Influencer marketing is when you create relationships with people that are important in your niche. Influencers often have such a large following that a simple mention of your products, services or content can lead to increased traffic, social shares, back links and sales.
Many social media experts rave about influencer marketing and yet it is quite confusing for a lot of people. The barrier to get into it seems too high but using some of the simple steps below, you can cover a lot of ground with very little effort and get into the deeper aspects of it later.
Influencer marketing is not just about reaching bloggers to review physical products. It is also great for professional services firms and any company looking to raise their own thought leadership status.
1. Create an influencer marketing strategy document
It’s important to think about your goals in relation to influencer marketing before you get started. Are you looking for direct sales, to spread your content, or get more traffic to your website? Knowing your objective and documenting it is an important first step.
As Joe Paluzzi of the Content Marketing Institute says:
“Have an influencer strategy. I would say 99% of businesses that say they want to partner with influencers actually have no strategy. Start with why you are engaging with influencers (what is it going to do for the business).” @JoePulizzi
If you want to keep it really simple, create a one page strategy document outlining the following:
- What is engaging with influencers going to do for our business?
- What type of influencers do we want to reach the most?
- How will we track your results? (E.g. more backlinks, shares and social engagement and or will you focus on sales etc.)
You can certainly create a much deeper strategy than this, but in my experience it is better to start small and have a completed document than to get way into the weeds and never finish.
2. Select influencers
Choosing influencers that are too large can result in no response, if you are just starting out. Picking people that aren’t quite at the top of the heap yet can result in faster progress. With that said, you might be pleasantly surprised at how many top-level people get back to you. Picking five of each tier is not a bad place to start.
Social influencer marketing tools to get you started
Generally speaking, top influencers have a large social following. Twitter is one of the easiest ways to find people of influence and these two tools can help you narrow down your search.
- Followerwonk by MOZ is a great tool to look for people with large Twitter followings in your niche.
Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz and who purchased Followerwonk to be part of his software in 2012 says:
“I use Followerwonk for Twitter analytics, connecting to new people, and improving my use of Twitter (which is my primary social network)” @randfish
- Topsy is an amazing tool and according to the New York Times, it searches Twitter better than Twitter.
findyourinfluence.com is an interesting paid service and that helps you find and manage influencers or you can hire an influencer marketing agency to help.
There are lots of great influencer marketing tools but I suggest you start with one and get good at it for finding influencers before using another.
3. Share the content of your influencers using Buffer
Using the social media management tool called buffer, can help you to regularly share the content of your targeted influencers.
If you are going to build a social following, you are going to need to be sharing content that you discover. You might as well share the content of your influencers on a regular basis.
Buffer has a section called feeds. You can select 10 different blogs or websites with which you want to receive their latest updates.
By making the feeds your influencers, your regular content sharing activities will automatically be focused on them.
10 is a good place to start so you don’t get overwhelmed.
Joel Gascoigne, the founder of buffer says:
“The best things we know and love started as tiny things.” @joelgascoigne
Check out my recent post on how to use Buffer for more details and a workflow.
4. Comment frequently on the blog posts of your influencers
By regularly sharing the content of your influencers and by making thoughtful comments on their blog posts, you gain trust and credibility with them.
Blog commenting is often considered spam but it is definitely not, if you’re doing it in a helpful way. Please do not make a mindless comment and slap in a backlink to your site…
The other great thing about blog commenting is that it forces you to read your influencers content more regularly. You can’t really make a helpful comment unless you get a vibe on the post and the community of people having a conversation.
Neil Patel of quicksprout.com and who is the co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar and KISSmetrics says:
“When you comment on other people’s blogs, you won’t see a ranking increase. Or at least it’s been my experience with all of my blogs. So when commenting, don’t do it for higher rankings. Instead, do it for traffic, branding, and conversions.” @neilpatel
5. Quote your influencers in your content
Use quotes from influencers frequently in your blog posts like I am doing here. While it is fantastic if you can email them and get an original quote, it is perfectly fine to start with quotes that you take off of their website or even from other people that have quoted them.
You can link back to their website where the quote is from. When you share the content you have created on Twitter, make sure to use their Twitter handle.
PR services like helpareporter.com and PRLeads.com are largely driven by journalists looking for quotes from experts because good reporting isn’t just the voice of the media. If you ignore this long-standing tradition, your content will be mostly your own perspective without any other expert’s opinion or stats to back it up.
Aaron Agius, founder of Louder Online, when discussing using BuzzStream for influencer outreach says:
“If your piece of content is a blog post, put the quote in the post and add a link to the influencer’s website and social media accounts, such as Twitter. Once the article is published, email the influencer and tell them the content is published and ask them to share it on social media and possibly include it in their email newsletter.
This accomplishes two things: 1) you gain exposure to a new audience, and 2) your content becomes more reputable because you’re associating yourself with an influencer in your industry.
Reach out to multiple influencers. You probably won’t hear back from all of them, but you should hear back from at least one or two.” @IAmAaronAgius
6. Use LinkedIn groups for influence marketing
Neil Patel says he pays about $5,000 a month to LinkedIn for advertisements to get people to join his LinkedIn group. If you don’t have a LinkedIn group, you can join someone else’s. Neil explains why this is so important below:
“An even better way to connect with an influencer on LinkedIn is to look at their profile to find the groups they belong to. Join one of those groups. As a member of a shared group, you’ll be able to send a connection request.
Once you have connections with influencers, you can direct message them. Your connections will get a notice in their email inbox (depending on their settings).” @neilpatel
Using this technique you can create more connections and get into the inboxes of more influential people, where you might not normally be able to get their email address.
7. Ask for a favor
Now that you have done your influencers a favor by sharing their content and engaging on their site, it’s time to ask them for a small favor.
The influence principle of reciprocity, as stated by Dr. Cialdini, says that if you do a small favor for someone, they are likely to return it. So while you might not get everyone to respond, you are now set up for success. So much more so than just emailing people out of the blue.
Here are a few things that you can ask influences to do for you:
- Ask them to share your content. Send them an email or LinkedIn email and say something along the lines of:
- Ask for an interview. Interviewing an influencer puts you side-by-side with them, which increases your trust and credibility with the general public. The influencer might benefit a little bit from your interview, but it is mostly for you.
- Ask them if they will accept a guest blog post from you.
- Give them story ideas or helpful, short, original quotes if they are a media site, that they can use in their next story.
Start small and win big
The days of simple search engine optimization strategies are long gone and if you really want to succeed with search and social media marketing, you need to be seen as an authority. Google will pick up on your thought leadership status from the backlinks, media mentions and social shares of your content and influencers are at the heart of the processes that make those things happen.
Hoping that that content that you create will do extremely well solely because of the long tail keywords in your website pages or simply because you threw it out there on social media despite a limited amount of followers, is short sighted. Trust me, I have personally made these mistakes in the past and hope you’ll join me on this more modern digital marketing journey.
Influencer marketing may seem complicated but a lot of the steps to do it are things you should be doing anyway, if you care about growing your business. Great things start small and if you keep it simple, you just might start to really enjoy it.