4 Strategies for Engaging Brand Influencers on Social Media (Discovery Research)

41% say they use social media to "like" things and let friends know about what they like; 29% use social media to get recommendations about products and programs

On social media, intimacy trumps mass-messaging, according to new research conducted by Discovery Communications across 400 members of its Influencer Panel.  And getting active influencers to talk about your brand will have more impact than talking about yourself.

Discovery Research found that nearly 8 in 10 of Facebook and Twitter users “like” or “follow” a brand, and a smaller subset (28%) are fans of more than 20 brands.  But the true influencers are the 4 in 10 who say that they  “like” things to let their friends and family know about products and services they like.  These “active socials” will in turn have an impact on the 29% who use social media to get recommendations about new products/programs.

Brands that want to influence the influencers, often create campaigns to  target the active “likers.”  But to be truly successful, brands need to identify those influencers who have an affinity for the brand, and find ways to engage them.  People are three times as likely to “always pay attention” to posts from their friends as they are to pay attention to posts from brands:  hitting the jackpot means getting a an active social media user to share  and comment about your brand’s post.

Discovery asked respondents for examples of positive social media brand experiences–and found that there are four key strategies that can drive success in social media and influencer marketing campaigns:

1. Contests and Coupons

54% of respondents said they had entered a contest–and incentives for discounts, the chance to win free products, and social media contests that include elements designed to lead to more sharing for the brand and its messaging are great ways to create positive interactions for brands. But the best strategies focus true fans, take quality into consideration, and include content. For example, TLC is partnering with Southwest Airlines to give away trips in conjunction with their new series, On the Fly, that profiles the airline’s operations and passengers.

2. Humor Me!

Social media users want to be entertained–give them something funny to share and odds are they’ll tell their friends.  Examples from the Discovery Communications panel includes posting clips, videos, funny sound bites, fun surveys, and other types of non-commercial funny posts.  What’s crucial is that the brand itself has a sense of humor for it to “ring true” with its fans.

3. Inside the Velvet Rope

Granting social media fans“insider status” can take a number of forms.  Some brands use social media to “let fans in on information” about new offerings and give them knowledge they “might not have found another way.” For entertainment brands, putting up exclusive videos and spoilers resonates well with users and is great for re-sharing. In the case of What Not to WearTLC enlisted Facebook fans’ opinions during the production of an episode, letting them vote on things like outfits and hairstyles.

4. Saving the World, One “Like” at a Time

Empowering people to make a difference via their “likes” and shares provides multiple benefits – increasing awareness for a brand, enhancing the level of trust in a friend’s recommendation, while also raising money or awareness for a good cause. Discovery Channel used this technique around the U.S. premiere of Frozen Planet in March and April, inviting viewers to check into the show on GetGlue and donating a dollar for each sticker unlocked to partner nonprofits.

These four techniques are based on research among the Discovery Influencer panel — a group of people that is pre-disposed to be active and engaged on social media, and obviously skews toward entertainment brands. But we’ve seen and covered examples from across industries.

Which of these 4 strategies for engaging social media influencers do you think is most effective?