Blog

10/16/14

Social Influencers & Content Marketing: The Perfect Match

Credit: The Simpsons

Credit: The Simpsons

Going from zero to hero as “the individual or brand with good content” in any industry is difficult. No matter how obscure it is or how much you know, there are already giants in it with enormous fan bases pumping out content much more consistently than you are.  They’ve been doing it for a long time. They know what the industry wants, and they have the budgets (that are probably 5-50x as big as yours) to match it.

So… how do you get a handhold?

The first piece of the puzzle is being able to put out good content  of your own. No one cares about a  simple aggregator. But, despite popular belief, you don’t have to distribute only your own content.

You’re going to get a handhold by getting powerful people in your industry (called influencers) interested in what you’re doing by mixing their content with your own. Once these influencers are on your side, they’ll drive traffic and respect from their followers.

The first step – finding influencers whom you actually like

Every industry has experts. Luckily, others have already compiled lists of these experts for you.

You can do a simple search for something like “top [industry] bloggers” and you’ll get multiple lists of powerful people in any industry who create good content. Additionally, you can search for influencers on social media using tools like Klout or Kred (for a complete list, check out our post 15 Best Ways to Find the Top Influencers on Social Media).

Kred Social Influencers

The time-consuming part is finding the ones who you think will be helpful for your business. You’re going to be promoting their content in the next step, so make sure your heart is in it. Don’t just go for the biggest names – not only will they be harder to get on your side, but they also may not align as well with your content strategy.

Pick 10 to 15, then move on to the next step. (You want to cast a big enough net where you’re not depending on just a few people, but a small enough one where you can actively promote all of them at once.)

The second step – mixing theirs with yours

As mentioned before, you’re going to have to be putting out interesting content of your own for this to work.

But, if you think about it, no one cares about some random website putting out articles. Sure, every once in a while one catches on, but, for the vast majority of the time, websites that try to do everything themselves fizzle out within a year. Unless you’re already an established name – like a creative director for Omnicom starting a copywriting blog – then no one’s going to care about your “insight” unless you can prove yourself.

You can prove yourself almost immediately by promoting the content of your influencers along with your own. You gain credibility from this by simple association – if someone is keeping up to date with these big names, then he or she must know at least a little bit about the industry.

We recommend mixing it in a ratio of 3:1:1 – for every three pieces of content from your influencers that you promote, you’ll be posting one informational piece and one sales piece of your own. (This is just a rough guideline – feel free to deviate.)

The third step – influencing your influencers

This step is by far the most difficult. You now have to make the switch from a parasitic relationship to a symbiotic one.

You have to make the influencers notice that you’re promoting them. But you have to do it in a way where they think of you as the cool, younger kid… not the annoying brat tugging on their coat tails.

You can be the annoying brat by reaching out too early or asking for something in return. To these influencers, your promotion means nothing. They’re already influencers. Asking for a link or shout-out will land your message in the garbage. You have to make them respect you.

This is where your content comes in.

Reach out to them with a simple email or social media message introducing yourself. Mention to them that you really respect what they put out in the industry, and ask them (if they have a spare moment) to check your publication out.

We also recommend asking them for suggestions – those who are more experienced usually like helping out the greener ones. You’ll improve, and this will establish a back-and-forth, too.

Here’s the thing, though: if your content isn’t sublime, then they’re not going to even bother responding. You have to flatter them by promoting their content, and then impress them in that split second of attention you get from the flattery.

It’s tough to do, but, if you can do it, then it’s incredibly effective. Not only do these influencers command significant traffic from within your industry, but their recognition commands respect. Even a simple link or blog post can do wonders for your content marketing strategy.

Down the line

Get enough influencers on your side and you’re golden. If the people you’re marketing to keep seeing you mentioned by these big names, then their curiosity is going to be peaked. (This is ignoring the raw traffic and sales that you can get from having a relationship with people high up in your industry.)

Also, influencers know other influencers. It’s like how celebrities date each other all of the time. People high up in any industry will probably know each other, or at least recognize the names.

Influencer marketing to help your content marketing strategy isn’t easy by any means, but it is a long-term solution. If you put your nose to the grindstone, release good content, and get those with influence to notice you, then you will be on your way to joining the circle of incluencers yourself.

Interested in learning how Soldsie can connect you with influential people in your industry? Check out Soldsie’s influencer program.