In today’s social landscape, reaching any audience type can be tough. Most platforms require that you spend ad dollars to reach people who are not already part of your network and recommend you set aside an additional budget to ensure reach to your existing community. Over the past few weeks, I’ve had several clients ask for best practices for increasing reach and each time my answer has been, have you considered an influencer campaign?
What is an influencer?
So let’s start at the basics. What is an influencer? In short, it’s someone with a captive and active audience, who regularly shares relevant content. They can be on any social media platform or a blogger; they can have a big audience, or a very qualified niche audience. They are often pundits, media contacts, celebrities or people who are very passionate and informed on a specific area of interest. Influencers are important because they have a built-in audience, and it’s likely that there are several influencers in your industry whose audience closely matches your organization’s buyer personas. They key to the puzzle is: how do you gain access to their audience. And the answer might just be relevant content.
So, if you’ve got an active content marketing program and are looking for new ways to distribute your content, then you might want to consider in an influencer program.
There are basically four key parts to developing an effective outreach program—understanding the topic, identifying the industry players, understanding who to focus on and developing a program to authentically engaging with them.
- Identify keywords—What do you typically blog about (or plan to blog about)? What expertise to your blog readers, prospects and customers rely on you for? The answers to these question will help you pin point the words that best describe what you’re doing and in turn, look for others who are providing similar information. Your goal should be to identify the top 10 words (or even long tail phrases) that best describe either what you’re known for, or what you’d like to be known for.
- Create your list – You’ve answered the what, now you need to figure out the who. In this case, the who refers to the other people in your space who are also trying to reach your audience. In order to determine this, you’ll want to consider using a few tools.
- Buzzsumo—Buzzsumo is an SEO tool that allows you to identify the most shared content within a specific subject area. Enter your keywords into their content research search bar and the tool will give you a list of links to the most shared content on that subject area. You’ll see a variety of publishers – digital publications, bloggers, youtubers – and you should begin creating a list of those whose content closely aligns with the content you’re sharing.
- Google Search – You’ll want to repeat this activity on Google, which uses its own algorithm to produce search results. Take note of the overlap – this is an indicator of influence.
- Social media keyword searches—Look for related groups on LinkedIn and identify SME’s or regular posters within your area of expertise using your keywords.
- Narrow your list—At this point, your list may be long. In order to help you whittle that down, you’ll want to identify contacts that have a strong domain authority, which is a metric created by Moz and is a proxy for website traffic. Enter your influencer’s URL into the Moz Bar and see what their score is. If you’re after a niche audience, a DA in the 30s is acceptable. If you’re after a larger audience, then the DA should be at least in the 50s.
- Share your content – Once you’ve identified your influencers, it’s time to begin developing relationships with them. Below are a few chronological activities that will help you increase the changes of an influencer sharing your content.
- Backlinking – Begin linking your blog content to related content on their blog or website. Influencers are always looking to extend their reach, so they’ll appreciate any incoming traffic you can direct their way.
- Engage on social – Retweet or share their posts on your social media pages. Post relevant and informative comments on their posts. Monitor and engage with these influencers, and other industry peers, through LinkedIn groups. These are authentic ways to show a shared interest and encourage reciprocated behaviors.
- The Pitch – Once you’ve established a digital relationship, you may want to consider emailing your influencer, noting your interest in their content and asking if they’d be willing to share your related content with their audience. If your content is a good fit, in most cases the answer will be yes because influencers are always looking for relevant content and new ways to enhance their own influence.
While it takes time to develop your list and build relationships with other subject matter experts, influencer campaigns are one of several channels you should be employing to support your inbound marketing efforts. Check out our inbound marketing campaign checklist for more information on creating campaigns, driving and converting qualified audiences on your website.