The most overlooked form of digital marketing today is without a doubt influencer marketing. If you are like most, you’re currently making a huge mistake by not tapping into this widely underutilized marketing strategy. Surveys show that blogs are the #1 place for influencers to engage with their audience. In addition, blogs influence almost 1/3 of all internet purchasing decisions, beating every single social network including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest.
In my last post titled How to shortcut word of mouth marketing success, I broke down the above facts as well as several statistics that show why influencer marketing is a must.
Even with all the data pointing to influencer marketing as a critical factor for digital marketing success, I still get the question: What is influencer marketing?
So being that influencer marketing it is still practically an unknown marketing strategy let me provide you a quick definition…
What is Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is a word of mouth marketing technique that involves getting sponsored messages included in the conversations created by celebrities and “internet famous” personalities with the goal of influencing the buying decisions of their fans.
Influencer marketing is not a “get rich quick” marketing technique, rather its a long term marketing strategy that pays incrementally larger dividends over time.
Influencer marketing also complements other forms of relationship marketing such as the Twitter cross-promotion tool we provide at Nichevertising.
How to Get Started With Influencer Marketing
Now that you know what is influencer marketing, it follows that you need to know: how to get started with influencer marketing?
The simple answer is that you must find the top influencers in your niche with the most active blogs, then find a way to get your brand included in that influencer’s conversation.
Obviously, this is easier said than done. But you must start somewhere. Below are 21 techniques I recommend to both find top influencer blogs and become part of their conversation:
How to Find Top Influencers
The first step to find top influencers is more or less a brute force search process. Below are 7 strategies that can make the search for influencers and their blogs a bit less time consuming.
Note: 52% of top influencers operate 2 to 5 blogs
– Technorati’s 2013 digital influencer report
1. Try Inkybee’s Blogger outreach tool. It’s not cheap with pricing starting at $79.00 per month. However, they do have a free-trail that you can get some value out of even if you decide you can’t afford to pay for the full version.
2. Search your niche keywords in the Topsy’s social search of online experts. View the profiles of the experts that come up for your keyword to find their blogs
3. Install the MozBar toolbar on your browser. This will allow you to get real time domain authority statistics on blogs.
Once you have this toolbar setup, use Google’s blog search to search the keywords in your niche. Find the blogs that have the highest domain authority as displayed using the MozBar.
4. Use Alltop.com to find the headlines from the best sites and blogs that are covering a topic in your niche right now.
Once you find the sites, again just drill down to find either the site owner, or the author on the site who gets the most comments. You can then search that person’s name to find their other blogs and other places where they hang out online.
5. Search Twitter for your niche keywords. The follow those people who are actively tweeting those keywords (by active I mean they have a lot of @ replies and retweets containing those keywords).
Once you follow at least 100 people with your niche keywords, create a Paper.li feed to aggreagate the most popular content your twitter feed is sharing.
Next, monitor your personal Paper.li feed daily to find the most influential people in the feed. You can again search that person’s name to find their blogs and other places where they hang out online.
7. Hire a PR agency to do all of the above for you.
How to Become Part of Influential Conversations – Earned media Techniques
One you find the top influencers and their blog, the next step is to become part of their conversations. Here are 7 free techniques to do this:
1. Become a value added commenter: This goes beyond just taking a shotgun approach to commenting on blog post.
The trick is that you want to consistently comment on the same influencer’s blogs over and over again…
Some people use blog commenting as a SEO technique. They comment one time just to get a link back to their site and then never show up on that blog again.
Your goal is not SEO, but to instead get on the influencer’s radar so they recognize your name and brand immediately when you reach out to them.
The only way to do that is to show up on their blog weekly if not daily as a commenter. It’s even better if you get the first comment vs. the last on a post.
2. Subscribe to the influencers email newsletter, then respond once or twice a month to the emails with short (2 lines or less) questions, request for future topics to cover, and appreciation notes.
3. Follow the influencer on all of their social media sites. Then regularly comment, retweet, like, favorite, repin, share or whatever action is applicable for the appropriate social network.
4. If the influencer has wrote a book, buy, read and write a review of their book. Then email them the link to your review with a short note (1 or 2 lines) highlighting your favorite quote.
5. If the influencer has a podcast, subscribe to it and write a review.
6. If you have a podcast, invite the influencer to come on your show for an interview.
7. If you don’t have a podcast, interview the influencer either through email or over the phone then write a blog post publishing your interview notes.
How to Become Part of Influential Conversations – Paid Media Techniques
It’s important you exhaust all of the free techniques before you start the paid techniques. The paid techniques will be 10x more effective if you build a relationship within the influencers community before you become a paid sponsor. Here are 7 paid techniques to do once you are ready:
1. Sponsor a blog post that the influencer writes about a topic related to your brand, but not specifically about your brand. Include in the sponsorship a 3 or 4 line mention of your brand within the blog post.
2. Sponsor a review of your product or service that the influencer will write and publish on their blog as well as share on their Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google +, etc. pages.
3. Sponsor a contest that the influencer can host within their community. The prize in the contest will be a giveaway/discount/free trial of your product or service.
4. Create an “generous” affiliate program exclusively for influencers. Then recruit the influencer to offer your product or service to their community as a way for them to make affiliate income off of their sales.
5. If the influencer host a podcast, pay to become a sponsor of it
6. If the influencer has a popular email newsletter, pay to become a sponsor of it
7. Giveaway free access to your product or service in exchange for the influencer becoming a brand ambassador