Engaging with Influencers and Advocates
Grow your online community with the right followers
Word of mouth is a powerful way to build trust around your brand and attract more people to your community. Strong relationships with key influencers can help you achieve visibility in bigger networks. Loyal fans can become your best advocates and speak about your brand with sincere enthusiasm and knowledge. Both of these types of relationships should be nurtured with care.
An influencer is someone who has the public’s ear or is seen as an authority on a particular topic - they could be a blogger, a speaker, an author or a celebrity. Since influential people tend to be busy, make sure to respect their time and develop a relationship before you ask them to contribute to your community. If a blogger is talking about your product you can share that content to your community or ask to use a part of it as a testimonial on your website. If you don’t yet have any influencers in your network, start researching potential candidates whose voice could bring value to your community. Begin by monitoring their activity to identify what they’re interested in and which communication channels they use most. For example, if someone is very active on Twitter, that’s the best place to reach out to them. Sign up for their newsletters and spend time studying and sharing their content and contributing to their discussions.
Once you are armed with enough knowledge, reach out with a small ask. You could invite them to an industry event or a small VIP gathering, or offer a trial of your product. From there, you can assess the potential for further collaboration to build credibility for your brand such as collaborating on a guest post or contributing content to their email newsletter. Keep in mind that the goal of these partnerships isn’t just to amplify your brand through the influencer’s network, it’s to get them to contribute their trusted insight to your community, thereby raising its value.
Your advocates are much easier to find. Look for people that are publicly gushing about your product on Twitter or actively tagging your company on Instagram. As they reach out to express their love and affection for your brand, make sure you reach out and reciprocate. To cement these positive relationships, you can provide such customers with early access to new releases or invite them to private events where they can sample the products you’re currently testing. Whatever you do, make a point to reward the loyalty of your community advocates and acknowledge their value, as advocates can often be your biggest champions against negative sentiment directed at your brand.
Lastly, note that taking an online community offline is a powerful way to deepen relationships so work it into your community building approach. Consider hosting meetups on a regular basis to give your community members an opportunity to interact in person and create meaningful relationships with one another.
To recap, strong relationships with influencers and brand advocates can expand the reach of your brand and contribute to the growth your community. Take time to form a relationship with an influencer before inviting them to join your community. Identify advocates take steps to bring them closer to your brand through unique perks. Develop a strategy for taking your online community offline to foster relationship building among your members.