When working in content marketing, it’s very common that at one point or another, your content begins to get a little stale. This happens to most of us marketers since we’re working with the same brand(s) day in and day out.
Sometimes you need another person to write the content for a while as you recharge, sometimes reading what your competition is writing helps, and sometimes you need a new strategy and to come at content marketing from a different angle.
Have no fear! There are a variety of ways to resuscitate boring content. Let’s enter the world of Influencer Outreach
Every so often referred to as influencer marketing, influencer outreach is basically when a key person that has a lot of online sway in your field markets your content for you — spreading it even further than it’s normal reach.
Why is this Important?
Influencer marketing is a way to get your content to a bigger audience. Let’s say you have an absolutely incredible infographic that no one else has made, shared, or seen.
Great, but you have to remember that your piece of content is competing with 27 million other pieces of content being shared on the same day. So it doesn’t really matter how great your content is — you have competition no matter what.
The influencer has a bigger audience than you do. If they share your content, more people will see it, and, if your content is good, you’ll attract more followers for your brand. So if you want to get your content in front of more people, influencer marketing is a great way to do it.
Now that you know why influencer marketing is important, this blog will guide you through best practices and how to go about connecting with influencers to help improve your overall content marketing.
We’ll walk you through:
– How to tell if your content needs influencer marketing?
– How to build an influencer marketing strategy?
– Tools to help you identify influencers in your field
– Best practices for approaching influencers
– How to make your offer appealing to influencers?
– How to maintain and develop the relationship with these influencers?
After that, you’ll be on your way to better content and a bigger audience that sees your content.
How to Tell if Your Content Needs Influencer Marketing
There are a few ways to tell if your content needs a reboot. Sometimes it’s obvious to you or a team member, but sometimes you need to dig a bit deeper to make sure you are getting the attention you want for your content.
Since creating that content is difficult, it’s important that it gets seen (and more importantly, shared).
Let’s say, for example, that you created a blog post and shared it on your brand’s social channels. Here’s a checklist you should follow to make sure it’s having the impact you want.
1. Have you fully optimized the blog post?
2. Have you seen it shared on social networks?
3. Have you committed any of these 10 social media sins, which would decrease its reach?
4. Have you seen it spark a conversation on social networks?
5. Has it made your website’s analytics rise?
If you answered NO to numbers 1, 2, 4, or 5, then you need to relook at your strategy. In addition to the piece being optimized and shared thoroughly, you really want to see a jump in your company’s analytics.
How do you know if your blog is popular using Google Analytics? Easy!
Sign onto your Google Analytics account. Press Behavior —> Site Content —> All Pages.
You’ll then see all of the pages of your site listed by popularity. Ideally your blogs are up top (meaning people read them and keep coming back to them). It should look something like this:
If your blogs get a ton of traffic, you’re in great shape – congrats! If, however, your Homepage and About Us page are higher than some of your blogs, you are going to need a better content strategy to amplify your voice.
You need An Influencer Outreach Strategy!
How to Build an Influencer Outreach Strategy
If you want to reach influencers, you first need a strategy. It’s vitally important that all members of the marketing team are on the same page, that schedules are kept, and communication is open. Otherwise, two team members could reach out to the same influencer — which might really bother him or her.
Follow the steps below to create an Influencer Outreach Strategy just like mine.
STEP 1: Narrow Down Your Industry
Let’s say you work in technology, well there are thousands, if not millions, of technology influencers, so in order to narrow down your list, you need to discuss how to narrow down your company’s focus in terms of this campaign.
Most likely it’ll be easy for you all since you’re not just a “technology company” but a SaaS, marketing, programmatic, etc. company. If you are marketing and development, for the purpose of getting started, it’s a good idea to pick one of these fields to go after first.
After you decided on your narrowed down field, it’s time for the next step.
STEP 2: Choose your Platforms
Not only are there influencers for every different industry, but there are also influencers for every different platform. There are Twitter influencers, Facebook influencers, YouTube influencers, etc.
The easiest way to decide which platform you’re going to find your influencers on is to ask yourself/your company:
– What social platforms does my brand excel at?
