Promoting online content in the digital age is no easy task. These days every business, celebrity, stay-at-home parent and their pet has a blog.
Sure, you’re no hobby blogger, but you’re not the only one trying to build brand awareness and establish authority by publishing high-value content. Nearly half of all respondents to a recent Copyblogger survey said that their main purpose for having a website was to “build authority through published content.”
With everyone using the same tactics, it can be difficult to get your content the attention it deserves, even when you are consistently producing valuable and unique content.
That’s why enlisting influential allies is such a powerful strategy for promoting online content.
Dubbed “influencer marketing,” this strategy leverages the existing power of popular bloggers, social media power users, and other online influencers to help promote your content for you.
But influencers aren’t going to line up for the opportunity to promote your content for you. You’ve got to get their attention first.
In order to enlist influencers as allies, you need to identify great matches to build strong and mutually-beneficial relationships with.
But getting on the radar of powerful influencers can be tricky. Many of them are inundated with pitches and request for promotion, so sending them a template email or asking for their help out of the blue won’t cut it. As Marc Ecko, founder of Marc Ecko Enterprises and master of getting influencer attention told Tim Ferriss, you can’t just “[throw] some crap in the mail and hope it works.” Instead, you need to build a relationship first.
And building a genuine relationship with influencers can be made a whole lot easier if you’re armed with data when you approach them.
Without the right information, you have no way of knowing how to approach them, or if the influencer you’re approaching has an audience that matches your target demographic, or would even be remotely interested in what you’re pitching.
How do you arm yourself with the data you need in order to make a connection?
Follow the seven steps below to gather the data you need to forge a mutually beneficial relationship, and enlist allies to effectively promote your online content.
Step 1: Identify Influencers
Before you can start building a relationship with influencers, you have to find them first.
But identifying influencers in your industry isn’t as simple as searching for them on Google. Even the native search tools of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter leave a lot to be desired. It’s easy to miss out on an ideal influencer in your niche simply because they don’t have the exact keyword in their profile that you’re searching for.
On Twitter, for example, it can be hard to tell by looking at someone’s profile whether they’re truly influential in their community. Of their thousands of followers, how many are real people who are following them out of genuine interest? How many of them actually listen to what they have to say? But by using Twitter tools to analyze a profile, you can find out whether how much influence they truly have.
Step 2: Discover Their Demographics
Knowing your target audience’s demographics is essential for the success of any marketing plan. The more data you have, the easier it is to reach your potential audience. Knowing their age, gender, geographic location, reading level, and other information will inform your strategy at all levels.
You know who your target audience is, and what social media platforms they’re using. Does the influencer you’ve identified in step one have the same target audience?
If not, reaching out to them is a waste time for both parties.
Doing demographic research on a an influencer’s audience can be tedious and time-consuming on your own, but tools like Twtrland’s demographics tool can save you time by compiling the data for you and presenting it in easy-to-understand visualizations.
Influencer marketing is not just a numbers game. Having your content promoted to hundreds and thousands of fans is great, but if they’re not your target demographic, it’s all for nothing. It’s vitally important to know your audience.
Step 3: Know Their Network
The next step in your influencer research is researching your target influencer’s network.
Finding out who they’re chatting with online will give you an idea of how they’ve risen to fame, and what topics they enjoy sharing and chatting about online. By taking a look at what kinds of social media conversations your target influencer has, you can find out whether your brand is a good fit to approach them with. You can get an idea of what type of messages, posts, and tweets they respond to, their style of communication, and how to craft a message that’s most likely to get a positive response.
You’ll also be able to identify other opportunities to approach influencers in their network, and find people to follow and interact with to build your own following.
By understanding who influences the influencers, you’ll get better results when you go to the next step: outreach.
Step 4: Enthusiastic Engagement is Key to Influencer Marketing
Now that you’ve done your reconnaissance, you know who your influencers are, who their audience is, and what conversations they love to have. It’s time to start interacting to build those relationships and enlist some powerful allies to promote your content!
The most important points to remember when you approach influencers are to be genuine and add value. Instead of trite compliments, try to forge meaningful connections by being honest and thoughtful in your interactions.
If your target influencer tweets a link to an article, check it out and let them know what you think. Maybe a tip the influencer shared on social media has helped you, or you found one of their tweets thought-provoking. Let them know! Using tools like Twtrland, you can check out the top content shared by your target influencer, giving you a starting point to make a connection.
Step 5: Connect Through Content
The next step is to build your relationships by creating content that your target influencer is excited to share.
But with all the requests for their attention, how do you make your own content stand out, and motivate influencers to share your content?
In the previous step, you’ve already taken a look at what they’re posting, so you’re familiar with their interests and the kinds of content they’re likely to share.
You could approach your influencer with an interview request, or even ask them to guest post on your blog. But with all the requests they receive, it can be tough to get a postitive response.
Ego baiting is a easier and powerful way to attract an influencer’s attention simply by mentioning them in your own original content. For example, you could write a roundup post of top influencers to follow on Twitter, or the most helpful tweets you read in the past week. The key, though, is to not throw together a quick list post, but to take the time to research and write a well-thought-out, valuable piece of content that your audience will find useful — not gratuitous flattery, which is always transparent.
Step 6: Cultivate New Contacts
Now that you’ve started cultivating your influencer relationships, it’s important that you maintain a system to keep track of them.
You can create your own list of influencers using the identification methods in step one. Content Up suggests creating a public poll on your blog or website to narrow your list down to the most influential, with an option for voters to suggest more options in case you missed anyone. This is a great way to combine steps one and five, building a relationship off the bat by mentioning them in your content.
Step 7: Use a Mutual Messenger
Influencer marketing is popular for a great reason: it works!
But as more and more marketers are jumping on the bandwagon and vying for every influencer’s attention, how can you stand out from the crowd?
One highly effective way of boosting your chances is to ask for an introduction from a mutual acquaintance.
Using a tool like Twtrland, it’s easy to see what mutual connections you share. If you already have a relationship with a mutual acquaintance, you can ask them for the favor of an introduction.
You can also combine this tip with step five in order to boost your chances of landing that interview or guest post from your target influencer. An intro from a mutual friend is much more likely to get you on their radar than an unsolicited email from a stranger.
With online marketing changing at a rapid pace, it’s important to keep up with the trends. Prolific guest posting might have been an easy way to get a spotlight on your brand in the past, but it’s becoming a much more crowded and competitive field.
Instead, enlisting powerful allies to promote your content for you is an amazingly effective way to build your brand authority. But approaching influencers out of the blue won’t get you anywhere. You need to arm yourself with the relevant data, and use it as a tool to build relationships.