How to Build an Influencer Marketing Program for Your Content That Actually Works

Most businesses have no idea how to work with influencers, let alone develop an influencer marketing strategy and approach. 

They’ll gather a list of every influencer in their industry they can find. They’ll spend hours crafting the perfect proposal email, then spend days sending it out–only to never receive a single response. Sound familiar?   

If so, don’t worry.   

With a bit of effort, you can turn your losing influencer marketing strategy into one of your best content promotion strategies. And it all starts with a simple list. 

#1 Gather a List of 5-10 Influencers Who Perfectly Match Your Brand 

When most marketers scout for influencers, they cast a wide net. 

“We sell chat bot software, but Nick here blogs about copywriting and he’s got a ton of followers. We’re both in marketing, so it’s close enough, right?” 

Not so much.   

You see, the whole goal in working with influencers is to benefit each other by sharing your audiences. Your readers, however, aren’t going to want Nick’s copywriting advice if you blog about chat bot software. And Nick probably isn’t interested in promoting himself where his advice isn’t sought after either.   

So, keep it relevant!   

Find 5-10 influencers who share and create content that would interest your readers. Put yourself in their shoes–who would they like to hear from? 

Don’t forget to consider Micro-Influencers: 

Instead of vying to capture the attention of celebrity-status influencers, consider shopping around for smaller micro-influencers who still have a decent following and represent content that is relevant to your brand and products. Micro-influencers are often easier to approach and more apt to work with smaller businesses in comparison to larger influencers who are accustomed to being approached by big brands with huge incentives.  

#2 Study the Content Your Influencers Produce and Share 

Now that you’ve identified your target influencers, the next step in building an effective influencer marketing strategy involves research–start by reviewing each of your target influencer’s content. If you know what an influencer likes to create and share with their audience, you can provide a bit of extra value to them once you reach out later. Let me explain:   

Pretend for a moment that you’ve received the following two emails from the editors of two separate marketing blogs. Which one are you more likely to respond to?   

First: 

“Hey [name], I’m Scott from The Marketing Blog. We saw you blog about marketing, so I was wondering if you’d like to produce a quote for our upcoming marketing blog post? I think our readers would love to hear from someone currently working in marketing.” 

 And second: 

“Hey [name], I’m Jackson from The Marketing Blog. We’ve been following your social media accounts for some time now, and always love it when you take the time to share your knowledge about email marketing copywriting. We’re actually producing a new blog post now about ‘How to Write a Killer Sales Email’, and we know our readers would love to hear from someone currently writing email marketing copy. Let me know if you’d like to add a quote to our article!”  

The first example is bland–it’s too generalized. I’d bet that you wouldn’t take the time to respond back.   

But the second one is killer. Here’s why: 

Right off the bat, Jackson states that he’s knowledgeable in the content that you produce. Plus, he details exactly why he thinks you’d be a valuable contributor to his post, as well as how you’d benefit. His readers like email marketing copy, so they’re going to like your content too.   

If Jackson hadn’t researched your content beforehand, he wouldn’t have been able to compile such a great email to you. That’s why it’s important to learn about what kind of content your influencers like to share and produce before you reach out to them.  

I recommend you take at least two weeks to watch over your influencers’ social media accounts. That should give you enough time to learn everything about their content, as well as their sharing habits. But once those two weeks are up… 

#3 Get Their Attention by Helping Them Out 

Here’s where most marketers drop the ball: 

Instead of taking the time to provide value to their influencers, they’ll immediately attempt to ask them for a favour (ex. quotes, guest posts, or pieces of content). But that strategy is no bueno.   

Think of it this way: If a complete stranger were to come up to you on the street and ask you to write a 500-word blog post for them, would you do it?   

Heck no!   

So instead of blindly asking your influencers for favours, provide some value to them first to set the foundations for your future relationship. One of my favourite ways to do this is by using the “Social Media 4-1-1” method.   

In his book on content strategy, Content Inc, Joe Pulizzi details an awesome social media strategy you can use to get an influencer’s attention:   

“For every six pieces of content shared via social media: 

  • Four are pieces of content from your influencer target that are also relevant to your audience. 
  • One piece can be your original, educational piece of content. 
  • One piece can be your sales piece, such as a coupon, product notice, or press release. 

Do this for at least a month, and you’ll have the attention of any influencer.” 

When you share content from influencers, they notice. It shows them that you aren’t there to snag a quote from them on the run–you’re ready to reciprocate.   

Be prepared to offer them incentives: 

When approaching influencers, even micro-influencers, be prepared to give them product and/or pay them to mention or endorse your content or product. The more established an influencer is, the more likely they’ll expect some perks or monetary reward in exchange for helping you. This is especially true if your blog doesn’t see a lot of traffic yet. In which case, it becomes obvious that you stand to benefit from your influencer’s involvement more than they will. You need to show them “what’s in it for them.” 

If you’re a retailer, offering to ‘gift’ them with the product you’d love them to review or mention can go a long way (especially if it’s aligned with the kinds of products and topics they already talk about in their own content). Some influencers will be super flexible, while others will already have a system in place that outlines their remuneration requirements. You can identify this once you start conversing with them. Just be prepared to give to get, and reserve some budget for your influencer marketing strategy. 

#4 After You Have Their Attention, Reach Out and Start Co-Creating Content 

Here’s the part we’ve all been waiting for:  

By now, the influencer you’ve been interacting with should know who you are and what you do, so don’t be afraid to reach out and start creating content together. If this is your first time in contact with the influencer, I’d start simple. You can… 

  • Ask for a quote for a blog post/eBook 
  • Ask to write a blog post for them 
  • Include them in an expert roundup 
  • Ask to share a piece of their content (it’s not necessary to do this, but it’s polite) 

As you start to build the relationship over time, you can start collaborating on bigger projects, such as: 

  • Asking them to take part in a Twitter chat 
  • Asking them to be a guest on a webinar or podcast 
  • Inviting them to speak at an industry event 
  • Asking them to contribute to a research project 

Remember:  

It’s important that you’re not constantly asking them for favours. So, take some time to contribute to their content as well! You’re both in this to grow your audiences, so if there’s anything you can do to help them achieve that goal, do it.   

That brings me to my next point… 

#5 Grow the Relationship 

Despite what I said earlier, influencer marketing isn’t just about trying to grow your audience. Nor is it only about selling more products, building your social media following, or obtaining thought leadership.   

It’s about making friends in the industry.   

So instead of boring your influencers with constant business requests, switch it up every once and a while: 

  • Have an unfinished product that needs feedback? Ask them what they think before you reach out to anyone else 
  • Have an industry event you always go to? Invite them to go with you and your team, and buy their ticket 
  • Or, do you just feel generous? Send a gift card for some coffee their way! 

You know–all those things you’d do for any of your other good friends.

You Don’t Have to Go It Alone 

Influencer marketing is a fantastic way to promote your content and establish connections in your industry. And if you follow the steps in this article, you’ll have a killer strategy in no time.   

Yet, for a complete content marketing strategy that drives leads and increases sales, you’re going to have to put in a bit more work. That’s what we’re here for.   

At McAllister Marketing, we’re focused on helping you optimize and implement content marketing strategies that actually help your business attract, convert and retain more customers. No more guesswork! Contact us today for a no-obligation chat to learn more about how we tailor our services to your unique needs and objectives. We’re serious about marketing while also being super easy to work with! 

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