Finding the right influencers is key to creating an effective influencer strategy. But if you treat each influencer the same way, you may find your results lacking.
Not every influencer is equal.
Different types of influencers value different things. If you understand what each influencer values, you can learn how to get them interested in working with you.
Some influencers are only interested in money. But many influencers want more than money, even if it’s part of the deal.
A couple of weeks ago, I walked you through my process on how to find powerful influencers to win your audience. In this article, I’ll go over the 5 types of influencers, what they value, and what you need to know to connect with each of them.
I will also discuss the differences between social media and blogging influencers. Finally, I’ll talk about how to find and connect with local influencers.
Here are the five types of influencers:
- Celebrity Influencers
- Authority Influencers
- PR Influencers
Let’s look at each of the five types of influencers, and what are the best ways to approach them.
When it comes to influencer marketing, celebrity influencers are often what people think of first. They are like the Oprah Winfreys of the Internet.
That’s not to say that every celebrity is a rockstar, actor, or a famous household name.
For example, you may not have heard of Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight, Kirk Borne of Booz Allen Hamilton, Gregory Piatetsky of KD Nuggets, or Andrew Ng of Coursera. But if you are in the big data field, you almost certainly have.
Many celebrities can drive a ton of traffic and sales to your business. The challenge is that celebrities are also the hardest influencers to connect with. They are the “head” of the long tail. As such, Celebrities have high demands, because many people are asking to work with them.
But if you do get an opportunity to work with them, it can drive significant revenue to your business.
Here’s how Steli Efti of Close.io landed an interview with Gary Vaynerchuk:
The first time I reached out to Gary was several years ago, even before Close.io existed. At that time, a couple of my friends and I were trying to build the Internet’s QVC—an online shopping channel for the new generation.
During that period, I read Gary’s first book, Crush It! At the end of the book, he listed five, billion-dollar business ideas that he liked but didn’t have the time to pursue. Guess what the first idea was?
Nothing. No reply. We sent another email. No response. A couple more follow-up emails, tweets, and phone calls. Nothing. Either he wasn’t even aware of our efforts, or he completely ignored them.
To get his attention, I:
- Bought a unique domain and set up a website to get his attention.
- Emailed him. Again and again.
- Tried calling.
- Creatively leveraged my network and a series of follow-ups over several months to get Gary to commit to an interview.
Then it took several months of persistent follow-up to actually schedule the interview.
Eventually, I got my hour with Gary.
The interview gave us a lot of brand exposure but also resulted in a lot of trial signups for our sales software and thousands of dollars in monthly recurring revenue.
Going after celebrities won’t result in a quick win. But if you’ve got a strong follow-up hustle, it can pay off big.
If you want to work with a celebrity, it often is a long-term play. Many have thousands of opportunities. And even if you had the money to pay for their endorsement, they know that they are taking a risk connecting themselves with your brand.
If you choose to reach out to a celebrity, remember that they rarely answer their own emails or phone calls. They often have gatekeepers, such as a receptionist or manager, to weed out requests.
High profile influencers hire gatekeepers to limit the noise and clutter they deal with from day-to-day. So to even begin to connect with celebrity influencers, you need to understand who the [gatekeepers] are, and what they care about.
These gatekeepers have one primary focus – to save the valuable time of their boss for relevant and exciting opportunities.
If you want your opportunity to appear relevant and exciting, here are a few important things you need to do:
First, give the gatekeeper the respect they deserve. They are a person too – with goals, aspirations, hobbies, dreams, and a life to lead. If you can show genuine empathy and interest in them, you are over the first hurdle. Don’t just make it all about the influencer (or worse, yourself).
Once you have established rapport with the gatekeeper, only then should you ask questions to get in front of the influencer. As you build the relationship, you are trying to find out what the exact role the gatekeeper plays in connecting people with the influencer, what the gatekeeper and the influencer value, and the process the influencer goes through to accept a new opportunity.
With the process mapped out, you can begin to nurture the relationships with targeted touch points at key intervals.
This approach to influencer outreach is very hands on and time intensive. But think of it like selling your product or service to an enterprise client – these deals take longer to land, but their value to your business is significantly more than a thousand smaller deals.
Does connecting with a celebrity influencer sound too difficult? You may find this next type of influencer a little easier.
