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Virtually flirting the cyber influencers

This blog was posted by Sebastian Cheswright on November 23, 2015 as part of the CultureHive Digital Marketing Academy. You can find out more about the project here.

Sally Davies, Marketing Officer and Rita Chowdhury, Publications, Digital & Social Media Coordinator at Sadler’s Wells who have taken over Sebastian’s DMA work, wrote this latest blog post:

At a time when the boundary between press and marketing are being blurred by social media, we’ve been looking at ways in which we can harness online influencers, to assist us in spreading word of mouth about our work.

Twitonomy has free dashboards, giving a range of analytics, which allow us to assess the most influential tweeters. Using our programme of events as a starting point, we’ve picked a theme in one of our shows, e.g. circus, and can then search this keyword to identify which tweeters are most engaged with this genre.

In terms of how to choose suitable candidates, there are two main criteria – relevance, and influence. The initial search may throw up people who’ve mentioned the search term once or twice, but they’re unlikely to be big fans. The ideal is someone who regularly discusses the search term, so is not only a fan, but also knowledgeable about the topic. Coupled with this, they need to have significant influence – although this doesn’t necessarily mean large numbers of followers. 5,000 followers of good quality would easily beat 500,000 followers with limited interest in the subject.

Once we’ve found our targets, the cultivation begins… We’ve talked about the best ways of approaching people, and it really is like approaching someone you fancy in real life – perhaps the best way of looking at it is virtual flirting! We’ve identified someone we like, so we ‘follow’ them and ‘favourite’ some of their comments, subtly engaging with them from a distance. We might also add them to a ‘list’ of people with similar interests, so we can check in with them at any time.

Then, when we’ve got to know them better, we start replying to their posts. And if we’re lucky, they might notice us, and reply back.

After a few days of interaction, we pick our moment to share some interesting content – maybe a backstage photo, or a link to a trailer – with a personal message to them. Our ideal outcome would be for them to retweet it to their followers, and if so, we’ve hit the jackpot – our original content gets seen by a whole new audience!

As we have over 100 shows a year at our three venues, there’s a lot of work involved in this, but we hope to dedicate 20 minutes a day. And how will we measure success? Ideally, if we target 10 influencers for each show, to have 2 or 3 of them respond and retweet our content would be a positive result. In the same way that our Press team measure success through readership reached, we would do the same by recording new twitter followers reached.

Having our content distributed to a wide group of engaged people, ensures that we get a better return on investment on created content, and that the holy grail of marketing – word of mouth – is increased through our cultivation of online influencers.

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