The Secret to Creating Personalized Content That’s Relevant Not Creepy

It’s no secret that marketers are finding ways to send personalized messages to subscribers. After all, personalized emails deliver 6x higher transaction rates, making marketers keen on using the strategy.

But is it possible to be a little too good at personalizing your marketing messages? At some point, do the messages begin to feel creepy, weird, and like a brand knows a little too much?

In today’s digital ecosystem, marketers are personalizing their messages in more sophisticated ways to ensure that what they deliver is relevant, valuable, and far from creepy. In this post, we’ll take a deeper look at delivering personalization that compels not repels.

Creating Personalized Content That Speaks to the Consumer

Marketers Focus on Relevancy

Aren’t consumers looking for personalized experiences? Industry trends show customers want emails that offer recommendations based on past purchases, as well as access to exclusive deals based on loyalty status.

Consumers do respond to personalized emails, but some big brand marketers are taking issue with the word “personalization.” It conjures up images of a robot that tracks our every move, then “blasts” our inboxes. But nothing could be further from the truth with personalization that is done well.

Because of this, some marketers are now replacing the term “personalization” with “relevant content.”

It might seem like marketers are getting hung up on a word, but they’re trying to take the robot, “we’re-spying-on-you” feel out of personalization and focus more on creating relevant messages that feel more human. As brands navigate the journey from 1: many to 1:1 messaging, they need to do it in a strategic and thoughtful way in order to make it successful.

That’s not to say brands will shy away from collecting and using data to power personalization and relevant content. Instead, they’ll try to be more selective about how they use it.

How to Create Content That’s Relevant

As you work to create and improve your email marketing strategy, you’ll want to figure out how to personalize your messages in a way that feels relevant rather than creepy.

Here are a few ways to reach subscribers with relevant content that doesn’t cross over to the dark side:

Check Your Email Frequency

Email frequency can make or break a subscriber’s perception of a brand. If your brand sends too many emails, subscribers can feel like you are violating their boundaries and retreat away from you.

To cope with this, figure out the right frequency for your subscribers, keeping in mind that one frequency won’t fit all. Different segments will likely want different amounts of emails, so you’ll have to test your email frequency to land on the perfect number of emails per month.

If you aren’t sure where to start, Campaign Monitor research suggests that sending an email every two weeks gets high response rates without burning subscribers out. Use this as a starting point and test your frequency as you make adjustments. And, always deliver what you promised when subscribers signed up to hear from your company. If you change it, communicate to subscribers and let them choose if they still want to hear from you at that frequency.

Use Dynamic Content

Dynamic content gives brands the power to change pieces of an email campaign depending on the subscriber.

For example, if you’re having a holiday sale and want to feature different products in an email, you can use dynamic content to send emails that highlight relevant products to each subscriber group.

You’ll create an email that advertises the sale, but the product images change based on the subscriber. For example, men might see men’s clothing, while women would see women’s. That’s the dynamic content.

FashionMe dynamic content

Build Landing Pages Specifically for Email Campaigns

To create the ultimate relevant experience, connect your email messages to specific landing pages created for that purpose.

When a subscriber clicks on a link in an email, they’re taken to a separate page–a landing page–which has the same look, copy, and CTA.

The point of the landing page is to provide a consistent, relevant experience. The landing page shows that you didn’t just blast an email into inboxes– it has more thought behind it and provides a fluid way for subscribers to go from thinking about a product to paying for it.

Here’s an example from La Mer. The company sends an email that focuses on products for brides and directs interested subscribers to a landing page that provides testimonials about each product and a way to buy.

La Mer Email

La Mer Tie Emails to Landing Pages

Create Email Courses Tailored to Subscribers’ Interests

A growing number of brands are finding success by creating email courses that offer subscribers a relevant and educational experience.

Rather than sending overly personalized messages based on data collected, a course encourages subscribers select courses that feel particularly relevant to them. This makes the subscriber feel as though they’re in the driver’s seat.

For example:

  • A nutrition site could create a 5-day course on eating healthy. Each day the subscriber gets a meal plan emailed to them with links to helpful blog articles.
  • A photography company could offer a three-email series that gives amateur photographers tips to take better portraits with homework assignments to complete each day.

Apartment Therapy, an online resource for urban apartment dwellers, offered baking classes that are geared toward small living.

Here’s a look at one of their classes:

Apartment Therapy Email Classes

This kind of email course typically results in high engagement. The course not only gives subscribers something of value, but it also gives brands new insight as subscribers interact with specific content. Thus providing the brand with further opportunities to personalize the customer experience as they go.

