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The New Rules of Engagement with Social Media Influencers

If your company or brand is trying to build relationships online with social media influencers, there are several things to keep in mind. Here are the new rules of engagement with social media influencers.

#1: Understand the Needs and Interests of These Influencers

Simply sending out the same e-mail blast to 100 or so influencers in the hopes that a large group of them will respond positively is a mistake. The reason is that most social media influencers have carefully tended their profiles and painstakingly built up their audiences, and they expect to be treated accordingly.

While it’s more time consuming to actually read what these influencers have written on blogs, and to check out what types of photos they’ve been posting on social networks like Instagram, that’s a key first step to ensure that there is the proper match.

#2: Create Something of Value for These Influencers

When building relationships with these influencers, it’s best to think in terms of exclusive content or valuable offers that you can give them. Part of what makes them so influential is that they are out in front of new trends and new ideas, so they always appreciate the chance to see things and meet people before a big trend hits.

For example, if you’re working with fashion bloggers, getting a chance to sit in the first row of a major fashion show is something of value, as is the chance to meet with certain designers one-on-one after the show.

#3: Don’t Expect a Tit-for-Tat Immediately

It’s a common assumption: You offer something of value to these influencers, and so you expect something in return. For example, you might invite a group of industry bloggers to a big conference where your CEO is giving a keynote speech. You might expect some adulatory coverage of the event, complete with gorgeous photos of your CEO in action.

But what happens? Unless you are specifically paying for content, you might get a few tweets and a half-hearted blog post. But don’t despair – it takes time to build up these relationships. The last thing that influencers want is the feeling that they are simply “shilling” for some other brand.

#4: Offer Full Disclosure About the Nature of the Relationship

One big mistake that some brands have made is to conceal the nature of the relationship with their influencers. But in today’s digital world, you always need to disclose these dealing. Instagram now has a built-in tool to make that easy, for example. And if people are blogging about your products, they should insert a disclosure at the end of the post if they have been compensated for the product review.

If you use these four steps above, you will be well on your way to building lasting and productive relationships with online social media influencers. As long as you are looking for ways to make them feel special and offer them something of real value, you will be able to build strong relationships. And, in a best-case scenario, those relationships will lead to new sales as they tell their friends and followers about your company’s products.

Find out more about working with social media by reading “Making Sense of Social Media Sponsorships and Partnerships.”

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