Influencer marketing is no longer a new concept in the marketing world. With the rise in popularity of social media, brands have realized that they no longer have the ‘one to all’ voice they used to. Billboards, TV commercials and magazine ads may still be used by big brands to increase brand visibility, but these tactics are usually outside the reach (and budgets) of small businesses.
Fortunately, social media offers small businesses the opportunity to level the playing field. Instead of broadcasting their message to a large, generic audience — which is likely to cost big bucks and be only moderately effective — they can target a smaller, more relevant audience.
One of the most effective ways businesses are doing this is through influencer marketing. This is the process of having celebrities, influential bloggers, or industry experts talk about your brand, mention a product, or share your content. Not only does influencer marketing tend to be less costly than traditional marketing methods, it’s a much better fit (i.e. more effective) in our word-of-mouth culture. So, how can you capitalize on this popular, rising trend?
How to find influencers to work with
Your first step will be identifying influential social media users who would be genuinely interested in what you have to offer. These users will typically have some combination of the following:
· Reach: A large audience on their blog or social media channels
· Relevance: An audience comprised of your target market
· Authority: A reputation for being an expert in your industry
There are a number of tools that can help you find these influencers. Some of my favorites are Klout, Followerwonk and Buzzsumo. Let’s take a look at how to use Buzzsumo to find key influencers in our niche.
I’ll start by plugging in relevant keywords. Let’s assume I’ve already identified a piece of content I would like to promote, called ‘How To Find New Clients Without Cold Calling’. I’ll plug “cold calling” (with quotation marks) into the Buzzsumo search box.
Here’s what I get:
As you can see, the results aren’t all that relevant or useful. The top results are news outlets (BBC)…not really what I was looking for. Fortunately, there are a couple of ways to improve these results.
One way is to click on ‘Top Authors’ at the top of the page. This will show me which authors get the most engagement for articles about my topic. Unfortunately, this feature is limited to agency subscribers, and this option will run you $299/month.
A more affordable (free!) option is to manually comb through the search results to look for individual bloggers who have received a large number of social shares related to our topic. If I scroll through the results above, I come up with a couple of potentials. The key is to look for individuals, not businesses or media outlets.
I can also click on the author to see what other types of content they’ve shared, and on which sites.
Generally speaking, I like to focus on finding influential bloggers, even more so than individuals with large social media followings. And I’m not alone on this: according to recent research by Tomoson, blogs are the #1 most effective platform for influencer marketing.
How to establish a relationship with influencers
Once you’ve identified which influencers you want to engage with, you need to decide what your influencer strategy will look like. What do you want them to do? How can they help you? Some possibilities are:
· Sharing your content with their social media followers
· Writing a guest post on their blog
· Asking them to review your product
· Asking them to contribute to an article you’re writing
Keep in mind that influencer marketing is just that: marketing. You’re not only asking influencers to market your stuff to their audience; you first need to offer something of value to these influencers themselves.
This requires some finesse. I recommend spending some time reading their content, seeing how they interact with their followers, and investigating where they contribute guest posts.
The next step will be to get to know them, and let them get to know you! Don’t skip this step; you only get one shot at introducing yourself, and you don’t want to risk sending an irrelevant or pushy initial outreach email.
Some ways you can begin to establish a relationship are:
· Linking to their site in a blog post
· Tagging them on social media (where relevant)
· Commenting on their blog posts
· Following and interacting with them on social media
· Sharing their content with your followers
For more blogger outreach strategies, see my article, How to Reach Influential Bloggers.
Basically, your goal is to become a known entity. When you do actually send an outreach email, you want the person to know who you are, or at least recognize your name.
There are a number of strategies you can take when contacting your chosen influencers. Asking them straight out to mention your product to their audience probably isn’t one of the best ones!
Generally speaking, you’ll want to let them know how a potential partnership can benefit them. Sometimes this will involve financial compensation, but often it will be non-monetary benefits. It could be free products or subscriptions, mentions on social media, or other types of mutually beneficial cross promotions.
When writing your initial outreach email, keep these best practices in mind:
1. Find the best email address for your influencer. Here are 21 email lookup tools you can use to find anyone’s email address.
2. Always (always!) address the person by name.
3. Show them you’re familiar with their work. Mention a blog post you really liked, tell them you’ve been following them on social media or reference a recent media mention.
4. Tell them what’s in it for them (see above)
Don’t get discouraged if your chosen influencer(s) don’t ‘take the bait’ immediately. Big name influencers may need more time and more positive interactions with you before they’re willing to work with you. Remember that working with you means endorsing your brand; and that isn’t something most people will take lightly.
Are you planning to use influencer marketing? What strategies do you intend to pursue? Share below!