Authority influencers have this name because of their draw towards building their authority. These influencers often write books, do speaking gigs, write articles, host a podcast, do a video series, or write for prominent publishers.
Their goal is to build an audience who will listen to them. So if you want to connect with authority influencers, you should do whatever you can to help them increase their authority.
Sometimes, authority influencers start side projects, like a startup or a podcast. These side projects are one of the best ways to connect with these influencers. Unlike their main project, a side project does not have a large audience already built up. As a result, there are fewer people pitching them for their attention.
This is how Aaron Orendorff of iconiContent first became well-known in the field of content marketing:
Celebrities can take several months or years to connect with organically. But with a good outreach strategy, you can easily connect with an authority influencer within one or two weeks.
Getting press from PR influencers is thought to be the golden ticket for startups. Although media coverage isn’t a major growth driver, the press can be good to kick-start your business and increase your brand value.
How likely you are to connect with a PR influencer depends on:
- The prestige of the publication(s) they write for.
- If they are a publication writer or freelancer.
- The size of their audience.
Even small PR influencers get dozens of email pitches every day. The good news for you is most pitches are poor.
Here is some of Jason’s advice from April 2017’s edition of Entrepreneur:
At a conference recently, a group of entrepreneurs asked me how to get an editor’s attention by email.
But here’s the problem: There’s no one way to succeed. There are, however, many specific ways to fail.
That’s why I just dug through my deleted emails and unearthed three pitches that represent three very common problems:
1. “Hi, I’m a huge fan of your articles and wanted to pass on something new that could be a nice fit for your Game and VR section.”
Journalists appreciate flattery as much as anyone else, but they don’t require it — and, to be honest, they’re often skeptical of it.
However, you will definitely impress them by being knowledgeable about their publication. Spend time with it. Pay careful attention to what kinds of stories it runs and how, based on what you’ve read, it might cover your business.
2. “I need your help to get the word out about this product and would like to set up an interview with one of your journalists for an article/blog.”
A journalist’s job is to find good stories. That means they aren’t concerned with what’s good for you; they’re concerned with what’s good for their readers.
You need to communicate why you’re a great fit — which, again, is why you need to understand a publication.
3. “I have attached a short video that gives a brief overview of my journey.”
Reporters and editors are bombarded with pitches, which means they don’t have an incentive to dive deep into any individual one.
You have, at best, a few sentences to hook a journalist — which means you need to do it right there in the email, by explaining what makes you interesting and relevant to their readers.
This may sound discouraging. But here’s the bright side: Most of the emails I get are full of mistakes like these. That means if you put in the time and really learn to think like an editor, your note will rise above the rest.
Full article: Pitching Your Story to an Editor? Avoid These 3 Phrases
For PR influencers, keep your emails short, and direct. Give her everything she needs in the first email, but offer to be available if she wants more information.
Determining influencer relevance is an important part of connecting with any influencer. But this goes double for PR influencers.
You can use a tool like Buzzsumo, and do an author search of her name. That way, you can find out what topics she has written about in the last year.
When you connect with journalists, there are two things they are interested in:
- Traffic to their articles
- Exclusive information (which leads to more traffic).
Why do PR influencers value traffic?
Many news sites gain money by running ads. The more people who visit a site, the more people see ads. The more ads people see, the more money the site makes.
Connectors are a special kind of influencer. Although connectors often have an audience, their biggest value is not the influence they have over their audience.
The biggest value connectors bring is their relationship with other influencers in their network.
Connectors value deep relationships and connections. This does not mean that by wanting to introduce someone to a connector will they appreciate the favor. Like any influencer you want to reach out to, you need to communicate the value to them.
One challenge is finding these influencers. A connector rarely will announce himself as one. You can’t simply look for his large Instagram account, or how big his blog is to know he’s a connector.
That said, connectors are more likely to have a podcast. Podcast hosts build 1-on-1 relationships with their guest. This means building a deeper relationship with their network. A podcast also requires him to find new guests, which often come by way of introduction from past guests.
One challenge working with connectors is that it’s hard to measure their exact impact. That’s because you often don’t know who the connector knows.
Typically, I find it’s best to be aware of connectors, but not to intentionally to target them in a campaign.
Can I confess something to you?
I hate buzzwords. Especially buzzwords that cause confusion and not clarity.
