Finding Your Allies, Not Strangers, As Your Influencer Approach
When there is an active audience centred on building relationships, this is stronger than finding a stranger to put your content in front of other strangers.
This article is focused on finding those people who can amplify your content. This is about reaching out, not throwing money at others. Lets look at finding your allies.
It has been seen as a popular route over the past couple of years that for others to see your content, influencer marketing is playing a role that so many define as success, the ability for reach.
On one side you can look at grouping your allies to become a core network outside of your own business, or you can look at finding a network of materialistic and lifeless souls who are happy to take your money.
The Party Of Parties
The latter is exemplified by last months Fyre Festival fiasco. If you are not aware this was a festival in the Bahamas that fitted perfectly within the world of celebrity worship.
Guests would be flown and be part of a luxury festival with tickets up to $250,000. The festival was cancelled on the first day. The event was promoted by influencers of all shapes and sizes, from social to reality TV. However, it worked as it clearly drew people to buy tickets but who were left stranded on a remote island.
It was a massive slop bucket of greed where no consideration for a target market took precedence. It was all for the Fyre Festival (the brand) aim of association and being part of someone else’s reach. There was no respect for the community that Fyre wanted to serve and naturally build.
In a recent article from Edelman and their assessment of the festival, “The key here is that the brand must deliver, or else the influencers will look ridiculous and become very sceptical for future partnerships of a similar kind.”
By the way, if you want to have a look at the Fyre Festival pitch deck to investors, this goes beyond parody; click here to have a look.
Bringing It Back To You
So, how does this extravagant, failed festival in the Bahamas have to do with B2B marketing? Finding influencers to compliment your business all comes down to the responsibility you have for your audience and discovering the people who are happy to share and believe in what you do.
You can’t find people and treat them as an advert with legs ie. a person you don’t know well but you are happy to pay them to promote. However, if your feet are firmly rooted in the economics of advertising, then your messages will just be a one directional route of all the things that you probably are not.
As I have pointed out during January, trust has hit a pretty low point.
The Edelman Trust Barometer, particularly within the UK, has seen a sharp decline. In order to become trusted, we need to be associated with others who are credible and provide a reason for people to trust. As Robert Cialdini highlighted in Influence: The Psychology Of Persuasion, “A well-known principle of human behaviour says that when we ask someone to do us a favour we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do.”
I am a huge believer that if you can build a relationship with someone that isn’t wrapped in an agenda but they can associate a real purpose you believe in, this is where others can extend your message.
Bringing Others In As Part Of Your Influencer Programme
The You Are The Media | Strategy Day had a tick of approval by the local paper (Bournemouth Daily Echo) a week after the event (Friday 5th May). If the event can still be shared after the occasion, then can only be a good thing. I now have a reference from the paper that validates the purpose of the event to others. It was online as well as in print. I consider the Bournemouth Daily Echo as part of my influencer outreach programme.
This started from building a relationship with Darren Slade, business editor, whom I first met in 2015 (you can read an article from 2015 on How To Work With Journalists). From the early conversations, everything has been consistent with Darren recognising the owned media/content marketing approach that I believe in. Everything shared is always from a point of value, rather than a place of promotion. I consider Darren as an ally, where we have a relationship built on trust.
The default approach is not to spend to be granted entrance (be seen in the newspaper), but to figure out a way to encourage interaction (that makes it easier to be featured in the paper).
If you are looking to find those people who can support your cause and align themselves, I now see a framework to have in place. Your allies are out there; it is a case of refining and building.
Here are some rules I now stand by, when it comes to those of influence supporting your cause.
- You cannot think that reach is just from your shore, you need to find islands that can help connect back to yours.
- Genuine relationships have to be built, not short-lived peripheral acquaintances.
- You have to make an impression over an impression ie. you have to be seen as valid, rather than a the one trick pony centred on wanting to be seen by many.
- By being seen in someone else’s space it has to trigger an action. For instance, I want people from my local area to want to come to the next Strategy Day, at the end of August. It has to resonate with the audience you are targeting.
- If I wanted reach I would have paid Facebook/Linked a healthy amount each month, what I want is strength of connection. Coming back to you, how can you make the right people inquisitive and come to you (on your space) and trigger actions to subscribe, email and buy.
- The focus has to be a long-term relationship/partnership (dare I say ‘friendship?’) and not a means to an end ie. sending a press release on email, standing back and get agitated that no one got back to you. For instance, I like to think I can share with Darren topics and a thought process that is of use to his audience who read the business pages of the local newspaper.
- To make anything work with someone you have to work together. For instance, prior to the article being published I sent Darren a photo of one of the guests during the day (Trevor Young) as well as the main points that I took from the day. This is in a completely different space than a thinly veiled association where one is for monetary gain, the other is for reach.
- Mutual beneficial opportunities can become the currency of success. For instance, I asked Darren, from The Echo, if he wanted to pop in and see how the day was looking and perhaps be a part of a conversation with one of our guests. That was the value exchange, someone of note to come and listen to.
Should You Start Thinking A Bit More About This?
There are people out there who serve the communities that you might have an interest in. Why not take advantage of this?
In an article that looked at the main points I took from Content Marketing World 2016, I highlighted that, “You could write the deepest, most thoughtful argument filled with data, evidence and opinion but if there isn’t anyone to help with distribution apart from a search engine, it is a pretty lonely ride.”
Whether this is someone who writes or records regularly, these are people who have an audience that can complement yours. This is not about people with followers of hundreds of thousands, but those who are active within the communities that they represent. There are creative people that have built communities around people who participate and listen. For instance, Crimson Guitars are influential within the guitar space so Absolute Music worked with them to share more detail on microphones. Ben Crowe (Crimson Guitars owner) is recognised as someone who can influence a potential sale of microphones for Absolute Music.
Participation with others is built on trust. When money exchanges hands it achieves a short-term goal ie. when the money stops, someone else stops his or her enthusiasm. Plus it does look a bit obvious when someone else is being paid, when they blast onto the scene raving and then suddenly stop.
If you are looking at fostering real advocates to share your message, you need to stop assuming that you will naturally find an audience that are waiting for you on Facebook.
Lets Round Up
You have to find a way to make an impact on someone else (they associate with what you say), the way you communicate (your consistency of message) and be able to persuade (they want to work with you and share their side).
Reach does not equate too much, if someone else sees a short-term benefit. However, when someone else can amplify your message to an active audience, it can create a long-term association that leads to better experiences for everyone involved.
When you take a responsibility to find people who can amplify your content, it is centred on consistency of your approach, where you have an obligation to the audience you serve.