Humanize Transactional Emails

After a purchase, brands typically send a transactional email, which serves as a confirmation or receipt. Since the message is sent only after a customer takes an action like making a purchase or booking a flight, these emails are highly relevant to the subscriber. Even so, they typically have a robotic feel.

To take the machine-created feel out of transactional emails, consider trying some of these small changes:

  • Create a tailored headline that references the customer’s action.
  • Include a quick thank you note from the CEO as part of the email.
  • Give subscribers a way to reach an actual human for follow-up questions.
  • Offer exciting, compelling images within the email to show off the brand or related products and services.

For example, Talbots, a women’s clothing retailer, sent a thank you email after a customer made a purchase in-store. It’s a nice way to follow-up with a customer and provides a human touch via a digital channel.


Review Your Customer Service Process

As customers interact with your brand and product, they’re likely to have questions. Make sure customers have a way to reach a real human for help.

Offering troubleshooting guides and a knowledge base are essential, but there should also be a simple way for customers to talk about a question or a concern with an actual person. The process should be smooth, without jumping through a million menus or being bounced from one person to the next.

It’s always a good idea to audit your customer service process to make sure it’s providing the right level of relevant assistance. When you’re sending support emails, make sure you give subscribers a list of ways to get in touch.

Wrap Up

As brands rely more and more on data to tailor messages to customers, it’s important not to lose sight of the human being at the other end of your messages. Subscribers want relevant content that’s of interest, but every brand has to make that happen without going too far. The tips above should put brands on the right path to relevant–not creepy–email content.


This article originally appeared in Campaign Monitor, it was written by Jason Dent from Business2Community, and is legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Myth: PR Campaigns Can’t Be Measured

Have you ever proposed a new initiative or asked for an increased budget without knowing why you wanted to do it or what you hoped to accomplish? Probably not—and if you did, the conversation was most likely very short. After all, most everything in the business world not only has to have a clear set of goals but also must have a way to track progress and measure the return on investment (ROI). This can be done rather simply with advertising and even marketing, but the spend on public relations is often cast aside as something that will be done if there are funds left over or if a crisis were to arise. Why, you ask? Because organizations often don’t want something that can’t be, without a doubt, correlated to sales.

The reality is that public relations don’t work that way. For public relations, it’s about the brand. It’s about building credibility. It’s about increased visibility and it’s about relationship building—and that doesn’t happen overnight.

It is thought to be very difficult to explain spend on something that “can’t” be measured. But wait: It can. It just isn’t measuring the same things as its brothers and sisters within the marketing umbrella. Here are five things that CAN be measured with a public relations campaign:

1. Mentions

You can track the conversation surrounding your brand, your product, your event, or your thought leaders by understanding how many times you were mentioned over a period of time. Was it simply a mention of your company name? Did the article have quotes? Was it a full feature? Was there a link to your website? Remember, it’s always nice to see your name in lights but strive for quality over quantity.

2. Impressions

You can track how many people clicked on your article. It’s one thing to know the unique visitors per month (UVPM) for an outlet that published your article, but that doesn’t mean all those people actually saw your article. You need to know who found it and acted on it. That’s the number to know. This is the audience that you wanted to reach and, if they took the time to read the article, it can be presumed that this is a person who may not have come across your company and thought leadership without the public relations effort—and that’s a hole in one.

3. Share of Voice

You can track your visibility in relation to your competitors. Prior to your PR effort, were they strong and were you weak in the news media? After six months of PR, have you gained momentum and now are you talked about as much as they are? This is important to know. After all, the media needs experts. If you don’t get into the conversation, you are leaving the field wide open for your competitor to catch the fly ball.

4. Sentiment

You can track how your organization is mentioned in the news media. Is it positive or negative? Tone can be measured. If your organization starts out with a customer issue that creates a negative image, public relations can work to create messaging to turn the opinion around. By tracking how a brand is perceived, the value of PR can be measured.

5. Engagement

You can track how an audience reacts to your PR efforts. It’s one thing to come across an article, but then what? Do they visit your website? Do they comment on an article? Do they like it? Do they share it? Does it spur another article?

PR campaigns may not be tracked in the same way that we measure the success of an inbound marketing campaign; however, that doesn’t mean that it holds less value. In fact, when coordinated with a marketing campaign, it may be responsible for some of the campaign’s success, behind the scenes—silently allowing marketing to receive the glory. Don’t be fooled. PR elevates marketing and it can be measured by mentions, impressions, share of voice, sentiment, and engagement.

