Tag Archive | "Influencer"

5 Brands That Used Influencer Marketing to Raise Their Profile

Influencer marketing is more than just a marketing buzzword these days. More companies are utilizing this marketing method to boost sales and grow their brands.

For those still confused about what influencer marketing is, it’s simply the act of promoting or selling products or services via influencers, or people who have the ability to affect a brand. Where the main influencers before were celebrities and industry leaders, today’s influencers are more varied. Nowadays, top brands are seeking out bloggers, food critics, makeup mavens and celebrities who rose to fame on platforms like YouTube and Instagram.

Brands that Benefited from Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing provides a lot of benefits. Brands can reach the relevant demographic and enjoy high levels of engagement. It’s also affordable and can help retain a brand’s authenticity. Numerous companies have already successfully leveraged these people to give their brand a boost.

Clinique for Men

Clinique is renowned for its hypoallergenic skincare for women. When the iconic cosmetic company launched a men’s line, they raised product awareness by partnering with a disparate group of male influencers from various professions. These influencers consisted of filmmakers, outdoorsmen, stylists, and lifestyle bloggers, each representing a group of men who would be interested in using Clinique for Men. Every post used in the campaign was unique and defined the influencer. For instance, surfer Mikey de Temple posted a photo of himself wearing his surf gear, with his surfboard in the background, along with a Clinique product.

Clinique’s campaign was golden for several reasons. One, the company’s choice of influencers were so diverse that it expanded the product’s reach. Also, the posts integrated the product smoothly into a setting that was so natural to the influencer. This helped create a more organic interest in Clinique’s men’s line.

Fashion Nova

One brand that has truly embraced influencer marketing is Fashion Nova. According to the company’s founder and CEO, Richard Saghian, Fashion Nova is a viral store that works with 3,000 to 5,000 influencers. Its aggressive marketing efforts rely on lots of model and celebrity influencers, like Kylie Jenner and beauty vlogger Blissful Brii. The former has 93.8 million followers on Instagram while the latter has 93 thousand subscribers on YouTube. These two influencers alone have garnered millions of engagements, likes, and comments for the company.

While other brands go for low-key but very relatable influencers, Fashion Nova went for the celebrities. While this will obviously net a company high-levels of engagement, it can also be costly. But as Fashion Nova has proven, it’s a worthwhile investment.

Lagavulin’s Whiskey Yule Log

This is a magnificent example of how an influencer marketing campaign made a product culturally relevant to a generation. Young people might not have a taste for single malt whiskey, but Lagavulin’s 2016 campaign featuring Nick Offerman changed that. Offerman’s iconic Parks and Rec character, Ron Swanson, is known for his love of whisky. Lagavulin’s 45-minute video took inspiration from YouTube’s yule log videos and simply showed Offerman quietly sipping and enjoying his whiskey next to a fireplace.

The campaign was a success because Lagavulin found the perfect influencer for its brand. Offerman’s character proved to be a critical match for the target audience. As a matter of fact, the campaign was so good that it won an award for Best Influencer & Celebrity Campaign.

Zafferano

Zafferano does not have the same name recall as Nobu or other famous restaurants. But this Singapore-based establishment is a prime example of how social media can be used to boost audience engagement. The company tapped 11 Instagram influencers who are popular in the lifestyle and food category. They invited them to the restaurant for a special meal and in turn, they shared photos of the dishes on Instagram. The influencers also described the dishes and their dining experience. Details like price and availability were also included.

Zafferano’s campaign is notable because of the experience it created for the influencers. This, in turn, helped them come up with authentic and sincere reviews. Since the campaign had such a genuine feel, it encouraged followers to interact and engage with the posts.

Zara

Clothing powerhouse Zara was one of the most profitable companies in 2015, and that’s partly because of its successful influencer marketing campaign. The company’s social media marketing campaign got some help from several top fashion-forward Instagrammers. The Instagram posts shared by these popular influencers showcased Zara’s clothing lines and their followers used these photos to get ideas on what’s currently trending as well as tips on how to work a particular style.

