47 Influencer Marketing Ideas from the Worlds Most Amazing Marketers We all want to be influential. You might say personal branding itself is the process of building influence. The idea isn’t so much about feeding your ego (stay humble people), but rather to build authority in your niche. Your goal is to associate your personal brand with a specific topic—your area of expertise—in the minds of your audience. The influencer marketing that helps businesses grow—the type that’s appropriate for personal branding—calls for: – Targeting people your prospects trust for information – Engaging people who shape the important conversations in your niche – Achieving kinship with people whose endorsement will forward your personal branding objectives Influencer marketing is essentially relationship building The tactic that goes to work in influencer marketing is word-of-mouth, the most powerful kind of marketing in any era, market, or media. The process isn’t exactly magic, but its effect could indeed be magical. How do you build relationships with someone who sways opinion? The key is reciprocity. You give first and get later. This powerful principle of persuasion has been taught countless times as a key to building influence. While my latest book, The Road to Recognition, is an A-to-Z Guide to personal branding, chapter I is is aptly titled, I is for influencers. During the writing process, my co-author, Barry Feldman and I, asked some of our favorite marketers for their ideas on how to build influence in a competitive landscape. Here’s what we learned. The value of influencer marketing Influencer marketing has the potential to create a triple bottom line, where what you create is: – Good for your collaborators. – Good for your target audience. – Good for your brand building efforts. See, content marketing and influencer marketing are close friends. It’s been said content is the currency of influence. Tune into your audience. The influencers you want in your camp are accomplished content marketers. The key to getting started is “listening,” which in the world of digital marketing, means reading (of course you may also be playing and viewing multimedia assets). Focus on what influencers are creating and how the content is received. You’re bound to see which topics create the most conversation and sharing. Use your influencers as your content thermometers. Track their work with social media tools, feeds, and Google Alerts. You’ll get a feel for what’s hot and what’s not. Identify influencers. Which influencers should you target? You probably already know which people are the movers and shakers in your field. They’re the speakers, authors, and prominent bloggers. Social media makes it easy to identify additional influencers. Search social channels by topic to identify people who deliver an attractive combination of relevance and reach. And, of course, you’ll want to factor in “resonance,” meaning engagement levels. Do they engage with their audience and drive conversions? In addition to using the social channels separately, you can take advantage of influence marketing tools and platforms. There are too many to mention here, but you’ll find it useful to start with Buzzsumo, a tool expressly made to analyze how content performs on social media and search and for identifying influencers. Join the conversation.When you know who the influencers are—and where they are—next, you want to get on their radar. I’ve seen the process described as “seeding.” You want to plant seeds and nurture them, but refrain from asking for anything from influencers in the early going. You can do so in a variety of ways with social media: Follow them. Share their work. Try to engage in social exchanges. Comment in blog comment threads. For instance, express your opinion in response to an opinion piece. Offer select pieces of your content that are relevant to the conversation. Create new content in response to pieces you’ve seen that started a conversation. Write reviews where applicable (such as a book review on Amazon). Say “thank you” when your contributions are recognized. Write targeted and personal emails. Facilitate connections and new relationships amongst influencers and audience members. These types of activities will not go unnoticed by your influencers. They’re influential because they’re forever aware of the sentiments of the people they influence. Our friend Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of Marketing Profs, puts it oh-so-simply. She writes, “Be generous in your definition of ‘influencer.” Maintain a giving mind-set. In this age of social media and content, everyone is potentially a “who” in a who’s who scenario. And Joe Chernov, VP of Marketing at Insight Squared, makes a case for being both realistic and efficient. He says, “Stop “big name hunting” They’re all ego-trapped out. Focus on next-generation influencers and you’ll have them all to yourself We caught up with Joe Pulizzi, of Content Marketing Institute. He say’s ” Have an influencer strategy, I would say 99% of businesses that say they want to partner with influencers actually have no strategy Start with why you are engaging influencers (what is it going to do for your business).” Lee Odden, of Top Rank Marketing, makes the case for planning ahead. He writes, ” Grow your influencer network long before you need them. The day to create an army of influential advocates isn’t the first day of the war. Find common interests and develop rapport.” But be careful on how you come off. Ardath Albee, CEO of Marketing Interactions, reminds us that “A cold request to “promote my stuff” is not the highlight of your influencer’s day. Engage influencers before you need them. Be helpful. Promote their stuff first. Mutual value increases receptivity ” Jay Baer, Founder of Convince & Convert, reminds us to walk before we run, He writes, “We too often look at “audience” and call it “influence.” What the best companies do is focus on advocates first (customers and employees) and then add influence on top of that ” We caught up with Andy Crestodina, of Orbit Media. He reminds of the power of face-to-face. He writes, “Go to conferences. Nothing comes close to the quality of face-to-face time Success comes from opportunities, which comes from relationships, which comes from events.” Our friend Andrew Davis, best-selling author and content marketing speaker, makes a straight-forward case for creating remarkable content. He writes, “Look