Public relations is not a shot in the dark. It’s not about setting lofty goals and hoping for the best. It is strategic. It is goal-focused and it is based on message consistency and a clear understanding of the defined target market. Take a snapshot of where the organization sits, prior to starting public relations—then track over time to justify the spend and watch the needle as it moves forward.

This article originally appeared in The SmartBug Inbound Marketing Blog, it was written by Doreen Clark from Business2Community, and is legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

How Earned and Paid Media Are Merging—and How It Impacts PR Pros

If there’s one constant in the world of public relations, it’s change. The profession is evolving at a dizzying rate.

One change on the radar of some PR futurists is a blurring of the lines between earned and paid media.

Earned and Paid Media Are Merging

It once was that the two were completely separate. Public relations pros secure what is known as earned media, meaning no money changes hands. It’s purely editorial content. Then, there was paid media, also known as advertising. With ads, nothing appears unless it’s paid for the brand.

What we see now is a blending of the two, which some call native advertising or sponsored content. It differs from traditional advertising in that it isn’t relegated to the margins of the digital or printed page. Sometimes, the audience can’t tell the difference between the two. Recent examples include Porsche in The AtlanticAirbnb in the New York Times, and Under Armour in Complex.

As they merge, we have the makings of a sea change in the industry.

How Does This Put the Role of PR Pros in Question?

Many in public relations have a degree in Journalism, so their roots are in earning editorial coverage. Now, with the advent of these paid options, it casts the role of PR in a different light.

Some view it as good news because it gives them another alternative to earn media for their client – which is undoubtedly tougher to garner these days. More public relations people plus fewer journalists equal more competition. Native advertising gives PR pros another way to get those stories out there. Another pro is that a paid placement provides more control over timing, leaving less to chance.

Others in the profession are slow to come around. They see it as going against the very grain of their journalistic training–never shall earned and paid mix. It muddies the water, without a doubt.

What Does This Mean for the Future of PR?

While there’s debate about who should own what, some ask if it should it be a conundrum. If PR people are equipped with the journalistic skills needed to communicate the client’s message, should it matter if there was a payment made for the placement?

Because PR pros excel at storytelling and writing, this should be a smooth transition. Some make a case for PR and marketing to work closely together on native advertising initiatives because marketers have complementary experience analyzing data which can help brands determine the best channels to get that story out.

“This blurring of media lines will underscore the need for more alignment between PR and marketing efforts in the coming years,” says Amy Osmond Cook of Osmond Marketing. “Paid and owned media, when not executed properly, can often come off as too promotional. PR, when not analyzed, can be an expensive endeavor with few results.”

Do the Lines Between Paid and Earned Media Need to Be Redefined?

Franco D’Onofrio, director at Twiga Communications, makes a case for redefining the line between paid advertising and PR. He believes content creation can still fall to public relations practitioners.

“If we consider the simple definition of PR – the practice of managing communication between an organization and its publics – the nature and intention of native advertising places it firmly in the domain of PR.”

Does this mean more ad agencies will partner with PR firms? Or bring PR in-house? Perhaps.

In the past, anything “paid” sat squarely in the advertising category, while anything earned was firmly in the PR camp. Now, however, we have public relations pros paying to promote social media content to further amplify earned media.

So, shouldn’t the content sit wherever it sits best? Native advertising isn’t an ad, in the traditional sense.

“Since native advertising is designed specifically to be part of the media narrative, rather than a banner on the right, then there can be no arguments about who should oversee this,” says D’Onofrio.

Of course, the world of advertising is undergoing massive changes, as well. Traditional ads don’t work anymore. 84% of millennials don’t trust traditional advertising. It may make sense from both perspectives to have these two collaborate on more content.

Will PR Pros Get on Board with These Changes?

Some already are. Others are reluctant. But, as the song goes, the times they are a-changin’. Where will PR land when the dust settles?

Infographic: Trick or Treating on Social Media—A Halloween Data Story

The grown-ups aren’t only in charge of stocking up on candy anymore. This Halloween data story shows that they’re having plenty of their own fun, both IRL and on social. More and more adults are dressing up, some drawing from the classics and some looking for a new twist. This autumn, were you hoping to share a Pumpkin Spice beer with a friendly witch or trade a Hershey bar with your favorite character from Stranger Things?

Social Media Halloween Highlights

Your favorite chocolate in miniature. Despite the fact that the ingredients for Milky Bar and Snickers are identical, save for the nuts—we’re still of the opinion that one mini Snickers is worth two mini Milky Bars in trade. But which chocolate treats are worth more on social?

