Social Media Case Studies, Influencer Outreach

Amplify Your Content Strategy with Influencer Marketing

badge guest post FLATTER Amplify Your Content Strategy with Influencer MarketingMost of us are familiar with the concept of influencer marketing, i.e., marketing to a select group of individuals — such as journalists, bloggers, consultants, or industry analysts — who influence your buyers’ decisions. The idea is that if you take the time to identify and build relationships with those influencers, you can leverage them to build your credibility. That, in turn, can help move your buyers down the path to purchase. Just think of the Oprah Winfrey effect. If you were to market your product to her and get her seal of approval, her endorsement would go a long, long way toward boosting your sales.

Ok, I admit it, Oprah is an extreme and unlikely example. Most influencers that businesses target, especially B2B businesses, probably aren’t world famous media moguls. But just because you don’t have Oprah on your side doesn’t mean that influencer marketing isn’t an incredibly useful tactic, particularly when it comes to turning up the volume on your content strategy. In fact, getting the influencers your target buyers listen to to contribute content to your site, write about you on their site, or simply share your latest eBook, can make your life a lot easier.

Let me use OpenView Venture Partners as an example. We have spent the past few years building a substantial content factory that relies heavily on influencers. Our community site, OpenView Labs, features new content from influencers every week about the topics our target audience cares about, such as sales and marketing. The benefits of doing so are threefold:

  • Getting great content for free — We regularly ask influencers to write articles for us, record videos and podcasts, or simply contribute quotes and ideas to our eBooks and reports. It certainly doesn’t get any better (or easier) than posting great content that you’re getting for free.
  • Building our brand — By virtue of the fact that these influencers are choosing to publish content on our site, they are effectively signaling their approval of OpenView. Chances are that if industry influencers think we’re worth checking out, our target audience will too.
  • Expanding our reach — Because we have content from a wide range of influencers, each of whom shares their content with their diverse groups of followers, we get people coming to the site who probably otherwise wouldn’t. We get a steady stream of new visitors to our site every day.

To be sure, integrating influencer marketing into your content strategy is a great way to accelerate your content marketing efforts. But how do you actually go about doing so? Here are the five points you need to keep in mind:

      1. Start by figuring out who influences your buyers and which of those influencers you want to target. In addition to talking to your sales teams and your buyers themselves, there is a lot of detective work that you can do online. For example, using a simple list of relevant keywords can help you identify a broad list of influencers. Likewise, you can search on Twitter and LinkedIn as well as use PR tools such as Vocus and Cision to find influencers. If you are looking for bloggers specifically, Google Blog Search and Technorati can also be valuable resources.
      2. Once you have identified a list of influencers, prioritize them based on who you think will have the most impact, focusing your efforts on just a few at a time. You will then need to figure out how to build a relationship with those influencers. The simplest approach is to initially engage them in some small way and establish periodic touch points with them over time. You might start by commenting on one of their blog posts one week, following them on Twitter the next, and retweeting their content for several weeks after that.
      3. Eventually, you reach the point where you send them a personalized e-mail that explains that you have been following them for a while and would like to introduce yourself and your business. This is the time to share your best elevator pitch that quickly tells them who you are, what you’re looking for, and what’s in it for them. At OpenView, our pitch goes something like this: OpenView is a Boston-based venture capital firm that produces a lot of content for entrepreneurs. We’d love to collaborate with you on an article on topic X, which we think our audience would really enjoy hearing from you on. In addition, to posting the article to our sites, which get more than 120,000 visitors a month, we will also include it in our newsletter that goes out to our 20 portfolio companies around the country and over 20,000 entrepreneurs. As you can see, it’s a great opportunity to get exposure to a broad audience.
      4. The key to successfully engaging influencers is making the process of working with you as easy as possible for them. For example, if you’re looking for an influencer to contribute the foreword to your new eBook, rather than ask them to write something for you from scratch, why not write the first draft yourself, giving them the opportunity to simply personalize it as they see fit. Chances are they’d much rather spend 30 minutes editing what you’ve written than hours (they don’t have) coming up with it on their own.
      5. Lastly, once you have posted a new piece of content that an influencer has contributed to, be sure to e-mail that influencer to thank them for their work and to ask them to share the content with their audience. You might also follow up with them in the days that follow to let them know if their content performed particularly well, if there are comments for them to respond to, or even to tee up another opportunity to contribute content down the road.

