For years I have been saying the same thing: content is king. No matter what changes are made in the marketing world (and it tends to move fast) content is still the number one way to engage with your audience and help elevate your brand.
With this in mind, it isn’t always easy to create engaging, effective content at every turn. Finding topics, time and energy is a massive undertaking, often too big for a single person. Which is why you need to extend outward and let others do it for you.
Enter niche influencers…
Let’s take a look at how you can leverage niche influencers to boost your content marketing ROI:
1. Understand the true power of influencers
On top of content, we have social media topping the list in terms of the most effective means of engagement. Influencers have become a staple in that movement, giving brands a chance to expand to a new audience on the coattails of an established social presence. This is good for the influencer as well, giving them greater brand connections across the board.
But having influencers on your side is more than just getting the word out about your product or service. You can get these media moguls to combine tactics and create valuable, far-reaching content that you can post on your blog, social pages and more.
Here are a few examples of how influencers can contribute to your site content assets:
According to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) report, The Value of Influencer Content 2017 from Linqia, 57% of survey respondents indicated that influencer content either somewhat or greatly outperforms brand created content:
- Influencer-powered content is more authentic and trusted than brand-created content;
- Influencer-powered content sparks audience engagement;
- Influencer-powered content provides higher ROI.
Here are a couple of case studies on how inviting influencers to your blog can boost your online presence:
- Here’s how an influencer-powered article led to over 80% boost to the blog’s organic search engine traffic.
- Here’s another case study on creating an influencer-powered roundup that got the host 11,065% more organic traffic in 6 months.
- And here’s how Sam Obrart increased his inbound links by 310% in 21 days by having influencers contribute for his blog.
Do you want to achieve similarly impressive results?
2. Come up with a great topic
Why do some bloggers say inviting influencers to their blogs didn’t work for them? Some people would claim that the tactic has been overused, which is only partly true.
Influencer-powered content has been widely used recently, mostly by people who don’t get it. They don’t get personalized outreach and relationship building, but more importantly, they don’t get what lies at the foundation of successful influencer-powered content.
The key to influencer-powered content is finding an interesting and engaging topic. In fact, most people who plan to include influencers in their content marketing strategy think too much about influencers and totally forget about a more important part of the process: What the content is actually going to be about.
It’s still content, so unless you find an interesting question to discuss in your future article, you’ll see:
- Most influencers ignoring your pitch.
- Much fewer shares from social media users.
Make sure to run thorough keyword research before you start reaching out to influencers. I use Serpstat for that because of the variety of content marketing tools they provide:
- You can research popular niche questions.
- You can find related keywords.
- You can filter keywords in many ways: I usually try to see keywords that trigger “People also ask” boxes:
These give me plenty of inspiration too:
Make sure to search Google for your chosen queries to check what has already been written.
General tips on picking expert roundup topics:
- Avoid closed-ended questions (those that can be answered with yes or no). Stick to topics that are intriguing and interesting to answer in much detail.
- Avoid edgy and political questions: You don’t want to spoil your relationships with anyone featured by dragging them into an unnecessary argument.
- Consider questions around trending topics and tools: Those two are usually very interesting to answer.
- Don’t get too complicated: You don’t want a boring discussion!
- Don’t pick something that has already been discussed a lot in your niche. Don’t create yet another expert roundup: Try to stand out with your questions and topic!
Here are a few good examples that stood out to me in the marketing industry:
- 16 Experts Look into the Future of Virtual Reality
- 27 PR Experts Reveal Their Secret Strategy For Handling A Media Crisis
- 17 Marketing and Branding Experts Share their Favorite Logos
3. How to connect with niche influencers
The primary reason people don’t use influencers is that they don’t know how to go about making that first push for contact. Chances are you already know several people in your niche or related industries that have a massive social media presence.
Start by making a list of those names, in order of most desirable. This gives you a point, to begin with.
MyBlogU is always a place where I start my outreach because it’s full of people who are actually eager to participate in your content ventures. When you have a few participating experts, it’s easier to branch out to more influencers.
Actually, one of the case studies above is built exactly on the use of MyBlogU: Here’s the published MyBlogU-assisted piece that brought the amazing 80% boost. MyBlogU also helps with many other stages of putting collaborative content together. It allows bulk emailing and auto-notifies participants of the published piece.
Now, that you have MyBlogU collecting responses for you, add some independent outreach to get more contributors on board.
