How do You Influence the Influencers?


Pointing and Gawking

What are the best ways to influence those people your customers watch for cues?

Last week we had a good discussion about how you can up your real (influence) score. As theory goes that is pretty good information. However, as you know from being a practitioner, results often are a consequence of creative executions.

I was thinking about an example to illustrate, when the perfect one showed up in my RSS feed.

When your market is marketers

You definitely need to be on Twitter. That will give you the chance to pitch one marketer and get one free. In that post, I outlined three ways that are better than sending a direct pitch and provided examples of each.

This better way would be win win for you and the busy professional you're pitching. It even involves influence on many levels and doesn't require budgets you may not have, especially if you're in bootstrapping mode (which I admire, BTW). My first suggestion was:

Do something remarkable — hold the pitch until *after* you impressed a whole bunch of people with an initiative or a project that aligns with your mission. In fact, consider the project your pitch. It works.

I used the Influencer Project by Thoughtlead as an example. And you can learn about it in my conversation with Sam Rosen, CEO. Guess what? There is one company out there that is paying attention. Aren't you curious to know why everyone is still talking about them?

They get the marketers doing the marketing for them.

Here's how it works from a recent example. Send a poorly targeted email about a well known brand to someone who scores high points on your platform and is known for blogging about marketing stuff he picks up here and there. 

David Armano has a larger than normal social graph indeed. If I had to take an educated guess without looking at who is part of his networks, I would venture it is overwhelmingly marketers or people who are interested in marketing. He is a gifted visual storyteller, so include creatives with that slice.

Armano

You send the email and wait for the post, literally.

Nike gets some exposure, Klout gets even more. Because now they have the attention of Armano and that of the marketers in his network who are eager to go to their clients with a ready out-of-the-box solution for influence.

The blogger outreach is embedded with it. I'm writing about it, yet I received no pitch. Many more have written about Klout because of the mere suggestion that the tool does what many are working hard to figure out — or not.

In the comments to Dave's post, you can see that Jason Keath also talks about having received the email, so that's two people marketers look to for cues. Ed is almost right, the pitch was perfect if it was designed, as I suspect, to create awareness about Klout's capability for marketers.

Influencing the influencers

People watch other people they perceive as being "like them", even aspirationally, for cues. So if you're trying to influence marketers, as in the example above, then starting a conversation with a respected marketer who has a following is a good strategy.

The one mistake I keep seeing from many agencies is that they go after the same small pool of people with a high follower count in their influencer outreach without discrimination. We're talking about a very small fraction of the online population who gets all the pitches.

And these people may or may not be read and liked by your customers. The first question you need to ask yourself when looking to connecting with people who have influence in your circle is one of relevance — who are your customers looking up to? Not you, your customers.

In some instances, the answer may be "no one". Well, then, you have an opportunity to develop that one go-to resource, or discover someone, a group even, who is passionate about your brand. This is what Fiskar and Brains on Fire did with Fiskateers.

Remember the Pesi logo change? What would have happened if in conjunction with the marketing blogger outreach, the company had also connected with the brand's fans and stories? That's where the real mojo is.

Pepsi has since changed its ways and reached out to fans, the Pepsi Cooler group on FriendFeed is still active, although the membership has only increased sixfold since it was started, and the company's refresh initiative has helped communities everywhere.

If you cannot bring yourself to forget the marketing celebrities on Twitter, you'd be well served in integrating the real influencers in your program. Isn't now a perfect time to start thinking about who your customers watch for cues?

PS: I don't even drink soda, a habit I never lost growing up in the land of mineral water.

[reference to pointing and gawking on Herd]

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0 responses to “How do You Influence the Influencers?”

  1. I think you bring a great point how many marketers focus on a small group with a high count of followers. The problem is that those people are so overwhelmed that getting a hold of them unless you have a good story can be very difficult.
    I see how sometimes someone in a niche market instead of looking for influencers in that market go for the high follower count influencers.
    Your point of waiting to have an audience to have a pitch is something I have learned for a while. In today’s world I see how people start spamming others and trying to get their story out to people who are really not interested. Not having an audience before you pitch can be detrimental in many aspects from making you lose your focus to your energy towards doing something.

