Turbine Blog

In this series, we’re talking about the most effective strategies to reach new B2B audiences and quickly turn that attention into solid, targeted leads.

To kick things off, we’re tackling Influencer Relations, in part because it’s one of the most powerful strategies in the B2B toolkit, but also because it’s the most misunderstood.

Having built Influencer programs for companies ranging from mid-sized to global, one thing is clear: Most people aren’t sure what an influencer actually is.

Yes, influence is everywhere and, of course, you’re always looking to connect with those who wield some amount of influence. But in a marketing context, an “influencer” is a very specific kind of person, and engaging with them absolutely necessitates a specific strategic approach.

Ok, so what is an “Influencer”, really? 

Simply put, an Influencer is an individual who is trusted on a particular topic.

Let’s dissect that.

They’re individuals in the sense that they’re speaking from their own perspective, not that of an organization that hired them. Furthermore, they’re not necessarily the ones with the biggest follower base. Rather they’re the ones who have established the strongest credibility with their. audience.

That means journalists should not (ever) be treated as Influencers (with a capital “I”) since they are employees of their publication and bound by all manner of professional and ethical constraints.

Real Influencers can freely advocate for issues and companies that they personally find interesting and meaningful. And when they speak, it comes with all the credibility they, themselves, have built with their audience.

Why Influencers Matter

Credibility is the first hurdle in connecting with your target audience. Without it, you’re spam. But with it, you’re in. And when it comes to delivering your message to new audiences, Influencers are the most credible source possible.

Why? Because we all hand pick our Influencers based on how reliably they surface relevant and useful information. And equally importantly, we pick them because they deliver information that is highly relevant to our own very particular situation.

How to connect with them? 

Let’s start off with the basics of what you’re looking for in an Influencer candidate. They’re:

  • On topic for your business
  • Actively engaged in key target topics
  • Trusted on the topic and have a sizable audience

With that alone, you can tell a lot about what drives them. Reaching that level isn’t easy. It takes work and by the mere fact that they did it, you can presume they want to:

  • Deliver more great content that their audience will love
  • Expand their audience and reach
  • Continue building their reputation

And there you have it. If you can offer them something that strongly hits all those marks, they’ll be happy to hear from you and excited to join in.

For example, let’s say you plan a white paper featuring original research, authoritative analysis, and commentary from five industry Influencers, all backed with an ambitious marketing plan.

With that, you can offer them powerful and unique content, expansive reach, and a healthy boost to their reputation.

How do you make first contact? 

Start by identifying the individuals you think would be the best to partner with. Look at their audience size, their level of 2-way engagement (likes, shares, comments), and how much you resonate with their ideas and expertise.

Next, input them into a spreadsheet complete with links, topic areas, and your own 1-10 ranking of each one.

Then follow them on your social channels, including your company executives channels (if possible) and like/share/comment whenever appropriate. And, of course, always be authentic.

Pro Tip: Set a Mobile Notification for their Twitter handle so you can be among the very first to engage with their tweets.  

When you reach the point where they’ve probably seen you around and you’re clearly on-topic, engaged, and authentic (not a spammer), it’s time to introduce yourself.

Whatever you do, do not use this as an opportunity to recite your USP, elevator pitch, and/or mission statement. Nobody wants to hear that.

Instead, lead with a “gift” (Always lead with a gift. Live by these words), and if you did your homework on this person, you should be able to make a good educated guess about what they’d say “hell yes” to.

Let’s compare approaches:

Approach 1: “Hi Sally. We are a market-leading solutions provider streamlining backend growth strategies with future-proof intellectual and physical capital…”

Approach 2: “Hi Sally. Great article on streamlining strategies. It cause quite a discussion around the office. We have a webinar coming up on the topic and we’d love to have you as a featured guest…”

With Approach 2, even if Sally doesn’t say “hell yes” this time, she’ll at least appreciate the gesture and be open to further (sincere) communications down the road.

As you make this kind of outreach a regular practice, you’ll find that you’re making a lot of great connections with people who genuinely care about the topic and who are happy to collaborate on initiatives that meaningfully connect with the broader topic community.

And as you get to know these individuals and the audience better you’ll find even more exciting ways to build bigger collaborations.

This is the foundation of Influencer Relations. Connect sincerely. Build community.