What is an Influencer, and How Do You Do Influencer Marketing?
Posted by drew on July 29, 2014, 6 p.m.
Content marketing is a buzzword in the marketing community, but sometimes getting traction for a piece of your content can seem an impossible task. That is where influencer marketing can come into play.
Influencer marketing is the process of building relationships with influential people in a certain industry. Once a relationship has been built, it can be leveraged to help promote a particular piece of content, or your blog or business as a whole.
How do you define and locate influencers?
An influencer acts as a trusted source of information in a particular marketplace and may play a significant role in the purchasing behaviors of a portion of consumers. Influencers may be affiliated with a particular brand, but their authority is more often strengthened by a certain disinterestedness. Accordingly, you may find that a lot of influencers are bloggers, journalists, or consultants.
Influencers often communicate with their audiences via social media and blogs, so keyword searches on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google Blog Search can help you find influencers. Look for those who regularly produce original content, and look at the kinds of content they are sending out. Do they provide commentary in the industry without directly trying to sell something?
How do you actually DO influencer marketing?
Once you’ve identified the influencers in your industry, you need to begin the process of building relationships with them. This usually involves a gradual engagement approach, where you slowly start to make more and more contact with them over time. At first, you may retweet some of their twitter posts for couple of weeks. Next, you begin commenting on their blog posts regularly, stroking their ego, and offering your own insight.
It may also be useful to first ask them for a small favor before fully leveraging their influence to boost your own content. For example, you might send them an email asking them for an expert quote or opinion for an upcoming whitepaper or blog post you are creating.
If your topic and questions are interesting enough, most experts will be willing to offer some words of wisdom. Try to align your content with what they have been writing about. How can you take a new angle on a topic they are invested in? Asking for this small favor gets your foot in the door, and establishes more familiarity with you and your work.
After you’ve used their expertise in your content, remember to email the influencer a sincere thank you, and to ask them to share this content with their networks. Someone is more willing to share content when they have contributed something. More than likely, they will also want to share something where they are lauded for their expertise.
The biggest part of influencer marketing is relationship building. Certainly, creating quality content helps, but the large audience will come from relationship building. Given that the goal is to grow your own audience, remember to consider what you can offer to influencers in return.
You should consider syndicating some of their content, thereby growing their audience, before you try to leverage their audience for your own content. It helps to think of influencer marketing as a long game. In the same way that SEO efforts can take months to show benefits, influencer marketing can take a long time to pay off.