Do your content marketing efforts need a boost? Contributor Wojtek Mazur discusses how to identify and court influencers to help amplify your message.
Creating content can be relatively simple and straightforward, but successfully getting it out there in front of the right audience is much more difficult. To get noticed on a scale as large as the internet, you need help with the amplification of your content.
A great way to reach your target audience is through entities that already exist and matter within your sphere. To achieve this effectively, though, you need to find people and platforms that are of great influence already.
Before we delve into how to identify these key players, you should really define what value you are searching for. A large part of this is understanding what “influence” means, then finding someone who embodies these very qualities.
What Is An Influencer?
In the current world of extreme content competition on the Web, influencers are those who control the authority within a particular niche and industry. Influencers are resource persons, and thus, they command a large number of engaged followers.
Most importantly, a true influencer’s words are weighty, and therefore, they drive action. An influencer’s post is certain to inspire a conversation and engage the audience. This simply means they are able amplify your content, help you reach your targeted audience and more.
Don’t Let The Social Follower Numbers Fool You
First off all, a word for the wise: Don’t be fooled by large numbers. An account may have many Twitter followers or Facebook fans, but that can mean next to nothing. How many of those followers are active and committed users? It is better to look for someone with an engaged audience.
Compare two blogs, for instance — one with a huge number of followers with no user engagement or one with a moderate number of followers with a lot of comments and shares. The one with more comments and shares may very well be better, as their audience is not only reading the content but also having more active discussions on the matter in question. Do you want to share with 1,000 readers who might simply glance over your work or 100 who will readily share, discuss and relate to it?
Twitter is another great example. Retweets, favorites and replies are all huge indicators of an engaged following. The number of followers doesn’t matter if the content doesn’t resonate.
An account with tons of followers but few retweets, favorites or replies simply has followers who aren’t engaged. If there’s a high volume of content being re-shared, however, it shows an audience that’s paying attention and diving into the content already on offer.
Identifying Real Influencers
Simply following the trends in your niche or industry is a starter for identifying influencers who matter. A manual search also can help determine those whose opinions carry the most weight in the industry, influencing a large base of active and engaged users. However, there are also tools that have made the task of identifying and initiating contact with influencers a breeze.
Use The Right Tools To Research
The right tools will not only help you identify and create a list of influencers who matter within your niche, but they also can help you determine the behavioral pattern of each influencer based on historical data. This includes the kinds of posts they like or are most likely to share, the blogs they are most likely to visit, authors they follow and so on.
Knowing this type of information will put you at an advantage when trying to establish contact with such an influencer.
Klout grabbed a lot of attention when it launched back in 2008, as it was one of the first networks to score its users based on social influence. The service analyzes your content on multiple major social media platforms and how it resonates with users to calculate your score within a range of 1–100.
Klout is usually used for measuring your own social media impact. However, its score can be valuable if you want to get a quick overview of a given user’s social influence within your network. It also allows you to add topics of interest to your profile and to discover the top scoring experts within these particular topics.
The Impactana app is a very complex tool that provides you with a bunch of interesting features for influencer discovery. For starters, through researching any keyword and topic, you can see top influencer profiles, along with their scores in terms of audience reach, social buzz around them and the impact of their content.
You can also view full profiles containing detailed data about each of your influencers. This information includes email addresses, a list of all existing social profiles, websites a particular influencer is associated with and a list of content he or she has authored.
Another way of benefitting from the Impactana tool is by using a keyword or platform search to discover the most influential pieces of content on the Web. Aside from the basic metrics of social buzz, such as likes and shares, the tool provides other important user engagement metrics, such as the number of views, comments and incoming links generated by a particular piece of content.
The icing on the cake is the feature that allows you to view those who shared these pieces of content. Thanks to this, you can find those who have read and actually care about the content around your area of interest.
What Can An Influencer Do For You?
Connecting with real influencers can bring you many benefits. More than just sending traffic your way thanks to amplifying social reach to your audience, a well-respected and known voice in your industry adds quality and a stamp of authority to your brand. It works like a personal recommendation, exceptionally improving your credibility.
Additionally, by linking to your platform, making mentions of your brand or referring to your posts, an influencer can help increase your rankings in organic search results. Since this signal is one of the ranking factors search engines take into consideration, you are likely to benefit from a quality backlink from an influencer in more ways than simply reaching your target audience alone.
In his presentation, “8 Things Influencers Can Do For You,” Jay Baer named eight types of influencers, along with the functions and positive actions they take on for you and your brand.
- The Megaphone: Amplifying your brand or content to their audience.
- The Reporter: Covering, reviewing and reporting your brand like a journalist would.
- The Face: Giving an identity to your brand and pieces of content.
- The Connector: Linking your brand and content with new platforms that matter.
- The Creative: Creatively setting your brand and content apart from competitors with unique strategies.
- The Designer: Giving your brand innovations in terms of ideas, contents, products and services.
- The Neighbor: Setting you up as a voice and authority within your niche through meaningful conversations.
- The Defender: Protecting your brand during the bad times.
Once you know and understand these types of influence and benefits, it helps you set your needs and determine what exactly you want to achieve. Whether your goal is content amplification alone or something else, you should adjust your research to target influencers whose qualities and behavior are the best fit for your goals.
What Can YOU Do For An Influencer?
Relationships with influencers are not a one-way partnership that benefits you alone. In fact, such partnerships work only when they benefit from you first. Asking yourself what they may need and what can you do to help out should be the first thing you do, rather than what the influencer is able to do for you right away.
Just as in everyday life, you will likely not ask for a favor from a stranger or somebody you just met a while ago. The chances you will get help are much higher when you ask someone who has benefited from your help in the past and may want to reciprocate the gesture.
As Rand Fishkin stated on an episode of Whiteboard Friday, “The interesting thing about influencers is they need new, unique content to share all the time.” Therefore, you should work to provide them with valuable content which will make them look good and help them grow their own brand and audience.
Establish And Nurture Valuable Relationships
Influencers will give preference to members of their community who engage in their conversations, follow them on social media platforms, comment on their articles, share their posts and so on. It might be worth spending some time breeding this familiarity with the influencer even before sending the first pitch.
When initiating the first contact, offer something that provides value to the influencer. For example, you might just want to appreciate his/her last article, provide constructive feedback on the post and creatively throw in an interesting angle. You might also want to mention how you shared it with your friends and colleagues and how they, too, found it very valuable.
That’s just a first step, of course. You will need to work to build genuine relationships with influencers so that in the future, should you have a piece of content you need to amplify, it will be much easier to reach out to them. This is the stage where you can explain your content or content idea to the influencer and explain why sharing such content would provide value to his/her followers and inspire a conversation.
When this works, be sure to follow up with a note of gratitude, and even maybe a shout-out on social media. This will most certainly be valuable again later down the road.
Real influencers have an active passion and interest for what they do, so the content you offer needs to be worth sharing.
Furthermore, it’s often better to build valuable relationships — such as by sharing their content and opening channels of communication — even before trying to get any of your own work shared. Building relationships is by far the most important aspect when aiming to employ the influencer strategy to get your content amplified.
Influencers in every niche are those who have a lot of clout, so it is imperative that you employ a strategy that grabs their attention. Remember that influencers have needs, too, and only by helping them reach their goals can you hope to benefit from them.
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)