Top of mind for most marketing directors is the eternal quest to create relationships with influencers. Capturing their attention, forging a relationship, fostering good will – and getting them to share your content. Every content marketer knows this is the alchemy that turns base metal into gold. But achieving this transmutation is often easier said than done.
Value Is The Measure And it comes down to a simple reason: how can you even approach a famous (and busy) influencer without seeming self-serving and off-putting? Ask not, O despairing creator of content, what value you seek to gain, but what value you bring to the relationshi
Knowledge Is Power Capturing the attention of influencers is first and foremost a matter of understanding those influencers. What matters to them? What do they care about? Not knowing their passions and peeves can mean that generic emails and other clumsy attempts at contact will bounce higher than a rubber ball. Like a general planning an extended campaign, your first concern is climate and terrain. Stalk those influencers whom you hope to woo; understand where they’re coming from. Once you can grasp solidly what they value, you can plan on bringing that value to the content you create.
A Bridge Over Digital Waters What you want is an organic connection with influencers. Creating content that is of value to influencers is a natural way to build bridges and nourish relationships with them. Seed content is the value-rich, USDA Grade-A content that you can share with influencers that will grow and blossom into a strong, reciprocal relationship of mutual advantage.
Planning Your Campaign Like a general marshaling your troops, you need to know where your allies are. So step one is finding the influencers you need to build relationships with. This is more important than might at first seem. For a successful endeavor, you need to target your influencers with precision – simply aiming to attract a major influencer qua major influencer will likely lead to disaster. Remember that you will be crafting content that will align with the influencers you target. Too random a spread of potential targets will leave your own content open to the danger of seeming random and scattered. An apparent case of content schizophrenia is not likely to win you friends and influencers. No, Precious, it won’t.
Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold Goldilocks can teach us much about seed content marketing, O seeker-after-wisdom, as well as the perils of bear habitat management. Just like that porridge, you want a middle-of-the-road approach when casting your net for influencers — not too wide (remember the threat of seeming a content schizo) nor too narrow. If your target influencers are too narrowly focused in terms of audience, then you’ll be sowing much but reaping little. Instead, include influencers in niches related to your field. In this way, you broaden the reach and will have the opportunity of reaching a larger audience.
Quality Over Quantity When you’re looking critically at influencers the temptation is strong to assess them in terms of the size of their following. This can be a serious mistake. For the reward to equal the effort involved in crafting seed content (strategic work, creative work, hard work) you need to see some serious traction – in other words, you need to assess engagement in relation to audience. You want people to see your stuff. An engaged audience is more likely to result in benefits to you than a mass of uninterested or tepid followers. Before you reach for your Ouija board to figure out engagement levels, there are more reliable tools available to the modern marketer. Twrtland is an easy-to-use tool that allows users to search by subject and then filter results according to influencers’ characteristics. Remember – engagement for your purposes is a function of how often an influencer communicates and their popularity with audience.
To Be Or Not To Be, What Is Seed Content? It is easier to say up front what seed content should not be. Generic, empty, not personalized, boring, predictable. That one-size-fits-all promo piece or the oh-so-tired discount code is the very hallmark of death. Such is an effort is stillborn – your targeted influencer gets squillions of these, and most likely ignores them all. But most importantly in the no-way-Jose column: never create work for your potential partner. So, out goes the request to review a product or service.
This can happen down the rosy path – but starting off the relationship by assigning homework is not conducive to the sweetness-and-light you need to make an a friend. You hated it in school, so what makes you think it’s peachy keen for grown-ups? To get noticed, you need to be different. Yes, creativity is a key element in this, and creativity is not as easy to channel as that dead-as-a-dodo promo bit or discount. Be not afraid, however, for there is firm ground to build on before ever you seek the guidance of the mystical marketing muse. It comes back to value.
You already have this in hand. How can you benefit your influencers? Think along these lines: how can I make this influencer’s life easier? Will an infographic based on advice this influencer has given be of use? Can a blog post help support a key area of concern to this influencer? Maybe a white paper? Or an ebook? Offer your talent to make this influencer smile, and you have a better chance to receive a warm response to your initial tentative communication.
Never, Never Be A Little Brother No, we are not by extension advocating an Orwelian dystopian world view predicated upon the omnipresence of a tyrannical BIG Brother who seeks to strip away every ounce of personal autonomy and privacy. Rather, gentle reader, we issue a summons to recall good manners. Don’t make a nuisance of yourself. To that end, we humbly offer etiquette tips for those jittery first-time overtures to influencers, to wit, sticking your nose in their business without irritating them, or How To Emit Effective Emails That Don’t Engender Enemies.
Tip The First: Brevity is the soul of discretion. People, you’re not writing Moby Dick. Nor are you Garrison Keillor – keep to the Aristotelian unities! No subplots, melodramas, surprise endings. Keep it short and sweet, and for goodness’ sake be lucid.
Tip The Second. Don’t ask for anything. Can’t stress this enough, the way to make friends is by offering them pure value – make their life easier, and they’re likely to return the favor.
Tip The Third. Be Charming. Be personable. Let the form letter be anathema to you. Make every communication with influencers personal and real. Nor should you fawn. Listen to soothing music as you compose the e-mail. Drink tea. Be happy.
Tip The Fourth. Don’t pester. If your content gains you nothing, admit defeat. Yes, it stinks to work hard and gain nothing, but in this vale of tears, it is more often plain porridge and hard cheese than rainbows and lollipops. Sending a thousand ‘didya see my e-mail, didya?’ emails only lowers the tone. Remember, O fellow marketing warrior, dignity, always dignity.
To Sum Up When trying to make a real, vital connection with influencers in your and related niches, you are attempting to breakthrough what amounts to an avalanche of similar offers of partnership. By focusing on making your potential partner’s life just that much easier, you’re moving beyond the hackneyed world of marketing clichés into a realm of mutual advantage – and more importantly, respect.