Every niche has its influencers – they may not be Michael Jordan pushing Nike or Ellen DeGeneres pushing CoverGirl makeup. But in their specific niche, they are respected, and their opinions are valued.
Consider, for example, Neil Patel in the niche of content marketing. Not only has he founded companies, but he writes at least 4,000 words a day on his blog, QuickSprout. Content marketers follow him, and startups that want to “get on the map” quickly follow his advice and, in some instances, hire him to help.
If you intend to use influencer marketing, then there are very specific steps you must take to both identify those influencers in your niche and then to court a relationship with them that will benefit your business.
Find Your Influencers
You should already have at least a cursory idea of who the influencers are in your niche. These are the people, who through your own research, have a large online presence in your niche. If you are serious about finding them all, then use some of the available tools that will do just that – Brandwatch, Hootsuite, and Synthesio are just a few. You are looking for those individuals who are producing a lot of content related to your niche and who have large followings.
Rank Your Influencers
The tools mentioned above will provide ranking, based on how large followings those content producers have and how much that content is shared and reposted. Make your own list of rankings. If there is a lot of conversation, as well as lots of sharing, then that is probably an influencer you want to target.
You can’t ask for something from an influencer until you have worked to develop a presence that they recognize.
- Be indirect: Follow their blogs and social media pages. Participate in conversations and do it consistently, so that your name is recognized.
- Ask questions and ask for advice. This is flattering.
- Ask to re-post a piece that they have written – usually, you’ll get that permission
- Mention the influencer often in the content you produce and tag them.
- Request an interview that you can then publish.
All of these overtures establish a relationship with an influencer, and as Saurabh Kumar, Director at Envigo Digital, states: “Building a personal relationship with an influencer is as important as building the professional one. A warm lead is always better than a cold call. ”
Provide Value or Benefit to an Influencer
Once that personal relationship has been established, think what can you offer an influencer in exchange for his/her help to spread your brand? How about a free product or service? One of the most effective reciprocal arrangements is to provide a free product and ask for a review in return. Another obvious benefit is to re-post the content that the influencer publishes and to content.
There are only a couple of “don’ts,” but they are critical.
- Don’t be a “Spammer.” It’s irritating when you keep contacting an influencer and s/he comes to look upon you as a pest. Separate your communications by a week or two.
- Be Sure to Set Specific Guidelines: If you have developed that relationship and the influencer is on board with assisting you, be specific about where you want mentions and reviews to take place. You want to tap into your following.
- Don’t Rely Only on Influencers: you have a community of followers, and you want to keep your relationships going with them. They can become important brand ambassadors with their communities too by sharing your content and bringing others into your “fold.”
Establishing relationships and reciprocal arrangements with influencers is not a quick accomplishment. Be consistent, patient, and build those relationships slowly and methodically. They will pay off if done right.