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Most content marketers make ripples now and then. An elite few, industry influencers, tend to make waves. Readers value their opinions and often act on them: this is influencer marketing.
Have you considered influencer marketing? Reaching the big-wigs of your industry and inspiring them to include you in the conversation is one of today’s top “money” strategies on the social web.
In fact, U.S. companies using influencer marketing in 2014 realized an average of $6.85 in earned media value for every $1 spent, according to Burst Media’s first Influencer Marketing Benchmarks Report released in March.
Why Influencer Marketing?
Interacting with influencers has many benefits, including:
- Awareness: Any mention of your brand or product from an influencer will help spread your message.
- Traffic: Once people hear of your company from these influencers, they will head to your website or blog to learn more.
- Expert feedback: Seeking the opinions of influencers will improve your brand and content, but it also lets them know their feedback is valued.
In the end, this all adds up to new business opportunities since you will be reaching audiences in a larger capacity than you ever have before. These people are called influencers for a reason — they’re highly influential and can ultimately affect purchasing decisions.
How to Identify Influencers
If you want influencers to share your content, promote your brand and bring up your product in their conversations and presentations, you first have to find the right people.
How do you identify the big names of your niche? Whatever the industry, influencers typically share keys traits, including:
- Passion: They love their work and that passion shows.
- Generosity: They share great work and grant favors to others.
- Charisma: They have that certain je ne sais quo (magnetism that can be hard to describe) that inspires other to listen.
- Tech-savviness: They embrace new tools to improve productivity.
- Responsibility: They have a sense of integrity and strive to help others.
- Ambition: They hold themselves to high standards.
- The Power of Persuasion: They have a large social following and are willing to share with their followers.
How to Connect with Influencers
Once you’ve pinpointed the big influencers you want to reach, below are several strategies for getting on their radar. For even more ideas, take a look at this infographic with insights from some influential marketers.
1. Read (and praise) their books:
Many influencers write books, so buying and reading their books can go a long way towards befriending them. Post a review on your blog or on Amazon. As much as book authors like to think that reviews don’t matter, most of them read and appreciate positive reviews.
2. Engage on their blog:
Influencers blog, so this can be a great place to begin a conversation. Read and subscribe to their blogs, leave insightful comments and ask questions. Influencer marketing depends on dialogue, so helping to spark and further conversation will get you noticed by influencers and potentially pave the way for some of the following strategies.
3. Interview influencers.
Your blog, website, newsletter or podcast is a great place to showcase the influencers you admire, while getting to know them better yourself. Extend an invitation to discuss their new projects or interests and share that information with your audience. For instance, influencers who are publishing a book or organizing a conference will likely want to promote those projects, and if it’s relevant to your audience they’ll likely want to know about it too.
If you don’t have access to the most powerful influencers or they don’t have time for an interview, you could also compile a “best of” list that includes some of their work and publish it on your blog (One example of this is Curata’s roundup of content marketing eBooks).The influencer may tweet or post the links, too. You can even take it a step further by sending the influencers a few composed tweets to save them time.
4. Guest blog.
After building a following for your blog, offer to write guest posts for influencers whose audience you want to reach. The practice of guest blogging is growing among many content marketers. In fact, results from Curata’s recent blogging study show that the best content marketers source 24% of their blog posts from external contributors and 56% of externally sourced blog posts are from non-paid, guest bloggers.
High-profile influencers may get dozens of guest post offers a week, so carefully research the type of content your influencers publish and pitch ideas that fit the bill (and that haven’t been recently covered on their blog). In return, offer a guest posting slot on your blog. Many influencers like to get their content in front of new audiences as well.
5. Share their work on social media:
Influencers are often social media-savvy, so they pay attention to who’s sharing or retweeting their content. Promoting their best work as part of your content curation efforts can help you get on an influencer’s radar and potentially generate retweets too (For additional information on curation, see Curata’s Definitive Guide to Content Curation)
6. Meet at conferences
Influential people publish great content, but they’re often active as keynote speakers or panelists at conferences. Attending these conferences provides an opportunity for you to connect in real life and get some face time with the influencers you admire.
7. Connect people
Look for ways to connect other people with each other, including your influencers. I’ll often introduce two people to one another with an email explaining why I think they should connect. For instance, you might connect influencers to the managers of sites that need contributors in their topic area or conference organizers who need dynamic speakers. This is an all-around win, because it helps the influencer further his or her reach, helps the other person do their job and helps endear you to both parties.
8. Showcase influencers in your newsletter.
If you publish an email newsletter, use that as a platform for featuring and referencing influencers. My newsletter, “Get Magnetic,” showcases the work of online marketing leaders.
9. Buy their info-products.
Beyond speaking and hosting webinars, influencers often develop and sell information products online such as e-courses and membership sites. Buy them and actively engage in the course or membership site. Often, online coaching products and e-courses include online forums, which gives you another way to connect with that influencer.
10. Endorse them.
Once you’ve built a rapport with someone, blogs and LinkedIn provide two great ways to publish a recommendation of an influencer. However, be sure to save this for after you’ve met or worked with them; it could seem insincere to post an endorsement of someone you don’t really know. LinkedIn now has two features for this: recommendations, which are a few sentences long so they’re detailed and personalized, and endorsements, which are when you click a button to endorse someone for a specific skill. The influencer may not always return the favor, but it never hurts to spread good words.
Influencer marketing works best when you’re giving before getting, delivering value before expecting anything in return. So, If you employ a mix of the aforementioned strategies, the influencers will soon be returning the favor, sharing your content and recommending your product or service.
Want to learn more about how best-in-class marketers leverage influencers for their blog and other types of content? Download a copy of Curata’s eBook, Business Blogging Secrets Revealed.