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Devon Eyer on how Johnson & Johnson builds relationships with influencers

This is a post from my company,’s blog. Check it out for more profiles and stories about the people running social at really big brands.

This post features tips and advice from Devon Eyer’s presentation at our Brands-Only Summit. As Johnson & Johnson’s Director of Corporate Communications, Devon has been a member of since 2011. She also presented a great case study on data-driven social strategy at our Member Meeting in New York this past May.

According to Devon Eyer, Johnson & Johnson’s Director of Corporate Communications, brands start getting influencer strategies right when they learn to ask the right question: “How do I participate in social media and change the conversation?”

She says the answer comes in three parts: listening, contributing something interesting, and making friends. But, the road to making the right friends might not always be what you think.

Devon says the right influencers aren’t necessarily the loudest.

Anyone can blog. Credibility has to be earned. That’s why Devon’s team is careful to vet their influencers beyond just a nice looking site or a big follower count.

“Influence doesn’t always roar,” says Devon.

“This was a challenge for some of our marketers to understand. They wanted the loudest people with the most followers. That’s not always the right person, and for us, it’s intentionally not the right person.”

Forget your assumptions. Use social listening data to find the real influencers.

Devon’s team used social listening to target certain groups of influencers based on who actually drove the brand’s reputation, not just the big, famous bloggers. She says that by digging into those insights, they found some unexpected results. For example, while most mom bloggers don’t use Twitter, the people most involved in driving Johnson & Johnson’s reputation were actively tweeting.

Don’t start your influencer program with strangers — start with the fans who already love you.

“You already know who they are,” Devon says.

The people who retweet everything you tweet, who like every Facebook post, who ask for more content — these people are asking you to engage with them. She says start with these folks.

Once you’ve identified your influencers, focus on turning them into advocates.

Devon has four key points here:

  1. This is not a short-term strategy. “You can’t build up all of these advocates and three months later decide to cut it off,” she says. “You’ll get a lot of angry people.”
  2. Just ask them what they want. Johnson & Johnson took the opportunity at a conference to ask influencers how they liked to work with other brands and what they wanted from the relationship.
  3. Credible, passionate advocacy can’t be bought. “Most bloggers who are passionate and in line with your program will tell you, ‘We don’t want to be in a brand’s pocket. This is not just a business for us, we do things because we believe in it.’ We’re all figuring out where the right path is to do people right as a business and yet not pay for post after post,” Devon explains.
  4. Real people build real relationships. Social channels are quick ways to do daily community management, but to make those authentic relationships with your influencers, you have to get personal. Devon suggests meeting people at conferences, using a personal Twitter handle to connect, and becoming friends. She says the more you genuinely care, the better.

There’s no easy “off” switch to an influencer program. You’ve got to be there for them — every day.

Devon explains, “As a company, you have to show up as well. That means you don’t just get to tweet your good-news press releases. You don’t get to go silent when something goes wrong. You need to show up, you need to be there — all the time, good times and bad times.”

Say hi to Devon on Twitter and ask her about #BabyBowers.

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