If you haven’t begun a campaign to court influencers, then yesterday is the time to start. And if you are not certain exactly what an “influencer” is or where to find them, then this article is the first place to start. By the time you finish, you will have the information you need to establish relationships with a few individuals who can give your business the transfusions it might need to move to the next level.
What is an Influencer?
You have heard the term many times if you engage in content marketing. Everyone says to “get on the good side” of influencers and use them to promote your product or service. But you’re not exactly sure what they mean and you really haven’t had the time to check it out. Here’s a simple example:
Johnny wants to start a lawn mowing business in his neighborhood. But he really doesn’t know how to get his neighbors to trust him enough. He has a brilliant idea. Mr. Jones up the street has the best-looking lawn in the neighborhood. So, he goes to Mr. Jones and offers to mow Mr. Jones’s lawn for free, so that Mr. Jones can see what a great job he does. Finally, Mr. Jones agrees, although maybe reluctantly.
Johnny does a great job, and Mr. Jones is really happy. Now Johnny can ask Mr. Jones to recommend him to the other neighbors, and he gets a bunch of jobs. Mr. Jones has become an influencer. His opinion is respected among the neighbors who are now willing to hire Johnny.
Content marketers need to find influencers in their niche too. They need to “court” them and gain their trust. And then they need to “use” those influencers to promote their brands among their audiences. When this is successful, traffic increases; and when traffic increases, so do sales.
1. Finding Influencers
First of all, understand that influencers will certainly not come from the ranks of your competitors. They may be popular bloggers in your niche who are not in the business of selling products or services. They may be individuals from related niche who sell to the same targeted customers as yours. And it will take some research to find them. Here are a couple of ways to do that:
- Look for blogs based upon your keywords and keywords of related niche. If you remodel homes, for example, who are influencers in interior design? How about popular suppliers of materials for remodeling?
- Use some of the great tools that are now available for finding popular blogs and sites in the related niche. BuzzSumo can point you in the direction of the most popular blogs and social media pages in a related niche. It also has a feature titled, “influencers and outreach,” that will provide you names and blogs based upon keywords you enter. This and many other tools to find influencers can save a lot of time.
2. Contact an Influencer Only When You Have a Value Proposition
You would be amazed to know how many influencers are contacted by business owners and marketers asking (and sometimes begging) for some kind of a marketing “plug.” These are busy people who do not have time for such requests and who, in fact, see them as a form of mild harassment. Just don’t do it. Instead, come up with something of value that you can offer an influencer, without even asking for anything in return. As you prepare a value proposition, consider the following:
- Is the value enough to get the influencer’s attention? Mr. Jones saw enough value in Johnny’s offer to mow his lawn. What can you offer?
- Do you have a great post that the influencer may want to re-post? Do you have a product you want the influencer to try free of charge? Can you give the influencer a part of your service for free? Have you done some important and thorough research that you can share and that s/he can use in his/her own content?
Remember, an influencer is not looking for money. S/he is looking for some value in establishing a connection with you.
3. Follow Your Influencers Wherever They Are
If you’ve done the right research, you know where your target influencers are – their blogs, their social media platforms, their forums, etc. You will become an ardent follower of everything they write and you will participate in all of the conversation threads that result from their content. Compliment them; add a fresh new idea; suggest some new research. Above all, show them your passion for their niche and your desire to continue to learn from them.
The idea here is to get your name in front of the influencer’s eyes as much as possible. They will then begin to expect your comments and, most important, your name will be remembered. This way, when you do contact them personally, they will already know who you are.
Share and retweet your influencers’ posts. And when you do this, be sure to tag them so they know you are doing it. Again, it’s all about the remembering of your name.
4. Being Involved on Influencers’ Blogs is a Must
Sharing and retweeting posts should be fully enhanced by involvement on an influencer’s blog. This will include the following:
- Subscribe to the blog – you will get all of the posts and stay updated on all content that the influencer writes.
- Comment on every blog post as soon as it is published. When you get them in an email you can be one of the first responders.
- When you respond consistently, both the influencer and his/her other followers come to know you. Your reputation is enhanced when you can contribute value, promoting your ultimate growth toward becoming an influencer yourself.
5. Share Influencers’ Content but Let them Know About It
It’s very valuable to an influencer that you have shared their content. It is also very valuable to them when you recommend them to others. So, don’t just share content on your social media platforms. Recommend your influencers’ blog or social media page/account to your social communities. And let your influencer know. When you recommend, let that influence know that they will be receiving a new reader/subscriber and that you are responsible for that. Here’s a quick example:
Suppose you have created a blog post yourself and you are providing a social media cheat sheet for readers to improve their own postings in an influencer’s niche. Refer them to that influencer’s social media page as a great example to follow. Then send that cheat sheet to the influencer, letting him know that he is mentioned and asking him for feedback on your ideas and work.
Once you have established yourself with your influencers, as a follower, as a commenter, as a person passionate about your business niche, and as a learner, you are ready to ask for some things. This might include a request that the influencer guest blog on your site or that you be allowed to post one of your great posts on his blog. Guest blogging on the sites of influencers is of huge benefit for you.
You can also then request that the influencer tests your product or service and provide a review. Even requesting a paid presence on an influencer’s social media platforms is likely to be accepted, if that influencer knows that your product/service is of quality and your brand reputable.
The legwork is time-consuming. But when you do it right, there are great benefits to be had. Getting that “stamp of approval” from an influencer will pay off big.