The 5 Golden Rules for Engaging with Celebrity Influencers

Find out how you can capture the attention of a celebrity influencer through a more creative, personalized approach.

I must confess that I was recently and surprisingly inspired by Success Resources podcast with Olivia Carr, founder of SHHH SILK.  I don’t know about you, but this was the first time I had ever heard of Olivia and her brand.  At first look of the podcast title, ‘How to get millions worth of marketing for free,’ I instantly chuckled and thought, ‘Nothing is ever free.’  Going into this as a skeptic, I was still intrigued to hear what she had to say.  This particular podcast examines the holy grail of influencer marketing, the celebrity influencer.  I mean it’s the ultimate treasure quest for any business big or small. One endorsement or review from any major celebrity can make business millions, like it did for SHHH SILK.  Attempting to get the attention of an influencer, specifically, a celebrity influencer involves a bit more strategy that relies on a solid ideation process, creativity, budget and amount of risk you are willing to take.

Before I continue, I want to make a quick and essential pit stop.  If you’re not sure about the difference or what an influencer is then I recommend you catch up by reading my previous blog on this subject.  Now back to our ‘regularly scheduled program’. As I listened on, I was impressed and inspired by SHHH SILK approach with celebrity influencers.  This inspiration led to the creation of my 5 Golden Rules for engaging with celebrity influencers.

RULE #1: Picking the right influencer for your brand and community.  For example, if your product is more aligned with fitness then you’d go after the celebrity trainers or elite athletes and pass on the food network star for diners, drive-ins, and dives (no offense to Guy Fieri).  Also, you need to make sure the influencer aligns with the interests of your target audience. An excellent place to start the influencer selection process is to create a list of interests and even aspirations of your target audience. Then start hunting for influencers that share the same interests.  Some cool tools can help you, like Social Blade for the budget conscience or Traackr for those with more significant funds. A great tip from Olivia is to ‘go to people that have a million customers you want.’

RULE #2: Why mail when you can hand deliver, taking a unique approach.  You can’t just go to Kim Kardashian and ask her to promote your product.  Something tells me you aren’t the only one to think ‘my product is the shit’ and celebrities don’t know it yet kind of mentality.  The celebrity influencer is a different, next level breed of influencer. They are busy with their own life, work, and projects. They get approached for more deals and sponsorships then we could probably even dream of right now.  So, how do you get in touch with the ‘unreachable’?

The way to go about it is what Olivia and her team do, and that is to build a ‘spider web’.  You build an influencer web around the influencer you are targeting. In this case, SHHH SILK looked at Kim K’s makeup artists and hairstylists that are influencers in their own right.  Once you get the names, then you learn everything about them. You will want to do an ‘interest’ check and make sure these outlier influencers also align with your target audience needs.  Be sure to take a look at the content they post on their social media channels. A great pro tip from Olivia is to check ‘24 hour content’ posts on platforms like SnapChat or Instagram stories.

RULE #3: Exclusivity is the name of the game.  As Olivia says, “They [celebrity influencers] love things that no one else has.”  They have all the money to get them anything they want and that merely gifting via mail isn’t enough.  Exclusivity is all about getting access to things that no one else can attain or ever have. SHHH SILK does this by going out of their way to provide highly customizable gifts.  Each quarter her team goes through celebrities and influencers around them. They dive into the celebrity and the spider web of influencers, and they know everything from birthdays to interests to due dates, etc. Great example Olivia shares is how they got to Kim Kardashian’s makeup artist of the time, Mario.  The SHHH SILK team put their digital detective hats on and investigated Mario’s social profiles and struck gold, well in this case silver.  They found out he just renovated his home in gray. Olivia and her team took this information and created a custom gray product that is not available for purchase on their site.  By doing so, they were able to create a very personable product and authentic experience with the intent of extending that experience into his home. The purpose wasn’t to sell but to genuinely share in his excitement around the recent renovation.  

RULE #4: They can smell your intent a mile away.  Your purpose must be as genuine and authentic as your approach.  Transactional efforts result in short-term, one night stands that offer minimal to no value.  You are here to build what Olivia calls, powerful relationships, PR. Just like making that commitment to your partner, you are making that same level of commitment to the influencer.  Creating customized gifts that no one else can get and with the intent of becoming part of a personal experience, shows the influencer you genuinely care. You have ‘surprised and delighted’ them without expectations.  Of course, through these efforts, we do have hope that we will have the opportunity to take the relationship to the next level through collaborations or even them sharing their excitement with their world. In the case of SHHH SILK, Mario did just that, and they were able to do the same for Kim, Kylie, and the rest of the Kardashian klan.