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Zara’s campaign was a success because the company handed the control over to the fashion influencers, the people that customers looked to for fashion advice. The content that was used in the campaign was subtle and useful, which made it even more valuable to the influencers’ thousands of followers.

[Featured image via YouTube]

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Does Influencer Marketing Really Work? Here’s What You Should Know

Companies have to fight tooth and nail to get their message across these days. And while content marketing still has its place, influencer marketing is the new trend, particularly with the ubiquitousness of social media.

The site Relevance likened influencer marketing to “celebrity endorsement advertising,” when Nicole Kidman could plug Chanel #5 or Leonardo di Caprio could extol the virtues of just about any product in commercials and magazines. Influencer marketing is basically the same thing, except that these days, you use “influencers” and social media.

How Does Influencer Marketing Work?

Influencer marketing basically boils down to three things – get in touch with someone with influence, like a popular blogger, get that person to promote your company in some form, and boost your exposure on social media.

Let’s say there’s a lifestyle maven named Party Pat with about 5,000 people following her on her blog and Instagram. You were able to convince Pat to help promote your online bookstore among her followers. She first blogs about her favorite books and mentions your store as her go-to place for ordering books. She later tweets or posts a photo of the latest book that she acquired and mentions how she easily ordered it from your shop and that it arrived in just one day. Her casual mentioning of your store and her experience could prompt her followers to check out your site as well.

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The example might sound simple but it’s actually not. It entails a lot of hard work and preparation. First, you have to find an influencer who’s a good fit for your brand, whether they’re bloggers, YouTubers, writers with regular contributions to popular online sites, or industry experts. Next, you have to reach out and build a rapport with said influencer. Some do this by following the influencer and interacting with him or her while others do it the relatively old-fashioned way and send an email.

If the influencer does respond, you still have to find a way to convince them to promote you. Maybe you can send a sample product or offer to be a guest blogger. Offer compensation is possible but could also be tricky. You have to convince and prove to the influencer that it’s good for them to help you out. This means that if you’re going to guest post, your content should be impeccable. If you’re going to send a sample product, it should be high quality.

3 Tips for Using Influencers

If you are convinced that influencer marketing will help you and your brand, consider the following tips:

  1. Know that the relationship between the brand, the influencer, and the audience must be real.

Image result for real relationship with brandInfluencers have a strong following on social media because they capture their audience’s interest; they have established a relationship with them. Maybe they’re the same age as their audience, have the same interests, or have undergone the same life experiences. This strong relationship with their followers means influencers will only work with a company or brand that they and their audience believe in. For example, an influencer known for her quirky and affordable style of clothes won’t suddenly start campaigning for a high-end shoe brand.

  1. Be ready to play long-term.

Don’t go into influencer marketing thinking that one sponsored post will shore up your business. While a one-time mention by a mega-influencer can make a big difference, it’s a rare, and very expensive, situation. Most of the time, influencer marketing should be looked at as a long-term approach, as you have to slowly build trust among the influencer’s followers.  Followers might have to see his favorite influencer trying or mentioning your product several times before they become curious enough to explore and give your brand a try.

  1. Give creative control over to the influencer.

You might have complete control over your marketing strategy when it comes to traditional advertising, but influencer marketing is far from conventional. The goal is for your brand to have a quality engagement with the influencer’s audience. To achieve that, you have to relinquish creative control to the influencer, as they know their audience. They understand the best way to introduce your brand and make their followers receptive to it.

Does Influencer Marketing Work?

Image result for online influencer effectiveness

There’s some controversy on whether or not influencer marketing really works. Data from a 2016 marketing survey has shown that 94% of those who used this marketing strategy believed it works. However, what the ROI is of influencer marketing is still something of a challenge this year. But there’s no question that this strategy has wide reach, especially with Facebook and Instagram being key platforms for influencer marketing.

Influencer marketing might not be for every company, but there’s no doubting its influence on today’s social media savvy consumers.  