Pumpkins. While jack-o’-lanterns are still ubiquitous, pumpkin spice can now stake its claim as a true Halloween standard. Since the pioneer in the category, Starbucks, launched their Pumpkin Spice Latte in 2003, its presence still dominates the on and offline pumpkin spice discussions. Where else is everyone’s favorite fall flavor making a mark? It seems that many microbreweries have Pumpkin Spice beer, but not enough volume for a clear brand leader, the same can be said for Pumpkin Spice ice cream. Unfortunately, neither of those categories made the cut, considering none of the associated brands dominated their vertical. We also learned that there are a lot of brands attempting to merge their core flavors with pumpkin spice, possibly to use the trend to convert devotees to their brand, year-round. If anything, that’s an interesting strategy to employ even if the Franken-flavors seem questionable.

Being scared. Of course, a good fright at some point during the Halloween season is a must, so watching a horror movie in addition to attending a haunted attraction needs to be on the agenda. A quick online search indicates that what is considered a “horror” film can vary widely. That’s why we decided to come up with some parameters for Halloween appropriate horror films to track. We decided that a film is eligible if it contains slashers/murderers, supernatural monsters, ghosts/spirits, and medical experiments (but no aliens, sci-fi, or straight thrillers).

So, without further delay, check out our handy infographic. We hope you’re as pumped as we are to discover the most-buzzed-about Halloween candy, the scariest attractions, the horror films people are watching, and the most consumed Pumpkin Spice products.

Happy Halloween: Be Safe Out There!

halloween data story

If you’re interested in seeing how you can use internal data to create infographics like this one, we can help.

Start a Trend with This Essential Ingredient

Let’s Start a Trend

Not just any trend. Not a fad, or a fly by night kind of trend, but a trend that soars, that’s successful not only in product sales or market recognition, but one that becomes part of the cultural conversation. When we’ve seen it happen, it occurs to us, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Then we start looking for the next big thing. Hoping to hit it big ourselves, but when the excitement wanes or the process becomes overwhelming, we tend to push our ideas aside and replace them with more practical notions and seemingly “achievable” goals. Then it happens again, someone comes up with another idea that shakes the global community, and our eyes widen with envy once more.

In a bygone era, trend evolution had a top-down trajectory. Innovators, product developers, and idea people came up with concepts. The good ones stuck and gained momentum. Ideas, as well as a physical product, were then handed over to marketers who with some savvy media manipulation attracted the appropriate consumer base. Well, gone are the days of the top-down marketing trajectory. Bottom(s) up as we say in the fashion industry! It’s time to let the consumer lead.

Easier Said Than Done

The big gun advertisers and marketers don’t want to give up the front line so easily. They are continuously waving cool shiny objects in front of our eyes, hoping to distract us from the critical task at hand, listening to the consumer and letting insight (not hype) drive the creative process.

Let’s get a few things out of the way; AI, VR, IoT, sharing economy, cloud migration, crowdsourcing, FinTech, social media trends, fake news… so shiny!

Don’t jump on a trend because it’s there. To initiate a trend, a new cultural zeitgeist, it is necessary to look at the big picture of how trends evolve. Then, see how that fits into your business and speaks to your audience.

In our current socio-cultural landscape with trust seemingly out the window and new shiny technological advances appearing around every corner, it seems the consumer may want something familiar and safe to hold. Respond to your audiences’ emotional needs and tell a story that connects past and future in a succinct, linear, and comforting way. And while I stand behind my advice to avoid the hype, it should be clear that scanning the cultural landscape both near and far can help you see how changes in society can impact how new ideas are accepted and what becomes a trend.

Let’s Take the Experience Economy as an Example

You don’t have to dig too deep to discover that consumers are currently interested in community building, experiences, and lifestyle over brand-specific messaging. They desire both entertainment and experiences that say something unique about them. They are eager to get offline and go out and meet like-minded people including those who love the same brands they do and are happy to share these experiences via social media.

Savvy companies are figuring out how to change the brick and mortar environment in response to this need. While the giants are failing, smaller players are figuring out how to reinvent the store experience for the 21st century, focusing on authenticity and community while, in many ways, thinking about sales second. Stores are becoming brand meeting places and touch points. Whatever your business, there is an opportunity to create a comforting experience for your audience. After all, experiences help shape identity and create lifelong memories. This evolution is a win-win for strengthening brand loyalty and creating buzz.