Source:  Olivia Carr, founder of SHHH SILK

RULE #5: There’s always a cost associated with taking out of the box risks.  I guess you could say earning the trust of a celebrity is priceless.  However, there is always a cost of doing business, and in this case, it is about the opportunity cost. What would it take for you to build a custom and very personal experience for one of your influencers every three months?  Are you ok with trying more than once to get the attention of that influencer? Are you all right with breaking even or even losing 10% 15% or 20%? Is the opportunity cost worth it if it means one endorsement can help you reach millions, double or even quadruple your revenue, or get you a 2 page spread in a relevant industry magazine?  Remember, rule #4; your intent is about building that long-term relationship, which means you are making a resource, budget and time commitment for as long as the influencer program continues to be profitable.

According to Olivia, ‘The moment is about the influencer and not about us,’ and that couldn’t be truer. The experiences we create through our goods and services determines our success or failure.  The 5 Golden Rules for engaging with celebrity influencers, is a means to shed light on the commitment it takes when building powerful relationships with your influential community.  I hope the topic inspired you as much as it did me to be willing to take a risk and differentiate yourself from the pack. I encourage you to listen to the full podcast to get more details on how SHHH SILK executes their celebrity influencer program.  

In the meantime, I look forward to your confessions on your hopes, fears, or sins when it comes to embarking on an influencer program whether you represent the brand or are an influencer yourself.

What is an influencer?

In this blog, we will explore what it is to be an influencer and the different types.

Influencer marketing is increasingly on the rise and is making everyone feel like they have FOMO (fear of missing out).  Many people jump in with big budgets thinking they can buy their way in, but it’s more than just budgets and name dropping.  Like anything in business, it’s about the relationships and how we walk away feeling from our experience. Before we engage with an influencer and wave our dollars,  I think we need a foundational understanding of who an influencer is. In this blog, we will explore what it is to be an influencer and the different types.

According to Influencer Marketing hub, an influencer is an individual who has:

    • “the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his/her audience.
  • a following in a particular niche, which they actively engage with. The size of the following depends on the size of the niche.”

As we dive into this topic it is important to note that an influencer is not a marketing tactic like a targeted email or banner ad.  Nor is an influencer something new.  Think of your traditional spokesperson in a digital format and expand the universe to include peer to peer experts that all share their voice on various social platforms.  

An influencer is an important piece to the digital relationships that you are building with your community on the social web.  Like I’ve mentioned in my previous blogs, social media is a long-term relationship based on authenticity and your ability to emotionally connect with your community through valuable and meaningful content.

Your content mix can and should eventually involve contributions from influencers that represent your market and community.  Social media influencers are people that have built a trusted reputation for their area of expertise. They typically develop and publish engaging content in various format types on the preferred channels that their target audience consumes information on.  When looking for an influencer it is important to select someone that can reach your target audience, drive engagement, and develop trust. His or her brand should align with yours and represent that work through creating original, engaging content for your audience.  Not only should they align with your business, but selecting the right type of influencer is just as important.  There are many types of influencers that represent the macro and micro level of a community.  First, let’s take a look at the macro influencer.

A macro influencer includes celebrities, industry experts or thought leaders.

celebrity_genericThe Celebrity: We are all familiar with the Kim Kardashian’s, Usain Bolt’s and Roger Federer’s of the world.  The celebrity influencer carries a large reach at a steep price. One benefit according to Traackr, “You’ll attract other influencers to the party by having a celebrity among the roster.”

The Expert / Thought Leader: You can actually break this category down to include the journalist, the analyst, academics and professional advisors.  Essentially the expert influencer is someone that is extremely knowledgeable and trusted in their field. By the way, this person already exists within your company.  Think of your CEO or product manager or engineer.  People seek out the expert to offer guidance and recommendations for their purchase decisions.  The good thing here is that you can find niche experts across every topic or industry.

Then you have the micro influencer.  According to Forbes article, “micro-influencer have specific niche audiences and are deeply connected to them.”  They are more of your everyday type people with a strong following and highly engaged audience.  Micro influencers can represent different areas of interest like travel, fitness, dogs, and food. I would consider your micro influencer as a ‘power consumer’ that is an avid product review and produces content based on their experience without that area.  For some great examples, I suggest taking a look at Social Report’s, Meet the Top 7 Instagram Micro-Influencers of 2018.  

An influencer can help make, break or do nothing for a brand if you don’t ensure that he or she aligns with your brand values and even creativity.  Understanding who an influencer is and the different types are foundational to your ability to create a successful influencer strategy that integrates with your overall marketing and business strategies.  Remember that staying true to what you stand for lives on in the people that you enlist to represent it.

I hope this blog was helpful and you have a better understanding of who an influencer is.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.