Does your business need to promote its content?
Then perhaps you have been considering the usefulness of influencer marketing.
In this article, we will look at influencer outreach, its effectiveness, and ways to connect with influencers to promote your content and gain links.
Why use influencer outreach?
BuzzSumo in researching over a 100 million articles found that the number of influencers who share content has a compounding effect on the total number of shares.
On average they found that articles shared by one influencer resulted in 31.8% more social shares.
How to engage in influencer outreach
To engage in influencer outreach, you need a framework with which to operate. The process however always needs to start with defining your audience and working out who these people trust. Then identify the right influencers and extract insights that help you reach out to and get them involved in your brand stories. Finally to ensure that you perform well consistently you need to measure and refine the process.
The 5 step action plan (courtesy of Traackr) as outlined below and the infographic below provides more of an insight into the overall process of influencer marketing.
Influencer outreach action plan:
- Define your online audience: Influencer outreach starts by identifying the audience and customers you wish to target. Understand, who impacts how they discover, evaluate, decide and buy.
- Discover the right influencers: Influence is contextual so you will need to find people who produce and share content that can impact your business or your buyer’s decision-making process.
- Monitor influencers for opportunities: Listen to your influencers and monitor their content. Ask yourself: What topics do they write about? What do they share? What questions does their audience ask?
- Take action and engage: start building a relationship with simple actions (follow, share, link). Get to know them, build trust, and then plan initiatives that will let your work together.
- Measure your results: Keep track of the relationships you are building and how they translate into tangible events (visits, introductions, mentions, leads). Learn and iterate.
The following infographic is based on the influencer outreach process that Andrew Gale uses and synchs well with the framework described above.
So how can you boost content marketing and link building with influencer outreach?
The best place to start with influencer outreach or influencer marketing is with some fundamentals.
Start with why
Joe Pulizzi says –
Have an influencer strategy. I would say 99% pf businesses that say they want to partner with influencers actually have no strategy. Start with why you are engaging with influencers (what it is going to do for the business).
Understand your customers
You will not be able to reach anyone with content marketing unless you have identified your customer personas. Understanding who they are, where they go to for information, and their challenges are just some of the critical insights required to make your marketing efforts worthwhile.
Understand online influence
It is important to understand online influence and the types of influencer personas. This will then allow for better influencer engagement. The infographic below provides insights into the different persona types. Source
Understand requisites for successful influencer outreach
To be successful in influencer outreach you need to keep the following in mind:
- Think beyond demographics: Look for influencers based on their interests and passions
- Understand their community: An influencer is influential because they have built an audience. Help them serve their audience and you win.
- De-emphasize primary research: Influencer marketing scales by building quality relationships with select people and reaching secondary audiences.
- Create experiences: Instead of pushing your news, create experiences for your influencers, so they have something to react to and share.
- Play the long game: The value of your influencer relationships grow over time. Invest in earning trust and sustaining connections.
- Tailor your strategy: Influencer marketing is not direct mail 2.0. Customize your approach based on the person.
- Fundamentally human: Influencers are not empty amplification vessels. Treat them well and focus on their unique passions, interests and personalities.
- Provide high value: Far from pitching find opportunities for your company to enrich the work of your influencers.
- Strive for relationships: When you build a relationship with an influencer you unlock their potential value.
Get the attention of influencers:
Form a relationship with them. Don’t just start making requests of them, instead work on creating a relationship with them. Go through their posts, guest posts, interviews, podcasts, forums, etc. to get insights into what they are all about, what they have to say and why they say it.
You may need to engage in different tactics for different kinds of influencers. Leave comments on blog posts, reply to Facebook updates, retweet on Twitter, meet them in person at events or request their opinion on a topic of interest to them. In other words look for ways in which to develop a mutually beneficial and trustworthy relationship with them. Here are a few practical ways to go about it.
Give them free publicity
People tend to share posts that cast them in a positive light or that highlight a positive trait. So give a brand or someone deserving the free publicity they deserve. The chances are that they as well as others will share the post.
For example, Social Media Examiner shared this post from SproutSocial
Andrew Davis recommends –
Look for the people with the highest-quality content. Take a content first approach to building a relationship with the influencers in your market. Create content about them. Comment on their content. Consume the content they share.
He also introduced the social media 4-1-1 concept. This is a social sharing system that enables you to get greater visibility with social influencers.
The infographic below explains the concept. Source
Frequent their sites and online haunts
Research sites that your target influencers visit regularly and then consider guest posting or pitch an idea around your business to those who are regular writers for such sites.
How do you do this?
Use Topsy to drill down to key influencers.
Then look into the sites these influencers share. As you go through their feed or timeline, you’ll find patterns emerge of the kind sites they go to for finding content to share.
Ask for shares or links
Asking influencers to share your content can be surprisingly effective. You just need to provide quality content that is relevant to their audience.
There is very little downside as it takes only a few seconds to join a conversation on Twitter or Facebook. It could take 5 minutes or so to put together an email to an influential person in your niche or industry. But the potential benefits of them sharing your content or linking to it is likely to be quite worthwhile.
Matthew Barby wrote an excellent post on using guest posts with a twist to generate links. I liked it and did up this infographic that summarizes the process.
Another way to encourage influencers to boost your content marketing efforts is to involve them in the process of creating it. For example, consider doing an interview with one of your targeted influencers.
Entrepreneur on Fire leverages this quite effectively as is evidenced by this tweet from a recent podcast episode.
So excited to be a guest on EntrepreneurOnFire today! Listen here: http://t.co/8HkzXxjUB5
— Lisa Druxman (@LisaDruxman) June 30, 2015
Other options could include requesting a guest post or getting a quote for an article you are writing. Curating knowledge for your readers is incredibly valuable for readers. The process may take time, but the result is worth it.
Create terrific content
Influencers earn and retain their credibility by maintaining a high standard of quality. If you want people to share your content, create excellent content.
Don’t just cover popular topics that have been covered before but take the time to research, write, edit and fact check unique concepts and projects. The time invested in coming up with great content will lead to more opportunities for increasing visibility and engagement.
Influencers with huge followings share content written by regular people all the time. So why shouldn’t they share yours?
When you understand what interests and influences the influencers you want to focus on, it is easier to come up with shareable content and to even include them.
Additional steps to engage in influencer marketing
Once you have covered the premise on which to develop an influencer marketing strategy and begun to get their attention, you can take your approach further and be clear about what you would like to see happen.
Tell them exactly what you want from them
Be clear in what you would want from them. Being transparent and honest with expectations and compensation from the get go will ensure a long, fruitful association.
Give them a reason to share
The more you interact with influencers, the more you can provide your influencers with meaningful and genuine sharing and interactions. Not just the opportunity to amplify your brand message.
Work on creating memorable, relevant, meaningful and genuine interactions for your influencers. These experiences should be the motivator for them to produce content with/about you and share your content.
Tell them everything they need to know
If you want your influencers to take action on your behalf then tell them all they need to know. Make it easy for them by providing related articles, white papers, e-books, press releases, guidelines, disclosures, etc. That way they will have the confidence to take action.
CheatSheets to getting started with influencer marketing
Coming up with a list of influencers can be challenge as it requires coming up with an influencer personas. It is the profile of influencers in your industry or niche that appeals to your target consumers.
Simple questions and brainstorming can quickly position your thinking in the right direction. You can then creatively narrow down the list to those that best fit your brand.
The worksheets that you can download are essentially your guide to the process. Download it and use it.