This is a guest contribution from Rebecca Price, marketing specialist currently working for Davpack.
Have you ever sat in front of your computer, looking at other people’s blogs, and thought: “How the hell have you managed to be so successful so quickly?”
I know I have.
For a long time, I just couldn’t figure out the secret; it often seemed like I was close, but it was always just out of reach.
Then I stumbled on a book called ‘Influence Marketing’ by Danny Brown and Sam Fiorella.
That was the answer – market influencers.
Why is this so powerful?
Instead of starting off from scratch with no blog readers, traffic or any sign of engagement, you put a strategy in place to connect with influencers and get them to promote and share your content to their already established audience.
Of course, there is a bit more to it than that…
In this post I’m going to show you how to expand your reach, increase your audience, get more social shares, become an industry influencer and attract more traffic to your blog.
Finding industry influencers
If you have been operating within your niche/industry for a while, then you will probably have a good idea who the key influencers are and, while they should certainly be on your list of targets, don’t forget the ‘new rising stars’.
These people can potentially carry a lot of weight and your list should never be limited to just a few influencers. This works best at scale.
You will need to put together a list of your target influencers and there are some key pieces of information about them that you should keep track of:
- Their name
- Their contact information
- Their location (potentially a good conversation starter!)
- Links to their social profiles
- Links to their blog and any other sites they own
- What topics they like to blog about
- What topics they like to share
You could use a CRM or, alternatively, an OpenOffice or Microsoft Excel spreadsheet will also do the trick.
I could write an entire post on finding influencers alone, and a lot have. There are also some awesome presentations floating around on Slideshare, like this one by Wishpond:
Tools to help you
I won’t go into too much depth now about individual tools, as the subject has already been covered in some depth; you can find all of the tools to help you right here.
Don’t rely entirely on tools to do all of the work for you, for while there are some extremely powerful tools that can give you most of the answers – the human element is important.
Computers are getting smarter and so are the algorithms that they use, but there are opportunities that they can miss.
A few things to remember
This entire strategy hinges on building a positive relationship with influencers and, if you go about things in the wrong way, then you could just end up wasting your time.
And your time is valuable. Don’t waste it.
Be helpful and courteous when you are dealing with anyone, not just influencers. There will always be people that waste your time and take the wet, but give them a chance; but know when it’s time to walk away.
Whatever you do, NEVER email someone or ask them via social to do something for you out of the blue.
You will eventually need to ask an influencer to do something for you, but there needs to be a clear benefit, and you must have done something awesome for them beforehand (and they need to know about it).
So, before you ask anyone to do something for you, you need to ask yourself – “what’s in it for them?”
You have to come across as authentic and credible – being real is your greatest asset.
Avoid burning bridges at all costs. Relationships are difficult to repair once you have destroyed them.
Building the relationship
Now that we’ve laid the ground rules, it’s time to start building your relationship with influencers in your niche:
Making things easy for yourself
You’ve got your list of your target influencers and their social profiles, so now it’s time to go ahead and follow them across as many as possible.
Another way to make things easy for yourself is to keep right up to date with what’s happening on your target influencers’ blogs.
So make sure you subscribe to their mailing lists if they have them and subscribe to their RSS feeds too. After Google Reader closed, I started using Feedly but recently switched to Netvibes in favour of their iGoogle style RSS reader – either are solid RSS readers that will help you keep on top of things.
Commenting works wonders
Try commenting on the blog of an influencer you’re targeting and do it regularly – it works wonders, especially if they respond to comments. You may find that commenting on Facebook statuses and Google+ updates can work equally well, if not even better.
Drop them an email
At this early stage, you could also drop them an email, but if you do, don’t ask them to help you out at all. You need to warm up to that.
Instead, say something awesome and highlight something awesome you have done for them, like share a piece of content etc.
Connect through multiple social platforms
Make sure you have the same display picture throughout all of your social profiles – consistency is important and it makes you easier to recognise.
Start off by following the influencers on Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook and whatever other social networks they are active on.
Create a separate circle on Google+ for influencers and a list on Twitter, too – people love it when they’re referred to as a market influencer. It’s quite flattering and great for grabbing their attention, because a lot of influencers don’t actually think of themselves as influencers.
Your next step is to start sharing their content, but there is an important part of the process that a lot of people forget – tell them about it!
The idea of this is that when you do something awesome for someone, they know about it, or at least you do whatever you can to let them know.
So, when you Tweet their content, @mention them and add some positive commentary. Do a similar thing with Google+ and Facebook too.
You can also take things a step further by sharing quotes and making sure the influencer you have quoted knows about it.
Involve influencers in your content
Grab the attention of your target influencers by involving them in the content that you create.
This can be as simple as linking out to them and saying some awesome stuff about them in a regular blog post or an industry round-up – or it could go so far as to involve them directly in a group interview.
The point here is that when influencers are involved directly in a blog post, they are more invested and therefore more likely to share.
Here are a few examples:
In September, Kristi Hines published a group interview which involved 32 experts who shared their best blog post promotion tips. This post featured 600+ Tweets, 245+ FB likes, 448+ Google+1’s and 180+ Linkedin shares. The post also earned links from over 50 referring domains.
Earlier this year, Blurbpoint.com published a roundup of over 101 SEO experts which also did rather well and received 375+ Tweets, 438+ Google+1’s, 230+ FB Likes and 145+ Linkedin shares. This group interview also earned links from over 30 domains.
These are examples of influencer marketing at scale – these types of posts do take a lot of time to produce, but they attract a lot of eyeballs to your blog, and the fact you have included these participants in an ‘expert round-up’ is quite flattering. Doing great things for people can make great things happen.
The use of social media is a big part of this whole influencer marketing thing, and there are a number of things you can do to get more results using social that I talk about here.
Write for influencers
I guess we could call this guest posting, but there are certain connotations that come along with that word and some people do assume that the focus is on the SEO benefit, but here’s where it’s different.
Sure, you could go around guest posting to build links to your site, people do it and it’s fine, because it will still help you at least from an SEO perspective if you do it right, although you do need to do a lot of it.
The SEO benefit here is a secondary consideration, because the whole idea of writing for influencers within your niche is to expand your audience and reach.
It’s also to get your name out there and help to position yourself as an authority.
Your ultimate goal should be to join the ranks of influencers within your niche, but why? Well, having influence is a great thing and then other bloggers will do awesome stuff for you too.
It all starts off with blogger outreach, which is an extensive topic itself; there are plenty of courses out there, like Jon Morrow’s guest blogging course, while Ian Cleary wrote a great guide that you can find here.
Marketing your content to influencers within your niche can be a powerful way to not only get more traffic to your blog, but you will also get more social shares, expand your audience and increase your own influence too – you will soon find you’re on your way to becoming an authority.
You can do it, I believe in you.
What other tactics do you use to get traffic to your blog?