  2. Do influencers still exists? or… what are now influencers? Are they still the “top 10 blogs in [__placesectorhere___]”?
    I think that influencers, as they are always been intended, are now more or less a myth of digital pr. Social spaces are now so fragmanted that makes more sense trying to outreach actual customers than some leaders.Or even better, doing a mix of weak and strong ties (http://johnbell.typepad.com/weblog/2011/01/weak-ties-are-better-for-awareness-than-persuasion.html)

  3. @Raul — and a group that your customers may not even care about. You should pick a respected member of the community, someone people know and like over an unknown quantity like me, or one of them folks with lots of followers, and you have a better opportunity to start a real conversation. Ad yes, you need to be able to tell your story. Good thoughts.
    @Denis — I think your definition of “influencer” is different from mine. All of my work is about understanding who is the influencer in *your* market. So why get stuck with just the few everyone pitches, when you could identify the real ones?

  4. Valeria,
    I’m still stuck on the myth of the influencer and I would like to share why. A weeks ago, I was approached by a soap opera fan to consider a post about their efforts to change the show.
    I’m very much interested in fan bases, and she knew it. So, I took a look. I wrote a post. 5,000 people, 97 comments, 51 reactions, and mainstream media pick ups … and now what?
    By the online measures, I’m a soap opera influencer? I don’t think so … even though they accepting some of the advice.
    Best,
    Rich

  5. Hi Valeria! I love this! I think the reasons why I like this kind of conversation are totally obvious.
    @Rich Becker -I think if you’re able to drive that kind of conversation about soap opera on some repeated basis, that would definitely make you an influencer. Maybe if you started a blog about Days of Our Lives, then you could be a soap opera influencer. But your Days of Our Lives article was more so about fan base and audience, and less about the actual show.

  6. @Rich — you’re not, by your own admission. However, as Melody pointed out (thank you for that), if you added repetition with relevance, and had passion about it on top of it, you could become one. In other works, people who love soaps would start tuning into your research, opinions, stories, etc.
    @Melody — well, yes!
    @Saidul — thank you for stopping by.
    @Daniel — which reminds me of our conversation. Need to check back in my email stream.

  7. I tend to be radical from time to time. This is a more than radical one: in my opinion there are a lot of tools around promising special effects but really nothing significant from a business point of view.
    More, this way of acting is nothing more than a translation into the online world of the testimonial advertising model: get a big name, put a product in his/her hand and buy some TV airtime. Someone will follow.
    Frankly speaking, inaccuracy of results is sometimes embarassing.

  8. I love talking about the topic of influencers – quite possibly as a result of 15+ yrs in the “influencing” business.
    For so long, brands looked to celebrities to endorse their product and influence purchases with their fan base. Around the time when reality TV came along, we realized that we didn’t need “celebrities” to influence – everyday people that we connected with in some way could influence.
    Now with social media, those models have really shifted. Moms everywhere are connecting with mommy bloggers they’ve never met and are influenced by their product reviews. This is repeated in every sector.
    I think we’ve always been influenced by our peers, but the technology we have now gives us access to build a larger network – and gives brands the tools to “influence the influencers”. I know a lot of marketers get overwhelmed with all the new resources at their disposal, but these are exciting times, indeed!

  9. I read this post just beacuse i really like that title that you used “How do You Influence the Influencers?”, who doesnt want to know this?
    anyway this is a great post, keep posting about this topic 🙂

  10. Great points… continue to believe that the long tail can wag the dog where influence is concerned. While B, C, D and F listers may not have the following size of say David Armano, their followers likely have a much stronger relationship to them and thus, the F lister might actually have more Klout with his 150 followers than David has with his 30,000. At least in so far as people actually reading and being moved by a post and the tweet(s) promoting it.
    Good food for thought… thanks for sharing.
    @TomMartin

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