A good place to find more influencers is BuzzSumo. Search the primary topic of your future article and use “Interviews” filter to find people who don’t mind contributing their answers to blog roundups:
You can see when the interview was published, so you’ll know if those influencers have been recently active contributing to other people’s blogs
Second, you should make yourself known for awhile. Interact with them on their social media pages. Read their blogs and leave comments. Share their content. Within a couple of weeks you will be firmly on their radar. If they are also interacting back you have established back and forth communication.
From there, all you have to do is message them. This could be on their social page, but the better option would be to use their contact information provided on their site or in their About section.
You’ll need to experiment with different email templates. One of the most useful articles I’ve seen on this was this one by @anthonydnelson. The trick is including well-known names in your email who have already agreed to answer your questions:
Once you have the connection made it isn’t just about getting them to make content on your behalf. It is about deepening the relationship between the influencer and your brand. This isn’t just important in terms of business behavior, it is crucial because without a solid foundation of understanding between yourself and the influencer, they can’t be expected to make genuine, effective content related to your brand.
The more in tune with one another you are, the better and more genuine that content is going to be.
A few more featured tools in this section:
- If you are working on an influencer-enhanced survey, here are plenty of WordPress surveying tools for you to choose from.
- You may want to use FlypChart or ContentCal.io to better organize your content planning.
- If you are planning video interviews (or mini video conferences), you can use Youtube Live or choose one of more advanced webinar tools from here.
- If you have a few team members helping you manage your influencer outreach, make sure you have a solid relationship management and onboarding solution. I’ve tried Hubspot for analytics and relationship management and Salesmate for onboarding. Salesmate, for example, makes it easy to track which influencers you have contacted, what was the response and what you are planning to do next. It also saves all the contact info, message history and notes. It’s really a life saver if you plan several collaborative pieces a year to develop those connections further (which is a good idea):
4. Go quid pro quo
You can’t just get an influencer on board with promoting you for a smile and a handshake. Be prepared to offer perks they can’t ignore. Free stuff is usually a good thing to do if you have merchandise. Otherwise you may want to consider giving content in return.
Offer to write something promoting their site. Think of collaborative content that can work for both brands. Get them started on a new platform they may not be familiar with (a lot of Twitter/Instagram influencers have gotten their start on YouTube thanks to branding). You may even want to write a guest post for their own blog, or offer exclusive information and access.
Remember, the more you try and experiment, the better you know those influencers. Next time you reach out, many of them will be happy to help you for free. It’s all really about the relationships.
5. Start thinking outside the (text) box
You don’t have to rely on text posts for influencer content. They write all the time, maybe they want a break. So why not suggest something a little different?
- Invite them to do a video/audio interview.
- Put their quotes on an infographic.
- Turn the interview into a slideshow, Pinterest board or visual story involving your brand.
A great example of how this was used is from Kotex. The brand wanted to target influencers on Pinterest. So they went through the boards of the most influential pinners and put together gift boxes of some of the items they had pinned. They put together a video to tell their story which was picked up by the biggest media outlets.
Remember your participating influencers are your biggest assets: Incorporate their branding and headshots into your blog post visuals as well as all the social media images you’ll use to market the content. Also, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram properly tag those pictures with notable names that were featured in the article. I use Bannersnack to create social-media-friendly images. I prefer using it because I can create lots of images (including banners to market the article) with basically one click of a button (thanks to its bulk editing feature).
6. Get your niche influencers talking
To one another, specifically. Alright, so you are working with two influencers and they are great apart. But they would be even better together. Remember what I said about building relationships? That doesn’t just have to be your relationship, you know.
By introducing your influencers to one another you are creating a whole network or community. That is a powerful tool to have at your disposal and a way of getting in touch with even more influencers who can help your branding efforts.
Being a connector is the most powerful way to build a strong community.
As an example, Viral Content Bee hosts a weekly content marketing Twitter chat interviewing an influencer a day. All the interviewees are then invited to a private Facebook group where they can ask for help and support from each other.
Whenever you start working with influencers, think how you can extend and strengthen that connection.
Influencers: The real marketing goldmine
Influencer marketing is a powerful tool that provides a whole new way of promoting your brand. Best of all it is all done through one on one engagement, yet it encompasses both a social and content strategy, all rolled into one.
There are many ways to boost your site’s appeal and status, but this is probably the most beneficial thanks to its two-pronged approach to the issue.
So don’t wait around for the influencers to approach you. Go out there and start making some relationships!