Our friends at Content Harmony are content marketing experts. In this blog, Emily Harris, Content Harmony’s Strategy Director, offers up her best practices for working with influencers.
Too often, brands create content without much thought behind the promotion. It should go without saying, but content needs heavy promotion to be truly successful and leveraging the influencers in your industry is key.
One of our favorite ways to bake promotion into our content is by working with influencers – from bloggers to journalists to other companies.
Most commonly, we see other people doing this in the form of influencer roundups. These can be effective, though some industries, like digital marketing, are oversaturated with them. In this post, we’ll explore a few approaches that break out of the regular round-up format.
The best part? Almost all of these methods also enable you and your team to minimize the time and resources you put into actual content production.
Get Influencers Invested From the Beginning
Chances are, you’re targeting specific influencers because you either like what they have to say, or because you like their product. If you want them to like and share your content, then why not get them involved from the beginning?
Involving your influencers in your content before your content is fully-formed benefits both you and your influencers. It means:
- Less time on spent brainstorming and creating content
- Exposure to new potential customers. Your influencers typically share with their audience — your potential and existing customers
- Your content is more share-worthy to influencers
Put together a list of your top influencers, especially ones who make a habit of blogging or guest blogging, and ask them to contribute to your content project. Their contribution could be in the form of guest posts, quotes for an article, or anything featuring original content.
Example: Coastal.com’s Signature Style Series
If your product falls into the “style” category, fashion bloggers can be your biggest asset in product promotion. However, many fashion bloggers get inundated with constant requests to share others’ content. Coastal.com has an excellent example of this type of content with their Signature Style Series, which features some of their favorite style bloggers.
But how do you convince bloggers to prioritize your content and products? Here’s a step-by-step look at our general recommended process.
Step 1: Find Bloggers Who Interact With Brands
It seems obvious, but unless a blogger has previously written about your brand or has previously worked with other brands, you might have a hard time getting responses.
You will also want to look for bloggers who have regularly-updated press pages. That indicates bloggers who are interested in actively growing their following.
Step 2: Ask Them to Participate in Your Content Project or Series
Instead of asking them to share something they weren’t involved in, ask them if they’d be available for an interview that you will publish to your company’s blog.
Be sure to make it clear how your content will benefit them. They’ll get introduced to your audience, your audience will get a new take on current style trends, and those fashion bloggers are much more likely to be inclined to share an article featuring their thoughts and content.
Step 3: Ask Them to Help Promote Your Content
After you publish your content, it’s time to reach back out to your influencers. Let them know their content is live, inform them on how you’re going to promote it and ask for them to share your content with their audience.
Example: BigCommerce’s Definitive Guide to Selling on Amazon
As an extension of getting influencers invested in your content from the beginning, you can use influencer content as an extension of larger projects rather than as the entire project itself.
BigCommerce took this approach with The Definitive Guide to Selling on Amazon. For BigCommerce, influencer guest posts were a large part of their multi-part guide. The results have been tremendous. In addition to efficiently sourcing quality content from experts and influencers, they were able to drive traffic and shares. To date, the guide has been shared over 300 times on Facebook, 200 times on Twitter, and 200 times on LinkedIn.
Include Influencers in Curated Round-Ups
Sometimes, obtaining unique or exclusive content from your desired influencers simply isn’t possible, especially if you’re producing content on a hard deadline. It can take longer to get the responses you’re looking for and requires more effort from your influencers.
Including an influencer’s existing content into a round-up post gets them involved without requiring any original content from them. You can work from a theme and curate relevant content from around the Internet.
Once you find appropriate content, email each blogger first to ask for permission—typically a pretty easy ask, especially when your outreach messaging confirms that you’ll give full credit and a link back to their site or product.
After the post gets published, reach back out to your influencers and request that they share the content with their audience, either on social or on their website. Sometimes bloggers will add “featured on” messaging to product pages and existing blog posts or add your content to their press pages.
Example: Nifty Homestead’s Recipe Roundups
Urban homesteading is a big trend right now, and Nifty Homestead builds content with this modern lifestyle in mind. Instead of putting a heavy focus on multiple posts per day, they build larger guides that provide more value for their readers.