[Image via Pixabay]

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Influencer Marketing: Should You Pursue High Profile or Socially Authoritative Brand Advocates?

searching-for-influencers

We’ve been talking a lot about influencers lately – and with good reason. The right mix of thought leaders and valuable content can catapult any integrated marketing campaign into vast new heights and audiences. Finding and connecting with those ideal influencers, however, has always been the challenge.

While there are multiple discovery tools available for influencer marketing research, identifying your influencers is only part of the battle. The next part is reconciling them with your overall program objectives. It’s here that we’ve witnessed disconnects between marketing teams and their executive leadership – and where the need for executive buy-in is crucial for any influencer marketing campaign. Executives may crave big names – chief executives of major industry organizations who may/may not have an active social presence.

Additionally, any influencer marketing campaign should always provide value to your influencers (as well as your brand). In order to get the right influencers on board, it needs to be a mutually beneficial relationship.

As you look to achieve executive buy-in for any influencer campaigns, recognize the pros/cons of social influence as the primary determinant for your research.

Seeking High Profile Influencers

Those who venture into the world of influencer marketing may dream of attracting major executives or thought leaders into their campaigns. These influencers may likely contribute regularly to high-visibility blogs like Forbes, Search Engine Watch, or their own personal blogs.

Collaborating with a high profile influencer could add instant credibility to your marketing initiatives, though relying on this metric alone can reduce overall amplification potential.

  • Pros of Collaborating with High Profile Influencers
    • Immediate access to a large audience, with a variety of audience and traits
    • Instant credibility for your message with media, press relations
  • Potential Hurdles of Collaborating with High Profile Influencers
    • If social presence is limited, campaign might not have long-term viability
    • Getting participation from high profile influencers may be challenging

Availability is the primary barrier for connecting with big names for your content. Assume that most high-visibility influencers are fielding requests like yours every day, and might not have the time to fully dedicate themselves to your program. Again, this is where the value you offer to the influencers you work with comes into play. Do what you can to make it easy for them to participate and clearly articulate the potential value to them for collaborating.

Focusing on Socially Active Influencers

When we look to define what makes an influencer, clout definitely plays a factor. But what if we also look for those who trade major publication bylines for frequent social activities?

These are your potential advocates – influencers who already dedicate significant time to foster their social communities. They may or may not have the immediate draw of big name contacts, but they can offer sustained support beyond the initial campaign launch.

  • Pros of Socially Active Influencers
    • Built-in social amplification opportunities with current audience
    • Greater availability and variety in verticals and messaging
  • Potential Hurdles Working with Socially Active Influencers
    • Overall reach limited may be limited
    • Must build credibility overtime without well-known influencers

Building credibility is the main challenge in collaborating with influencers that are socially active but are not high profile. However, they in turn offer greater opportunities for long-term relationships between themselves and your brand.

Circle Back to the Objectives

When weighing the decision to prioritize what types of influencers you pursue, it always helps to review the overall program objectives. Is your influencer campaign built around awareness of a major initiative or product launch? Perhaps you may want to consider collaborating with some high profile influencers to add credibility to your brand message.

Conversely, are you looking to build a long-term campaign that dissects industry changes and teaches new processes? In this case, socially active influencers might be advantageous in that evergreen scenario.

What combination of high profile and socially authoritative influences have you found works best for your organization?

Image via Shutterstock 


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Influencer Marketing: Should You Pursue High Profile or Socially Authoritative Brand Advocates? | http://www.toprankblog.com

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How to Improve Influencer Engagement? Avoid These 50 Fails

Influencer Marketing

Brands: Stop Doing These Things!

Influencer Marketing is hot and that means the value of influencer relationships is higher than ever.

Working hard to romance in-demand experts to collaborate, co-create and even advocate can be a substantial investment. The mutual benefit from these long term relationships can mean anything from hugely successful marketing programs for brands to top billing at speaking events, book deals and consulting work for the influencers.

Unfortunately, outreach communications, expectations and negotiations with influencers to work together are often so lacking of empathy, relevant context or even courtesy that the industry expert “checks out”. Losing influencers is sad and wasteful.

