We have so many relationships in our day-to-day lives that we rarely consider not having them as an option. Whether you have your family, friends, or acquaintances around, there’s usually someone you know within arm’s reach. Rarely ever are you alone.
Have you realized that those you know greatly influence your decisions in life? You’ve probably heard thousands of movie, product, and restaurant recommendations from the people in your life that you’ve followed through on. It’s safe to bet that the majority of those experiences that you’ve followed up on, you’ve enjoyed.
Nowadays we have relationships with people we don’t even know or actually hold a conversation with. Think of your favorite author, director, or musician. Think even deeper to your favorite YouTuber or blogger. Now think of your favorites that are within your niche. How much have you discovered because of them? Maybe you’ve followed through on their recommendation for a book, movie, album, video game, or other YouTuber or blogger.
You trust them even though you likely haven’t met and maybe never will. They are your personal influencers.
How and Why You Need to Connect With the Influencers in Your Industry
Likewise, influencers—and your ability to reach them as an online marketer—play a huge part in content marketing. I’m going dissect exactly why and how.
What are Content Marketing Influencers?
Influencers, from a content marketing standpoint, are people or organizations with a wide reach and are the outlet people turn to for opinions or information. You can tell a true influencer from the pack by the fact that people act on what they’re saying. The audience is engaging, not just listening.
They didn’t get to be influencers by sheer luck. True influencers stay very active and put themselves out there in blogs and social media. Maybe they engage with their audience in special ways, maybe they post up-to-the-second content, or maybe they’re one of the most insightful around.
In short, you’re probably trying to become an influencer in your field.
Why Should I Have a Relationship?
As Derek Helpern said: blogging is only 20% content creation and 80% promotion. Henry Ford could have built cars all day in his backyard, but he wouldn’t have built a powerhouse if he didn’t have anyone to drive it.
As stated above, relationships are an important driver of products, ideas, and services. And think about it, if you’re driven to do or try something because of your favorite YouTube personality or blogger, how many others are doing the same thing?
Why does that person’s audience take action on what the influencer says? Because the people trust that influencer more than they trust the brand or person advertising itself.
By utilizing the trust that an audience has with their choice influencer, you can easily bolster brand awareness, which is a win in and of itself.
Outside of mere awareness, when an influencer promotes you enthusiastically, their audience is likely to come to you in droves.
Furthermore, you’ll find that connecting with influencers gives you some “street cred.” This credibility gives you more access to other influencers. It’s the same reason activists, political figures, and social commentators throw their hats in the ring for certain candidates or laws in the next election. It provides that candidate with credibility and moves their audience to that candidate or cause.
Two Examples of What Connecting With Influencers can Do
- Jeff Deutsch landed over 200,000 reads on his viral article, Confessions of a Google Spammer, by getting the likes of Moz’s Rand Fishkin and Hubspot’s founder to share it on Google.
- I landed over 400 Twitter shares alone on my Top 60 Content Marketers post on my blog by simply asking the marketers I mentioned to share my post.
How do I Find an Influencer?
First and foremost, find out what your lane is and stick to it. If you write a blog on the best travel destinations then it might not be the best idea to reach out to your favorite movie reviewer. On the other hand, if you write an exotic cooking blog it may be reasonable, if a stretch, to reach out to the travel destination blogger because of your authentic Peruvian cuisine.
But where, oh where, are they hiding?
Influencers can be found almost anywhere. But to find one you want to team up with, you’ll want to start with where your influencer of choice would hang out or where “the cool kids” table is.
If you’re a fashion designer and blogger, you might want to consider scoping out Instagram or Pinterest first because of the image-heavy nature of those sites. For an aspiring entrepreneur, there may be some merit to taking a look at LinkedIn. For almost all content creators that want an influencer, it is probably a benefit to check out Facebook and Twitter.
But social media outlets are big places. How do you weed through them and find the top dogs?
The key may be as simple as trending hashtags in your field. Who started the hashtag? Who has a lot of followers and uses those hashtags or similar hashtags on a regular basis? Keep an eye on those people to see if their followers are active or passive.
Another key to finding a good influencer is through SEO stats. Finding out who has a solid domain authority and has frequent updates to their site can be key to building your business.
During this time, it may be a good idea to write down who seems to be an influencer in your realm and some of their attributes.
A great tool to use that shows Top Influencers in any niche you might have is BuzzSumo. I use it all the time when checking on influencers who might have shared my content, or who I can reach out to next.
The Right Influencer: 10 Personality Types to Choose From
Next, think about the type of personality you might need backing you and your brand. Smart Insights has a great infographic about the various types of influencer personalities.
In a nutshell, these ten types are:
- The Celebrity with a big audience
- The Authority that the audience trusts
- The Connector that makes links between dispirate things
- The Personal Brand who will love you if you love them, too
- The Analyst that has a lot of insight
- The Activist that is belief-oriented and ideal-driven
- The Expert who knows the industry on all sides
- The Insider who knows the industry from the inside
- The Agitator who creates debates
- The Journalist who has the most recent developments
How do I Reach Them?
Once you’ve determined the “who”, it’s time to determine the “how”.
Here’s a rule and a self-affirmation in one: Don’t get star-struck because there’s no one you can’t reach.
Do you know the brand FUBU? If not, maybe you know the name Daymond John.
In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Daymond John was just some guy selling self-made hats with his friends. He had to mortgage his house to get enough equity to start a full business. But by 1993, he had convinced LL Cool J, who at the time had just come off one platinum record, one double-platinum record, and one triple-platinum record, to wear his gear.
By the next year, Daymond John’s brand was a hit. Today he’s worth somewhere around $300 million.
It’s all because he reached out to LL Cool J in his prime.
Again, don’t get star struck because there’s no one you can’t reach.
