Let’s face the fact: Content marketing takes time.
In fact, the average time for content marketing to show significant results is between 12 and 18 months.
So if you’ve also started with content marketing, chances are you need to deliver quality content consistently for at least a year to penetrate the platform.
Especially getting your first 100 email subscribers, first 1000 page views, first 10 clients are the hardest of all when starting from zero.
Thankfully you can even fast-forward this process by aligning influencers within your content marketing.
Here’s the framework I use to illustrate the fundamentals of content marketing →
- Business goals
- Well understanding of psychographic and demographic details of the audience
- Content platforms where your audience spend time
- People who influence your ideal audience
- Finding what type of content to create to grab their attention
From the above framework, aligning influencers within your content strategy will boost your content reach faster.
Let’s learn why?
💡 Benefits of aligning influencers in content marketing strategy
- It helps your brand to build credibility (when you associate yourself with industry experts, your brand value and credibility also increases)
- Fast way of reaching a large relevant audience (You don’t need to beat any algorithm to reach thousands of people)
- Free of cost (Every tip I will share in this guide will cost you nothing except consistency and effort)
- Long term relationship with influencers and experts leads to referrals, future opportunities, etc.
Let’s understand how you can leverage the influencers within your niche.
First things first. Targeting the right influencers is crucial for any early-stage brand.
Influencers with a huge following or popularity in the market are very hard to reach as they get tons of messages and requests every day.
Also, Influencers with small followings and that too irrelevant aren’t going to help you in your business goals.
Therefore, the first step is to get the right influencers, balance the relevant audience, and reach easy reach.
Method 1: Using SparkToro
SparkToro is a tool for getting audience insights such as what specific group of people reads, watches, and listens to.
In fact, you can even use this tool to get a list of possible influencers.
Step 1: Create a free SparkToro account
Every account (free version) gives 10 free searches/month, which is more than enough to get good results.
Step 2: Type a search term that people frequently talk about.
For this, you need to know what your audience is interested in. For example, let’s consider the search term that your audience frequently talks about is ‘Marketing Automation.’
Then click ‘Discover Now.’
Step 3: Find hidden gems
Now, SparkToro will show you a list of influencers in different categories such as:
- Social media
Now, you’ll get the list of experts, brands who influence your target audience.
But there is an issue here.
You’ll find influencers that are very popular or have large followings in the specific niche in most cases. I’ve already told you that the more famous influencers are, the harder it is to get their attention.
Fortunately, SparkToro has a solution for this; Hidden gems.
Once you click on hidden gems, you’ll get a list of influencers for brands with small followers size yet a very high engagement with their content.
This solves two problems simultaneously.
- First, they are reachable and approachable as compared to very popular experts in the field.
- Second, your audience engages with them.
So getting these people in your content strategy will have business benefits as well.
“The best way to involve influencers is to ask NOTHING of them. Just start creating content and publicize their efforts and expertise. This could be a research project, an e-book, a list, a book or some other compilation.”— Joe Pulizzi (The godfather of content marketing)
Method 2: Search for author profiles
No matter which industry you’re in, you’ll get many websites or publications that have many authors, bloggers.
For example, in my case, I prefer the Content Marketing Institute, which publishes many great articles every week and has a large group of authors.
In the next stage, I’ll show you different ways of leveraging influencers. But as of now, let’s dive deep into how to find the right influencers.
Now, reasons for approaching authors from famous publishes are:
- Since these people are content creators, your chance of getting them to write a contributor quote or be a podcast guest is easier.
- You’ll also get contact details or their social media profiles to outreach them. So you don’t need to do extensive research to find where to connect with them.
Here’s an example from CMI author profiles:
Method 3: Google search
Simply search on Google to get lists of top influencers in your industry.
You may search for:
- “Influencers to follow in [industry name]”
- “Top [industry name] influencers on [social media channel name]”
That way, you will get a list of many relevant influencers with their contact details.
Once you’re done with these methods to find the right influencers, you’re ready to go to the next stage.
