How to Approach Your Social Media Influencers

You’re on your way to creating an influencer powered campaign and know how to identify the 3 types of influencers (VIP’s, Professionals, Citizens) who have the reach, topic relevance and past history you’re looking for. You also have a plan of action and have perhaps read our Guide on How to Identify and Engage Your Influencers and even listened to a few influencer webinars with our amazing partners.

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After you’ve identified your influencers in your CRM, the next step is approaching them to share your content. This article outlines how to approach VIP’s, Professionals and Citizen influencers since they all have different expectations and rules of engagement. As such, the “formula” for approaching influencers depends on the type of influencer.

If you haven’t identified your top influencers, request a free audience insights report, we’ll send you a custom infographic report on your top 10 influencers, network reach and more.

Approaching VIP and Professional Influencers

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VIPs and professional figures can bring tremendous attention to your campaigns, reach new audiences and shape important conversation with people who follow them for their opinions. Working with top level influencers is a high-touch, long-tail program, since the process of establishing trust and maintaining relationships takes time (not to mention lining up editorial calendars).

Get On Their Radar

Once you’ve created a list of the VIP’s and Professionals you plan to approach, get to know their work by signing up for their experience on social. You have a better chance securing a partnership if you’re clear about what they talk about in relation to your work.

  • Become a follower. Follow them on their social platform of choice, sign up for their enews, like their stuff and share relevant content. Make sure not to come across as an over enthusiastic fan.
  • Strategic commenting: The best comments builds off their content with relevant information that demonstrates your expertise, and hints at mutual interests.

Now that you’re on their radar, understand their content and audience better, send them a personalized email (ideally) with a clear pitch.  When contacting Professional influencers, let them know you’re reaching out to them for their professional reputation, which can be the natural opening sentence to flatter them.

The crucial way this opener is different from one crafted for a Professional, is the VIP/Celebrity already knows they are important. You gain nothing by telling them that an endorsement can help your organization or company; after all they’ve heard these kinds of asks dozens if not hundreds of times. Instead, move into talking about how much you admire their work, how they are an important figure in your organization or have already made an impact on their campaign.

Send a personal email. Tailor each email so it doesn’t look like a cut and paste version but is personal and gets to the point. Tell them what your marketing campaign or product does and why you think they are a good fit. Perhaps they’ve spoken about the issue or a related topic?

If you don’t have their email, try communicating with them on the platform you found them on. However, once you get their attention, try to move the conversation to email so you can include more details. For top VIP’s, you’ll likely work with a gatekeeper such as an agent or publicist.

Sample personalized pitch:

Hello [name],

Re-introduce your relationship with them.

Explain why you are reaching out. (“We would like your help promoting X  because it would make a huge difference to Y.”) You need two reasons: why this is important to your organization and why they should take part.

Acknowledge their status if a Professional influencer: That’s why you are reaching out after all, so make sure they know that.

Make the ask. Here are a few examples:

“Share this Facebook post & three tweets on Black Friday.”

“We just released new findings around X  and would like to sponsor an Instagram contest, where we’re doing this cool thing …”

Thank you for your consideration!
[footer: with social links etc]

What not to say in your initial pitch:

“Dear Mr. X, as a representative from Acme and fan of your work, I’d like to offer my boring templated pitch that I send everyone.”

“Will you be our influencer or brand ambassador?”

“Would you be willing to post about our work in exchange for a discount?

If they don’t respond, don’t sweat it, just follow up

Getting people to act is the art of follow up. If you’ve tried contacting them via email and social, and still aren’t hearing from them, it could be they are indeed interested but 1) busy when you contacted them, 2) forgot to respond or 3) not sure they can deliver. They also may expect you to follow up until they’ve decided. Keep in mind that if you found them in your CRM, they most likely support what you’re up to so don’t give up quickly. Regardless of the reason, change the pitch if they aren’t responding.

What to do after the YES

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  • Agree on the plan and generate content. While the specifics with each influencer and campaign will vary, you’ll need to come to mutually-agreeable terms for what both parties will deliver within a suitable timescale.

For any marketing campaign, both influencers and organizations/brands are going to have their own goals, agenda and methods for accomplishing them. Expect to negotiate the details.

  • Send updates. Inform them about key metrics in a short email that includes how far you are from your goals and the results of the campaign. They will be more likely to participate in future campaigns if they’re thanked and kept in the loop.

Approaching Everyday Influencers

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 3.22.03 PMSince most people are influenced by their friends and family, make sure to include this often overlooked group of Citizen or “everyday” influencers, which your CRM is no doubt full of.

Citizen influencers generally have a more than 500 social media connections and a Klout score of 40-60.

Influencer formulas aren’t a hard science, so try your own formula. This is especially true if you work on state issues or have a niche audience. Your advantage is that you don’t need big numbers.

Citizen influencers will be your largest group, one on one communication will be too time consuming for most teams. Instead, consider sending bulk emails with your ask and content for the campaign.

Acknowledge their value, remind about relationship, and make the ask very clear: for example, Can you send three tweets about our organization/company on Giving Tuesday?

Build Rapport with Your Influencers

Now that you have their attention, and are on your way to a productive working relationship, maintain what you’ve earned with these tips:

  • Track activity: Whether it’s in your CRM, influencer tool or spreadsheet, make sure to have a way of tracking your communications as you would for a high value contact like a donor or customer. Record your major interactions like sending content, providing event tickets, sending a product sample, etc.
  • Engage on social: While you know how to show your appreciation by liking, sharing and favoriting their work, the key is doing it quickly. Develop a system for daily or weekly social monitoring to see what your active influencers are talking about (which you can do in a snap using
  • Exclusive access: Special content tailored for influencers shows your appreciation while educating your new spokespeople about your work. Offer things like sneak previews of reports, products or videos. In many ways, these are digital volunteers. Cultivate your new recruits by provide examples of how other influencers or ambassadors made a difference to your organization or company. Include tactics for thanking, recognizing and rewarding active influencers on a regular basis.

While identifying influencers is relatively easy with tools like, there’s no way around the time it takes to cultivate working relationships. Protect your investment by giving programmatic structure around your influencer marketing and assign follow up tasks as a specific job responsibility. Once you’ve gained traction and see results, continue working with those influencers and build on your momentum.


Jeanette Russell
About Jeanette Russell

Passionate to engage stakeholders to solve technical and political issues through transformational initiatives. My deep understanding of technology, partnerships, marketing, advocacy, fundraising, nonprofits, startups and self-directed nature is my brand. I’ve created extensive partner networks, coalitions, spearheaded innovative campaigns and significantly increased revenue/funding for purpose driven ventures.

Posted in Engagement, Influencers

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