Take a look at one of the most innovative viral campaigns in history from 20 years ago. The MasterCard, “Priceless” campaign launched in 1997 and highlighted the priceless human connection between a father and son. The tagline was: “Real conversation. Priceless.” Before social media there was social (a.k.a. word-of-mouth). The campaign went viral without the Internet. Fast forward to today, though the campaign has evolved to include curated “priceless” experiences, the basic premise has remained the same is stronger than ever.

The MasterCard “Priceless” campaign is still going strong two decades since it’s creation. It’s so successful that it is the foundation of all of MasterCard’s campaigns, both domestically and internationally.

Consider This, Consumers Are Looking for the Familiar and the Safe

So, how do you think they feel about the overwhelming choices we have? Personally, it makes me feel very anxious and confused. Bombarding consumers with too many options instead of honing in on what they really want is counter-productive. While our intention may be to simply give people choices, what is actually happening is the opposite. Analysis paralysis due the paradox of choice is a reality. The danger of this phenomenon is that the consumer may decide to react to this feeling of paralysis by deciding to opt out of the (consumer market) experience altogether.

If we aren’t able to take a step back from the market-driven race, focusing on trying to keep up, we might be missing the whole point. It’s something I think of as “clutter” (as opposed to choice). Why not decide to be the brand or company that simplifies the clutter? Curate heavily and speak not only to your audience’s emotions but also to their core values., which launched in July of this year, is making an effort to take the reigns of the simplicity trend in the food and household product category. They’ve addressed their customer’s core values of good products that work and simplified their product offering. This philosophy is reflected in all aspects of their visual identity. And, by using the direct to consumer model, they have taken out the middleman, offering consumers great value at $3 for every product on their site. Focusing on quality, simplicity, and value is not a bad trend to take a closer look at in our overly cluttered marketplace.

Screen Shot 2017-10-22 at 2.27.26 PM.png has simplified their product offering and the consumer experience.

People Want What Is Familiar

If you are looking to create the next big trend, find something that people can relate to. Endear them. Base your strategy on core (global) human truths and values that evoke emotion. Don’t be a storyteller, be a story maker, and most importantly, listen to the people who have already made your business a success.

PR Reporting: What to Do When Your Results Are Less Than Stellar

It’s happened. You planned and executed what you thought was going to be a stellar PR campaign. You crossed all the I’s and dotted all the T’s, only to find out that, guess what? There’s no way around it. Your results aren’t what you expected. The campaign flopped.

Now, it’s time to present the results to the client. Be it an internal or external client, you may have a struggle ahead of you.

So, what can you do to save face? First, don’t panic. You’re not the first (or the last) this will happen to. There are some best practices involved in presenting less than all-star results.

Deliver good news first – but tell the truth

First, start with the positive. Even in a failed effort, there will be something positive to include. So, start with that, say experts.

But don’t shy away from painting a less than rosy picture, says Katie Delahaye Paine, CEO of Paine Publishing, and a pioneer in the field of measurement for three decades.

“What senior leaders tell me constantly is that they simply don’t believe most PR and social media reports that always show that everything is successful.”

What did you learn?

Then, talk about what you learned. Even when the results are poor, you will have learned a lot about what didn’t work, all of which can be used in future efforts.

“The truth is that management doesn’t want to know the good news–they want to know what action items they can take away from your research,” says Paine. “So I always put the bad news in the summary. That way, they come away with ideas they can act upon.”

Go to your data

After you’ve started with the positives then shared the bad news, take a look at the data to learn more about what worked and find areas that could be improved.

“Analytics are your superpower, but there are so many problems with how people use data,” said Paine.

It’s not enough to simply gather data. Data without analysis can be meaningless. What is the data telling you? Can you determine any patterns that may help you improve in the future?

More PR firms are looking into bringing in analysts to help decipher the data. How do these analysts work as part of the PR or marketing team?

“Marketing data analysts help make sense of the data by digesting numbers into fuel for marketing efforts,” says Storie Ledger, Meltwater’s marketing data analyst. “It’s important to remember that marketing isn’t always about originality and creativity. Sometimes it’s just about the statistics, the numbers, and the gritty hard facts.”

Take a look at your media list

One more potential issue may lie with your media list.

“Another major problem is that too many  ‘Top Tier’ media lists are based on what reporters you work with most often or who covers you most frequently, not what media outlets are most influential on your target audience,” says Paine.

“When I do reports, I look at things like who is quoted, and then I sort all the quotes based on how many messages they contain or the sentiment,” continued Paine. “I also encourage folks to define sentiment and what a ‘good’ article is, based on what drives customer behavior.”

