There is a lot Scott Vaughan, CMO at Integrate, can share about the importance of building an effective influencer relations strategy that results in a significant increase in meaningful social engagements and one-on-one discussions. So it was a no brainer that he would lead PAN’s latest session of PANU, a knowledge-sharing training and development program that PAN holds each week for its employees.
Scott works closely with customers and partners on a daily basis – he recognizes the power of real-time integrated marketing and leveraging mutually beneficial relationships. Each small engagement creates a personal touch point that can strengthen into a deeper relationship and benefit an organization in a huge way, whether it be placement in a great feature article, a new speaking opportunity at a topnotch conference or even transform into a new customer opportunity.
It takes a true partnership to effectively pull off influencer relations, Scott explained, and we at PAN agree. It is a critical element to any PR program, especially when working with high growth companies trying to establish themselves or if there is a need to pivot positioning and transform an organization’s story. Here are some of the main takeaways from Scott’s session and how you can make the most out of each influencer relations program.
What is Influencer Relations?
Influencer relations is a product of the new environment paved by the growth of digital and social media channels. The way that we approach relationships has changed, the number of industry voices have expanded and methods to create potential connections have broadened.
Influencer relations only works as a two-way form of communication. By engaging in an effective dialogue, influencers release the power for executives to:
- Unlock doors to the people who will help introduce you to future media, customer and partner opportunities
- Provide useful feedback about what you’re doing vs. what you could be doing better
Who Are Your Influencers?
A good place to start an effective influencer relation’s strategy is by recognizing who are your influencers. Scott pointed out that these individuals can be:
- Industry experts
- Customers/Practitioners in your market
- Social media gurus
Define Measurable Goals
Any solid influencer relations strategy involves a plan with set goals that can exhibit quantifiable results. Scott strongly believes in evaluating your progress through the collection of data that is able to concretely express the value of each interaction. Mapping activities and outcomes helps to accurately measure success.
Choosing the Right Form of Interaction
Scott explained to us a concept that he refers to as spoon-feeding. Each organization has big ideas and themes to bank on each quarter – knowing how big of a bite you’re going offer in each interaction is a major part of mastering this effective two-way communication strategy. This includes knowing when and how to engage with influencers, via a simple tweet or when it’s time to pick up the phone.
“Sometimes you have to slow down to hurry up,” said Scott. “Do whatever it takes to get the homerun.”
In one example, Scott was working with PAN for influencers that play in the marketing technology arena, specific to the industry Integrate works in. When one analyst posted a tweet linking to a blog he wrote, PAN flagged to Scott who immediately replied, giving his personalized take on the article. From that one tweet, a relationship was formed, leading to an open dialogue about ideas and the sharing of contributed content to the analyst’s influential website. Now Scott’s posts are consistently in the top five read blogs on the site, showing the value this interaction had on the entire influencer relations campaign.
Influencer Relations is a Team Sport
With all of the elements in place for a successful influencer relations strategy, a crucial piece of the puzzle is setting client expectations about how involved they must be through the entire process. Remember, influencers can’t engage with a company – they need to engage with individuals. This requires time and a true desire to nurture these lasting relations. As a PR practitioner, it is critical to support these goals and initiatives at every stage and understand how to best work together with executives that are looking to build their own thought leadership platform and brand.