The principles of influencer marketing is the same whether you are working with celebrities or micro-influencers. So why am I making this distinction?
First, how you approach micro-influencers is often different than any other influencer.
That means it’s okay if your outreach emails aren’t perfect.
Micro-influencers are more likely to respond to your pitch because they have fewer requests sent to them. This is why I highly recommend starting out connecting with micro-influencers if you are new to influencer marketing.
Second, micro-influencers value different things than the other four types of influencers.
Actually, scratch that. Micro-influencers do not value anything different than other influencers. Rather, it is easier to woo micro-influencers because they aren’t getting as many requests as celebrities.
If you decide to roll out the red carpet and treat micro-influencers like a celebrity, micro-influencers will reciprocate by going the extra mile for you.
In 2015, Adidas worked with influencers and created a “Style Suite” with NBA All-Stars and Instagram influencers.
Instead of giving free t-shirts and cool new shoes, Adidas created an experience that felt like a VIP club. In fact, many guests decided to stay longer than they originally planned.
But it wasn’t only influencers who received the royal treatment.
People came to the “Style Suite” even if they were not a big-name influencer. There were no lists, just authentic and deep connections.
Here’s another reason to consider connecting with micro-influencers:
Third, micro-influencers have a lower reach, they often have higher engagement, which often leads to higher sales.
HelloSociety found that micro-influencers had 60% higher engagement rates compared to regular influencers. Campaigns using micro-influencers were 6.7 times more efficient than campaigns using other types of influencers. And micro-influencers drove 22.2 times more conversations on social media than the average consumer.
So, how do you know if an influencer is a micro-influencer?
I hate to be vague. But what defines a micro-influencer will change based on the industry you are in, the product you are selling, and the platform being used.
For example, 10,000 Facebook fans might drive more sales than 10,000 YouTube subscribers. 5,000 Instagram basketball fans may be more likely to buy a new pair of Adidas sneakers than 5,000 Instagram stay-at-home moms looking to buy a new whiteboard. But change that whiteboard out for a pair of classic Uggs, and those stay-at-home moms will give the b-ball fans a run for their money.
Social Media Influencers vs. Blogging Influencers: What’s the Difference?
There are celebrities, authorities, connectors, and micro-influencers who write blogs, and are influential on social media. But you cannot expect to treat both types of influencers the same way and get the same results.
In general, social media influencers are more interested in a pay-to-play model. Bloggers tend to be less interested in receiving money for a post, which may have to do with Google’s policy on buying links. That’s not to say they don’t want to be paid. Rather you need to be careful how you approach the subject.
Social media influencers often generate a better ROI for B2C businesses. Blogging influencers are often better for B2B businesses. But as always, there are exceptions.
For example, Kettle and Fire built a brilliant affiliate marketing program for paleo and cooking bloggers. By creating custom landing pages for each blogger, many affiliates generated over $1,000 each.
On the B2B side, I was able to get thousands of visitors through big data social media influencers. In fact, one article I wrote received over 22,000 visitors in their first month, and ranks in the top 3 for “big data experts” simply by promoting to influencers in that field.
Overall, you should treat either type of influencer in the same manner.
What About Local Influencers?
But if you looked for local influencers over in Seattle, you would find many more influencers. There is Bill Gates and Paul Allen of Microsoft, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, and Howard Schultz of Starbucks. There is Macklemore, Sir Mix-a-Lot, and Pearl Jam. And Rand Fishkin of Moz, Ian Lurie of Portent, or Jayson Demers of Audience Bloom in the marketing world.
While influence is important, what matters most is your goals. If you are a local business, here are three potential goals you might have and how to find local influencers:
- Increase reviews on Yelp to drive more traffic to your site. In this scenario, you may want to find local Yelp influencers.
- Connect with journalists to generate press about your business. Anewstip is a great tool to find journalists based on location.
- Work with local influencers to get your community talk about your upcoming event. In this scenario, I would recommend using a survey to ask your customers who they find influential in your community. That will give you an opportunity to find influencers who make the greatest impact in your community.
Using those goals will help you know how to work with and find local influencers for your business.
Keep in mind, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you mistake an authority influencer for a celebrity. The purpose of this guide is to help you understand the influencer types to make it easier for you to connect with influencers.
If you are able to make a connection, and the ROI of influencer marketing is high enough, the rest will take care of itself.