But it doesn’t have to be that way if you know what makes them leave. Trust me, I work on influencer outreach nearly every day (sending and receiving) and am both guilty of committing some of these influencer marketing sins and having them committed against me.

So, with a little help from some of my marketing influencer friends, here’s a big list of what NOT to do.

50 ways to lose your influencer:

  1. Using the wrong name in a pitch email or other inaccurate information (that should really be correct).
  2. TLDR requests that take forever or never get to get to the point.
  3. Irrelevant requests that have little if anything to do with the influencer’s expertise.
  4. Not making it clear what the value exchange is.
  5. Being too familiar and friendly with influencers on the first contact. Hey, we’re not actually friends (yet) are we?
  6. Making it difficult by asking numerous, complicated questions, like those fun essays in college.
  7. Unreasonable deadlines: “Hi you don’t know me,  but please send me 1,000 words by tomorrow.”
  8. No credibility. Emailing a pitch from a gmail address and pointing to a website that looks really spammy or just bad.
  9. #influencerstalking Following up one day after the first pitch. Then again the next day. Then again the next day and so on.
  10. #failuretofollowup Asking for participation and then never following up.
  11. Cold shoulder. Engaging an influencer online several times and then ignoring them when in person at industry events.
  12. Lying or being disingenuous in any way.
  13. Bait and switch. Offering access to a tool to preview, then requiring an guided demo where the influencer is “sold to”.
  14. Bait and switch 2. Inviting the influencer to an event, then requiring attendance of a presentation where the influencer is “sold to”.
  15. Micromanage. Requiring an unpaid influencer to cover specific topics in specific ways to the brand’s benefit that are not natural to the influencer (or their community).
  16. Taking advantage. Expecting an influencer to do for free, what really should be paid for – moderating a panel, writing substantial content, extensive participation requirements.
  17. When a brand takes unearned credit for ideas the influencer created, wrote about and used in their business.
  18. Misappropriating. Using influencer content in ways never intended, especially when it is monetized by the brand or someone else entirely. Also, misrepresenting how the influencer’s contribution will be used. For example, saying it is for a public article and then using it for a gated ebook.
  19. Making public, disparaging remarks or being disrespectful about an influencer.
  20. Not being patient – these people are busy!
  21. Switching the conditions of participation – shame on everyone if there is not a written, signed agreement for specific expectations.
  22. Not being thankful for the influencer’s efforts. This goes both ways too – influencers should be thankful for the opportunity as well.
  23. Failure to communicate. Managing communications and coordination poorly, in a disorganized way and without clear direction.
  24. No edits. Publishing influencer content “as-is” without copyediting.
  25. Being an asshat. Going over the line with sarcastic humor in influencer communications – you really need to know if they’re in to that.
  26. Slimy SEO. Taking the influencer’s contribution and then SEO-ing the heck out of it with keywords and anchor text galore.
  27. Backchannelling. Reaching out the the influencer’s “boss” or co-worker to ask why the influencer hasn’t responded to pitch emails.
  28. Not being clear about the premise or context of the ask and thereby confusing the pitch.
  29. Being one sided. When brands do not follow through on commitments made to the relationship.
  30. And you are? Changing the client side contact and not doing any kind of hand off to ensure continuity.
  31. Making it incredibly difficult to share the result of the brand/influencer collaboration. i.e. not providing pre-written tweets and social shares, properly sized graphics, embed codes, etc.
  32. Inappropriate asks. “As for asks like promoting your product (books, webinars, conferences, etc.) in exchange for affiliate revenue please DON’T.” via Carlos Gil
  33. “Out-of-the-blue Asks. I get requests from people I know really well every week. What makes you think I’ll make time to work with you if I’ve never interacted with you before? Take some time to comment on my posts, rate my podcast, review my book. I’ll return the favor in a heartbeat. If you hit my inbox out of nowhere… Delete.” via Drew Davis
  34. Too soon. “My pet peeve is when someone follows me on Twitter or Instagram and/or fans me on Facebook and immediately reaches out to me with a request to check out their business.” via Kim Garst
  35. “Ask Them To Sell. Your influencer is there to help you increase the awareness, association and consideration of your brand in a certain space – not to shill for you.” via Gerry Moran
  36. Using the wrong channels to communicate: “Sending me a message about LinkedIn using Facebook.” via Jason Miller
  37. Hello, can I interrupt you? Calling an influencer without an appointment to pitch. via Mark Schaefer
  38. Peerless pressure. PR people that try to persuade influencer involvement because their peers are involved too – except they are not. via Mark Schaefer
  39. Impersonal pitches. When companies send out generic en masse pitches, like a robo-call, but via email. The personal touch can make or break an influencer’s decision to engage. via Chad Pollitt
  40. “Don’t tell me your story, let me tell my story. ‘LESS fabrication, MORE facilitation’ = a boost to your Return on Relationship, #RonR.” via Ted Rubin
  41. Lazy duplication. “When you get that really interesting Tweet inviting you to take a look at something and then when you click through to it you also see that they have composed basically the same message to 579 other people on Twitter.” via John Jantsch
  42. Delegated and impersonal. “Reach out to me directly yourself. Do NOT delegate this critical step to your marketing agency, PR professional, team member, assistant or intern. Do it yourself and make your note personal. If you want me to respond, I expect you to do the asking yourself.” via Heidi Cohen
  43. “Not greasing the skids. Influencers are most likely to add commentary if there is some kind of existing relationship.  This means at least some kind of history where the person reaching out has already been sharing the influencer content.” via Joe Pulizzi
  44. “Expecting too much in one ask. For example, writing a 1000 word article on your platform due this week without a previous relationship.” via Joe Pulizzi
  45. Misleading opportunity. “Asking for 30 minutes of my time to discuss a “partnership” – which actually means you want me to sell your stuff to my clients.” via Ardath Albee
  46. Asks that are complicated, ambiguous and without deadlines. via Rebecca Lieb
  47. Not following up with that blog post, ebook, or copy of the interview the influencer contributed to. Influencers are indeed interested in seeing the fruits of their labors. via Rebecca Lieb
  48. Abusing the kindness of an influencer by asking over and over again without showing any special consideration. “Set the tone and rules upfront. Influencers can’t be expected to take part in everything you do, so say that. Set the ground rules and expectations.” via Bryan Kramer
  49. Giving up, as in not being persistent (over time) with credible, relevant offers and reasons to engage. “Give them a reason to come back, ask them what they are working on and keep the conversation going.” via Bryan Kramer
  50. Spamming. “Signing up for an app that spams your “top influencer” with automated messages is a sure path to a rocky relationship.” via Glen Gilmore

