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 dear readers! It’s been weeks since Vegas. I hope you’re well-tanned from doing absolutely nothing in the sun. Or, at the very least, have bodies made supple by daily massages and nightly mojitos as you recuperate from the shows.

It’s time to pick up where we last left off in our influencer marketing focus.

We were in the process of creating an elite, super-engineered, influencer warrior named Anastasia who influences exclusively for you. Let’s continue!

Q. Dear Lilian,

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

Signed,

Keeping the Bacon at Home

A. When we last rendezvous-ed here on National Jeweler, your homework assignment was to grab a free copy of my Influencer Marketing Toolkit, and use the workbook “The Creative Brief” to help brainstorm Anastasia’s content strategy.

In your strategy development, did you include how you can involve your customers? If not, tsk, tsk, tsk.

The most important rule in sales, marketing or PR is that it’s never about you.

Buying is about the customer.

Whenever a customer buys from your Anastasia, she’ll ask the happy customer to do a joint selfie showing off the latest purchase. This gets posted and tagged on Instagram, where yours and the customer’s followers can see.

For gift purchases, encourage the customer to share pictures or video of the recipient receiving that gift, especially if it’s an engagement ring like this Royal Asscher-cut stone set in a twisted split shank.

When the picture or video arrives, onto Instagram it goes with a humble-brag post about Anastasia’s involvement.

Including real, live, happy customers on your Anastasia’s Instagram is the most authentic thing you can do. And never forget—authenticity is the gateway to influence.

Now, say several weeks have passed with Anastasia diligently posting alluring content, yet she’s barely cracking 2,000 followers. What gives?

With all the hours she’s putting in, surely she should have 100,000 followers by now, right?

Wrong. And don’t call me Shirley.

Herein lies the challenge of becoming an influencer.

How long have you known the name Kim Kardashian? A year? Four years? A decade?

Would you be surprised to know “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” first aired in 2007?

Yeah, it’s been that long. Let’s take a moment to acknowledge just how hard Kris Jenner has worked to keep her family relevant all these years.
“Don’t buy followers because those followers are often bots that don’t have credit cards, or limbs to wear your jewelry.”
But back to Anastasia and her slow-growing follower count. Above everything else, it takes time to grow a significant following. Be neither impatient nor ashamed at the slow growth.

Instead, be ecstatic about every single follower Anastasia earns. Those followers are there because they want to know what Anastasia will post next.

That kind of desire is what carries you from the doorstep of authenticity to the bright lights of influence.

You’ll be tempted to try and take shortcuts. Don’t.

Don’t buy followers because those followers are often bots that don’t have credit cards, or limbs to wear your jewelry. Bought followers also hamper your authenticity when people question why none of your 1 million followers ever offer thoughtful comments on your posts.

Don’t engage software that tricks thousands of real people into following you by first following them. Those new followers, however human, aren’t interested in your recommendations. They’re following you out of a social media etiquette to follow back those who follow them.

To increase genuine followers, always include hashtags in your posts. This is a hashtag: #.

Hashtags tell Instagram how to categorize your post and make it easier for those following that category to see your post in their feed. Just make sure the hashtags you use are those people would search for.

I have a client who took to hashtags like Elizabeth Taylor took to jewels. He was so enamored with hash-tagging that he would hashtag his wife’s unique name and random things like #pots and #table.

Please don’t do that. Hashtags have a very specific marketing purpose. Use them wisely.

Nonetheless, don’t be afraid to apply conceptual thinking in selecting your hashtags.

Take a look at this Phillip Gavriel post. I love the lifestyle shot showing off those rings. They’ve used the perfect applicable hashtags (#jewelryaddict, #jewelrygram, #bling, etc.), but let’s think abstractly.

How about #fridaynightout? Having been used 184K times, a post with this hashtag is likely to show up in more feeds.

Also, #datenight! With 15.5 million previous uses, this one’s a no-brainer, especially with the lifestyle angle Phillip Gavriel has chosen for the picture.

I’m pretty sure Instagram users looking for style inspiration on #datenight or a #fridaynightout would love to know about these Phillip Gavriel rings. They’ll also want to see more jewelry recommendations from Phillip Gavriel by following the account.

Having a strong hashtag strategy is just one of many ways to increase followers. There are so many more things you can do. But, alas, we’re out of time!

Get your free copy of my Influencer Marketing Toolkit, and return to your content strategy drawing board. Use the worksheets in “The Creative Brief” to come up with additional abstract hashtags.

When we meet again next month, we’ll conclude Anastasia’s journey of becoming an elite influencer as we delve deeper into strategies to increase her/your followers.

In the meantime, my calendar is open to you should you need tips before then.

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 LilianRaji.com. Submit questions for Lilian to answer here and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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