Over the past five years, I have written about the impact of influence marketing in social media for companies and organizations. In my most recent articles, I emphasized the importance for professionals and CEOs to build a digital identity, personal branding, and develop lasting relationships with the leaders in their sector.
As with any human-to-human relationship (H2H), we must understand to whom we turn, clearly define goals and expectations, and ask what we can bring to the relationship. Developing a lasting relationship takes time and attention, as well as give and take.
1 – Clearly define the context and mutual expectations
The first step to a lasting relationship is to define expectations to avoid creating disappointments. First we must define our own objectives and ask what outcome is desired for the relationship.
Influencers in each sector are professionals, passionate about their work, who have devoted a lot of hard work and time to develop the expertise that is now recognized in their community. This expertise is invaluable to them.
To avoid wasting their time and yours, clearly define your goals and ask yourself if the influencer is likely to respond. Analyze the content, conversations and exchanges in his community to see if it matches the message you want to send. Also, make sure they’re active on the same platforms as your audience.
There are several types of influencers. Brands do not fuel the same type of relationship with the ambassadors (employees, partners, and supporters) as opinion leaders. Neal (Schaffer) in the Social Business Journal – Influencer Marketing, just published by Cision says, ¨In order to maximize share of voice and brand awareness in social networks, big brands need to leverage what I call the Power of Other: employees, partners, fans, and influencers.
Employees, partners, and fans should already have brand affinity and are a great resource to tap into. But other influencers may no have any brand loyalty, and because of their influence can be instrumental to introducing and influencing how others perceive your brand to a large community that might have little overlap with your own.¨
We must understand the context for the relationship to develop. And for professionals and CEOs, who wish to enter the sphere of influencers, affinity will become even more important because they will personally invest more.
2 – Respect the commitment of influencers in their community
Initially, sharing and commenting on the influencer’s content can be a good way to start the conversation. Since they inspire you, it’s natural to want to share their knowledge with your network. However, you have to respect the rules and basic ethics of blogging.
For example, if you relay their content through your networks, make sure to mention the source. If you use their content to create new content, made clear reference and make sure to include links to the original source. When using quotes, or translating from another language, be courteous and ask them for permission.
Later, when you publish your article, be sure to mention them in your posts. You can then solicit their comments. If you’re promoting their content, and interacting with them, you will generally receive positive responses from them.
Brands or organizations seeking influencers must consider that professionals are already very busy, and as such, their actions deserve to be fairly compensated.
¨Expecting to use someone’s time and influence to your advantage for free is a big mistake and downright selfish. It can be exponentially more beneficial to a brand and their PR team if they rethink their strategies in regard to influencer marketing and focus on choosing their influencers wisely, compensating them fairly and building long-term relationships with them.¨ Daniel Newman mentioned in a recent article in Forbes.
I totally agree with him. However, I don’t know any influencer who will agree to write an article’ attend an event or a product launch, even when compensated if he doesn’t believe in the product. His commitment to his community is too valuable to jeopardize it for so little.
3 – Bring authentic value when working with influencers
For a relationship to be successful, it must be profitable for both parties. The rule of reciprocity applies. In a relationship with influencers, one must ask what he can give them in exchange for their services, and how to compensate them fairly. We must seek to understand what motivates the influencer, what really interest them.
An influencers articles and endorsements do not exchange in the same way that a product or service would. Monetary benefits ultimately represent very little interest for them, as shown by the study by the Omen firm. They prefer co-creation of content (31%) or proprietary information (28%) which allows them to increase their authority and influence in their community, rather than remuneration (16%), or invitations to events (12%).
One of the first lessons we learn in social media is that you need to give before you receive. This rule is especially true with influencers. If you build your relationship exclusively on your personal interests, the influencer won’t be interested. However, if you can bring real value to the relationship, with your actions, you’ll have an easier collaboration. And if, in addition, you produce relevant and interesting content for their community, they will begin to share your ideas and content.
From that moment, the relationship will move to a level of collaboration. You may be asked to contribute on a more regular basis. And the more you invest in this relationship and respond to the expectations, the greater their personal community (other influencers that are in the same network) will take note and will give more attention to your message.
4 – Demonstrate consistency and gratitude
It’s 3 years since Neal (Schaffer) invited me to collaborate on his blog. I contribute this monthly column on the influence in social media marketing. Each month, I make it a point to write my best articles to meet the high expectations of Maximize Social Business readers. I strive to be worthy of the twenty other authors that also contribute to the platform. To get to know and network with these influencers has been very motivating and stimulating.
Fuelling this column, however, requires a lot of work, and I spend several hours writing and translating. Many hours spent in addition to my other professional occupations. If I’ve missed a few publications, Neal never put pressure. On the contrary, he never stopped supporting me. He has always demonstrated great respect for the content and authors, and is involved in long-term relationships. Here’s an example of the consistency that I follow. (Listen to the podcast: Guest Blogging Is Here To Stay: Compliance and Content Creators on Maximize Your Social)
Over the years, I have learned a lot from my relationship with him. Working with Neal these past 3 years taught me a lot about the art of collaboration. His professionalism, his mastery of social marketing rules, and the respect he gives people are inspirational. As the editor of this platform, his comments and suggestions are always very relevant to my articles and have helped me become a better writer. He gave me the honour of writing the foreword to my new book: Generation C – Influence Marketing in the Digital Age, which has just come out in French, in France from Kawa Editions. (The English version will be available later this year). For all of that, I thank him greatly and publicly. Thanks again, my friend for letting me be a part of this.
What are your thoughts about this article? Do you agree? Share your own experience with our readers.