Even smaller organizations can cultivate their own networks of industry-specific social media influencers without a six-figure price tag. Perhaps you’re looking to refresh your social messaging and to take your social conversations in a different direction. If you’re struggling to gain traction with your feeds and to garner the attention of new visitors to your event, perhaps you’ll consider adding influencers to your arsenal.
Here are a few tips to consider:
Think broadly: Celebrities are not the only suitable candidates to serve as social media influencers! Consider those who are active in your organization’s or event’s orbit. Those who are social media-savvy and better yet, active with a formidable number of followers, should rise to the top of the list. Your keynote speaker may be a rock star candidate! CEOs, program committee chairs, executive directors and even association volunteers who reside in the event’s host city should be considered for your influencer short list.
Reluctant social media adopters, however, should not be summarily dismissed as potential influencers. You may have a long-time and well-respected attendee who supports your organization but isn’t particularly active on social media. Your willingness to craft messages and to provide some hand holding (and even a discount on registration fees), may encourage your prospective influencer to help promote your event.
Investigate extensively: The saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies here! Before approaching the person(s) whom you have in mind, perform a Google search on that candidate’s name. This helps ensure that an unflattering online reference doesn’t rise to the top of the results page, rendering your candidate less suitable for the position. Scroll through the individual’s social media feeds to get a feel for their voice and posting style. Have they engaged in confrontations with other platform users? Spirited and respectful debate is acceptable, but acrimonious engagement will reflect poorly on your event.
Choose wisely: Manage mutual expectations with your prospective influencer when you first make contact to determine availability and suitability. Does your influencer have the time to post about your event, and is he/she receptive to suggestions and feedback? Has this person expressed interest in helping with your event, perhaps in a limited role? If you haven’t worked with the individual previously, can your colleagues offer their perspectives on this individual’s reliability?
Approach the initial conversations with your candidates with fact finding versus extending an offer in mind. Prepare an exit route in advance in case a candidate is not the right fit. You might first reach out via email to gauge a person’s interest, but an informal phone or online (Skype, Facetime or Zoom, for example) conversation can also reveal tidbits about a person’s suitability that won’t necessarily be evident in an email.
A few years ago, I shared a story about a new hotel concept that was under consideration in Nashville on Twitter. Using several industry-related hashtags to gain the attention of fellow planners and hospitality industry professionals, I also sought to reach fellow travel enthusiasts by employing the popular “#TravelTuesday” hashtag. Much to my surprise, the post also attracted the attention of model Kendall Jenner of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” fame, who gave the tweet a like. While Ms. Jenner is a well-known social media influencer, I can report that her millions of Twitter followers did not follow me as a result of that like. But that random reinforcement is a fun story and demonstrates that anything is possible with social media!