Use media monitoring to help

Media monitoring tools can help brands discern what the media is saying about them but look at the data with a critical eye.

“Media monitoring is a necessity in these days, but it needs to include both social and traditional media,” says Paine. “You need it to protect your brand, but too often monitoring reports only include the good news or stories that were ‘placed’ and don’t include competitive mentions and things that might be under the radar.”

Measure the right things

And what other advice do the experts have to offer, as you move forward from the failed campaign to your next public relations push?

“I think the purpose of most PR programs is to influence the consideration and preference and opinions of your target audience, and very few actual measure THAT,” Paine said. “Mostly they measure the degree to which their activities result in a placement that may or may not influence anybody.”

How to Gauge REAL Influence in a Noisy World

The term influencer used to mean someone who wielded great power and authority over their audience to the point that they could appear at an event and excite the audience into a sharing or buying frenzy, helping to increase a company’s market share overnight.

For example, you might have been a journalist, analyst, or author with credentials to justify why you’re onstage. These could include spending years toiling away at a well-established media outlet or having a book published.

Today though, the lines have blurred to the point that it is difficult to distinguish whether someone has the qualifications to back up their claims. While it is true that we are all influencers in our own right, “influence” can be dicey. As a result, it is important for companies and brands to know how to do it right.

Anyone can start their own blog thanks to platforms such as WordPress, write a lot of content, guest post on other blogs, and use services to get featured on top publications on the web, even if it’s only a 200-word snippet.

From there, they can buy a social media following by paying for cheap, untargeted Facebook Page likes or straight-up buy Twitter or Instagram followers to make themselves seem like an overnight success – which can produce fantastic results and voila, you have a bonafide influencer or do you?

If you decide to buy your social media following rather than build it, beware, there are consequences. Some of them include damaged credibility, diluted marketing data, getting dropped from the news feed because of low engagement, or banned because buying an audience goes against the terms and conditions of nearly all social media channels.

With such a low barrier to entry, how do brands gauge real influence from fake? Let’s take a look.

Why You Need to Vet Influencers

As previously mentioned, the appearance of influence can be bought thanks to a demand for an audience. Unfortunately, this gives people the impression that anyone can build influence overnight. Couple that with the “fake it ’til you make it” attitude that many people have and you’re left with a recipe for disaster.

Many PR folks put faith into being able to use social media to quickly identify who the right influencers are. Often pressed for time, they rely on good faith that because someone has a large online presence, they must have influence.

Things don’t always work out that way though.

Even agencies such as Getty Images and Zuma have been tricked by a fake war photojournalist (with 120,000+ legitimate Instagram followers). He went undetected for years before his ruse was discovered, leading him to delete his online presence and disappear.

We might never know who Eduardo Martins is, but the companies who fell for his ruse were left red in the face. Like many of us, they assumed that his online presence and the “proof” that other reputable companies worked with him meant he was everything he purported to be. Problem is, everyone took shortcuts certain the others were vetting their influencers.

Identifying Influencers For Your Business

As it gets more difficult to spot real influencers, ensuring your company doesn’t fall victim is paramount to your strategy. Here are things to try.

1. Look for Mutual Connections

On Facebook, you can see whether you share any mutual friends. If you do, ask your friends about the person in question.

2. Chart Their Growth

Another way to vet someone’s influence is to look at their social media channel growth over time. Did they join Twitter a week ago and all of a sudden, have an audience of 5,000 to 10,000 followers, seemingly out of nowhere? This should be a sign that you need to keep digging. Building an engaged audience takes time.

3. Build Relationships with Influencers

Take the time to cultivate meaningful relationships with influencers. This way you build a reliable network of trustworthy people you can go to.

Josie Capazzi, from Jersey Mike’s said this about staying on top of influential trends across social media.

“You need to understand what’s happening outside the walls of your office. If you wait, something bad or good is going to happen and you’ll be the last person to know.”

While she was referring to staying on top of influential trends in social media, you can also say the same thing about identifying people with real influence.

Sometimes you need to get out of your office to help you see the bigger picture around a person’s influence.

Remember, even if someone appears to have a large following on popular websites, it doesn’t guarantee that they do. We mentioned it before, influence isn’t only about the number of followers, it’s about engagement with the followers you have. It’s a noisy world out there and it is getting more and more difficult to distinguish who has real influence. Fortunately, you know where to look to make smarter, more informed decisions when working with influencers.