Influencer marketing is one of the biggest trends in social media marketing. The concept is simple, in theory. You’ll work with a social influencer (someone who has already established a large following and a strong reputation) to earn more visibility for your brand and content—kind of like creating a shortcut to a higher level of popularity.
There are many possible approaches to this, including working together with an influencer to create collaborative content, getting an influencer to review your products or share your content, or even having a simple conversation with an influencer.
Any of these strategies gets you to your end goal of being acknowledged and respected by a social influencer who can put you in front of thousands of new followers. However, each strategy has one important underlying prerequisite: they all require you to get a social influencer’s attention first.
Why it’s hard to get the attention of a social influencer
It may not seem like an extreme challenge, but getting an influencer’s attention is more difficult than you might think:
- They’re busy. According to Social Media Today, the average person spends almost two hours a day on social media—and that’s with an average following and network of friends. To maintain an influencer status, social mavericks need to post new content, respond to followers, stay up-to-date and reach out to new prospective contacts. That takes commitment, on top of a possible full-time work schedule. They don’t have time to waste.
- They get a lot of requests. To make matters more challenging, most influencers also deal with an inordinate number of inbound requests. They have people asking for advice, wanting favors and making proposals all day—and there’s no way for them to get to everyone.
- They aren’t here to do favors. Even if they could address every request that came into their inbox, influencers probably wouldn’t want to. Most influencers are entrepreneurs (in one way or another), and want to maximize their time engaging in valuable tasks; they can’t afford to do favors for others.
How to do it
Knowing these limitations, what can you do to stand out in the crowd in order to grab an influencer’s attention?
- Gain authority of your own. Before you approach an influencer, try to become a proto-influencer in your own right. Get yourself published on lots of outside sources, engage in conversations related to your industry and build up a social media following. If you’re seen as a peer, it’s more likely that you’ll get a response.
- Know whom you’re talking to. Don’t come up with a generic template for reaching out to influencers. Instead, get to know each individual before you reach out to him or her. Know what their area of expertise is. Know what their likes and dislikes are. Study the type of collaborations they’ve been a part of in the past. When you reach out, mention specific works they’ve done that you appreciate and cater to their interests.
- Speak from the heart. Don’t let yourself sound like a robot. It’s better to sacrifice a little formality and speak sincerely from the heart. Write to them the way you’d speak to them in conversation, and don’t be afraid to let your personality show. It will make you far more appealing than the long line of corporate automatons.
- Play off type. Lead with a perspective or opinion that’s rarely seen in your industry. You might disagree with a concept that’s generally accepted as true, or present a problem with a new technology or development that everyone else believes is perfect. Find a way to differentiate yourself.
- Offer something valuable. Next, don’t ask for a favor immediately. Instead, offer something valuable, and pose your pitch as a way for your target influencer to gain credibility. They’re much more likely to respond to something that will benefit them rather than if you were to demand their attention for nothing.
- Cut to the chase. Don’t drone on about your offer—remember, these are busy people. Instead, keep your message as concise as possible. If you need to follow up with more details, you may do so (within reason).
Don’t be surprised if, even after following all these steps, you’re not successful with your first pitch. Even a perfect pitch can get lost in the shuffle, and influencers may genuinely have too little time to engage with you.
However, following this approach consistently, with multiple influencers, will eventually lead you to at least one valuable connection—and from there, it will get easier and easier to grow your social influence.