for the people with the highest-quality content. Take a content-first approach to building relationship with the influencers in your market . Create content about them. Comment on their content. Consume the content they share. Mark Schaefer, the author of the personal branding book Known and the Tao of Twitter, breaks it down to it’s most fundamental form. He says “People are overwhelmed by information density and looking for social proof for guidance on who to follow. In the long term, lasting influence comes from trust, not from the number of Twitter followers Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group, makes a case for walking in the influencer’s shoes. He writes, ” It’s important to focus on finding ways to help the influencer. Help them build their brand Help them reach a new audience. Help them gain access to insights and content for their audience. We talked to Robert Rose, CEO of The Content Advisory. He reminds us that research is critical. Saying, ” One key to influencer outreach is the research you put in before you reach out and ask Have a good feel for where they’re headed, what their goals are, and what they care about. We caught up with Doug Kessler, Creative Director of Velocity Partners. He points out the there no substitute for hustle. He writes, ” If you want an influencer to be a shiny cog in your content distribution machine, be one of the hardest-working cogs in theirs Scott Abel, of The Content Wrangler, takes it a step further by stating, “Create a multi-channel content marketing project designed to showcase both the knowledge of the influencer and your expertise in your chosen discipline The CEO of Vertical Measures, Arnie Kuenn, share his favorite influencer platform, saying, “Twitter is an extremely helpful tool to find and connect with influencers. Find the people that carry weight in your industry, put them on a special list, and begin to build relationships with them so when either of you have content to share, you can both benefit from the connection. Marcus Sheridan, bestselling author of They Ask, You Answer, takes a no-nonsense approach to the somewhat uncomfortable topic of talking about competitors. He states, “Influencers are often competitor vendors. Pretend your prospects already know all your competitors I can give you many examples of how talking about you competitors (be it in review articles, comparison articles, etc.) can generate leads and sales. It works.” Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner is a master of showcasing the talents of others. He writes, ” If you want to connect with influencers, you need to understand what they want most and give it to them, no strings attached Often, influential people love to be exposed to new audiences, see their name in lights and share their wisdom.” Amanda Maksymiw, the Content Marketing Director at Fuze, urges us to leverage technology. She writes, ” Think about adding your influencers to your CRM to manage your contacts and outreach activities . you can use the system to store pitch ideas and also set up campaigns to stay top-of-mind with your influencers.” Jeff Bullas of JeffBullas.com, makes a case for combining intuition and process to scale you influencer marketing efforts. He writes, ” Influence marketing is an art and a science. The art is the crafting of content that adds value to people’s lives – personally or for their business. The science is the tactics and tools of building tribes and followers on the big social networks.” It doesn’t make sense to wait for someone else to set the stage for your success, at least according to Russell Sparkman, Founder of FusionSpark. He writes, ” Throwing a better party has always been a successful way to connect with influential people Make your event a better party – a unique experience that is educational and fun.” Heidi Cohen, of The Actionable Marketing Guide, gets real and personal. Stating, ” People build relationships face-to-face. By making real-life connections, communications become P2P content that breaks through the clutter in their inboxes and on social media. There is no such thing as an overnight success when it comes to being a successful influencer marketer. This game is all about relationships. Give-to-get. or better yet, give-more-than-get. Once you figure that out, life get’s easier, and so does influencer marketing Tips to Maintain your momentum Here are some tips for maintaining the momentum of the content marketing tasks critical to your influencer marketing. Create an idea file—Use a spreadsheet, a planning calendar, notes, or any tool you prefer to record collaborative content ideas. Stay positive— Again, influencer marketing is largely reciprocal, and your deeds will mostly be rewarded. When they’re not, don’t take it personally. Move on. If you’re in an attractive and lucrative space, you’ll score plenty of meaningful relationships by putting in the effort. Be helpful—As we stressed in the previous chapter, “Do unto others.” Understand how you can be most helpful and get on it. Make it easy—If you want the cooperation of a busy leader in your field, offer options when asking for something: “We can have a call, chat, email,” or “You can point me to a resource of yours if you’re tight for time.” You get the idea. Don’t be difficult or needy. Keep tabs—Establish a measurement system—formal or otherwise—to help determine whether your efforts are being rewarded or not. Promote your influencers—Recommend your influencers often. Doing so may compel them to share your content or invite you to become a guest blogger on their website. Apply patience—Your first round-up, book review, or interview may not drive you from zero to well-known, but you need to be realistic and patient. When roadblocks occur, try other avenues. If you have the chops to pitch your guest blogging services, use this strategy often. Stay social—Influential people in your industry, especially the content creators, are forever in-tune with social media. Don’t forget this. Forward their cause. If you enjoyed this, it’s because it was a collaborative effort. Because of Placester, Feldman Creative and my bride for putting up with my midnight writing habits, this post became a reality. Seth Price I’m on a mission to transform the way you think about personal branding to empower your life’s work. My keynote speeches connect me with audiences all over the world. Join me in creating ideas for bringing your brand to market.