Getting your name or your company into one of the coveted high engagement posts of an industry influencer can have a dramatic effect on your conversion rates. The right message from a trusted influencer introduces thousands of new people to your business and expands your reach far beyond your own limits. But, how do you get from where you are now to a point where influencers are willing to give your brand a shout out?
Strategies for Influencer Marketing
There are two ways to get influencers to market for you: paid and earned. Paid influence marketing is exactly what it sounds like, with you paying for sponsored posts that will be labeled as ads. There’s a nice short-term benefit to be gained from paying for posts, but the real coveted status is earned influencer marketing.
Earned posts are those that are done by an influencer without you having to ask for them. Since there’s no asking, you also won’t be paying for the exposure you get. This is the golden opportunity for influencer marketing, but it’s a lot easier said than done.
In this article, I’m going to show you 9 actionable steps to help you build a genuine relationship with your favorite online influencers. Genuine brand appreciation and enjoyment is what leads to earned influencer posting, so you need to pay attention and get started now!
1. Invite Input for Group Roundup Posts
Group roundup posts are a win-win for you and your chosen influencers. You will end up with a lot of good information directly from trusted sources in a shareable, easily digestible format. Plus, there is generally little to no monetary cost to this type of posting. Influencers will also get exposure from each other and a credibility boost as an expert in their field or industry.
A great example of this kind of post is a group roundup from Danny Dochev at AdaptRM. He compiled advice about time management from 86 experts and influencers, including Guy Kawasaki, and ended up with more than 6,000 social media shares. That’s above and beyond what an average post on his blog would get, which gives him and all 86 influencers a win-win.
If your own blog or website isn’t well established yet, offer to create a group roundup on a site you contribute to already that has more authority. Influencers will want to see real value in exchange for their time and information. If you cannot give that to them directly, contribution posts to major websites will have similar results and are more likely to be attractive to influencers.
2. Offer Free Products or Services to Influencers
As a business, you have something to offer influencers. Most people appreciate a free gift with no strings attached. Learn about what a specific influencer likes and approach them with either a product you offer or a free trial of your services. If they enjoy it, they’re likely to give you a shout out or acknowledge your business to their followers.
No matter what, do not put pressure on them to promote your business. This is not supposed to be an exchange. Instead, you are giving them a gift they may enjoy and hoping they will post about it if they do. Unless there is a contract or agreement for exchange, they have absolutely no obligation to promote your business simply because you sent them a gift.
This is a good strategy for early contact with an influencer. It shows goodwill in the beginning and demonstrates your intention to form a stronger bond with them. You also leave them with a better understanding of what you offer as a business, helping them get more familiar with you early on.
3. Give Valuable Feedback for Free
Editing content and updating old posts are two things most people don’t enjoy doing. Chances are good that your target influencers don’t enjoy these things either. You can help them out by giving feedback about some of their content for free. Small mistakes like typos or broken links are easy to correct, but can sometimes slip past even a vigilant writer.
Helping give useful feedback to influencers is going to make your stand out more than others who reach out just to agree or commend them on their great content. As long as you keep things friendly in tone and avoid being overly critical or harsh, this is a good strategy to start forming a great bond with an influencer by giving them actual value. Plus, it only costs you time.
4. Guest Post on Influencer Blogs and Websites
Guest posts are a fantastic tool for building relationships with influencers. Most influencers have their own blogs or websites where they regularly post. By asking to contribute a post for them, you can show them that you truly understand the topic and their audience while also creating a personal connection to them. A good guest post will put your name in front of their audience while you’re giving them valuable information or resources. Remember that guest posts are not advertisements.
5. Give Influencers a Shout Out in Your Articles
Mentioning influencers in your own social media posts or written content is a good way to make them aware of who you are and strengthen a relationship. Using influencers as examples for a point you’re trying to make, mentioning them as experts, or linking to something they’ve written as a resource are all great ways to mention influencers.
Giving a mention makes your communication with an influencer feel more like a personal relationship rather than a transactional relationship. You are doing something valuable for them without asking for something in return. This may cause them to promote you directly, but it’s a simple way to build a stronger relationship that may help you get more earned marketing opportunities in the future.
6. Show a Little Love
Making a connection out of nothing is going to be almost impossible. Before you even think about approaching your target influencers, start to build rapport by showing a little love. This includes simple things like engaging in discussion on their social media posts, sharing their content occasionally, and liking posts. Establish yourself as a positive and valuable addition to their personal brand before you approach them with your own ambitions.
7. Comment on Blogs and Posts
Focus on engaging in useful discussion with an influencer. Part of building rapport with an influencer will be going to their personal blogs and leaving comments on posts you find interesting. Don’t stick with simple comments telling them how great their post is, but dig in a little and ask questions, add some insight, or create engagement with other commenters.
Many people read their blog comments and will notice you if you comment on some of their posts. This is especially effective if you are also being engaging on social media because people are more likely to remember you if they are interested in you or what you’re saying.
8. Tune in for Webinars
Many influencers provide free webinars to talk about their area of expertise. Tuning in for the webinar requires a little time from you, but it helps you bring up some more personal topics when you’re corresponding with that influencer in the future. You’ll be able to point to something that was said in the webinar and let them know you’ve been paying attention. You may also get the opportunity to ask them direct questions through the webinar chat.
9. Get into Their Inner Circle
You can get a lot of insight about an influencer by signing up for their newsletter or joining a mailing list. It may give you a better idea of what’s going on with that influencer, chances to try out what they’re offering, and opportunities to engage with them more directly. Most people see mailing lists as an inconvenient way to be advertised to directly, but you can turn it around and use it as a way to help you get closer to your chosen influencers.
Don’t expect influencers to give you an earned marketing exposure if you haven’t brought anything to the table. Shallow, one-off connections with influencers will not get you the full benefits of that relationship. Take your time to focus on building stronger bonds with a few important influencers in your industry. Show them you have value to offer them and they may return that with long-term value and promotion for your brand.