As we’ve been explaining, educating your leads and prospects with content marketing is the best way to help people make a buying decision. Content Marketing helps to build your authority, demonstrates your expertise and, when done correctly, builds trust.
So if you’re creating great content for your website in the hopes of attracting relevant leads and prospects but you’d like to take it to the next level and increase exposure to that content, a great way to accomplish that is by sharing it with influencers in your space.
WHAT ARE INFLUENCERS?
Influencers are other professionals in your industry that have a sizable online presence. While many people are influential within their industries who have absolutely no online presence and don’t know a Tweet from a Like, the online influencers that we’re talking about are those that can help spread your message online to extend your reach beyond your own website and improve your SEO.
Influencers that we look for have the following attributes:
- An active blog (new posts within the last 30 days)
- A large Twitter following (average user has 208 Twitter followers)
- Recent tweets on Twitter (within last 24 hours)
- Active in other social media (Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.)
HOW DO YOU IDENTIFY INFLUENCERS?
There are several online tools out there for identifying influencers associated with a particular topic. The two we’re going to discuss below both have free versions and trial versions so you can see which one you prefer.
Moz’s FollowerWonk: FollowerWonk is a great tool for searching millions of Twitter bios to come up with lists of Twitter accounts who write about specific niches based on the keywords found in their profiles. You can sort lists by the number of Twitter followers and their respective “social authority” (based on a scale from 1-100). Here’s an example of a search we did for “SEO”:
BuzzSumo: Buzzsumo is a more robust tool in that it not only ranks influencers but it also shows you the top, most recent blog posts in your niche. This is a great way to get blog ideas to see what’s popular. Upgrade to the pro level and it will even show you the other sites that linked and shared these blog posts, creating an entirely new lead list for you to pursue.
Ranking of Related Content:
Ranking of Specific Influencers:
After creating a list of “influencer prospects” and sorting them by the greatest number of followers we do the following 5 things:
- See how recently they posted: They may have a gazillion followers but if they haven’t posted since last year what are the chances they’ll retweet or share your post?
- Do they have a blog and is it active?: This is critical. Having a blog that is also recently updated means they’re always looking for useful content and value content marketing as a marketing approach.
- Are they a direct competitor?: This may or may not be a problem for your business. For some industries it is more of an issue than others. For some businesses it’s a matter of personal taste, pride or ego. We often quote the competition. Just know in advance to avoid upsetting the boss.
- What other social media do they have and is it active?: For different industries certain social media outlets are more important than others. For a law firm, Pinterest is probably not worthwhile but for an interior designer you’ll want to look for Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.
- BONUS: Are they a self-promoter?: This won’t apply to everyone, but finding someone who meets the above criteria AND is an author, podcaster, speaker, TV or radio personality is the ultimate prize. The reason? You’re offering to provide some free content in a niche they are already active and interested in. By tagging them on Twitter and letting them know when you post relevant content of interest to them you increase your chances of your content being spread through likes and retweets.
HOW TO APPROACH INFLUENCERS ONCE YOU’VE IDENTIFIED THEM
Now that you’ve developed a list of potential influencers what’s the best way to approach them? We reached out to Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media and he offered this advice about how to make initial contact:
“With empathy, with sensitivity and with patience. People are busy, especially influencers. The flood of emails in these inboxes in intense. Many influencers get hundreds of emails per day, dozens of which are requests to share, contribute, collaborate and connect. So don’t expect much.
You’re likely to get better results by reaching out to people who aren’t that famous. Ian Lurie from Portent suggests that we look for “Allies, not Rockstars” It’s more realistic, effective and faster.
We called this the Fame-to-Speed Ratio…”
Crestodina adds, “But if you’re patient, generous and considerate, you should be able to build a relationship with just about anyone!”
STEPS TO APPROACH THESE INFLUENCERS?
For this blog post we’ll describe the actual first steps to establish contact with your influencer list.
- Follow them on Twitter
- Like them on Facebook
- Connect with them on LinkedIn
- Use their Twitter handle in your own tweet (@samsonmedia)
Example: Here’s how we mentioned Katy Katz in a tweet:
Here’s our tweet favorited on her Twitter account and seen by her over 3,200 followers:
NOTE: This was simply from tagging her as a new follower. For her and other related influencers we’ll now start adding various tags to other influencers on all our outbound tweets. This is something new for us as well but the preliminary results have so far been impressive. More updates as we start to integrate this more and more.
- Find out and evaluate who the influencers are in your niche.
- Follow and connect with them on social media.
- Tag them in any relevant content that you link to on Twitter using their @twitter handle (i.e. @samsonmedia)
- Plant the seeds for deeper engagement later on
In our next blog post we’ll discuss taking these online relationships to the next level via guest blogs and guest quote opportunities and possibly podcast or webinar interviews.