When trying to engage the stakeholder community it is convenient to segment them according to how critical their contribution is, how they may be selected and engaged, as well as depending on their expected contribution. Further, the network development strategy should depict the sequential phases of this development and the targets to engage in each phase. In this case, the suggested target groups ranked according to their sequential priority would be the following:
- Leaders and influencers
- Employees outside of the marketing team
- Local community members and value driven communities and individuals
The most strategic stakeholders to engage from the early beginning are the community and industry leaders. These are the ones who are likely to become the most influential brand advocates within the community members and stakeholders, as they hold trust and their opinion is listened to and well considered within their circle of influence.
As explained previously, they are to be engaged in the project from the earliest stage when defining the mission of the Plan. By engaging them from the outset and telling them how their contribution has been useful to the mission definition, they establish an emotional connection with the project as they feel as co-creators and are more willing to keep on collaborating as contributors in the open innovation system and brand ambassadors to eventually tell a story of success in which they had a significant role. When searching and trying to engage with leaders and influencers, take into account the following tips:
- Determine who influences your target audiences and evaluate the likelihood of their engagement researching on their interests and concerns to figure out if there is any connection with the project.
- Evaluate their reach in the social media, their relevance in community or industry events, how often they deliver content or participate in discussions, etc. Then, prioritize accordingly.
- Develop a relationship with them by following them in the social media, leaving thoughtful comments on their blog, engaging in their discussions, sharing their content, etc.
- Introduce yourself formally by email or through social media and explain briefly what the project is about and what kind of contributions we would like to obtain from him or her.
- Understand that they are very busy people and so it is mandatory to be patient with them and make things the easiest possible for them to collaborate. Agree upon little contributions.
- Thank them for their contribution and ask them to share the content to the audience in the case where their contribution is about creating content. After a while, let them know the results of the contribution.
Would you consider other tips to engage leaders and influencers?