How to Find and Engage Influencers to Amplify Your Content Marketing

Influencer marketing is exploding.

Instant access to an established and engaged audience is incredibly attractive to any marketer. When done right, influencer marketing campaigns deliver far more ROI as compared to SEM or paid social ads, in no small part due to the credibility that the top online influencers have with their audience.

This is not a trend, it is a new frontier in marketing ushered in alongside social marketing platforms. Consumers are actively searching out content and reviews from thought leaders during the purchase process.

This includes their friends alongside the thought leaders & experts. Finding and engaging with this new breed of thought leader is the focus of this step by step guide

Navigating the influencer marketing landscape

Influencer marketing works.

The downside is that the amount of money flowing into influencer marketing has made the landscape incredibly difficult to navigate.

Influencer marketing agencies, influencer marketing platforms, and for lack of a better word “pretenders” are looking to cash out on brands who are willing to spend on the emerging trend that social media has launched.

This means the onus is on the marketer to ensure you are working with influencers who have credibility with the audience you are trying to reach.

The best way to validate any influencer is based on the quality of the content they create and not strictly social profile vanity metrics (number of followers).

So how do you find quality content producers?

Content centric approach to influencer marketing

The key to running a successful influencer marketing campaign is to approach influencer identification from a content perspective.

Through research, you can identify the best set potential influencers to reach out to and engage with for your influencer marketing campaigns. One of my favorite new tools for identifying excellent topical content written by influencers with impactful reach is Lumanu.

It combines a few really powerful content influencers databases with some slick machine learning to give me top-level insights into a specific content topic, for instance, here’s some of the data I pulled up while looking for resources on how an electric car motor works:

interest-electric-car-engine

Which I can then drill down into explore more specifics for specific promotion outlets through influencers:

electric-car-engine-influencers

and here’s a look at how I can use this to find authors and examples of great content within this topic niche:

electric-cars-ideation

and lastly, here’s where the rubber meets the road (sorry for my lame car joke) in terms of finding what the length of the content should be, the number of images, and so on based on historical performance of other content within this vertical:

content-length

Now let’s walk through a step by step example for identifying influencers for luxury watches using search data:

In this example, I am assuming I have already created a content plan containing topics like:

  • “Best luxury watches”
  • “Buying luxury watches”
  • Etc…

and are looking to engage with influencers to create and publish (or sometimes just publish) content supporting my product or brand

  1. Building your content plan for influencers.

    Let’s quickly revisit how I built out a list of topics for this example content plan.

    First, I used www.keywordtools.io to do an SEO analysis for my topics (particularly interested in high search volume and low competition).

    Next, I looked at the corresponding Google search results for the topics that have high search volume to make sure content from influencers can drive traffic back to my site (good test is is search results for topics that are not just company home pages or product pages).

    Best Luxury Watches
    Here’s a screenshot from keywordtools.io that shows me search volume and SEM data for related keywords for “best luxury watches” along with the Google SERP.

    Best Luxury Watches Search
    These provide support for my content plan and help me identify any other potential topics to bring into my influencer marketing campaign, you’ll notice that “top luxury watch brands” is perhaps an even more attractive topic as the AdWords competition is much lower (the theory goes that content marketing density is somewhat correlated to AdWord competition).

    As you can see from the Google results, “best luxury watches” is full of informational articles, in other words an ideal topic to engage with an influencer on.

    The next step is to walk through the Google results for this topic and related attractive topics (for example top luxury watches brands) and click into content that is potentially interesting to find the top authors for this topic.

    This approach ensures that the influencers I am going to identify have access to domains that can land in the top few pages of Google results. Tip: if you are focused on video centric influencers, you can limit your search to site:youtube.com, same thing for Instagram influencers

  2. Google search results are a goldmine for identifying the top influencers for your topic

    Here’s a couple examples of author profile information I found when clicking into articles from Forbes.com “new luxury watches for 2015” and therichest.com “The 10 best dress watches for men”.

    About the Author
    In a couple clicks I can see instantly access the author bio information and in most cases have access to social network contact information as well.

    Simon Lazarus
    This is especially true for freelance writers/ people that are interested in working with you. Next step is to create an excel or google sheet to catalog the potential authors’ names and details (Twitter handle, Twitter followers, LinkedIn profile url, etc), and probably most importantly email address.

    The 10 Best Dress Watches for Men
    Customize these fields to your needs (if quora answers are important to you then add that in). As you go through this process you will often find links to personal blogs which can often give you what you are after = email address or contact form.

  3. Finding influencer contact information.

After creating your list of influencers, the profile & contact information section will most likely only be partially complete. There are a few methods you can use to find email address and fill out the rest of the influencer profiles:

#1 Look up the person on LinkedIn and use the free email hunter Chrome extension

#2 Read through the LinkedIn profile, freelance writers and journalists often insert contact information

#3 Google the person’s name along with your topic and find other sites they write on which may contain more contact information

#4 Send an email to the publication directly through the contact us section with attn: to the author with your outreach email detailed in step #5

4. Prioritizing influencer outreach.

Which influencers are most important? Well, that depends on your campaign goals.

No matter your goals, pick a single metric (e.g. domain authority of websites the influencer writes on, the average engagement of LinkedIn content they create for a specific topic, number of Twitter followers) that re-enforces the campaign goals.

A couple examples:

  1. Drive clicks and overall traffic back to a website = focus on content engagement metrics. This means the number of clicks/ comments/ shares each influencer’s content gets on average

  2. Raise general awareness & reach = higher follower counts and domain authority will reach more eyeballs

  3. Special deals and offers = may make sense in an email campaign, so understand mailing list sizes

Once you have your list, it’s time to start the outreach process:

5. Engaging with influencers is intimidating (especially for anyone not used to cold outreach or sales).

Remember, these authors want to write content that drives engagement with their audience and they are constantly thinking of potential new content to create.

You are helping them continue the conversation with their audience.

Influencers are also sensitive to maintaining authenticity and the level of trust which they have built. And finally, the bigger the influencer, the more pitches they receive so you need to show you’ve done your research and provide a clear “value proposition” for the influencer – what’s in it for them?

Some do’s and dont’s:

DO:

  • Follow them on social media, write a comment on the articles you like or their blog. Start the conversation over social media!
  • Include a reference to an article or video they have created and let them know you like their content
  • Offer some value. Letting them use a product for free, monetary compensation in exchange for their help or time are a couple examples
  • Explain why you are reaching out
  • Clearly state a proposed next step or working relationship. This could be as simple as feedback on a product, proposing a co-branded article, or working together on a full blown campaign
  • Keep it short and sweet

DON’T

  • Send a form letter email or mass mailing – Your email should be personalized beyond name and company and demonstrate you know something about this influencer
  • Ask for something upfront – “Please share this with your followers” is going to get a quick delete
  • Spend money on influencer marketing before vetting your list!

6. Want to automate influencer identification?

I’ve got you covered.

I wanted to create this post to emphasize the importance of a content centric approach to influencer marketing and help you drive results with your influencer marketing campaigns.

I’ve been through this manual process enough times that I decided to do something about it.