One of these guides is their Best Food Dehydrator Recipes feature. Instead of working to create dozens of new recipes for dehydrators, Nifty Homestead curated existing recipes and content from other websites that they admired. The result is a hugely helpful resource for anyone looking for ideas on how to use their dehydrator. And, as a bonus, Nifty Homestead was able to get shares from the influencers they included in their recipe roundup.
Add Links to Your Posts
Linking back to other established websites can provide a small boost in SEO and can increase user confidence in your content. Why link back to other websites—after all, isn’t that just giving them free publicity? Yes, but links from your content can also:
- Provide a small boost in SEO
- Increase user confidence in your content
- Secure additional promotion from influencers
To begin, you can reach out to the original writers of the information you used as a source. If they feel like they were well-represented and that your content adds to theirs, they may be willing to share your content.
You can also use the content that you used as source information as a starting place for your outreach prospecting. You can take your source URLs and plug them into a tool like Moz to see who linked to them. Chances are people who shared your source material will be interested in sharing the content that you built upon it.
Example: Big Fish Games
For over a year, Big Fish Games has been building a gaming stats database. It’s full of mini-infographics and write-ups featuring current trends in gaming, historical gaming facts, and more.
While Big Fish Games does have a lot of their own data on gaming trends, they often source external information for these posts. Then, they reach out to their sources and subjects for additional content amplification.
Phrasing the Ask
Initial outreach informs your influencers about how you and your team are going to promote your content. They’ll be more likely to share your content if they know that you’re planning on promoting it as well. Sometimes it’s not what you ask, but how you ask it.
Effective initial outreach messaging is:
- Short: Influencers are busy. Make sure your email is easily scannable in a few seconds.
- Personalized: Use the influencer’s name, and let them know exactly why you’re reaching out to them.
- Clear: Be clear about what you’d like from them and how it will benefit them. For example, ask if your influencer could answer some questions for an interview that you’ll share in your blog post along with a link back to their site.
Feel free to follow up once or twice after sending initial outreach, but chances are, if you haven’t received a reply after a day or so, your contact isn’t going to be interested in participating in or sharing your content.
Asking for Promotional Help
Input is just the first thing you’re going to ask your influencers to help you with. After the content is created, you’re going to ask them to help you promote it as well.
Just like initial outreach, your email asking influencers to help promote your content needs to be short, personalized, and clear. Clarity is of particular importance here. If you don’t explicitly ask your influencers to share on social media or their PR pages, it’s likely that they won’t. However, a simple, clear ask can go a long way, so don’t be shy to ask for exactly the kind of promotion you’re hoping to get.
Stay Within Reason
Of course, make sure that what you’re asking for is within reason. For an idea of what is and is not reasonable, take a look at how your influencers already promote content. If they typically write a blog post with their partners, then asking for a guest post is reasonable. If they usually share social posts and add partners to a press or partner pages, then that’s what you should consider asking.
However, asking someone to add a link to your site on multiple pages or to write something specific about your product when they don’t have a history of doing so wouldn’t be appropriate. Use common sense. Don’t ask for anything that goes beyond what the influencer has done in the past—like add links to multiple website pages or product reviews. They won’t do it, and you could burn the relationship by coming across as pushy.
Example Initial Outreach Email
While we work to customize each outreach email we send, we always include the same essential items mentioned above in our campaigns. Here’s a fictional example of an initial outreach email.
My name is Emily, and I’m working with a client to produce content about productivity. We’re working on a long-form piece about productivity, and after looking at your website, I thought you’d have some valuable insight.
I’m sure you’re very busy, but if you have the time, we’d appreciate any advice you might have for our readers. If so, I’d be delighted to send you a few questions. Of course, we’ll give you full credit for your quotes and will link back to your site. We’ll also promote the piece on our social channels and will tag you in those posts.
Please let me know if you have any questions! Thank you for your consideration.
Building great content is no guarantee that people will see it, no matter how perfectly tailored for them it may be.
But amplification isn’t the only reason to include influencers in your content. Working with influencers can cut down content production on your end while giving your content the depth and range that you can only get when building content from multiple points of view.
What influencer outreach and promotional techniques have helped you expand your reach? Tell us about it in the comment section!