– Where do we have the most followers?
– Where do we have the most engagement?
– Where do we have the most social media traffic?
– What platform does our target market use the most?
After you answer that, you’ll probably have yourself narrowed down to 1-2 platforms, which is what you want.
But why don’t I go after 5 social networks?
The problems a lot of companies have is that they try to do too much in too many places. For example, it’s better to have a fantastic Twitter page with a million followers than just a few hundred followers on 10 social channels.
You want to do a good job at the small amount of platforms you work on, rather than stretching yourself too thin trying to be on all of them.
The most important question is the last one: What platform does our target market use most?
Think about it.
If your target market is on Pinterest three times per day and maybe checks their SnapChat twice per week, it makes more sense to designate more resources to Pinterest.
It’s vital that your target market sees your content, so you must have a good idea on where they spend more of their time…otherwise you risk completely missing them.
STEP 3: Organize Timing
Now what you need to do is organize your schedules and the best posting times for each social network. By now you probably know the best time to post on social, but if you’re unsure check the infographic below
You need to remember time zones as well! You may find that you have an influencer that is in the UK, Europe, or…and this one is the hardest…Australia.
Set an additional clock on your phone for whichever time zone they are in so you don’t make the mistake of tweeting to them at 4am their time.
STEP 4: Who will Post?
Within your team discuss who will post, who will monitor, and who will respond. You want to nominate leads for all of this so no one is confused and no one is posting too much or not at all.
You’re asking the influencer a favor — so don’t bug them!
Ideally the “influencer strategy” or “influencer project’ goes to 1-2 people on the team? Why?
Because in the end you are building a relationship, so if you have 5 people that email, the influencer will not only get confused, but they won’t associate one name with your brand. You want them to hear your name or see you tweet and then remember your brand, so keep it simple.
Tools to Help Identify Influencers in your Field
There are many different types of influencers you can connect with to help bolster your content marketing. Check out his post by Dan Shewan where he’s listed a number of great tools.
How do you know who is right for you? Most likely, though not always, you’re going to go after the influencer and the journalist.
It is rare to go after a celebrity, and there are specialized PR pros that can help you do that. You’re going after someone who has online fame — not TV fame (that audience is far too big, plus their followers aren’t going to purchase your product necessarily).
You want to remember that at the end of the day your influencer is going to speak highly about your brand, so you want someone well-spoken and intelligent in your field.
How do you even find influencers?
Finding influencers can be the hardest part sometimes. Once you have the list, reaching out — though it can be daunting — is pretty straight forward. But making a sound list of influencers, well that’s no easy task.
You’re going to want a list of at least 10 influencers. Remember that all of them will not answer you, so the more you include on the list, the higher your odds are. You do not, however, want a list of 100 people — that turns into spam because you cannot give them all individual attention.
Here are top 3 FREE tools that I recommend for reaching out to influencers in your industry.
Let’s say you want to find the top influencers in web development. This platform can help you do that. All you do is go to the site, click Influencers, and type in the niche industry, in this case web development.
This platform will them compile a list of influencers based on Page Authority, Domain Authority, Followers, ReTweet Ratio, Reply Ratio, and Average Retweets.
Obviously this one is great for Twitter, but you can find whichever type of influencer you’d like. You want to pick the top people that come up since they are the most popular.
**This is also a great tool if you want to find really popular articles in a certain area. You can search the same way to see what gets the most reads and shares.
With that you can begin your list of influencers, since you’re going to want to target more than one person.
Searching on Topsy is really easy. Simply type in your industry and the platform produces a list, based on mentions, of influencers in that area.
What’s so great about this platform? If you’re an international company, you’ll be happy to know you can search by language. You can also find videos, photos, or links so you can see what type of content is the most popular by a certain influencer.
Again, you’ll want to grab the top people and add them to your list. You should by know have a running spreadsheet shared with your team so you can all give input on who you’d like to target.
This is a Twitter influencer tool from the folks at SEOMoz. After you login with your Twitter account, you are able to search for influencers by social authority — which means how much influence they have on Twitter.
