How to attract influencers with influencers

BarbaraInfluencer engagement, Influencer identification, influencer relations

Influencers are magnets. For example, we know that an influential keynote speaker is a sure-fire way to attract an audience. Yet, influencers are not simply intermediaries between us and our customers. They can also attract other influencers to our brands, our causes and our communities.

Robert Scoble demonstrated this dynamic to me during the Supernova ’09 reception last month. I had approached to ask his opinion on the growing raft of influencer ranking tools and we got to talking more generally about how influence works. Within minutes, Mashable’s Ben Parr interrupted, intent on getting Scoble to say he’d attend an upcoming event. Scoble was having none of it, until Parr mentioned that a particular person would be there. That changed everything. Scoble turned to me and said, “See, that’s one way you influence me.”

You’re not likely to be in Ben Parr’s position, in terms of knowing the one precise name to drop and when to drop it. However, you can get there. Here are some simple tips on how to attract influencers with influencers.

1. If you have a 1:1 relationship in place, just ask. I know it seems too simple. However, the best way to find out is to ask. Pose the question in an appropriate context. Be upfront. You might explain that you’re building a larger circle of thought leaders, and want to include the people that they would most like to associate with. Or ask, “Who influences you? Who most influences your thinking?” If you’re producing a panel discussion ask your influencers to name their dream panel.

2. Create opportunities to discover and develop relationships between your influencers. Let influencers mingle by arranging dinners or adding social time to your business events. The key is to facilitate introductions and conversations without being a control freak. Don’t hover every minute: allow private conversations within the group. Stand back and observe the social dynamics. Then figure out what you learned and how to apply it to make your influencer marketing program even better.

3. Open the door to diverse people inside your organization. It’s good practice to assign an employee as a buddy to an influencer – but only to a point. Make it easy for influencers to tap into different parts of your company and get to know a mix of personalities and roles. Put this capacity into the DNA of your influencer marketing program. Examples include issuing a descriptive contact list, enhancing a private influencer portal with selected employee profiles, or involving different topical experts each time you brief your opinion leaders.

4. Watch for signs of trouble. Every one of us comes with baggage. It’s our nature. So, make no assumptions about who attracts who and who repels who. As you get to know influencers as people, you’ll find that some at competing companies enjoy opportunities to rub elbows while some who appear repeatedly at the same events and in the same press stories privately loathe each other.

Ask, watch, listen, think. Trust me, there’s just no app for that human touch.