How to Leverage the Power of Influencers and Make them Share Your Content
The customer’s voice has always been the core concept of marketing, and these days, social media platforms are the megaphones of that voice.
Social media has changed the fundamental balance between businesses and customers because it allows peer recommendations to be the major deciding factor in purchases.
In a McKinsey Study, “marketing-inspired word-of-mouth results to twice the sales of paid advertising”, as well as increasing the retention rate to up to 37%.
Because of the weight of peer recommendations and their social media amplification, Influencer Marketing has become a “household name” among marketers. This is all the more true with the growing dominance of the “moms” and “millenials” demographics.
These influencers are the “golden goose” of today’s marketing, mainly because people do not trust advertisements anymore, but they DO trust people—and not just anyone, but a voice of authority.
But What Is Influencer Marketing?
Loosely defined, influencer marketing is a form of marketing that spots and targets people with strong influence over purchasers.
If you remember the “olden days” of online advertisement, brands use celebrities and popular bloggers to exert influence over consumers. But today, everyday consumers can have an impact just as powerful as the most popular celebrities.
This may be the reason why there is a current proliferation of terms such as “thought leaders”, “experts”, “pundits”, and “gurus”, and brands are taking advantage of their popularity and help them tell the story of their products.
The following studies show just how powerful influencers are in the purchasing journey of consumers:
- Tomoson—influencer marketing is the most cost-effective and fastest growing marketing channel.
- McKinsey—word-of-mouth produces more than 2 times the sales of paid advertising.
- Tapfluence and Influitive—92% of consumers rely on testimonials and referrals more than any other source.
- Deloitte—buyers who were acquired via word-of-mouth have an increased retention rate of 37%.
- Tomoson—for every $1 a business spends on influencer marketing, the ROI is $6.50.
Wait, What Makes an Influencer?
The first thing you look for when identifying an influencer is the number of followers the identity has on different social platforms. But it does not stop there. Malcolm Gladwell calls these people as “mavens” in his book, “The Tipping Point”. These mavens are people who are knowledgeable about a topic, with proven credibility and expertise on the subject matter.
The image below further illustrates how an influencer is determined:
Today, there are a new generation of influencers with massive followings on subject matters such as beauty, fashion and food, bred by platforms such as YouTube and Instagram.
One of these notable influencers is Michelle Phan, who started a series of YouTube videos that feature easy-to-follow makeup tutorials and demonstrations.
Now with more than 8 million subscribers and 1.2 billion lifetime views, Phan has built a personal brand and has become a cosmetics authority that millions of people from all over the world have come to trust. This kind of consumer pull has urged L’Oreal to launch a co-branded cosmetic line with the young entrepreneur in 2013.
With this kind of power, don’t you think it just makes absolute sense to leverage the potential of this select group of influencers and use it as a highly valuable strategy to expand the reach of your business.
But how do you do it?
5 Ways to Attract Influencers and Get them to Share Your Content
- Don’t be shy, @mention them
If your content is inspiring, info-rich, relevant and helpful to the influencer’s audience, mentioning them in your social posts using their Twitter handles can grab their attention and earn yourself a valuable re-tweet.
Increase your chances by making the content about them, after all, who does not like compliments? And @mentions are one heck of a compliment for many of these influencers, so leverage on that.
For example, Shareaholic mentioned Ann Handley’s Content Rules book in one of their tweets. That small, sweet move earned them a re-tweet to @annhandley’s 221,000 followers. This created a huge opportunity for Shareaholic to reach a wider audience which they never would have achieved without Ms. Handley’s support.
The key here is knowing what the influencers in your niche are interested in, often engage with, and typically share to their followers. By “snooping” around, you will get a feel of what kind of content will appeal to them—the kind of content that they would also want to share.
Once the influencer finds your content to be interesting and worth reading, the probability of them sharing it is elevated up a notch which would make all the “surveillance” worth it in the end.
- Keep Them In Your Curated List
One good way to create content that’s going to be shared by industry thought leaders is to make one that has them in it. You are most likely to benefit if you play on people’s egos by including them in a curated list.