A great way to use this tool is by their “Search Bios” function. You type in your industry and up comes all Twitter users who also have that word or phrase in their bio. Especially if you have a really unique or small industry, this tool is going to be key for you.
There are also paid tools that give different search options:
PeerIndex – This tool has built an Influence Graph to identify influentials by topic that marketers can search against (PiQ) to find influencers.
Traackr – If you want more social insights, then Traackr might be a good fit for you. Many PR and marketing professionals use this tool to not only find influencers but to get social insights and figure out how best to reach out to targets.
Linkdex – For the more technical folks, Linkdex is a SaaS solution that combines Search, Social, PR & Content channels for “organic marketers”.
Keyhole – This tool uses a freemium model, so you can get some services without paying. What it does is track hashtags, so if you have a hashtag that you’re going after — that’s not #technology #startup or #somethinggeneric, this is a great option to use.
By this point, you should have a sizeable list of influencers. It’s really important that you keep them all organized and gather as much information as possible.
I recommend creating a spreadsheet and having a team member fill in information such as:
- Twitter Handle
- Facebook Account
- Instagram Handle
- LinkedIn Page
- YouTube Account
- Google+ Page
- Pinterest Page
- Phone (If Applicable)
- Interests (If Applicable)
You’ll want to know as much as you can before reaching out. Nothing bothers influencers more than when they get a request for something that is not in their industry. Do your homework – find out all you can before you get ready to reach out.
Best Practices for Approaching Influencers
Many brands want to take a casual approach when reaching out to influencers, so they may use an informal tone; however, you need to remember that you are asking these people a favor, so you can’t be too laid back — please and thank you go a long way.
You should by now have designated your team member to be the “reacher outer” – the person that is going to begin the relationship with the influencer. It’s important that this team member is personable, available, and excited to start this adventure.
Here is what you want to do when approaching influencers:
STEP 1: Follow Them on Social Networks
This is sort of an obvious step, but you want to make sure that the person reaching out and your brand are both following all of the influencers at all networks. This is going to take some clicking around to make sure you get everything.
STEP 2: Monitor their Online Activity
Did your influencer post a blog? Did they tweet something interesting? You’re going to want to monitor that. A great way to do this is by setting a person to compile all of their online activity of the day and emailing the team with any news or updates.
This is a good idea since you are busy with other things, and you don’t want to have to check Twitter every 5 minutes to make sure you’re on top of things.
BONUS: SproutSocial has a tool to do this automatically.
Especially if the influencer you want to reach has a blog, you’re going to want to watch that closely and make sure you are kept abreast of all updates.
You want to really understand what they write about, what they post about, their views on certain topics, etc. You want to get their tone of voice and messaging as well.
At this point it’s not just so you can do a better job of reaching out to them, but you want to also see if they’re going to be a good person to represent your brand. You should be asking yourself:
– Does this person use a tone that would appeal to my target audience?
– Do they use language that goes along with my brand’s identity?
– Do they say anything counter to my company’s views?
– Do they adhere to social media practices in line with my own brand?
STEP 3: Like, ReTweet, Repost their Stuff
Only do this when it is relevant!
If one day you repost all of their content on your social channels, it is going to be pretty obvious what you’re up to. You want to only repost their content when it is relevant to your brand. This will get you on their radar and help you understand when they post relevant content.
Again, it’s really important you don’t spam them, so make sure their content matches with your brand’s posts.
STEP 4: See How They Work with Brands (If Applicable)
This particular influencer may or may not have worked with other brands, so while you are monitoring and reporting their content, you should be able to see what their relationship is like with other companies.
See if they repost, reblog, reshare content from companies consistently or if they only post their own content.
You also want to find out if they require payment or have certain requirements when it comes to working with brands. For example, they may be a pay-for-play influencer who will write about your company for a fee.
They might only work with brands they really believe in or trust. Or, at times, they may not want to work with brands at all.
It’s important to take note while you are monitoring so you know what you’re up against when it’s time to reach out.
