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Start building your influencer list from your own followers, your competitors’ followers, and all the beautiful people who pose for pictures in your local magazines.

Dear Lilian,

How can I find a valuable micro-influencer and woo them in my small community?

Signed,

Where Do I Begin?


Happy Spring, my dear readers! Forgive my long absence – I’ve been traveling the world and spent much of January channeling the girl from Ipanema. I won’t tease you with details of my extraordinary, mind-opening month in Brazil – that’s what Instagram is for! Head over to my Instagram page to see more about my travels.

Head over to Instagram anyway, because this, dear readers, is where we’ll focus for the next few columns.

The lovely Susan Posnock of Jewelers of America recently invited me to do a webinar on Harnessing the Power of Social Media Influencers. If you missed it, no worries! You can catch a replay on my website.

I highly recommend watching it, if I do say so myself.  I cover the big topics, including finding the right influencers, not falling victim to influencer fraud and keeping the FTC off your back. 

This webinar brought an avalanche of questions.  And as you know, I’m all about the questions! I promised webinar viewers I’d cover each question in detail here over the next few months. 

So, shall we begin?

It’s clear many of you realize it’s time to jump into the influencer marketing game. But based on this month’s question, you don’t know where to start.

Simple.  Start in your own backyard.

We’ll save the topic of macro vs. micro influencers for a later date.  Since this question came from a retailer, we’ll focus on micro-influencers. A Los Angeles-based macro-influencer with 800,000 followers posting about your store does you no good if you’re based in Texas.

So, my friend, are you now on Instagram as I instructed? If not, go ahead, I’ll wait.

Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking. And when she passes, each one she passes goes – ah

Ready? Fantastic! Who’s following you on Instagram?

No one?

Well, that’s going to have to be another article.

Hundreds of thousands of people? Fabulous! Let’s go through them.

We’re looking for your followers who have more than 1,000 followers of their own. Check out their posts and make note of which people get a lot of likes AND a lot of comments.  Also make sure you actually like what the person is posting about — in the literal sense, not just by ticking the Instagram heart. 

It’s important you like what your candidates post because you’ll be engaging them to boost your reputation.  If she has over 1,000 followers but posts regularly about clubbing baby seals, well, my strong recommendation is a hard pass.

By the way, don’t limit yourself to people who post only about jewelry.  You want lifestyle and fashion types whose followers comment on their style.

You’re not just in the jewelry business; you’re also in the style business.  Jewelry is personal, as we all know, but it’s also a person’s style signature.  Focus on this bigger picture.

Once you’ve exhausted your followers, mosey on over to your competitors’ Instagram followers and keep building your list.

All’s fair in love and jewelry, amirite?

You want at least 50 candidates with over 1000 followers each. If yours and your competitors’ followers aren’t making the cut, time to get strategic.  

Go through your customer list and identify those special customers with influencer-star personalities.

Also, most cities have local magazines that follow the lifestyles of the city’s most glamorous.  In Atlanta, we have The Atlantan.  Los Angeles has Los Angeles Confidential.  Philadelphia has Philadelphia Style. I’m sure you’re seeing a pattern in these names…

Open your city’s publications and start making a list of all those pretty people posing for pictures. 

Now, this is where it’s helpful to have a 17-year old who’ll categorize this next task as “fun.”

Look for Instagram accounts for everyone on your list, and vet them accordingly.  It’s going to take a while, but there’s no other cost-effective way to do this.

There are a million websites that promise to help you find influencers, but they don’t come cheap.  And I’ve yet to find one that does an exceptional job in keeping you from becoming victim to influencer fraud.  We’ll cover this in a future article – or learn more now on my webinar.

Don’t forget to pull email addresses from your candidates’ profiles. I can never find email addresses when I’m looking at Instagram on my laptop, but they show up on my phone.  If you’re having the same problem, use your phone.

I recommend email instead of DMs (or direct messaging on the app). Call me old fashioned, but I believe emails set a professional tone. You’re going to be engaging in a business relationship and it’s always best to begin in the right direction. However, if you can’t find an email address, then by all means, DM away.

You’ll send this email:


Hi NAME,

Our team here at YOUR COMPANY has been following you on Instagram and we love how you present yourself.   We were especially impressed by THINGS YOU LIKED ABOUT THEIR POSTS.

We’re interested in collaborating with you on some projects/events we have coming up.  Can we set up a call to talk further?

Warm Regards,

You


Short and sweet.

You want to have a conversation with them so you can get a good feel for the person.  I personally prefer in-person meetings, but save that for your final short list.  Right now, you’re trying to get your 50 names to a manageable 20.

Why are we beginning with 50?

Because you want to start on the high ground. You’re going to discover very quickly that you really don’t like many people on your list once you start communicating with them. 

The more names you have, the less you’ll feel pressured to deal with nonsense requests and diva-like behavior. Save yourself the trouble of having to begin this process again by starting with a big list and then going small.

Now, dear readers, I’m going to have to leave you on this cliff hanger. We really need much more time to discuss what happens next.  That will be my next column.

In the meantime, I’ve created an Influencer Marketing Toolkit that’s filled with useful templates.  It’s absolutely free and you can grab it here.

Until next month, my darlings!  And remember, I’m always here for your most pressing strategic communications and PR questions.  Ask your questions here!