Influencer marketing is a great way to help your content marketing efforts take off. Invest the time up front to build good relationships with the right influencers and incorporate those influencers into your strategy. Do so, and the fruits of your labor will start paying off quickly.

To learn more about influencer marketing, check out our eBook, “The Value of Influence: The Ultimate Guide to Influencer Marketing

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  • http://www.propelgrowth.com Candyce Edelen

    Great article and a good thing to focus on. Have you tried targeting influencers whose PR departments are reluctant to let them comment on topics? We’re doing an e-book for a client where we want to incorporate quotes from key thought leaders in the financial industry on some regulatory topics. We’re having trouble getting people from big banks to comment. It’s not surprising, as these organizations are generally reluctant to take a position on anything. But I’m curious as to whether anyone has found reliable ways to get around the standard PR answer of “no comment”?

  • rhonda hurwitz

    excellent “how to” … very helpful read. Kevin, you have such a robust blog … really great content, and lots of it. Trying to piece together your content strategy and how it supports the overall enterprise. Does it help you unearth your next investment opp’s for Open View, or is there another purpose?

  • Graciousstore

    I like the idea of improving a brand’s image and gaining more customers using “marketing influencers.” But the question is how do you as a brand get to know very influencing influencers if you originally did not know these marketng influencers

  • http://7scorporation.com/ Priya Jhamb

    Nice Post.Thanks for Sahring

  • Michael Tracy

    Kevin, great post. Influencers work well for B2B. But for B2C I would concentrate more on peer to peer marketing (brand advocates).

  • JimYoungPRBrigade

    Good stuff Kevin – It probably
    goes without saying (or it did, anyway, until now) but LinkedIn, and especially
    groups, are also excellent ways to engage with influencers. Find out where
    they’re active and then comment on their conversations and the conversations
    they comment on.

  • http://www.lattice-engines.com/ Amanda Maksymiw (@amandamaks)

    As always great stuff, Kevin. I’ve also seen a lot of success when targeting influential people within the company’s customer or prospect base. It’s a nice way to promote and foster community in one of the most critical audiences for a B2B company.

  • Stacey Miller

    Thanks for including Vocus PR as an influencer relations tool Kevin, we appreciate it! Another tip: influencer relations doesn’t happen overnight. Consistently sharing, tagging and commenting on influencer articles and being present in their “circle” is an important part of getting on their radar and making sure they remember your name.

  • guptaabhijit318

    This is an awesome post, so thank you! I liked your competitive content analysis point and how you read all of those pieces before you wrote something. Super helpful!

  • Rodger

    I would submit “influencer marketing” is nothing new. Public relations professionals were doing this nearly 20,000 years ago. I think the first signs of this practice can be traced back to Bob and Larry, two cavemen in a community of cave dwellers somewhere in Caledonia. Maybe, Cleveland. Anyway, evidence suggests Bob and Larry saw how George, another suave caveman, could talk other cavemen into doing things. Larry and Bob had a new wheel to sell to the cave community and thought George might be able to convince and convert people to adopt the new innovative invention. Well, lo and behold, when Larry and Bob revealed the new contraption to George, he immediately peed his bear skin in excitement. Of course, we know Larry created the wheel and Bob was the PR guy who convinced George to use it, tell his friends about it, and bring it home to the wife. We do the same thing with a tweet, an email, or a blog post. What hasn’t changed is the excitement and the occasional warm trickle down the leg.