STEP 5: Reach Out
There are a few different ways to reach out to influencers:
– Social Networks
What you want to do is first try with email.
Tip: If you cannot find their email address, try using the tool EmailHunter
All you need to do is type in his or her company and this tool will find the email or try to generate what their email might be based on email addresses of employees. This is also a great tool to access email addresses of journalists your company is trying to pitch.
Email is the best first attempt since it’s non-invasive and the influencer can get back to you on his or her own time.
They may not email you back right away — they’re busy! Be patient and give it a week or so before you go to the next option.
Next you can try reaching out via social media. Depending on what social tools they like to use, you can try 1-2 of the following options:
– Tweet to them
– @ them on Pinterest or Instagram
– Message them on Quora
– Message them on LinkedIn
– Contact them via their blog (in the contact section or write in a comment)
– Facebook message them
More often than not, they use one or two of these networks regularly and will see your comment and hopefully write you back.
For some of these networks, mainly Twitter, you are limited by word count, so you can try Tweeting to them and messaging on another platform to have a bit more room for you pitch.
Some influencers accept calls, but this is becoming a somewhat dated practice.
In today’s tech world, calling has fallen out of favor. We barely even call our friends anymore, so some may find it invasive to cold call. Others take the opposite viewpoint and enjoy speaking to someone about their proposal or offering.
If the influencer has a blog, you’ll be able to see what they prefer in their “Contact” page. Otherwise, you have to make a judgement call, if you even manage to find a phone number.
After you have sorted out in what way you are going to reach out, it’s time to draft what you want to say.
What to Email Influencers & How to Make it Appealing
You want to remember that in the end you are going to ask a favor, so the email should be gentle, light, and complementary. A great way to initialize communication is by complimenting them on a recent article they wrote:
I really liked your piece on the new wave of web development and thought the paragraph about the changing landscape of programming was particularly insightful.
You want the influencer to know that A. You read their piece and B. You actually read the entire thing. This is a great introduction that will likely get the influencer to keep reading your email.
Your email should continue with something like this:
I know you get a lot of these emails, but my company and I follow you on Twitter and think your insights into the development space are really cutting edge, and we’d love to work with you if you’re open to it.
Here you want to include a brief (MAX 3-5 sentences) explanation of your company (including any traffic numbers).
We’re coming out with a new infographic on what developers need to know about new programming languages, and we’d love to give you first dibs on it. I’m attaching the infographic; is this something you’d be open to posting on your blog? We’d give you the exclusive to it and link to your page on all of our social media networks.
Please let me know.
What is the key sentence here?
We’d give you the exclusive to it and link to your page on all of our social media networks.
With that you give the influencer VALUE. You are:
– Giving them a post they do not need to create
– Giving them more followers on social media
– Increasing their online credibility
Especially if your company already has high traffic numbers, this is going to be a big win for the influencer and you — since your content will now get seen by many more people.
So the ideal situation is that your influencer writes back to you, accepts what you are offering, and you move forward. If you don’t hear back within 1-2 weeks, you can move to the next step and contact them on social media.
How to Contact Via Social Media & Make It Appealing
By now you know which social platforms your influencer uses the most, so it’s time to Tweet to them or message them. Messaging is easy since you can take your email — maybe condense it somewhat — and shoot it over.
However, pitching an influencer via Twitter (where you only have 140 characters) can be a bit challenging. You want to make sure you are giving them value and explaining yourself, all in less than 1 sentence.
Try a sentence like: @influencer – great blog yesterday, do you take exclusive guest posts?
The word “exclusive” in there might spark their interest and you are noting that you do read their content.
Remember that your own Twitter handle must be filled out with your company name, bio, and link, so if they want information they can simply click your page and find out more before writing back.
You want to also remember to Tweet during a time when they normally post, with the idea that they are browsing Twitter already so are more likely to see your tweet.
How to Call an Influencer & Make It Appealing
Again, calling is a bold move, so make sure your influencer is open to it. If they answer, always ask, “Is now an OK time to talk?” This is just being polite.
