By Lilian Raji
Lilian Raji is a strategic communications and PR adviser who helps companies understand their marketing problems, then designs and executes strategies to solve them.
Hello again, dear readers! So sorry to have missed you in Vegas, but my Instagram didn’t.

Thanks to all-stars like Tanya Dukes, Cheryl Kremkow, Robyn Hawk, Patricia Faber and, of course, the grand dames of National Jeweler, I’m in the know about what to know from the shows.

Very big congratulations to my dear friend, Natalie Rodrigues, and the whole Omi Privé team on their design award win! And congratulations to all of you for surviving another jewelry week.

Now, it’s back to business as usual. Ever since my webinar, “Harnessing the Power of Social Media Influencers,” I have been bombarded with questions, so our ongoing business is all about influencers.

Let’s get to it!

Q. Dear Lilian,

Rather than paying influencers to help promote our business, how can I turn my staff into influencers?

Keeping the Bacon at Home

A. Your question is rather timely, as I’ve lately been focusing on growing my own social media presence.

Having been the proverbial cobbler whose children are running around barefoot—I’ve been too busy helping clients with their social media to pay attention to my own—I’m learning firsthand the challenges of reaching 10,000 followers.

There’s a certain dedication to this task that I personally am unwilling to commit. Becoming an influencer requires a comfort with sharing TMI.

And while many of you have seen me sauntering around in my 5-inch ruby stilettos and colorful dresses, I’ve actually always preferred backstage to the limelight. And, dare I confess it? I’m an introvert.

I know! You don’t believe it! But it’s true. I’m more comfortable promoting other people than myself.

But as an introvert who spends my alone time analyzing human behavior, I understand the psychology behind what makes the most powerful influencers.
RELATED CONTENT: The PR Adviser: How Can I Find Local Influencers?
When you go beyond follower counts and examine influencers who get people to act on their recommendations, you’ll find people who’ve established authentic voices with their followers.

This is what your staff must do.

Let’s be clear: We’re not talking about Cartier, whose 8.7 million followers are there simply because they love the brand. We’re talking about Camilla Coehlo, who charges $10,750 per Instagram post because her 7.9 million followers do what she says.

I can’t possibly cover everything you need to know in today’s column, but I promise the next two columns will continue going deeper.

Now, Keeping the Bacon at Home, as ingenious as your idea is, alas, it’s not original. I had a client with this same brilliant idea three years ago.

The future of his retail business, the client told me, was as an omnichannel digital pioneer steered by a team of in-house influencers. His plan was perfect, which is why its monumental failure serves as our first lesson.

The client had resources you couldn’t imagine—expensive equipment, deep pockets to create professional-quality content, a well-trained and highly knowledgeable staff.

What he didn’t have, however, was a staff able to inspire followers. They weren’t garish by any means. They just lacked that thing that makes, for example, Beyoncé’s followers (or the “Beyhive,” as they’re known) swarm to support and defend her as they do.

In the end, the client used his deep pockets to hire established influencers to work exclusively for him instead.
RELATED CONTENT: The PR Adviser: Finding Local Influencers, Part II
So, as you’re trying to decide who should be your official influencer, tell me—who on your team has that je ne sais quoi? Who is so charming, customers thank them for the privilege of spending their own money?

This is your star! Let’s call her (or him) Anastasia. I’ve always loved that name.

Anastasia’s got a winning personality and a strategic mind. She understands when it comes to jewelry, it’s all about emotions. And when it comes to social media, it’s all about storytelling.

Every day, she tells stories about your inventory, your store and herself.

On one day, she posts a video of these Antonini Milano 15.9-carat emerald earrings dancing from her earlobes. She writes, “While diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, only emeralds can make your friends green with envy.”

On another day, her décolletage, graced by an Oscar Heyman multi-colored gemstone necklace, becomes the story. She writes, “Why choose one stone when you can have them all? What’s your favorite stone?”

When Anastasia isn’t highlighting a brand, she’s giving background tours of your store.

A shipment arrives from Italy containing your latest Garavelli order. As someone unwraps the “A Little Chaos” 18-karat hand-brushed rose gold cuff, Anastasia videotapes the unfolding, then writes in the accompanying post, “A little Italian chaos arrives in our office!”

She follows this with a picture of the cuff resting on a pad, posting, “I can’t wait to get this on my wrist!” Several days later, she’s wearing the cuff. “Remember this?” she’ll write. “What’s life without a little chaos?”

When she’s not telling stories about your store, Anastasia is sharing stories about her life outside the store. These stories, however, always strategically tie back to you.

During gala season, she’ll pepper Instagram with pictures of her gowns and the jewels she pairs with them. She’ll visually share her thought process in choosing satin Manolo Blahniks to accompany these Atelier Munsteiner Context Cut earrings.

Her content is a subtle dance between promoting your store’s inventory and inviting followers to know her personally. In this, she creates authenticity and becomes more than a saleswoman in her followers’ eyes.

Authenticity is the gateway to influence.

Now, my friends, I leave you here today with some homework. First, grab a free copy of my Influencer Marketing Toolkit. Then use the workbook, “The Creative Brief,” to help brainstorm other content Anastasia can create.

We’ll meet again next month to discuss phase two of building an in-house influencer. If you need more personal attention before then, my calendar is always open to you.

Lilian Raji is a strategic communications and PR adviser who helps companies understand their marketing problems, then designs and executes strategies to solve them. Learn more at Submit questions for Lilian to answer here and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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