A PR campaign without an influencer outreach element is like a party without prosecco; lacklustre and not quite hitting the mark. You see, influencer outreach is public relations and getting your brand or your clients in front of these influencers is just as important as getting coverage with a target media title.
We've had a piece of coverage with a link on one of the top national websites before, with a live link through to the client's site, which has delivered traffic and sales that pale in comparison to a similar piece on a blogger site. Influencers often have such an engaged audience, that they will buy into something a lot more than they would if they'd seen someone else writing about it; they have influence... hence the name!
Here we're going to discuss how to plan an effective influencer outreach campaign that will generate tangible results for your clients or brand. Let's take it away...
Identify Your Target Demographic
The influencer realm is by no means one size fits all. Different people are, obviously, influenced by different things. Before planning your influencer outreach, you need to have a solid understanding of the target demographic for your client or brand. This will enable you to determine who and what will influence them. For example, if you run a women's fashion brand and you want to target 18-30 year old females, this will help you to determine that they are more than likely influenced by fashion bloggers in their age bracket, stylish celebrities and trend Instagram stars.
Research Influencer Platforms
Once you know your audience inside out, you need to get to work on finding the best influencers to target in order to reach these people. Some people make the mistake of thinking that influencers are just bloggers, but that's not the case. You need to look at platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to find people that others follow closely. On Twitter and Instagram, utilise the hashtag search function; for example, if we're using a women's fashion brand as an example again, look at #fashion, #OOTD ('outfit of the day') and #fblogger. Look at the account closely to check for a high number of followers and good engagement levels (i.e. are they getting lots of comments + interacting with their audience?).
An influencer can appear to have lots of followers, but these numbers can often be made up of a high number of fake or spammy accounts. For Twitter, you can use tools like the Status People Fake Follower check to see if an influencers followers are genuine and if they are worth targeting in your campaign.
Journalists are, of course, influencers in their own right and you'll be able to find their contact details alongside those for bloggers on platforms like the Response Source Media Database, which we use. If your campaign is very SEO focused, it's worth noting that a blogger will quite often have quite a rubbish Domain Authority (DA) in comparison to the websites of big media titles, but you shouldn't rule them out in your outreach efforts. The sway they have on their followers is really worth going after.
Find Out How They Prefer To Work
An influencer will work with you on their terms only and you have to respect that. After all, a lot of them really are kind of a big deal. Whilst a standard press release approach might work for a journalist, this just won't fly for a blogger. Most of them operate on a pay-to-play basis only and getting your client or brand onto their blog or in one of their social media posts is going to require some funds.
The key thing here is to find out how they want to work on a case-by-case basis. If you have a product that you want to gift to them, find out if they'll offer reviews; some will offer a review in exchange for receiving the product, whilst others will also want payment on top. During an influencer outreach campaign we devised and carried out for Optical Express, we found journalists and bloggers who wanted laser eye surgery and offered the procedure them free of charge in exchange for a review of their experience. This was a very effective way of securing influencer coverage, but your offering doesn't always have to be something as big as laser eye surgery! We've had success with lower value offerings too, from make-up brushes and beauty treatments to food and health products.
Hold An Event
When targeting influencers, it's worth thinking about holding an event that you can invite them along to, particularly if you have a new product or campaign launch planned. We recently held an exclusive press event for Lee Kum Kee and had some great bloggers, journalists and influencers come along. If budget allows, hire a venue, put on some nibbles and drinks and get some invites out!
Hone Your Target List
As mentioned earlier, influencer outreach often requires a bit of extra budget. Therefore, it's worth being selective in your targeting. Once you've researched the best influencer in terms of their audience, engagement levels and reach, create a shortlist that you can work with to keep spend under control. Ask for blogger rate cards and work out where you'll get the most for your money. Don't be taken for a ride!
Well, there you have it; a few things to think about when planning your next influencer outreach strategy or campaign. We're always open to talking more about this type of activity and can offer some solid advice on the dos and don'ts of influencer campaigns, so if it's something that's on your mind, give us a bell!