Handpicked article: Guide to content marketing strategy for early startups
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💡 How to align influencers in content marketing
Method 1: contributor quotes
Contributor quotes are the easiest of all yet very underrated by content marketers.
Getting contributor quotes is a way to get an expert opinion on a specific topic and include it in your next article.
For one of my articles, Larry Kim contributed a quote on making blog standouts in 2021. Check below.
Follow this step-by-step process of getting experts to contribute, share and even link back to your content.
As of now, you’ve already understood the process of finding the right influencers.
Next, outreaching with a short and to-the-point message.
Before I share my template for outreaching, you need to understand the basics:
- Never automate your outreaching process. It may leave a bad impression in front of the influencers.
- Study before asking. Everyone says personalized email or message is important to get replies. And, to personalize your message, you may check out their upcoming webinars, latest books and go through what topic excites them.
- Make your message short and to the point. Most of all, stop giving compliments just for getting attention (ex: Saying “you’re the best marketer our generation have ever seen” to everyone doesn’t work)
Get through my template that I mostly use (but again, I make it personalize consider the person I am trying to contact)
Instead of copying the same, model this template and customize it.
Share the early access of your article to all of the contributors. One thing to avoid is asking for links.
Yes, getting links is essential for any site to rank higher on search engines. But asking for links sounds like you’re asking too much in the first interaction.
Important note: Consider your goal is to build a long-term relationship with these influencers, not a one-time relationship just for a single share or link.
At most, you may ask for sharing your article only if they like. But I prefer not to ask anything except thanking them for contributing to their blog.
The question you may ask is if we don’t ask for sharing, then will they ever take time to share your content piece?
The answer is yes. Not everyone but many of them would love to share.
Here’s one of the examples:
Case study: How one article got shared with 100,000 followers and 25,000 email subscribers at $0 cost (that too without SEO)
“Influencers get dozens of requests per day. 99% of the time, it’s useless and has no value. So, think about how you can use content to help them. To make them look good.
Do that, and they’ll happily promote YOUR content to THEIR network.”— Steven Macdonald (Online marketing expert)
Most people think of driving traffic only from SEO and social sharing, whereas Steven Macdonald, an online marketing expert, leveraged the power of aligning influencers in content marketing.
Here’s the exact step-by-step process used by Steven:
The process starts with finding the right influencers (relevant to your industry and has expertise in your content topic). The tool you can use to find influencers is FollowerWonk.
Next, reach out to the influencer and giving them exclusive access (mainly preview of the article before it goes live) to the content.
Thanks to Steven, you can download the email outreach template for free, thanks to Steven.
Now, once the article is live, influencers tend to share the content with their audience.
But before expecting the same result from your campaign, make sure:
- Identifying the key influencers is the most important step to consider
- Your content is amazing in terms of quality
- It has to look great (Focus on customized images, user experience; do everything that makes your content stand out)
Join Steven’s newsletter on content strategy (Highly recommended to all content marketers)
Method 2: Interview
When you can’t be the guest of someone else’s show, be the host of your own show.
Another easy way of building brand credibility is by interviewing experts and industry influencers.
Again, start by creating a list of possible influencers who got your audience. To get a higher conversion rate, you may need to start with targeting not so popular influencers. One after one, you’ll be able to network with more experts.
The secret why influencers would love be a guest of your show:
You have a targeted audience even the number is small; Newsletter, social media followings, blog traffic all can be considered as an valid audience.
💡 Final words
Collaboration isn’t a new tactic used in marketing yet very few content marketers consider collaborative content marketing as an effective way of building an audience and getting traction.
So the best possible thing you can do right away is by creating a list of influencers (follow the process mentioned in the guide) and then start trying to involve them within your content marketing instead of targeting influencers.
That’s all to share. Before you leave, make sure you join the content marketing newsletter where I share insanely actionable content marketing insights and lots of free resources.
Rafiqul is a content marketing practitioner with 3+ years of practical experience. He spend most of his time helping businesses to build a loyal audience with content marketing. You’ll find him sharing SEO, Blogging and content marketing tips on his blog. His research and review of SparkToro was praised by Rand Fishkin. In the free time, he loves reading books and playing football.