How to engage with influencers

8 November 2021  |  Insights
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(image: Andrea Piacquadio/ Pexels)

What makes you decide to follow a specific cause, or buy a certain product? The chances are, you’re much more likely to do so on the recommendation of someone you trust.

According to research from data analysts Nielson, 92 per cent of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type of promotion.

As we become more and more connected online, the influencers we follow are fast joining that group of people we see as trusted friends. That’s why charities and organisations are increasingly seeing the value that an endorsement from an influencer can add to their campaigns. It could be anything from a tweet, to an instagram post or blog, they provide social proof that you’re worth engaging with.

But how do you get these influencers on board in the first place? It won’t be news to you that the mobile numbers of David Beckham, Idris Elba or Lady Gaga aren’t readily available online. Getting access to the right influencer, and persuading them to support your campaign, is the crucial first step to success.

So, as someone who does this full time, what are the core qualities you need to reach out, connect and build relationships, essentially with strangers? What characteristics and attributes do you need to turn strangers into allies – allies who are happy to come on board and share the message you are inviting them to share?

Here’s an ABC of the qualities that I think will serve you best:

Be articulate

I often describe myself as a ‘professional small talker’. You need to be able to quickly and sensitively connect with people at all levels, and be able to metaphorically break the ice…again…and again…and again.

Once the ice has been broken, you need to pour on oodles of charm – but authentic, well-informed and intelligent charm. This means that you need to do your research when you are making those first approaches, so that the target of your wooing will feel you know your ‘stuff’.

And FYI, in the UK, it’s always OK to talk about the weather as a comfortable opener to kick off proceedings.

Be bold

‘Fortune favours the bold’, as the saying goes. Boldness is a game-changer in influencer engagement and a certain fearlessness in terms of who you are prepared to contact. You have to think to yourself, “why not? What have I got to lose?”

You need to be determined in your no-stone-to-be-left-unturned policy in finding the best channel to communicate with your chosen influencer. No reply to your DM? Pop another (shorter) one over. Unanswered email? Send a nudge reminder (but don’t become a nuisance). And pick up the phone to an agent or a publicist, so you can build a relationship with them as they are the people who will initially present your ‘ask’.

Be curious

Once you start on your search for influencers, you will be amazed at the sheer originality of folks out there. It is fascinating to explore who the influencers follow and who they follow.

Having a continual curiosity about what makes people tick and why they are passionate about what they are passionate about is essential as you build up a picture of your potential influencer landscape. This approach can often unearth some real diamonds, leading to people and topics and areas that you may not have otherwise discovered.

Curiosity will keep you focused and eager to learn, hungry for the next possibility, the next opportunity that will shepherd you towards the next influencer who may well just tick all the boxes you need to support your cause or campaign.

There is also a need to be patient, digital-savvy, efficient, enthusiastic, confident, analytical, creative, agile, a natural networker and possess the instinct to match a person with a cause.…the list could go on. But personal qualities are only a part of the equation. You also need time to research and approach influencers, and a network of contacts to achieve your goals. It’s not something you can jump straight into and expect quick wins – unless you’re very fortunate, it can take many weeks or months to work your way through the right channels before you’re even close to a significant influencer’s inner circle.

Jersey Road PR is constantly building prized relationships with influencers who are willing to lend their voices – so why not get in touch today to discuss how we can turn some strangers into allies?

Written by Julia Hallawell, Influencer & Engagement Manager, Jersey Road PR.

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