Step One: The Draft Pick
Once you’ve gotten the pre-game jitters out, think about who your audience would like or who they probably already do like. Pick someone who shares your values and attitudes, someone who you can build a cohesive message with. Generally speaking, more often than not, you’ll find an audience sticks if you and your influencer share many of the same qualities, but write content that the other hasn’t thought of, acting somewhat as supplements of each other.
There are, of course, caveats to choosing someone with a cohesive message. This is especially true in those fields where debate can be key: politics, media, philosophy, and the like. If you are a creator of those types of content, it may be wise to scope out others who generally share your interests and viewpoints, but are different enough to begin a healthy, respectful debate with.
Step Two: The Courting
So you’ve picked your ideal candidate. Now think about why they should find value in you. There are plenty of ways to make this happen.
- Shout-outs: Send your audience to them (like I did in the linked example) and let them know about it. The latter part is important—don’t miss out on promoting and letting them know you talked about them. Otherwise, they won’t reshare it.
- Demonstrate value: Engage your current readership or customer base by hosting Google Hangouts sessions or doing contests. Show your chosen influencer that you have an audience and that your audience is engaged.
- Send samples: Don’t send samples with any “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” undertones. Just send them your wares with no strings attached. If they’re excited about it, they’ll tell their fans.
- Be community minded: Get into the community so your chosen influencer can see you as an active member in your niche.
- Education: If you have new information or recent updates, provide them to your influencer through their comments section. This will allow your influencer to see that you’re an expert in the field.
- Debate: It’s important to remember the difference between “debate” and “argue”. In the end, a healthy debate will be remembered by the influencer and can show them that you know your stuff.
- Ask: If you don’t know something and they hold a Q&A or monitor their comments closely, ask them for clarification or an opinion.
- Original content: Make sure you’re writing the most original content you can, especially during this period. If your influencer sees your work as derivate and simplistic, they may not consider you an expert or worth coming back to, let alone sending their audience to.
Keep in mind that many of these influencers probably had to find their own resources in order to make it to the top. Think about Apple’s humble beginnings as two twenty-somethings tinkering with computer parts in a garage. They didn’t start out as a technology powerhouse. They needed to convince local computer stores to sell their homebrewed wares.
Any respectable influencer remembers their humble beginnings. Remember that when you get to the top.
I’ve Found One Who Likes Me!
It’s not the easiest journey to find an influencer that is excited enough about your product, service, or content to send their audience over, but it’s an infinitely rewarding one.
Just know that the journey doesn’t stop once you’ve gotten a larger audience. At this point you’ll be under more pressure to create content that is fresh, interesting, relevant, and on time.
Break out those old ideas you jotted down and enrapture your newfound audience—keep them coming back for more!
Also, continue to engage and be personable with your larger audience. Just because you’re bigger than you were a few months ago doesn’t mean you can put yourself above your visitors. People like someone accessible, accountable, and involved. In fact, you may want to become more engaged at this point to give everyone a feeling of inclusion.
It’s more work, to be sure, but it will be more fulfilling and lucrative work than you were doing before.
Your influencer did something for you out of excitement for your product. You shouldn’t take that lightly. By all means, feel free to give back to a content creator that you like and admire in some way.
One way you can do this is through providing that content creator with product discounts or giveaways. Make sure to ask them if they’d like more of your wares before sending them along, but it will likely be appreciated and will show that you care about them and what they’ve done for you.
Also, if you haven’t already, send your audience to them. After all, they’ve done the same for you so you should give back how you can. Your audience may not be as big as their audience, but they’ll definitely appreciate the bump that your influence can give them.
Finally, you should consider how guest posts on each others’ blogs can help drive an audience to each others’ blogs. They serve many purposes. Obviously the boost in traffic is nice, but with enough friends it can allow you to take a much needed vacation down the line or give you some extra time to focus on a larger project.
To sum this entire article up in a few easy-to-digest phrases, it’s important to remember a few things:
- The people around you influence you a great deal. “People around you” aren’t just your family and friends. They’re also your sources of entertainment and information.
- Content marketing influencers are content creators with a wide reach, a hefty amount of pull, respect, and the ability to convince their audience to take action, rather than just ones whose audience passively takes in their content.
- Content creation is 80% promotion and 20% content creation. Part of that 80% is finding influencers.
- Find influencers by searching high and low in social media outlets and SEO stats.
- Find influencers that would enjoy your brand and broadcast that joy to their audience.
- Start out by contacting one or two that have the personality type you want to be associated with, a shared message, and that your audience would like.
- Don’t get star struck when you’re contacting your influencer. They did the same thing with someone else once upon a time.
- Find a way to gain attention and demonstrate value both to your audience and the influencer. Both of these things will help get an influencer on your side.
- Once an influencer sends their audience to you, work extra hard to keep the newfound audience engaged and coming back to you for more creative, influential, and authoritative content.
- Give back to your influencer.
- If someone comes to you when looking for an influencer, take the time to check them out and, if you’re truly excited about what they have to offer, do what an influencer did for you and express that interest. Not only will you be giving back to the community, you may gain a small bump from one of the little guys.
Creating content and developing your audience isn’t an overnight solution to all of your problems; it takes hard work, dedication, and time. If you’re still working a day job, you won’t replace your income immediately. If you’re established, finding an influencer won’t make you a millionaire.
What you’re doing when finding an influencer is building on top of your established foundation. Think of it like building a house on an endless supply of land. You may begin with a modest one-story home, but with the right people and resources, you may find yourself expanding that humble abode into the sprawling estate of your dreams.
All in all, if you are starting out or trying to bolster your traffic, it’s always a great idea to give your blog a shot of adrenaline by having a big name shout you out and get their audience excited to check out your content.
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