On the outside, engagement in this marketing practice means developing campaigns that leverage public influence for brand, product, or message exposure. To content marketers, it’s another way to create custom content and increase the volume of eyes on an article at any given time.
There are many marketers out there offering influencer strategy advice, but far fewer talking about the steps leading up to strategy execution. You may have your goals outlined, your blog primed for publication, and funds in your back pocket—but how do you identify, connect with, and collaborate with your ideal influencers?
Some influencers are immediately recognizable even from the outside, while others exist much deeper within a community or network. Focus on discovering both types of people and incorporating their expertise into the content you create. Of course, not every professional wants to be a writer, work for or with your brand, or be considered an influencer.
You can use a variety of tools to build a thorough list of social media influencers on a specific topic. But the signals delivered by these tools aren’t worth face value without some analysis and digging.
Take a look at your industry and compile a list of names you know you’ll want to include in a broader influencer strategy. If you have a budget for content marketing, consider partnering with a company that can help you build out a bigger list.
I like to import all of these names into an Excel document and add in facts such as personal website, employer, affinity to my employer, etc. This basic information allows me to quickly remember who works for what company and provides me with a link to a given influencer’s personal work.
This first step also requires you to either add a “Yes” or “No” in the “Affinity to your company” column. The people with a “No” next to their names are those who you’ll have to do more work to win over and introduce to your organization through influencer marketing campaigns.
After the initial discovery process is executed, you’ll find yourself with a list of names and not much else. Who do you prioritize in your outreach? What can you expect to see from one influencer when compared to another? These questions can only be answered once you pull various data points together and begin to review the quality of a person’s social influence mark.
I start by collecting three sources of information from the Web:
As singular measurements of influence, none of these terms would justify an investment of time and money to work with a group of people. However, I believe that when used in combination to prioritize who to reach out to first, these resources can help push an influencer strategy forward.
For example, one influencer I have on my list boasts approximately 277,000 Twitter followers, 500+ LinkedIn connections, and a Klout score of 74. However, the resonance metrics came in low at 15. To me, this raises a red flag that this person’s audience is either disengaged or mostly fake social accounts.
In another example, a different person on my list has a smaller social audience of 16,000 Twitter followers, 500+ LinkedIn connections, and a Klout score of 73. However, he has a resonance score of 91, meaning that his smaller audience generates more buzz around the information he shares on the web.
My final move is to classify each prospective influencer on my list with a ranking between 1 and 3 (with 3 being the highest-priority influencer). In the first example, I gave that professional a 1 on my list. The second person got a 3. I went after and made a connection with the person who got a 3, and the return on my decision to do so is shown every time he posts about Skyword. We see all of our site metrics jump in the time immediately after an article of his goes live on our site.
Once you have your initial list and have prioritized outreach to key influencers, your next step is to make connections with those people so you can eventually start working together on shared goals.
As a result of my last post on building human connections with influencers, Ron Medlin, chief marketing officer of 98toGo, asked me:
@TeddyHK I’m curious, when doing influencer outreach for clients do you use their Twitter accounts?
— Ron Medlin (@RonMedlin) July 25, 2014
This raised a great point that I haven’t addressed in many of my posts around influencer marketing. When working with a large enterprise, is it better to try to establish connections with influencer through corporate accounts or via personal ones? Clearly it’s better to use a personal account, but not every enterprise empowers its marketing team to speak or act on behalf of the global brand.
If you’re able to act on behalf of your employer, I strongly suggest using your accounts to build real relationships with people on your influencer list. It’s much easier to establish connections, and much harder for people to ignore your account when you’re asking such personalized and thought-provoking questions across social.
However, all is not lost if you’re required to use your corporate accounts. My advice here: Know up front that you’ll have to give a lot more to earn an influencer’s attention before you can ask him or her to do something for you.
Great question from Ron, nonetheless. Has anyone seen success from using corporate social accounts to build relationships for influencer marketing in their industries? Let us know how it was done in the comments section below, and we’ll incorporate the best responses in a follow-up blog post.