While many companies are spending budget money “buying” relationships with “influencers” chasing KPIs of “social reach,” others (including myself) are including the concepts of influencer marketing in their day-to-day organic social media and content marketing activities. This is done through the simple concept of utilizing content to engage with social media users. Once you understand this concept, and have the right tool in place (this post will look at using Lumanu for this purpose), you can see how there are many things companies can be doing organically to engage with influencers through content on many different levels.
A Content-Centric Approach to Influencer Marketing
I’ve blogged before about having a content-centric approach to influencer marketing, but for those that are still unfamiliar with the concept, it’s based around getting more bang for your marketing buck by combining the two seemingly different concepts of content marketing and influencer marketing into one. In fact, savvy brands have included content marketing as a core part of their influencer marketing strategy efforts for some time now.
In essence, we can divide a content-centric approach to influencer marketing into two initiatives:
1. Using curated content from influencers as a way to both make our own content marketing more effective through building trust and thought leadership with our own audience while at the same time engaging and building rapport with influencers.
2. Inviting and recruiting influencers to become integral parts of our own content creation process
Who is Influential to Your Audience?
Once you’ve bought into the content-centric approach to influencer marketing, the next step is to find those that are influential to your target audience that you wish to engage with. Holistically speaking, the easiest way to do this is not just to search for people that are talking about a keyword (or #hashtag) that your target audience would naturally be interested in, but find the influencers that are actually publishing content on the subject. While there are exceptions, in a majority of cases content creators will always yield more social media influence and actual conversions from inbound traffic to those that simply share in that they receive the website traffic and potential conversion, not the sharers.
What is important to understand is that there are two types of content creators that are potentially influential to your audience in social media:
Content Creators: People that are authors of the influential content.
Publishers: Domains that represent the publishers of the influential content.
Having to calculate engagement data on every social network for any given piece of content could take hours or days. Fortunately Lumanu will provide us this information in just under a minute through their Insights functionality. For example, below are the results if we were looking for those influential to the keyword “blogger.”
At first glance, you might not recognize the names of some of these “influencers” and might be wondering how this data is calculated. Lumanu builds this influencer graph based on content creators. Every social media tool uses a different algorithm, and as you can see Lumanu focuses not on number of followers but on actual social engagements with each piece of content across three influential social networks: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. The results displayed above are an aggregated total of the three networks, but if one of these social networks is more strategic than the others, you can actually see who is more influential on that specific social network. Lumanu also has a default sort based on “relevance” to your specific topic, helpful for finding influencers for a niche audience.
Clicking on any one of the “influencers” will reveal the data in full detail as to why they are being displayed here, as in the example of John Paul Aguilar below:
You’ll notice that John’s influential content has appeared on two different websites. While it’s clear that John is influential for the keyword “blogging,” could part of his influence also be in part of publishing his content on an influential domain? That’s why it’s smart to include both content creators and domains in your influencer analysis. Fortunately Lumanu provides the same information that we saw for each content creator for publishing domains as well:
Similar to researching each influencer, we can also see the different authors who publish influential content on each domain:
Needless to say, no longer do we need to ask who is influential in our field. The next question is: How do we engage with influencers now that we’ve found them?
Curate Influencer Content
Regardless if you’re a consumer-facing or B2B brand, unless you are a celebrity or one of the few premier brands, no one wants to follow a company that is talking about themselves all of the time in social media. This is where content curation comes in: It gives you the ability to maintain a conversation and a social media presence without always being self-promotional, building trust and community with each piece of content you curate and publish that is aligned with your company’s perspective.
If you’re going to curate content, don’t just randomly curate it: Strategically curate content from influencers to get a bigger bang for your content curation efforts. In this way we are both building greater trust with our audience by sharing great content but also building rapport with an influencer. What’s important to remember, though, is if you are sharing content from an influencer, so are countless others, many wanting to build rapport with them as well. Separate yourself from the crowd by carefully crafting your messages and tagging the influencer to make them and their content look as good as possible. Take it one step further by actually commenting on their blog posts, something that very few spend energy doing that can truly separate you from the pack.
Building rapport with an influencer is a marathon, not a sprint. However, sharing their content in a meaningful way over time will slowly build recognition for your brand in their eyes. Not all influencers will engage back with you, but the more influential you become and thus more traffic you send to influencer’s content, the more some influencers will slowly begin to reciprocate your engagement.
Extend Your Influence to Influencer Domains
With each influencer that reciprocates your engagement, you build more and more influence with your own community. In addition to curating content of both authors as well as domain publishers, it’s now time to spread our wings and see how we might become publishers as well on influential domains.
There are two different types of influential domains that exist, so note that not all of them will accept guest blog posts from anyone. Specifically, they are:
· Individual author or business websites, many of which might not accept guest posts
· Industry-wide or aggregated content domains, many of which will accept guest posts under conditions
With the above lens, look for a “contribute” page on each of the influential domains, and offer to write a guest post and provide relevant and educational content with limited self promotional content mixed in. Each website has its own guidelines for this, so your best bet is to actually read and apply individually to each website instead of sending a blanket email as part of a spray-and-pray approach.
Of course, for less established brands who do not yield enough influence, it may make sense to leverage influencer networks to write content for you and get placed onto or mentioned in influential domains. Lumanu will show you who are the influential authors publishing on each influential domain, if you want to get a feel for Lumanu, you can access a sample of the tool here: Lumanu sample report. While Lumanu helps identify your list of potential influencers, it’s up to you to research each one of them and reach out to see where you might be able to collaborate together in an arrangement that makes sense for both parties.
Invite Influencers to Your Domain
Many influencer marketing campaigns include a component of a blog post being published on the website of the influencer and thus naturally reaching their audience. A more natural way of engaging with influencers just might be to invite them to share their views and perspectives with your audience. Of course, the more influential you are perceived as being the easier it will be to convince influencers to spend time on your request, but if done right, this might be the easiest way to get influencers to organically share content from your domain because they are a part of it!
The beauty about this organic, content-centric approach to influencer marketing is that although it might take time to build the relationships you need to see the fruits of your efforts, the results will be long-term ones that will benefit your company for months to come (if not years) instead of the one-night-stand influencer marketing that might only offer you a very temporary bump in traffic.
Has your organization taken a content-centric approach to influencer marketing? Would you add anything to this advice?
FTC disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I only work with products, events and/or companies I believe my readers will benefit from. All opinions are mine. This is disclosed in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.