Make Influencers part of your Customer Service

A few weeks ago I wrote an article on how Community Managers are the future of customer relationship; some of you wondered how to make influencers part of your customer service. I’d like to go deeper into the subject and give you some tips to get started.

As soon as influencers start sharing some of your content, talking about one of your product they unwittingly become part of your customer service team.

Your customers might put larger attention on they sayings than on yours. It is more and more common that your customers ask questions directly to influencers about your products rather than on your own channels. This is why you need to provide your influencers, and indirectly your customers, with the right materials.

Step 1: Identify who your influencers are

First, you have to define who you want to bring onboard and identify who your influencers really are.

Your marketing team might already have done influencers campaigns and thus identified some of your relevant influencers. In this case, you can go directly to step 2.

Generally, we say that 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.

Depending on your business influencer doesn’t need to be a 20-million-followers superstar but it would rather be this micro-influencer speaking about racing drones, only followed by a few thousand people on YouTube who trust him.

Once you defined who your ideal influencers are, you have to find them. For our purpose, it’s better (or at least easier) to start by looking for influencers who are already speaking about you.

You might not know it but there are people out there who are already speaking about you and your products. Those people are your best advocates, they are the influencers you want to invest in.

One way to identify them is to use Social Listening tools such as Brandwatch or Talkwalker. You could also use some influencers management tools like Reech but you won’t have such a broad view and miss some of you smaller influencers.

Finally, if you have no budget for this kind of tools you can do a direct search on social platforms.

Just type your brand name and do a search on YouTube sorted by view count and you will see who is talking about you with a consistent audience. I can for example just type “Innocent bubbles” to see if there are any review of the latest Innocent Smoothie brand.

Apply this direct search to your relevant social media: Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter. On Instagram, you can easily use the discovery tool or do a search with the relevant hashtags to your brand. Look for quality and engaging contents.

Once you identified enough influencers it’s time to list your best advocates by order of importance. Importance might be measured by their reach, engagement rate but also how by how many questions they prompt.

Step 2: Look at the questions they get

Now that you have a list of influencers see how their audience engage with them, especially which questions they get about your brand.

Let say that one of your influencers, Erin Nicole is presenting your last 2018 Makeup collection. Even with a relatively low volume of views such “micro-influencers” can enjoy a nice engagement rate and receive up to hundreds of comments and questions.

The more insight you have about your influencers’ audience questions the better you will provide answers to your influencers. You need to spend some time on that and create a comprehensive list of the different questions.

Where can I get this lipstick? Can I mix this tomato sauce with butter? Would this shirt fit me? Do you know if I can get them delivered before Christmas?

Their audience which finally is also your audience has a wide range of concerns. These concerns are crucial for your marketing team, your product development, logistics and of course your customer service.

So make sure you get all those questions in a list to see which are the most recurrent ones. Then write down the answers to these questions and create your FAQ with the relevant questions.

Step 3: provide them with the right answer in a simple FAQ

Once you have your list of questions and the correct answers it’s time to share them inside an FAQ.

The first rule of FAQ is to avoid them as much as possible. A too large FAQ often means that your offer presentation or your website is not clear enough and there are some questions that shouldn’t arise. So try to kill those questions by reworking your website/presentations.

Eventually, there will always be some questions about specific information where an FAQ for your influencers is needed. You want to focus only on questions that most users have so that your FAQ stays short enough to be read. Leave the long tail questions for your customer service team, influencers won’t have time to look for it.

Your FAQ needs to be well organized with clever categories and similar questions grouped together.

Influencers are already quite busy creating content and engaging with their fans if they take the time to open your FAQ it must be easy to read. Pay special attention to that since influencers like to use their own language, be straight to the point. Influencers will be free to rephrase it.

Design your FAQ for Social Media: be short with no visual. Providing an example image, or screenshot is good practice for a general FAQ but your influencers are sharing your replies on Instagram’s comments, Youtube or Twitter where you can’t easily share visuals.

To embed your FAQ you could use tools like Zendesk FAQ tool, create a native FAQ on your website (but make sure it is easy to update) or you could just send put it in a PDF file.

Don’t forget to update this FAQ with the new questions arising but also to remove former questions that are no longer asked.

Once it’s done you now need to share it wisely with your identified influencers.

Step 4: Send it over and monitor their activity

Whether your influencer is already part of one of your marketing campaigns or is a genuine influencer you will not contact them the same way.

For the influencers you know some of them might be already in regular contact with a person of your team. In this case, share it with the appropriate person of your team so that they share and explain this FAQ to your influencers. Your marketing team can decide to make those answers part of their partnership plan.

Regarding influencers that you’ve never reached before, it’s a different game. One thing you have to remember is that they know you already (since they spoke about your brand) which will make things easier.

Even though these influencers are speaking about you without you had to reach them you need to respect their independence. Show them that what you want to provide through this FAQ is first to help their community by providing them with priceless answers to their worries even though it can take quite a lot of time.

I won’t give you any template to contact them because I believe there are none. It all depends on your brand tone of voice, your industry and especially on the influencer you’re contacting.

But here are some tips:

  • Point the content they created about your brand and thank them.
  • Give some questions examples of answers to some of the most common questions they get
  • Show how your FAQ can help them respond to their audience with concrete examples (from their content)

Finally: Should you pay them?

That’s a tricky question but a question that need to be asked. As influence marketing is getting more mature, relationships between brands and influencers are more and more transactional.

In this context, you could consider rewarding them for the time they spend answering questions and saving you indirectly some time. You need to offer fair compensation — this shows how much you value their efforts.

So when you send over your FAQ don’t hesitate to pair it with a clear compensation plan that will persuade your influencers to open your FAQ and use it. You could pay them by answers given if you spend enough time monitoring their activities. You could also set a fixed bonus on the influencer goodwill.

Your compensation plan will be quite different to setup whether you’ve already been working with this influencer or not. If you’ve been working with them just add this response to your already in place collaborations: for a sponsored Instagram post you can ask influencers to reply to questions regarding your FAQ.

Whether you’re paying them or not, always keep in mind that the questions they get are pointed to them and not to you. Their fans want authentic answers and not preformatted answers from FAQ. So you need to leave space for your influencers to answer in their own tone of voice.

If you want to make influencers part of your customer service you will have to prove that you’re here to help and not just to push your brand.

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