Best Practices for Engaging Digital Influencers

By: Crisel Mills, Account Manager 

In a previous blog, I listed six reasons to consider an influencer program as part of your overall PR strategy. Now that you’re ready, what happens next? Before you hit the ground running, here are a few steps to take to ensure a successful campaign:

  1. Determine your goals.

Like any program, you have to prioritize your goals. Are you looking to drive awareness or conversions? We all want the best of both worlds, but to be successful, you must choose one. If you’re looking for an awareness campaign, you want influencers with an impressive social reach. Influencers that participate in this type of program leverage visuals and know how to craft concise posts that are appealing to a mass audience, therefore, driving overall impressions. However, if you’re looking to drive conversions, it’s best to tap influencers that are considered “experts” via industry or experience. This type of influencer has built a following around their knowledge, so while their social reach might not be as impressive, they reach your target audience directly. An endorsement coming from them is more likely to drive engagement including leads. Let’s say you’re promoting a new fitness program and want to reach as many people as possible, you would go with an awareness campaign. If you want to reach vetted leads, consider a conversion program.

  1. Decide on full-service vs. DIY.

Along with your goal, this is another key decision – and one that will determine your overall budget. The minimum for most full-service agencies is $25,000. This sounds like a lot for a single flight, but they are designed to move the needle. Another alternative is to take a DIY approach. You may not be able to scale as quickly, but if you are looking to test the waters or work with a handful of influencers throughout the year, this may be the way to go. Pricing with DIY is dependent on the individual and the platform used to manage the program.

  1. Construct a guardrail document.

Since influencers don’t know the ins and outs of your business, create a guardrail document to guide content creation. In this document, you should share the company mission and values. Include a product description, keywords and anything else that will inspire compelling posts. Remember, influencers have their unique style and voice – and you want them to use it. After all, that’s what their followers are looking for. Offering guidance is beneficial for both parties, since the last thing you want to do is find yourself editing a handful of posts or blogs.

  1. Create incentives.

Another thing to consider is influencing the path to purchase. Don’t forget; many brands are now discovering the real potential behind influencers, so you want a desirable incentive that your influencers can offer. It can be as simple as a trackable coupon code, or if you have a high-value item, a giveaway is a great alternative for building excitement around the product or service.

  1. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Finally, whether you decide to execute an awareness campaign or drive conversions, don’t take a ‘one and done’ approach. It will take a minimum of three flights to optimize the program fully. The first flight provides a benchmark, while the third reaps the benefits of the key learnings from the first two. It may seem like a large investment, but the reward is equally high.

Interested in the next step? We’d love to help! Contact us at pr@msrcommunications.com for more information on a full service program or DIY.

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To Tweet or Not to Tweet – That’s Not The Only Question

Tips from the Top on Engaging Potential Employers Online

In this digital age of job hunting, it takes more than a tweet or Facebook post to be ‘social media savvy’. Through my experience as an intern for MSR Communications, I’ve quickly learned how social networking is changing traditional methods of job hunting in the PR industry.

For all the young and aspiring professionals out there, this couldn’t be better news. But there’s more to it than that—if you want to be noticed in the current economy, you need to stand out and start engaging online now. No, this does not include professional Facebook Stalking or Twitter Spamming. With all the job and internship postings that appear online on a daily basis, these insider tips will assist you in cultivating and building your online presence.

1. Chances are that the important decision makers at the companies you are interested in applying to are active on social media. Find, follow and interact with them.

Once you start observing what your target companies have to stay, begin thoughtfully engaging with them. MSR’s intern supervisor, Joanna Riedl, observes that “in the PR industry, if people are talking about our client’s brands online, we want to know. The same goes for our own brand.”

If you think retweeting or commenting on industry news won’t build your profile or goes unnoticed, think again.

“We keep an eye on the conversation happening around us on Twitter by monitoring retweets and mentions,” Riedl notes. “When someone is genuinely passionate about what we do and wants to interact with us on a social media platform, they stand out. If someone is reaching out in a thoughtful, engaging way on a platform such as Twitter, we definitely take notice.”

2. Be passionate AND knowledgeable about what you put online. Passion will take you far, but doing your homework and knowing what a company is all about will take you even further.

These days there is much fiercer competition for a smaller number of jobs. Added to that, senior-level candidates are also applying for entry level positions. Being able to engage key targets, such as a potential employer, through online channels is an important asset that will help you stand out.

Joanna Riedl agrees: “By demonstrating your social media talent to those who are responsible for the hiring decision, you are setting yourself apart from the flatness of your resume in their email inbox…I would recommend that if you are going to be contacting an employer through Facebook or Twitter, make sure the picture you paint of yourself is favorable. Pepper your professional profile with just enough personality to stand out. In public relations, it is ideal to mix both without offending your professional OR personal contacts.”

3. Be consistent in posting. Your online presence will only be as good as the effort you put into it.

“Whenever an intern position opens we receive tons of resumes,” Riedl points out. “We get intern hopefuls who can talk the social media talk in an interview, but can they walk the walk?”

Obviously, one comment or retweet won’t take you very far. Real success stems from consistency and dedication to engagement. Find the targets that interest you and build a foundation on which the relationship may flourish. Putting in the hard work will showcase to employers valuable workforce skills.

So instead of lodging your resume out there the next time you’re looking for a job or internship, career contenders would be better suited to learn more about the ins and outs of social networking. The career opportunities are already there – the real question is, do you have what it takes to “walk the walk?”

-Tiffany Harrison, MSR Communications

Is being a good writer a necessary skill for PR pros today? Was it ever?

I’ve worked with plenty of solid dot-your-i and cross-your-t types who didn’t even know where to put the i’s and t’s in IT. They couldn’t spell paradigms, but there they were shifting them.

Who has time to read proper English on a BlackBerry anyway? You lost me at hello.

You don’t even need to do your research in this business anymore. Credit the wrong university for famous alums who actually graduated elsewhere, and you’ll land coverage in every major news outlet in the country.

Besides, it’s all viral video these days. It’s probably more important to know how to shoot in HD than write in AP.

A blogger friend of mine said bad writers are sometimes more efficient writers. “People who don’t know how to write don’t spend a lot of time doing what they hate to do in the first place,” he said. “Good writers, on the other hand, may be more keen on describing the point than getting to it.”

I know PR pros who aren’t so great with the page but are incredibly convincing forces in person or on the social networking side. Their genuine passion and creativity turns them into that which TechCrunch’s Alexia Tsotsis says many more of us PR folk need to be: namely, interesting.

And when was the last time you read a press release that was interesting? This is a real-time, 140 character society now. If you can’t fit your news into a tweet when it matters most, chances are it’s too much, too late.

It’s probably better not to write at all lest you find yourself on the Bad Pitch Blog. Phoning it in is safer, though I guess Mel Gibson and Alec Baldwin paid dearly for assuming the same.

Okay, so maybe you need good writers in PR. You just don’t have to be a good writer to be in PR. (Of course, none of these bad writers work with me.)

Disclaimer: Any punctuation and grammatical mistakes contained in this piece will not keep you from retweeting it.