What did you want to be when you grew up?

A doctor? A teacher? A lawyer?

If you asked a child this question today, odds are you wouldn’t hear any of those responses. In a recent survey, 75% of children said that they want to grow up to be a vlogger – or in other words, an influencer.

Of course, as with any career associated with fame and fortune, only a handful of those who dream of being the next big thing will ever make it.

In fact, even now there are countless bloggers, vloggers, and podcasters who consider themselves influential, but aren’t.

So what constitutes an influencer? And how can you make sure you’re picking the right influencer for your brand?

There’s more to being an influencer than having thousands of followers (especially when those numbers are so easy to fake).

Needless to say, influencers influence. Their followers actually engage with their content, listen to what they have to say, and take action as a result of their requests or recommendations.

This means the right influencer for you – i.e. someone who not only has a decent-sized following, but who also has an engaged following that fits your brand – can be invaluable to your content.

In fact, one in three consumers reportedly trust the words of an influencer over the brand itself.

That said, that isn’t the only reason getting influencers involved in your content is so important. There are a number of ways they can be invaluable to its creation and distribution.

They Probably Know Things You Don’t

There’s no doubt that some influencers gain their fame by faking it, but those aren’t the influencers you want to be working with, regardless of how many followers they have or how engaged those followers are.

When researching influencers, do some digging to find out whether they legitimately know their stuff. Read their blog. Watch their YouTube content. Listen to podcasts they’ve appeared on (or host themselves).

This is vital, since influencers who are more knowledgeable than you can add value to your content by contributing tips or sharing information that’s brand new to you, or that you hadn’t considered including.

This is great for you (it makes you look more authoritative, even if the information has clearly come from the influencer) and it adds value for your audience.

They’re Invaluable to Content Distribution

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the more people you reach with your content, the more effective it will be. More eyes means more brand awareness and more shares (which in turn leads to more shares and more visibility – a cycle that, all being well, will continue).

Better yet, the more people who see your content, the greater the odds it will lead to other wins, like links, email subscribers, and sales.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult for you to start that chain reaction if your brand is largely unknown and your social media accounts have only a handful of followers.

This is where influencers come in.

When we see an influencer sharing a piece of content, we’re far more likely to reshare it than if we see the content being shared by someone unknown, even if we don’t bother looking at the content ourselves (admit it – we’ve all done it)!

This is primarily because if we trust the person sharing the content, we trust the content will be worth resharing.

However, while influencers do typically share content they’re involved in, you can’t count on it.

So what can you do to up the odds that influencers will play a part in content distribution?

One option is to make sharing the content part of your initial arrangement. Unfortunately, this condition is only really fair if you’re paying an influencer for their involvement. If you’re asking them to help out of the goodness of their hearts, you can’t expect anything else from them.
Sure, you can ask if they would mind sharing it, but you can’t assume they’ll oblige.

So, if you’re not compensating influencers, bear this in mind: the quality of your content will make a big difference in whether or not they’ll push it out to their following.

Influencers are much less likely to share their contribution to “50 Growth Tips from 50 Marketers,” for example, than a quality ebook. Influencers only want to share great content, and if anything, they’ll be less likely to share something substandard because they won’t want to advertise their involvement.

They Increase Your Authority

Simply put, working with an influencer earns you a “seal of approval” and makes you more influential in the eyes of your target audience.

In other words, it’s authority by association.

If an influencer is seen to endorse you, their audience is more likely to buy into what you have to say, to follow you, and to (potentially) purchase from you.

It May Lead to Other Opportunities Down the Line

Don’t “use” an influencer to your advantage and then disappear. Use this initial partnership as an opportunity to build a genuine relationship with this person.

Do that, and odds are it will lead to bigger and better things in the future – things like:

  • More detailed contributions to your content
  • Speaking opportunities
  • Distribution of content (whether or not the influencer in question was involved)
  • The chance to collaborate 50/50 on content – i.e. create an ebook together, speak on a podcast, or appear in a YouTube video

How to Get Influencers Involved in Your Content

So you want to get an influencer involved in your content, and based on the number of followers they have, how engaged those followers are, and how relevant the influencer is to your target audience, you’ve drawn up a shortlist of who you’d like to work with …

What happens next?

While there are agencies that can organize campaigns for you, going down that road limits your options. It also, of course, entails paying for an influencer’s involvement and chances are, you’ll be paying more than necessary, compared to going direct.

So what’s the alternative?

Start by tracking down the email address of everyone on your shortlist (you can do this en-masse using a tool like Voila Norbert). Then, once you’re ready, send a personalized pitch to influencers you want to work with. You can also streamline the process of contacting influencers and manage campaigns more effectively with platforms such as Mailshake.

In your pitch, briefly detail:

  • The project you want their involvement in
  • What you’d ideally like their involvement to consist of – this could mean contributing to a blog post you’re writing, but it could also entail things like writing a guest post for your blog or appearing on your podcast or YouTube channel
  • Why you think they’re a great match for this project (in other words, butter them up)
  • Any compensation you can offer (if applicable)

This approach is a little different than what I’d advocate using in most outreach emails.

In the majority of outreach emails, it’s critical to highlight what’s in it for the recipient. However, unless you’re offering some sort of compensation, the influencer doesn’t get much from participating.

They’re an influencer because their audience is bigger than yours – they don’t need to help you, and they have little to gain.

You have to make them want to work with you because you’re a likeable person who follows what they do, and has a genuinely interesting project for them to be involved in.

Your email should be about them, but it shouldn’t be about what’s in it for them (unless you’re offering actual compensation).

Have you ever had influencers involved in your content? Do you have any tips for getting them involved, or getting more out of their contributions? It’d be great if you could share your tips in the comments below.