6 Steps to Integrate Influencers into Your Content Marketing Plan

kevin-cain-headshot by

influenceIncorporating influencer marketing into your content strategy is a great way to accelerate your content marketing efforts. The six steps below describe how to successfully identify and build relationships with the influencers who have the greatest impact on your buyers and how to incorporate them into your content marketing efforts.

1. Figure out Who Influences Your Buyers and Which of Them to Target

In addition to talking to your sales teams and, if possible, your actual buyers, there is a lot of research that you can do online. For example, using a simple list of relevant keywords in a Google search can help you identify a broad list of influencers. Likewise, you can search on Twitter and LinkedIn, and use PR tools such as Vocus and Cision to find influencers. If you are looking for bloggers specifically, Google Blog Search, and Technorati can also be useful resources.

2. Prioritize Your List of Influencers

Focus on the influencers who you believe will have the biggest impact and influence your target audience most. That means looking beyond their credentials to examine factors such as the quality of the content they produce, the reach of their social networks, and how active they are at relevant industry conferences. Better yet, ask your customers directly about who influences them.

3. Engage Your Top Influencers Gradually

Next, start forging relationships with the influencers at the top of your list. Start with some very basic touch points to help subtly draw their attention to you over the course of several weeks. That might entail following them socially, leaving thoughtful comments on their blog, or proactively sharing their content with your network.

4. Introduce Yourself Formally

Eventually you will need to reach out to the influencers directly by e-mail or phone to introduce yourself and your business, and to explain your value proposition. The idea is to give them your best elevator pitch that quickly explains who you are, why you are contacting them, and what’s in it for them.

At OpenView, our pitch to influencers goes something like this:

OpenView is a Boston-based venture capital firm that produces a lot of content for entrepreneurs. We know that you’re a respected expert in [insert expertise] and would love to collaborate with you on an article about [insert topic]. We think our audience would really enjoy hearing from you about it.

In addition to posting the article to our sites, which garner more than 100,000 unique visitors a month, we will publicize it through our social networks and include it in our newsletter that goes out to more than 20 portfolio companies nationwide and over 30,000 entrepreneurs around the world. As you can see, it’s a great opportunity to get exposure to a sizable and relevant audience.

Our pitch centers on the opportunity for exposure that the influencer will get. Yours might have a different selling point, such as a free trial of your product or service, access to a particular niche market, or the opportunity for co-sponsorships.

5. Make it Easy to Work With You

True influencers are busy people without a lot of time. You may have more success if you simplify things for them. For example, if you are looking for an influencer to contribute a blog post to your site, write out the main points that you think it should cover, so that all that person has to do is fill in the blanks rather than come up with an idea. In some cases, you may even want to schedule a quick call and draft a write-up for the influencer to simply edit and personalize. While this approach doesn’t save you time or resources, it will help you to engage higher-profile influencers who otherwise may be out of your reach.

6. Thank the Influencers and Ask them to Share the Content

As soon as you post any piece of content that an influencer has contributed to, be sure to notify the person. It is a great opportunity to not only thank them for working with you, but also to gently suggest that they share the content with their audience. In addition, always follow up with influencers with positive feedback if their content performs particularly well, or if comments come in that they should respond to.

Developing a successful influencer marketing program takes time and effort, but it’s well worth the investment if you do it right. It’s a great way to increase the credibility and reach of your content marketing program. To learn more about influencer marketing, download OpenView’s eBook: “The Value of Influence: The Ultimate Guide to Influence Marketing.”