June 24, 2018
How to Leverage Influencers in your Audience
When most people think about “peer pressure” they get a negative connotation. Bullying, cajoling, kids trying to get friends to do things they know they shouldn’t. But peer pressure can be a good thing too.
In fact, I would venture that all of us have done some interesting and exciting things thanks to peer pressure. We tried that ride or that sport, tasted that menu item, or talked to that girl (or guy). We learned a new language or an instrument, or we picked up a long-forgotten hobby — all thanks to friends that “pressured” us to do so.
When you think about that kind of “peer pressure,” you realize that friendly advice is the reason we do a great many things. We buy products and choose services based on the advice of friends and family all the time. In fact, we will make that call with much less due diligence than we would if we were researching the product or service on our own.
So, that begs the question: Why do so many people short-change influencer marketing in their PR programs. In every market group, and in every audience you have or want to develop, there are peer influencers. If you aren’t building relationships with these people and leveraging their influence in a positive way for your brand, you are missing a key PR opportunity.
Answer What and Why
When you have been doing PR for a while, it becomes a little startling to realize how many people launch into a program without knowing what they’re really doing or why they’re really doing it. If you try to build influence, but you’re not focused on who you are and what your goal is, you will have nothing for people to help you promote. Similarly, if you’re focused on too many things, that creates brand confusion, and the power these influencers have will be diluted by your own lack of vision. Know your “why” and have your message focused before you approach influencers.
Choosing the Right Influencers
This begins with knowing your audience. Not guessing, but studying them and learning who is pulling the strings in the group. There’s always one or two people whom all or most of the other people listen to. These people are key to your brand development. If they like you, others will love you. If they dislike you, others will turn their backs on your brand.
Build Relationships with Influencers
People are leaders for a reason, and you need to connect with as many key influencers as you can in order to build your brand power and presence. Invest the time to interact with the influencers. That time invested will give you much more return than trying to build relationships with everyone in that group. With this aspect of PR, quality trumps quantity. But don’t just “expect” these leaders to support you. They’re leaders, independent thinkers. You need to reach out, show interest, cultivate that relationship without expectation. Then let their influence help you organically.
The fundamental idea here is not to “force” relationships, but to let them grow naturally. Give influencers specific reasons to promote your brand, and make it very easy for them to do so. Give them simple tools and specific messages to deliver to their individual spheres. Then, when they exert their influence on your behalf, reward them for their efforts. When people feel genuinely valued and appreciated, their enthusiasm only grows.