Dear Influencer,

Tell me if the following email rings a bell:

Hello [Your Name Here]:

[Name] here from the [Event], [City’s]’s leading [Topic] conference to be held from [Date] at [Venue].  This year, we will be hosting numerous world-renowned ‘story makers,’ including [Your Peer], and [Celebrity with no relevant experience], just to name a few. See [Link] for more info.

I am pleased to invite you to attend as our SPECIAL GUEST. Entry to the forum is complimentary, and we only ask that you support us by tweeting about the Forum using [Twitter @handle] and [#Hashtag]. See invite and details attached. 

We hope that you will be able to join us and support this great event through social media. Kindly confirm your participation by no later than [Date].

Look forward to hearing from you soon!

Warm regards, 

[Person] 

Do you get emails like this, too? If so, then someone put you on a list of influencers (congratulations, it’s official!), and [Person] read a post from 2010 on how to court influencers for marketing purposes.

2010 is over. Isn’t it time influencer marketing modernized a bit?

I’ve been getting emails like this for years – literally, probably five, maybe more — ever since my following on Twitter crested about 20,000. And I have a whole lot of friends who are in the same boat as me. “Hey stranger,” the emails read. “You’re a Twitter heavy hitter. Do something for me.”

Which, let’s face it, is barely one step up from receiving an auto-DM from a new follower saying, “Thanks for the follow! Like us on Facebook.” In other words, you kinda want to take a shower after reading something like this, don’t you?

Now, please don’t misunderstand. It’s all very nice, when you’re just starting out, to be invited to attend events. If you were new at business, or at social media, and if you were just beginning to build your personal brand, you’d probably be all over this kind of offer – and I’d encourage you to give it a go!

But… well, whether you’re an enterprise software company or a global events firm, you likely don’t want the social support of someone who’s just starting out, who has yet to establish much of a personal brand, and who has a relatively small social media following. Rather, you’re looking for Tier-1 players, because they have a large and engaged following, which they’ve built and maintained and fed and provided value to for years.

If you’re really smart about it, you also want your Tier-1 influencers to be relevant to your audience, so when they’re tweeting for you, the people tuned in to their tweets are your prospective customers.

But there’s a problem with established influencers, isn’t there? And if you are one, you already know what the next line will say:

Tier 1 influencers don’t need free tickets to events.

Established influencers travel a lot. They go to events a lot. Because they speak at events. For money. Events like yours.

This means that if an event organizer wants to give these Tier 1 influencers value in this exchange, a free ticket to said event isn’t likely to cut it. Even with airfare and hotel thrown in.

Let’s face it: traveling to yet another event, staying in yet another hotel? Most established influencers would rather stay home with their families than help you build your business for free, thank you very much.

This is a Catch-22 in influencer marketing, then. The highly-impactful influencers an organizer wants don’t want what the organizer is offering.

So the organizer has to settle for second-tier influencers, or third tier. And let’s face it, that type of influencer just isn’t that… um… influential, is he or she?

Folks, in any type of business transaction, you’ve got to start with WIIFM – What’s In It For Them? Whether it’s your customers, your event attendees, your vendors, your employers, or your influencers, start with that question. Actually ask outright: “Hey, what would be a win for you? What would be in it for you to come to this event and tweet about it?” Maybe they’ll want money. Maybe they’ll want one of the speaking slots, or a slot at next year’s event. Maybe they just want a personal introduction to one of the speakers, which won’t cost you a dime! The thing is, until you ask, you’ll never know. And they won’t know you care.

There’s a change coming.

As I said, I’ve been fielding requests like the one above since my early days on Twitter. They’re a great way for me to identify events I’d like to speak at the next year. For a fee. Because I’ve been doing that for a living since 2006.

I usually just delete the invitation email and move on with my day.

And over the years I’ve asked dozens of my influential friends, “Hey, I notice you went to an event last week and tweeted a whole lot from it. What did you get out of it?” Or, more often, “I see you used to go to events and influence for [Company] a bit, and it looks like you stopped. How come?”

The answers I’ve received, and the insights I’ve gained, are absolutely fascinating to me. So much so, that I finally realized where there’s a huge opportunity to better serve both companies/event organizers and the influencers who’ve worked so hard to establish their personal brands and build strong, engaged audiences over the years.

There’s a change coming to influencer marketing. A really, really big change. A core group of us (just 4 million Twitter followers’ worth at present) are already quietly testing a system, kicking the tires on a minimum viable product before we share it with the world. We haven’t even named it yet, that’s how new this is. Stay tuned, though, because it’s coming.

In the meantime, here’s my advice for event organizers or for corporate marketing professionals out to make the most of influencers:

Ask them what might be in it for them.

Start there, and you’ll never, ever go wrong.

For more on this topic, beginning with Britt Michaelian’s post that changed the way I think about influencing for free, try these:

One last thing: It’s incredibly important to the integrity of our personal brands that we disclose when we are influencing for remuneration. When you see one of my tweets go out marked *EN, that is a sponsored tweet (or affiliate link, same difference in my book). I’ll tell you what EN stands for in an upcoming post. – Ted

About Ted Coiné

Ted Coiné is CEO of The Extraordinary Network, a group that is rewriting all the rules of influencer marketing by cutting out agency middlemen to work directly with B2B and luxury brands. Proud “bleeding heart capitalists,” he and his team have built support of a great cause into every for-profit campaign they undertake.

His entire career, Ted has collected fascinating people, most notably other thought leaders who also have a large and loyal audience of large enterprise leaders. He has watched the Wild West that is influencer marketing until he realized an opportunity to fix this broken system, and give influencers the sway they need to move markets together, and to get paid what they’re deserved for this power they bring to bear.

An Inc. Top 100 Speaker and one of Business News Daily’s 15 Twitter Accounts Every Entrepreneur Should Follow, Ranked #1 authority on the Social CEO and #3 in the Future of Work, Ted is also a serial business founder and CEO.

Ted is a Forbes Top 10 Social Media Power Influencer and an Inc. Top 100 Leadership Expert. This stance at the crossroads of social and leadership gave Ted a unique perspective to identify the demise of Industrial Age management and the birth of the Social Age. The result, after five years of trend watching, interviewing and intensive research, is his latest book, A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive.

He lives in Naples, Florida, with his wife and two daughters.


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