Basically your takeaway from this list is, don’t do these things! Learn from these mistakes, pet peeves and advice.

To be successful with an influencer relationship, brands need to consistently make an effort to research the experts they want to engage and find out what motivates them. Create value and set clear expectations. Make working with your brand a very easy and satisfying experience. Listen and communicate in a meaningful way – not too different than any relationship, actually.

For brand marketers that want to point their influencer marketing efforts in the right direction, I recommend these collections of resources for best practices:

  • Featured Influencer Marketing ResourcesTraackr
  • What You Need to Know About Content & Influencer Marketing. BONUS: Case Study and 18 articlesTopRank Marketing
  • Influencer Marketing eBooksGroupHigh
  • Influencer Marketing EducationOnalytica
  • Social Listening in Practice: Influencer MarketingBrandwatch

You can also learn more about the influencer marketing services at TopRank Marketing.

If you’ve been on the receiving end of influencer outreach and communications, what are some of your pet peeves?

Photo: Shutterstock


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Looking for a college-bound influencer? Look on YouTube

Dorm HaulYou may think that big chains like Walmart, Target and Staples control back-to-school shopping but the real power is in the hands of the YouTube haulers.

These young women have the eyes and ears of the older teens headed off to college and the younger teens who are dreaming about the future. Sitting in their sparkly bedrooms, they show off everything from hangers to sheets, to communal shower must-haves and tools for whipping up a “no kitchen needed” snack.

Think Google says that searches for “back to school haul” on YouTube are up 70% this year. Searches for “dorm hauls” on YouTube doubled in the first 10 days of August.