For example, Larry Kim—the founder of Wordstream—was commissioned by Inc.com to write an article about the top digital marketing experts to follow on Twitter.
He included big names in his list such as:
- John Shahidi—Shots CEO with 354,000 followers and 3,800 retweets.
- Donald Miller—StoryBrand Founder who has 219,000 followers.
- Rand Fishkin—THE Wizard of Moz who has 228,000 people following him
An article like Larry Kim’s was easy to write, but also highly valuable in terms of sharing potential. Just imagine the impact it would have if the 3 thought leaders above shared his content to approximately 800,000 people!
To find out the top influencers in your industry, there are tools you can use such as Traackr, an influencer platform that provides users with simple ways to keep tabs on their influencer relationships.
When you publish your curated list article, make sure to @mention the influencer to let them know. This way, you hit #1 and #2—the proverbial two birds with one stone—wherein you get their attention and also open the door for continuous conversations.
- Ask Them to Guest Post On Your Blog
Just like when you guest post on an influencer’s blog, there are tons of benefits that can be had when you get an influencer to contribute to your blog. This may sound a bit daunting, but there IS a way.
Your audience will surely love having topnotch content from an industry leader on your blog. Not only will this increase your credibility—after all, if a thought leader posts in your blog, you must be doing something right—it will also mean that the post will most likely be shared by the influencer to his/her networks.
To increase the chances of having an influencer agree to contribute to your blog, think of creative ways to have them create content without actually having to write it. One great way is to interview the influencer; this way, they won’t have to write anything but still provide input for your blog—with their name STAMPED on the content.
One example is Zazzle Media, a UK-based marketing agency that publishes a monthly interview with thought leaders in the industry to increase their credibility and attract the attention of a wider audience. One such interview featured Ann Hadley, the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs and named by Forbes as “one of the most influential woman in Social Media.”
Just imagine the impact that interview can make on YOUR own blog or website.
- Feature their Quotes or Commentaries
Your long-form content would be more attractive to influencers if you add their expert quotes or commentaries. Not only will you add inspiration and credibility to your post, doing so will allow your reader to feel as if they are benefiting from the advice of industry leaders. Thus, they will find more value in your content.
Just take a look at this HubSpot content marketing report: can you imagine the kind of value such content offers with 12 industry leaders providing priceless insight on content marketing?
Weave the commentaries or quotes into the main body of your post so as to ensure that the story flows well. To achieve optimum results, place the comments on a contrasting background so that they stand out.
You can also scour topnotch content from your selected influencers and collect quotes from their content. When you find a great line—either from Twitter or from an article—add them to a spreadsheet or your cheat sheet for future use.
When using this technique, do not forget to link back to the original source and also let the influencer know that you have used their brain-sweat…
NOTE: It is also a great idea to feature influencers in your eBooks and reports, just make sure to highlight how valuable their input is on your landing page.
Touch base with the influencers and request for headshots and include a callout referring to them in the main copy. They will surely appreciate the extra link back to their Twitter profile or website, and they may help in persuading visitors to grab your content.
- Invite Influencers to Guest in Your AMA (Ask Me Anything) Session
It would be worth your weight in gold if you can get an influencer to dedicate 20 to 30 minutes of their time to be a part of an AMA session via Twitter. All you need is a solid promotion plan, a mind-bending hashtag, and a great influencer to pull this off.
There are some great examples of Ask Me Anything articles HERE if you are looking for inspiration.
The takeaway points here, my friends, are these:
We trust friends and experts more than advertising, so Influencers are the new “Powers that be” in the business.
Understand this, and devote your time and resources to create genuine relationships with the “IT” people in the industry. Focus on finding the most important people in your business, such as current customers, potential clients, industry experts and individuals who are passionate about your field.
Influencer marketing may be a tough nut to crack, but when you do, you’ll find gold within. The key is in building real relationships. Do not concentrate on what the influencer can do for you, but on what you can do to help them. Be YOU, be genuine and pay it forward.