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One big key to generating results with an influencer marketing campaign is ensuring that the influencer’s fan base and the content shared align with what the brand stands for and what it is trying to achieve. So, before they can leverage the power of an influencer, brands must conduct effective outreach and partner with the right one.
Below, 12 members of Forbes Agency Council each provide their top piece of advice for reaching out and engaging with influencers. With this field perpetually evolving, their expert insights can help brands find influencers whose followers most closely resemble their target audiences and create partnerships that benefit both parties.
1. Make Your Outreach Personal
Instead of a generic communication that says, “Dear influencer…,” brands should take the time to tailor their outreach. Show influencers that you understand their content—ideally by referencing a relevant post or two—and their potential value as a partner. Savvy influencers prioritize organic brand sponsorships, so be sure to share why you feel they are a strong fit. – Danielle Wiley, Sway Group
2. Treat Creators With Respect
Understand what creators are and what they are not. Creators are fantastic brand advocates, but they are terrible conduits of brand voice. When reaching out to creators, make sure they understand that you’re willing to let them do their thing in their voice. Without this, your outreach will just be more noise in a crowded inbox. – Bradley Hoos, The Outloud Group
3. Combine Quantitative And Qualitative Data
You want an influencer who not only has specific audience demographics (quantitative), but also shares the same brand values (qualitative) and can work well in a long-term relationship. It is also crucial not to bulk email a lot of influencers without properly researching each of them. You only want to work with people who are 100% a good fit. – Alessandro Bogliari, The Influencer Marketing Factory
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4. Be Direct In Your First Message
Influencers are constantly flooded via inbox, so it is imperative to be direct in your first message. If you believe someone would be a good fit for your brand, express your reasons why with sincerity. Be respectful of their time because it is valuable. – Nick Brucker, Sparq Designs
Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?
5. Perform A Background Check
One of the most critical things a brand can do when partnering with an influencer is to perform a background check on that influencer. That background check needs to go beyond criminality and include their personal values and their public image. After all, this person is going to represent your brand. All of their actions, personal and public, need to be in line with your brand’s values. – Roger Hurni, Off Madison Ave
6. Follow And Engage With Them Before Reaching Out
Make sure your brand is following the influencer and engaging with their posts through likes and comments before reaching out. In your outreach, clearly state what the brand hopes to achieve through the collaboration. Clarify whether you have a set budget or if you’d like to work together for an exchange of products or services. From there, negotiate a comfortable scope of work for both parties. – Heather Kelly, Next PR
7. Ensure You Share The Same Values And Like Each Other
Don’t just reach out to someone because they have a big following and represent a related niche. That’s not enough of a similarity. You want to make sure they share the same values as your brand. You have to like their content, and in the best-case scenario, they have to like you. If these boxes aren’t checked, you’ll likely be unsatisfied with the outcome of your cooperation. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
8. Do Trial Runs With Detailed Tracking
Think about building long-term relationships with influencers, but also do trial runs with detailed tracking. This will help you and the influencer best understand their following. You don’t want to commit to a long-term partnership without seeing if the influencer is the right fit for your campaign. Create customized links and start the trial process! – Olivia Ormos, OO & CO
9. Be Frank About The Partnership’s Terms
Have a frank and direct conversation about the terms of your professional relationship. Be explicit about what you have to offer in exchange for access to their audience, and set clear boundaries for how they should interact with your product or brand when they’re promoting it. Influencers are individuals, and how they promote might not align with your brand identity, even if it’s a good fit otherwise. – Dmitrii Kustov, Regex SEO
10. Show Influencers That You ‘Get’ Them
Influencers want to know you’ve actually read more than just a handful of their posts and that you “get” them when you reach out. Really study their approach and style before you pitch them, and then customize your pitch to show that you intimately understand them. Also, ensure your pitch clearly explains the ask, why the brand is a natural fit for them and why you’re interested in partnering with them. – April Margulies, Trust Relations
11. Understand What Your Goal Is
Go into the process understanding what your goal is for the activity. Simply diving into influencer marketing because it is popular is not the correct answer. It can be both costly and deceptive in terms of results. The influencer world is still the Wild West, and it’s a daunting process. Find an agency that specializes in influencer marketing and ask the questions you need answered. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency
12. Don’t Expect Them To Work With You For Free
It’s important to see influencers for what they are: commercial enterprises. Just like your business, they make a living off of their expertise, which is engaging their audiences. Don’t expect them to work with you for free just because you represent a well-known brand. When you’re ready to engage an influencer whose audience aligns with your own, ask for a rate sheet, not free mentions. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative
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Author: Expert Panel®, Forbes Councils Member