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Outreach: More than a Mention

Influencer outreach is on everyone lips at the moment; a go-to tactic for raising brand awareness, soliciting recommendations and driving traffic to conversion points.

Neilson reports that 92 per cent of consumers trust peer recommendations over other forms of advertising and McKinsey has found that word of mouth from consumers generates twice the sales (if not more) than paid advertising. So, there’s reason for the hype. 

Influencer outreach is something we’ve been doing since our inception, steadily building our influencer database to thousands of names, in niche and more mainstream communities… however, is a long list of names enough? Short answer is, no.

At Nitty Gritty, we see influencer outreach as split into two streams: transactional and a more in depth strategic variety.

The transactional approach has certainly worked in the past; this is your typical ‘product for post’ tactic, popularised by brands such as Frank and Triangl.

Recently we’ve seen businesses offering to automate this type of method, for brands to gain a quick bang for their buck- “pitch your brief here, we’ll match you with an influencer”. Many sites are offering this service, however, we’ve noticed a couple of limitations to this short-term tactic.

Below we’ve compiled a list to help you with outreach; a few things to consider before you send out product and cross your fingers for a mention:

A/S/L. Is it a good match? Understanding demographics of not only your influencer, but also their audience is critical before embarking on a campaign. For example, if your product is only available Australia wide, you’d want to be sure that the influencer your engaging has an audience that is predominantly in Australia. Not much point paying for a post, only to discover that the influencer has an audience that is not aligned with your own, or worse – they have bought fans. We recommend asking influencers for screenshots of their analytics, verifying the location and other demographic details of their fanbase to ensure that it is well aligned.

Too much of a good thing? Now with the market becoming flooded with product in exchange for posts and embarrassing gaffs from people such as Scott Disick, you have to ask whether consumers are becoming increasingly immune to or cynical of such endorsements.

With this in mind, there are a variety of influencer accounts that are geared at product endorsements only. Depending on your audience and product, this can work, however our advice for is to aim for context and work with influencers that can credibly back up your product/service, or influencers who have an account that has a greater story than just promotion of product. This context establishes an influencer presence that is more authentic and credible.

Negotiation. The expectation of payment from influencers with a substantial and engaged following is to be anticipated. Credible influencers have often invested in education, equipment and resources to create their enviable and popular online presence, so paying for an endorsement shouldn’t come as a surprise. Transactional programs that promise to match you to an influencer don’t allow for negotiation of fees or more importantly, negotiation of what content will be produced, and that conversation is where the gold is. Let me explain…

Our approach. With any strategy, the first rule is to consider the consumer. Before you approach an influencer, think about how the consumer will come along for the ride.

Context and consistency are important with any marketing campaign and outreach is no different. When we discuss collaborations with influencers, we understand that we’re working hand in hand to further establish a perception of a brand.

Back when there was mainly push communication, think TV, print ads etc, consumers were told what to think about a brand. Times have changed. Savvy marketers know that brand perception is built via dialogue.

There are so many opportunities for consumers to note conversation between brands and customers now, and this plays a large role in shaping the perception of a brand. Outreach is an opportunity for brands to have an authentic and real dialogue for customers to see.

This is where context and timing is so important. For example, if a health food brand is interested in approaching a dietician with a large following on Instagram for an endorsement, how can that endorsement be given more meaning than just a once off post being posted to their Instagram account?

So when you're thinking of approaching an influencer, our top tips are:

  1. Instead of just an exchange of product for a photo, how can more context be given to the relationship? I.e. can they write a blog for you? Feature in a video?
  2. Can a long-term arrangement be organised, so to increase the perception of authenticity and trust with the consumer? I.e. do you have an ambassador program yet that sees influencers posting on your behalf regularly?
  3. When considering budget, we recommend understanding the investment in influencers as part of your content investment. How much do you spend on blogging now? Would a blog from an influencer be more worthwhile than something produced in-house?

Timeline and budget pending, opportunities with influencers are endless. And nothing beats strong relationships with influencers to give a brand leverage to create content that is meaningful, in context and more likely to grow social followings and conversions.

Also, did you know that recently the Australian Association of National Advertisers updated their code of ethics for influencers and brands? Now influencers must state if they are posting on behalf of a brand, read more here .