You want to have practiced your pitch (which should be a verbal version of the email) and be able to explain your company in 15 seconds. An influencer does not want to sit on the phone with you for the long-version explanation of your company. They may just hang up.
You want to get to the point and offer them the value right off the bat. You can tell them, “We have 100K unique visitors per month and 10K Twitter followers, and we’ll link to your page.”
Also letting them know that your followers are in his or her industry is a really big deal. In that case they know that they will get valuable followers — people they want to follow them but that they haven’t had access to yet.
Things to Remember
– Always offer something that appeals to the influencer
– Your email or message should not be longer than 300 words – short and simple will get you far
– Your influencer might not be interested in your offer or they might not work with brands at all, so be prepared to move on to someone else
After reaching out, you hopefully by now have nabbed an influencer that can serve as a brand ambassador. The key is – you don’t want them to post one piece of content for you and then never speak again. It’s vitally important that you keep in touch and measure your success.
How to Maintain and Develop the Relationship with Influencers
After you work with an influencer, you definitely want to thank them via email or, better yet, a handwritten letter always goes a long way.
After that, you should measure the success of the campaign. You will want to check for things like:
– Increase of social media followers (net number of followers)
– Increase of engagement on social media (Likes, Shares, Comments on all networks)
– Traffic reports (How much traffic from the influencer’s site to your site)
– Content virality (How much was the content shared online/how much buzz did it get)
All of those numbers should increase after working with an influencer.
If those numbers do not increase — or if they only increase slightly, then it may be because you are not working with an influencer close enough to your industry. Perhaps their followers, in the end, do not want your product.
After you measure the success of your company, you want to stay in touch with your influencer (especially if the campaign went really well, because you’ll want to repeat it). In order not to bombard your influencer, you can continue reposting, liking, and sharing their content on social media so they you stay on their radar.
Occasional emails about their content are also great as well. Something like:
Great piece today on challenges developers face with Apple’s new update. You really hit the nail on the head with that one.
You do not need to drone on, but quick notes to keep your influencer aware that you and your company are still around help in the long run.
Make sure to keep in touch with all influencers — even ones that you did not end up working with. You never know when they could change their focus or grow a huge user base, so it’s really about keeping the relationship strong.
They could also end up coming to you with a fantastic guest post or social media post that gives your company a lot of attention.
One really important thing to note is:
Relationship building takes time, patience, and determination.
You may get lucky and find someone, email them, they email you the same day, and you grow something from there. More likely, however, is that you begin small and start to build a relationship and then one day when an opportunity is exactly right, your influencer and brand can work together.
Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day – the same goes for growing a trusting and mutually beneficial relationship.
The other important factor to remember is that the influencer most likely is connected to other influential people. What does that mean?
Just because influencer #1 isn’t a good fit, if he or she likes your company, he or she may introduce you to someone else that is a great fit. We say this so you always remember that even if they say NO – they may know someone else that can get your company to where you want it to be.
When Starting Out
Focus on your company’s goals — as a team. It’s important that during your strategy sessions you all really look to see if you need influencer outreach and if it can do something positive for your brand. You should ask yourself:
– Is my brand’s content getting stale?
– Are we losing engagement on social channels?
– Are my traffic numbers dropping?
If you answer NO to all of those questions, then a different tactic might be better for you. If you answer YES to one or more of those questions, it’s time to get your influencer list ready.
Realistically 1-2 members of your team can handle the entire influencer campaign. However, it’s really important that everyone is on the same page so no one gets left in the dark and your influencer doesn’t get pinged 10 times.
You never want to bother someone, you want to offer them value to their online or personal branding campaign. Always ask yourself: Would I say yes to this offer? And why?
Influencer outreach is a great way to boost your online credibility, SEO, and traffic numbers. This, in turn, leads to more notoriety and, in the end, sales. While it is not a direct sales route, having an influencer on your side gets you part of the way there.
This is a marketing tactic that many PR people, content creators, and communication professionals are starting to adopt more rapidly, so if you are considering an influencer campaign for your brand, now is the time to start.