How to Discover, Connect & Build Trust with Influencers

Mr. Moustache Influencer

Wouldn’t it be great if you could pick up the phone and talk to any one of your business’ top influencers? What if you could reach out with a simple email to let one of your influencers know about an announcement you’re making and you knew they would engage? This amazing state of connectedness isn’t a fantasy, but it sure does take some smart, dedicated effort.

It’s funny how we often seem to default to quick and easy — just blast a large list of potentially relevant quasi-strangers with a request that means very little to them. Then sit back and hope, wish or do a magic dance. What’s even funnier is that with a bit of effort and dose of planning you can achieve so much more. You can spark genuine conversations, get to know influential members of your industry on a deeper level, find creative content ideas and produce something that’s valuable enough to earn you the right kind of attention from your customers, prospects and industry leaders.

Recently I’ve seen this done incredibly well by an emerging global brand. Vend provides a retail software solution to small and mid-size businesses around the world. They have had great success with more than 8,000 customers, but the company is up against tough competition when it comes to industry press. Perhaps you can relate?

In Vend’s space, there are a few major corporations who have historically dominated the market so everyone seems to know them already. Plus, you have a bunch of smaller new players popping up so what used to be consolidated is now a fragmented market. I see these dynamics happening in many industries today.

For the marketer in this situation, the question is: how do I end up on top? How can I tell our story to the right people and be heard?

When Vend was asking these questions, they articulated the solution in a very clear way: discover, connect & build trust with our online influencers. I was impressed by their emphasis on building trust. There was no illusion on their part that influencer marketing was something you just sprinkle on your email copy and push off to the interwebs in hopes of it getting on the radar of the right people. No. Vend wanted to do something meaningful, long term and beneficial to their audience of retail professionals.

What does it mean to discover influencers?

Influence is incredibly contextual, which means it depends on what you are trying to achieve and who you want to reach. Instead of focusing on audience size, put yourself in your customers’ shoes and take a walk down their path to purchase. Who influences them along the way? How are they influenced? Once you are clear here, you can use an influencer discovery tool, like Traackr, to find and manage your relationship with them. Need help brainstorming who are your influencers? Check out our Influencer Identification Toolkit.

How do you connect with influencers?

It can feel daunting to reach out to influencers for the first time, but you’d be surprised by how simple it can be to start connecting with these people. The key is to approach influencer outreach from a relationship building perspective. You’re not coming to them with a one-off request, but instead making the first of many connections. Depending on your goals, you can start by sharing their content, involving them in your blog posts or reaching out with a mutually beneficial project idea.

How do you build trust with influencers?

How do you build trust with anyone? You demonstrate your willingness to support their work and treat them with respect. You can show them you’re serious about the industry by producing quality content that adds to the conversations they care about. You can find ways to showcase their content and introduce them to new audiences. I like to follow Porter Gale’s advice: Give, Give, (then) Get.

To discover, connect and build trust with online influencers, Vend decided to publish a list of the top 50 influencers in their space supported by Traackr. It was crucial the list establish trust among influencers and provide value to Vend’s target audience of retail professionals.

Vend knew that business owners don’t have time to sift through the web to find the most pertinent articles and trends affecting their industry so they put together a curated list of top experts using a combination of Traackr’s capabilities and peer review, much like TopRank Online Marketing did for their list of Top 50 UK Online Marketing Bloggers project.

The result is that Vend’s Top 50 Retail Influencers list has been shared and viewed widely and continues to serve as a resource for the company’s community. But the best part in my eyes is that Vend was able to create the foundation for relationships with many industry experts and is in the process of building trust through authentic engagement and content with their influencers and community.

This is how it’s done!

Image courtesy of Vend.