April 14, 2016
If you’re a content marketer still striving to get your content noticed, reaching out to key influencers can be one of the most important steps you’ll take.
Besides spreading the word about your content around the Web, connecting with key influencers can also go a long way toward helping you build your content marketing connections and gain bigger and more prominent placements in the content marketing universe. Let’s discuss.
Identifying Your Industry’s Influencers
The first step to connecting with your influencers is to identify them. If you’re like most content marketers, you can already name a few of your industry’s main influencers off the top of your head. Chances are, though, there are many more that don’t immediately come to mind – some of whom may even be in your immediate network.
As a general rule, influencers can be found in organizations that run parallel to yours. For example, if a little-known musician was attempting to find his industry’s key influencers, he could begin by looking in the following places:
- Record labels that support new musicians.
- The organizers of conferences for new musicians.
- The authors of blogs for new or little-known musicians.
- Magazine publishers who run articles on little-known musicians.
While this step may seem simple, looking into these parallel industries would provide the musician in the example with plenty of solid leads about whom the industry’s influencers are and what they’re talking about.
Another great way to find industry influencers is to use BuzzSumo. BuzzSumo is one of the best tools for finding the most shared and talked-about content on the Web and it’s easy to use the platform to locate influencers you should be following. Simply enter a keyword into the search bar and check out the top few results for measurements like social shares. This will give you a good idea of who is creating the best content in your industry right now and, more specifically, what topics people are sharing across the Web.
Why Reach Out to Industry Influencers?
While some people may think that reaching out to influencers is much more trouble than it’s worth, the truth is that having your content mentioned by even one influencer can create a huge ripple effect around the Web. What’s more, influencers connect with other influencers, so the reach of that one mention may be much larger than you ever imagined.
Picture it: you have, say, 1,500 Twitter followers. You write a killer post that reveals exactly how you won at creating a great Instagram presence, for example. You reach out to your top influencers, one of whom has 450,000 Twitter followers. That one loves your content piece and you see it shared with your handle to their followers. Suddenly it’s retweeted a ton; you get loads of new traffic, and comments and shares start pouring in.
Before You Reach Out: 4 Tips for Creating Content Worth Mentioning
Before you can reach out to an influencer in your industry, it’s important to ensure that your content is worthy sharing and that you’ve built a positive Web presence behind your name. While a great mention by an industry influencer can send your traffic through the roof, a negative mention can have exactly the opposite effect. In fact, marketers who reach out to content marketers before they’ve invested the needed amount of time and attention into their content and social media are likely to do more harm than good to their brand. Follow these four tips to ensure your content is up to par before you attempt to connect with industry influencers:
1. Make It Buzz Worthy
What sets your content apart from anyone else’s? Is it written from a different perspective than most content on the Web? Does it cover a different topic or offer different advice? Influencers are busy people and they don’t have time to share things that aren’t truly worth starting a conversation over. In light of this, it’s important to ensure that your content is interesting enough to start a conversation while also being relevant and well-researched enough to stand up to being picked apart after the fact. These two precautions will help ensure that a mention by an influencer does nothing but good things for your brand.
2. Be Impeccable
It’s easy to get noticed on the Web by saying or doing stupid things, but this shouldn’t be the way you seek out influencer attention. More often than not, any publicity gained from this kind of pursuit will be bad publicity. In light of this, focus on sharing quality, relevant, interesting content across all of your distribution channels and building up a reputation for high-class engagement before you contact an influencer. This will help you build a foundation for your content to stand on down the road.
3. Provide Real Value
Today’s readers and influencers want value – value from their content and from the people who write it. With this in mind, focus the grand majority of your content creation and social media efforts on being interesting. Reach out to people for whom you have questions, share relevant and unique content, and create material that’s unlike anything else on the Web. This will help you draw your own group of followers and establish your brand before you seek out an influencer.
4. Be A Quick Study
One of the most valuable things a content marketer can do is dedicate themselves to learning about everything their industry has to offer. We’ve all heard the saying “if you want to be interesting, be interested” and it rings true in this field. By reading everything you can get your hands on in your industry, consistently seeking to learn more from the people around you, engaging with people who follow you and ask questions, and asking plenty of questions of your own, you’ll have more to contribute to important conversations down the road.
3 Tips For Using Social Media to Connect with Influencers
When it comes time to actually connect with influencers, few things are more effective than social media. Here are three tips to use your favorite platforms to connect with your influencers of choice:
1. Head to Twitter First
One of the best places to kick off an initial connection with an influencer is Twitter. The best practice for doing this is to “@” the influencer of your choice with a question that will be helpful to followers or an interesting tidbit of industry information. Be advised that Twitter is a noisy place and it may take a moment to get yourself noticed. Additionally, the platform has recently done away with share counts, which makes it a bit more difficult to back your interaction up with tons of social shares, but as long as you keep reaching out and focus on being helpful, friendly, and interesting, you’ll succeed in making the connection eventually.
2. Use Facebook For In-Depth Connections
Facebook is a great place to share long-form content that helps you connect on a deeper level with your influencers of choice. Use the platform to offer comments or additional content on a pre-existing conversation or to further the conversation you started on Twitter. Feel free to interact on your influencer’s wall by posting comments, asking questions and reaching out to other followers. Remember, once more, to focus on being friendly, helpful, and relevant. For added effectiveness, join relevant Facebook groups and interact with members therein.
3. Use Linkedin to Build Your Network of Influencers
Once you’ve succeeded in making some initial connections with your influencers of choice, don’t be afraid to use LinkedIn to deepen those connections and build up your network. Simply send your influencers a connection request (don’t be afraid to state your connection to the influencer – “I reached out to you on Twitter regarding X”, for example) and then get to work following their content and sharing their posts.
While connecting with industry influencers may seem intimidating, it’s one of the best steps you can take to further your brand and get your content noticed online. By knowing where to find the influencers in your industry and using social media platforms to reach out, start a conversation, and build the connection, it’s simple to establish valuable relationships with the people who influence your market. Once you’ve done this, it’s easy to reach out and ask your influencer of choice to share your content with his or her audience, thus giving your brand a boost and helping you build your name as an influencer on your own. Connecting with influencers takes innovation and persistence but, in the long run, it’s well worth it.
Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She's earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.