Finding a Positive Influencer

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Today, I had the typical conversation with a person interested in becoming a social influencer for our client, Costa Sunglasses. Their pitch –  “Can I be a Costa Ambassador? What I mean is I would give you social representation in exchange for you sending me some of your products, like a swap for swap, because my social media channels have this large of a following…” (Maybe those weren’t the exact words, but you get the idea.)

Lindsey Guidry, Account Coordinator finding a positive influencer

Lindsey Guidry, Account Coordinator

After attending a seminar covering influencers on the newly official Social Media Day here in Lafayette, I realized how much other social media and public relations agencies are shifting their focus to finding influencers to support a brand. Even though we’ve worked on convincing our own clients at Ninety-Two West, it was nice to sit in a room with others that find influencers to be a positive addition to their social media programs.

So what is an influencer, and how can they benefit you?

Our client’s fan friend laid it bare; an influencer is someone with a widely followed and/or dedicated social media presence who becomes a digital ambassador for your brand. Ambassadors/Influencers have the responsibility of promoting a product or brand through social media in a way that a organically connects to their fan-base. Some companies may feel the pressure to break down the wall of communicating between a customer and a corporate or business-like persona, but an influencer can bridge the gap between representing and educating others on a product with an organic approach.

Here’s an example of how Costa’s Influencer provides us with a brand appropriate photo wearing their products:

blog infl finding a positive influencer

Follow @rolandmott on Instagram.

So you’re convinced, but where do you begin? How do you set up an influencer program that is right for you? A few takeaways that stood out to me from a Social Media presentation by Laurel Hess, with ReGroup Marketing, were:

  • to interact socially with those you seek as a potential influencer
  • to treat those chosen as media professionals
  • to clearly communicate expectations

Larger brands may have the advantage of setting up an efficient and well-oiled program where interested influencers can apply online.  The influencers most likely approaches the brand, and the brand then qualifies their online presence.

But for brands on a smaller scale, or those just starting an influencer program, they need to do more research and find quality (over quantity) influencers to represent them and spread their brand message. We’ve done it for clients before – searched into related hashtags, suggested profiles, tagged photos, etc. to find someone who has a connection to your brand and a significant enough following for a partnership can develop.

The relationships with influencers can start as casual, but over time, your program progresses. And as more potential influencers reach out to collaborate, there a few things to remember to keep the relationships healthy. Much like Hess’s suggestions, these tips have worked for our clients when finding influencers and starting the partnership:

  • Think of social influencers as an extension of your brand. They are utilized to have a voice that a company may not be able to organically create when communicating to their fan-base otherwise. Choose those whose “personal branding” is in line with your brand’s vision and voice.
  • Ultimately decide on who is the best fit to build relationships with. It’s a professional, yes, but you need to like them on a personal level too, as ambassadors are there to help positively influence your audience. Therefore, you need a positive aura for all to feel – brand, influencer, and consumer.
  • Once you’ve approached them, treat them the same as a media professional – both in how you interact towards their request and in what you request from them. (e.g.  stats or information you may need weekly, monthly, or by initiative)
  • Set parameters for what you expect from your influencer – their amount of followers, how frequently they post, how you intend on them representing your brand (voice, look, etc.), and make these clear from the start. And get it in writing!
  • You may send product to an influencer that you want them to represent in a way that they use on a practical basis and why they enjoy it. Request it, but let them find a natural way to communicate it. It adds depth and authenticity to your existing social efforts and posts.