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5 Smart Research Questions for Getting to Know Your Influencers

5 Smart Research Questions for Getting to Know Your Influencers

This is post 2 of our 6-part guide to making the most of influencers in your PR communications. Stay tuned for posts 3 – 6, each of which will walk you through a step in building a successful influencer program.

When it comes to making the most of influencers in your PR communications, no one-size-fits-all rule can be applied to all. The only way to ensure quality connections to help achieve your goals is to do quality research and build your relationships from there. This process takes time and work, but it’s well worth it.

After you’ve identified influencers that are of value to you, (step 1, identifying the 3 R’s of influence, can help with that), the next step is to get to know them. The better you know your influencers, the more successful your program will likely be. To make sure the time you spend researching is effective, work smart, not hard. Use these 5 questions to guide your process.

1. What conversations are they a part of?

What are influencers tweeting and posting about? Who do they reply to and who replies back? At a very basic level, your influencers must be interested in topics that relate to you and they must have leverage over an audience that is also interested in those and similar topics. Their posts and tweets must be current, frequent, and engaging. Also look at what groups they are a part of on LinkedIn, what pages they like on Facebook, blogs on their blogroll, and Twitter lists not from a year ago or 6 months ago, but now.

2. Are there any conflicts of interest?

Is there any reason they might not be willing to endorse your products or services? Take careful consideration when looking for this answer you don’t want to spend time researching someone only to find out a competitor in your industry has already scooped him or her up as a guest blogger or promoter. Another conflict might be that an influencer is currently promoting something they’re putting out themselves. This might work to your  mutual advantage, however. If their upcoming campaign is relevant to your audience, you may be able to offer them some additional publicity.

3. What motivates them?

Audit their content to see what motivates them to take action and create and engage with content. What are they passionate about? Where do their strong opinions lie? What are their personal and professional goals? Look at not just their content, but at their Pinterest boards to get a glimpse into their dreams and desires. The better you understand what motivates your influencers, the more you can appeal to that in your pitch.

4. Who is their audience? 

Choosing an influencer based solely upon their reach won’t do much to help achieve your goals. Working with an influencer with a large reach can certainly get your message out there to a large number of people, but it’s not very likely that those people will take action on the message. When you’re researching an influencer, investigate their audience closely. Who flocks to their content and engages with it? Are these the people it would be really valuable to get your message in front of?

5. How could they be integrated into your marketing plan?

Having a clear understanding of this person’s unique strengths or qualities and how they can help you achieve your goals is key for focused relationship-building. While you don’t want to make an ask of an influencer before you’ve built a relationship, beginning your interactions “with the end goal in mind” will help you keep the big picture in mind when you’re steering your relationship in the right direction.

6. Am I thinking outside the box?

Don’t get so caught up in researching individual influencers that you lose sight of the bigger picture. Finding the best influencers for your goals requires an open mind. Look beyond the places you naturally think you might find them and keep an eye on more niche social platforms and websites like SlideShare, Snapchat and Vimeo. Don’t limit yourself to journalists, bloggers or known analysts, either. Consider anyone who is active in the conversations going on in your industry, such as content curators or blog editors.

Stay tuned for the next step of our guide to making the most of influencers in your PR communications, which will outline a content-creation process for contacting influencers that you can feel confident about.

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