How to Manage Influencer Outreach Programs: The Power of the Magic Middle

Kami Watson Huyse is a PR veteran and the Founder of Zoetica Media, a PR and marketing services agency that works with brands such as the American Red Cross, Google, SeaWorld and the U.S. State Department, among others. Her firm works with clients to manage influencer outreach programs, and she has used a variety of tools to do this since 2005.

Personal influence measurement tools are commonly used by communications firms to keep tabs on influencers with whom they are building relationships on behalf of their clients.  But relying on Klout or Kred scores to identify the right influencers is not enough—these tools should be part of a balanced, integrated approach to understanding influencers, and identifying the right ones for your brand or your client.  We spoke to Zoetica founder and PR veteran Kami Watson Huyse to get her take on how she uses personal influence measurement to build and manage relationships with the right influencers for her clients.

Best Practices:  An Integrated, Balanced Approach to Influencer Outreach

There are two secrets to managing successful influencer outreach programs, according to Huyse.

  1. Understand what your business goals are.
  2. Do your homework so that you know not just who the influencers are—but also whether they fit your brand.

The Zoetica team maintains spreadsheets that compare a broad range of data points about key influencers they are tracking for clients.  These spreadsheets include metrics from Alexa, Compete and Post Rank (for bloggers), Twitter statistics (such as follower numbers and Twitter lists), as well as Klout and PeerIndex scores.  In some cases, the team may not rely on the spreadsheet at all, having developed relationships with influencers over time.  But sometimes the myriad data points can be very useful as a way of prioritizing and targeting their outreach or efforts to build relationships with new sets of influencers.

The Power of the “Magic Middle”

When it comes to identifying influencers to include in an outreach effort, Huyse often deliberately includes influencers who may not have the highest scores.  By focusing on the “magic middle,” she can nurture relationships with people who are more serious, consistent and eager to engage.  Building a relationship with “rising stars” means that they’ll remember and appreciate your interest over time—even when they have become more influential.  (UPDATE: Kami has pointed out that the Magic Middle concept was first defined by Technorati founder David Sifry–his 2006 article makes an interesting read for those who want to learn more about this concept.)

It’s also important to foster a relationship between the individual influencers you’re targeting:  to introduce them to each other, and to create a sense of community around your brand.  Mid-tier influencers are more eager to engage with other influencers, and the networks they create will be a far stronger driver for your brand than a small number of high-profile and less committed influencer relationships.

Huyse would like to see tools that successfully measure and identify influence, but she believes that the technology still has a way to go before it is accurate and trustworthy.  “There are no short cuts,” says Huyse.  To really get to know a targeted list of top influencers, you need to take the time to read their blog and online content, and observe who they interact with most often.  A tool such as Klout or PeerIndex can come in useful if you’re trying to develop a larger set of influencers for an advertising or promotions program.

Most importantly, make sure you use the right tool for the job.  As Huyse says, “don’t use a hammer when you need a screwdriver.”

The Realtime Report's Guide to Influence Measurement ToolsAre you using tools like Klout as part of your influencer relationship management programs?  What best practices would you add to these?


To learn more about influence measurement tools, check out The Realtime Report’s Guide to Influence Measurement Tools, our detailed analysis of personal and contextual influence measurement tools.