to perhaps “influence” – I would also respectfully suggest a few additions to the list:

    6) Be real. Don’t be slick, don’t be stiff, and don’t be overly friendly or fake. Approach the exchange as more of an opportunity to meet someone new – not a sales job.
    7) Don’t put this on the summer intern. No offense to interns, but these types of communications should be left to friendly, experienced professionals who are well-versed in appropriate business communications. ROTFL need not apply.
    8) Offer something in return. The most influential bloggers and other influencers get “pitched” all the time. Social media exchanges are about value – so what do you have to offer them? Perhaps another article, blog post, or contact might be valuable to them. Maybe a “sneak peek” at new information or heads up on a new product. If you’ve done your research (see #2), that will lead you to the right answer. And whatever it is, they’ll appreciate you thinking of what you can do for them first — not the other way around.

    Cheers!

    1. Seth,

      You’re right, a compelling story is a key ingredient, although it really helps to have a great service/products to build on.

      cheers, Mark

  3. How about NOT pitching? If handle the right way, i.e. normal human-to-human communications and relationships, a pitch is usually unnecessary.

    BTW, “stroking” sounds so dirty… are we really that desperate in PR land? 😉

    Beth Harte
    Serengeti Communications
    @bethharte

    1. Beth,

      Yes, not pitching is also a good option. It’s really a matter of the soft sell as opposed to the hard selling used in other mediums.

      cheers, Mark

  4. An interesting post, as a blogger relations consultant, I would also add that you can use some useful SEO tools, such as the Google Chrome SEO widget, which is in beta, this enables you to see a site’s Alexa ranking, Page Rank and much much more. There is no substitute for reading the blog you are targetting properly but these tools can speed the process up now.

  5. Well written post.

    One of the things I have learned is to also be, what Chris Brogan and Julien Smith would call, a “trust agent”. In my words, this is someone who has taken the time to share, comment and participate within the larger or niche communities.

    Then when it comes time to ask, you are already known as someone who is “one of us”.

    Technology isn’t the key. Technology and all these social tools just allow us to “do unto others” on a massive or more targeted scale.

    kk

    1. Karim,

      Good point. It really helps to be “drinking the Kool-Aid” to play well with others in the social media sandbox. 🙂

      Mark

  6. I really don’t mean to be an old timer. But this is not any different than good PR from 50 years ago. Know your subject, know the bloggers (journalists) readers, Understand what is going to make a good story and give it to them quotes, people, images, angles. But this all takes time. This is a topic Kevin Duggan and I covered.

    I will differ with one key point – “Given key influencers like to be stroked” Yikes is it that easy. Instead of strokes, I’d suggest access to those people who can give them the information they need for a compelling story. Access to product before it’s available to the public. For me influencers are not about quantity, but about quality. Do they take pride in what they do, are they knowledgable.

    I’ll give you two examples. Breon Nagy @breon and Justin Dessonville. @iamdez When launching the Droid last year, Verizon wanted to identify Android developers. Breon was not an active blogger, just a smart guy active in Twin Cities Mobile circles. Breon is now News Editor of Droid Dog. IamDez i found from his comments on Garrick Van Buren’s blog. His comments were about the difference in the way developers are treated by Apple and the Android Market.

    Ah, but we are not dealing with journalists, what about when those strokes are related to money, gifts, travel, Aw hell. Those count too, plenty of journalists have gone on junkets, do it up right. Social media changes nothing when it comes to human nature. See you down the road.

    1. Albert,

      You make a great point about quality over quantity, and the importance of delivering a good story to bloggers who are really interested in your product or service. Thanks for the comment.

      Mark

  7. Duh I didn’t finish the Kevin Dugan reference -it was a Marketing Edge podcast from last year. You’ll love this because we get into the reasons why the points you articulate in this post don’t get done many times. Among those reasons: clients don’t produce something worth writing about, they think they get to have control over the copy or they just don’t want to pay for the time to do it right. You’ve got to love Dugan.

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