Hoping to be first in line, this year’s haulers released twice as many back-to-school haul videos in the first seven months of 2014 as they did in 2013. Last year, most of the videos went up in August but this year a large number of videos launched in July. Send them all a thanks for helping to extend the BTS shopping season.

The best thing about the dorm haul audience is that its made up of young, first time decision makers who are still open to trying new brands. Mom is going to suggest her old favorite brands, but daughter is more likely to listen to the suggestions of a YouTube star.

Google also makes note of a spin-off trend; dorm tour videos.

In these videos, college students show off their rooms with an emphasis on decor, storage and comfort. I think these videos are popular because they take some of the fear out the process. So many TV shows and movies revolve around the college outcast who is homesick or stuck with a wacky roommate. YouTube dorm tour videos are proof that college life can be fun and exciting.

This chart shows the number of “dorm tour” searches on YouTube. What a difference over last year.

a-report-card-on-back-to-school_articles_04

The final trend is Dorm DIY. “Dorm decor” searches on Google are up 37% YOY. Teen DIY in general is a huge trend as kids look for cheap and imaginative ways to spruce up their bedrooms and everything they own. The current king of DIY products is Washi Tape. This is a paper tape that comes in every possible color and pattern. Scrapbookers and cardmakers were the first to use it and now it’s grown into an industry all its own.

Consumers searching for dorm room-related topics are about 100x more likely to be searching for washi tape than the average Google user and about 150x more likely to be searching for wall decals. (Google Data)

Google even has a chart!

Washi Tape SearchesIf you can mix Washi Tape with your product or service, you’re golden.

Bottom line, if you’re trying to reach a Millennial audience, spend some time on YouTube watching the dorm haul videos. Then reach out to the YouTubers with product samples or a sponsorship opportunity. The worst thing that can happen is they’ll ignore you. Terrible if you’re a teen but you’re a grown-up, you can take it.

Marketing Pilgrim – Internet News and Opinion

Este documental es una incursión en los entresijos de Google ahora que está yendo más allá de su rentabilísimo motor de búsqueda y del negocio de la publicid…
Video Rating: 4 / 5

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How to Create an Influencer Plan that Drives Your Content Marketing

Image of Red Phone

When we first launched the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) back in 2007, we had little more than two nickels to rub together. Today, the site averages 130,00 unique visitors per month, almost 300,000 page views, and more than 50,000 email newsletter subscribers (both daily and weekly).

In each category, this is double our performance from 2012, and almost all of our revenue at CMI, in one way or another, can be traced to one CMI blog post.

I share these results with you because I believe any company can reproduce the same kind of results by being eternally focused and diligently consistent with the creation and distribution of exceptional content.

Below you’ll find the case study of how we did it.

Getting started

With minimal resources and budget, we looked at all available options for creating content. After looking at the competitive landscape and audience need (our audience consists of marketing managers and directors in mostly enterprise organizations), we believed there was an opportunity for daily instructional posts about the practice of content marketing.

We started with a budget of $ 6,000 per month to cover five posts per week. (We didn’t start weekend posting until 2012. Today, we publish once per day, seven days a week.) Those funds needed to cover raw content costs, editing costs, proofreading, uploading into WordPress, and any images for individual posts. It goes without saying, but this was not much to work with. Most of our competition has 10 to 50 times this amount of budget.

The only feasible way we thought we could make this work was to reach out to outside contributors, without paying them, in exchange for promoting them on our site.

The influencer list

Luckily, we had a head start with a defined influencer list.

We defined an influencer as a blogger, competitor, or media organization that was creating content of interest to our target audience. We actually rated our influencer list quarterly in something called the Top 42 Content Marketing Blogs.

Initially, this list was made up of influencers we found by tracking keywords (like “content marketing”) in Google Alerts, authors in industry trade publications, those who were talking about the topic on Twitter, and other bloggers that we just found interesting. Although the main list included 42 people, there was a secondary database of more than 300 people that we tracked in one way or another.

Getting the attention of influencers

As influencers, these people are fairly important.

They generally have real jobs, and are extremely active on social networks, spending their time sharing content and blogging. Getting on their radar is not easy. So, to get their attention, we gave away content gifts.

We did this in a few different ways …

Social media 4-1-1

Originally coined by Andrew Davis, author of Brandscaping, Social Media 4-1-1 is a sharing system that enables a company to get greater visibility with social influencers.

Here’s how it works.

For every six pieces of content shared via social media (think Twitter for example):

  • Four are pieces of content from your influencer target that are also relevant to your audience. This means that 67% of the time you are sharing content that is not yours, and calling attention to content from your influencer group.
  • One piece can be your original, educational piece of content.
  • One piece can be your sales piece, like a coupon, product notice, press release or some other piece of content that no one will pay attention to.

While the numbers don’t have to be exact, it’s the philosophy that makes this work. When you share influencer content, they notice. And you share, without asking for anything in return … so that when you do need something someday, the influencers are more likely to say yes.

Big content gifts

As we tracked our “top content marketing blogger” list, we decided we could get better visibility with influencers by actually ranking the influencers and sharing it out with the masses.

This was an incredible success.

We hired an outside research expert to put together a methodology of how to rank the top bloggers, looking at areas like consistency, style, helpfulness, originality, and social sharing. Then each quarter, we would publicize the list, showcase the top 10, send out a press release, and try to make a big deal out of it.

Needless to say, the top 10 and the honored top 42 loved the list. (Copyblogger was a two-time winner.) Not only did most of this influencer group share the list with their audiences, approximately half of the top 42 influencers placed our widget (with their personal rank) on their home page, linking back to our site. So not only are we building long-term relationships with these influencers, we are getting credible links and traffic as well.

In addition to the top bloggers list, we started to put together large educational ebooks showcasing the influencers work.

For example, in 2009 and again in 2011, we launched the Content Marketing Playbook (the 2013 version is in production). The Playbook included over 50 case studies about content marketing, with many coming directly from our influencers. We made sure to note in the Playbook which examples came from which influencers.

When we released the Playbook and let the influencers know about the eBook, those we highlighted in the Playbook eagerly shared the content with their audiences.

Why was this important?

When we first started with this idea, CMI didn’t have a large audience, so we had to either pay for promotion of the eBook or get an incredible amount of social sharing. The influencer sharing is what made it possible for us to reach 50,000 downloads of the eBook in a fairly short time period.

The importance of a community blog

As we didn’t have the resources to pay for raw, educational content about content marketing, we knew exactly where we needed to turn … our influencers.

When we announced the original CMI blog, the first group we reached out to was our database of social influencers. Dozens of these influencers were more than happy to help us out, as we had promoted them for years, without ever asking for anything in return.

Michele Linn served as our content editor, organizing the editorial calendar and topics with each of the influencers. It was Michele’s job to heavily edit the influencer content we received. Yes, most of them were already pretty decent writers, but we wanted their content to really shine. Why? We believed that if we presented them as true rock stars on our site, with amazingly helpful content, the influencers would be more likely to share the content with their audience.

This was critical, because at the time we had very little reach and following online … we needed to leverage their networks in order for us to build our network.

Influencer program results

CMI started to see positive traffic patterns almost immediately simply because of the amount of social sharing from the network.

That, in turn, led to more social sharing and some amazing SEO results. The CMI blog platform has enabled us to launch the largest content marketing event in the world, a magazine, two webinars per month, and every other revenue-generating activity we have.

While you may or may not launch a blog that has outside contribution like ours, committing to maintaining a social influencer list is a critical component to your social sharing program. Oh, one outside benefit I wasn’t expecting — a good number of people on our social influencer list are now good friends of mine.

How’s that for social media magic?

Editor’s Note: This post was adapted from Joe Pulizzi’s third book, Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less, released this month.

About the Author: Joe Pulizzi is founder of Content Marketing Institute, which puts on the largest in-person content marketing event in the world: Content Marketing World.  You can find Joe on Twitter @JoePulizzi. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange.

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