We all want to be influential.
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So our conversations often become about influencer marketing—you know, the fine art of getting big kahunas in your camp. To achieve greater reach and resonance (ooh, fancy marketing words), you try to win over the people who already have it. And it can be amazingly effective.
I’ve found a fair share of articles and eBooks on influencer marketing, which cover the basics, but haven’t seen many practical and powerful “go get it done” lists. Consequently, I created one.
For the past four years, I’ve put a lot of time and effort into influencer marketing. Today, I’m going to share with you action items I’ve put in play that are paying off as well as several examples of efforts I was involved in.
I’m going to assume you’ve already identified your kahunas and dive right into my suggestions.
1. Buy their books
Influencers write books. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Authors become influencers. Buy their books and read them. Write reviews. Believe me, they’ll notice. Tell the author you dug the book and tell the world too. This is a solid strategy.
Example: In one of my first posts, I did this for Michael Stelzner’s “Launch.” I think I actually picked up this tip from Mike. (I’ve picked up a lot of tips from him.)
2. Engage on their blog
Influencers blog. Make their blogs your first meeting ground. Read. Subscribe. Comment. Ask questions. Influence marketing relies on dialogue, so make the conversation happen and you’ll get on the writer’s radar.
3. Promote their work on social media
If there’s a no-duh suggestion in this post, this is it. Influencers take social media seriously. You need to too. Promote them as part of your content curation and help prime their popularity.
4. Connect at conferences
There’s no better opportunity to connect with influential people in your field than to attend the conferences they speak at.
My friend Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media Studios said it best. “Nothing comes close to the quality of face-to-face time. Success comes from opportunities, which come from relationships, which come from events.”
5. Send them mail
As effective as social media may be, you can make an unforgettable impression on an influencer you’d like to connect with by sending a note or small token of your appreciation by mail.
Follow-up a meeting, conversation or even an online exchange by mail. Chances are great, the “touch” will be appreciated and forever remembered.
6. Join the blogging revolution
If you’re not blogging, it’s time to start. The influencers you target need a reference point when you succeed in getting on their radar. A LinkedIn page is a start, but won’t compare to a blog where you express your point of view.
Consider referencing your influencers in your posts and they’re even more bound to visit your site, promote it, and perhaps even link to it.
7. Guest blog
After establishing yourself as a blogger, offer to write guest posts for influencers whose audience you aim to reach. Carefully consider the type of content your influencers publish and pitch promising ideas that fit the bill. You might even write a complete post and send it.
This approach has worked many times over for me and became one of my most potent tactics for establishing meaningful connections with influencers.
8. Co-create content
Co-creating content is undeniably effective. You can reach out to one or more influencer aiming to get a quote or create a post, infographic, SlideShare deck or any type of content by “rounding up” ideas from industry leaders.
If you’re not confident your connections are strong enough yet, you can create a “roundup” simply by pulling quotes from influencers and linking to your sources.
9. Feature influencers in lists
Create a list, a piece of content that is a valuable source of suggested resources. An obvious place to begin is a “best” list: best sites, podcasts, blogs, case studies, etc.
My post “26 Helpful Emails I Get, Open and Read (And You Should Too),” applied this strategy to great effect. Everyone, regardless of their prominence, appreciate these types of endorsements.
You’ll be doing yourself and your influencers a favor by alerting them they’ve been included in your content and are likely to find you’ve created an influential team of leaders sharing your content with their tribes.
10. Interview influencers
Becoming a media publisher gives you a new media “press pass.” Invite notable influencers to be interviewed for your blog, podcast or video. Tune into their agenda and allow the interview to support it.
For instance, if the influencer you’re interviewing has written a book or been involved in any substantial project, familiarize yourself with the endeavor and feature it in conversation in your interview.
11. Pursue speaking opportunities
Influencers are out doing their thing at conferences and are perpetually on the lookout for new ideas and idea generators. Get active on this front. Even if you don’t find the influencers on your list in your audience, they’re likely to notice you’re a speaker.
Try not to be intimidated by the prospect of standing at the podium. You might ease the effort by starting small instead of applying to present at large events (I’ve come to know the rejection process quite well, thank you). Look for local events where you can begin your speaking career.
12. Host webinars
If the prospect of live speaking intimidates you or you’re finding it difficult to get speaking gigs, a webinar is a practical and powerful alternative. While hosting—or guesting—on a webinar is a wonderful way to establish influence, it’s also the perfect opportunity to connect with influencers.
Here’s a webinar, “Rock and Roll Content,” where I played host to Robert Rose of CMI, Doug Kessler of Velocity Partners and Jason Miller of LinkedIn—a nice trio of influential online marketing experts.
13. Produce videos
The videos you make for YouTube (or any platform) present opportunities to invite influential guests and/or talk about and showcase their work. Also consider offering your videos to influencers who may benefit from reposting or referencing them.
14. Publish eBooks
eBooks are ideal for including interviews, roundups, quotes or mention of any kind of influencers.
Look at how Jason Miller called on many of his friends and new media connections in “The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn.” Jason undoubtedly established helpful new relationships in the making of this stellar eBook.
15. Think visual
If you’re including images in your work (and you better be) and using the many visual media growing in popularity, find ways to feature influencers there too.
I like to showcase quotes from leaders in pins (and such).
16. Endorse them
Blogging and LinkedIn endorsements provide two great ways to publish an endorsement. I recommend you create detailed and sincere endorsements for influencers.
Be careful not to go fishing for the favor to be returned, but don’t be surprised when it does.
17. Create case studies
No permission needed. Look for examples of your influencers doing the type of things your audience needs to know more about and publish case studies about them. You can do so with great detail in a blog post or podcast or take a micro-approach to the case study approach by showcasing their works with your social media updates.
18. Make LinkedIn your social center
When I’m asked to consult with clients on their social media efforts, I try not to put the cart before the horse. That is, I refrain from recommending a network before I understand the client’s objectives and their audience. But I never leave out LinkedIn. LinkedIn has become the universal hub of personal branding and content distribution.
I recommend you develop a LinkedIn obsession and pursue meaningful relationships with influencers there. Create a robust profile, publish your best media properties, get relevant endorsements, take advantage of groups, integrate SlideShare, publish posts, and share useful content on LinkedIn.
Advertising isn’t dying. It’s evolving and its evolution in digital media affords you the opportunity to do some laser targeting. If you’re struggling to get the traffic and leads you seek with organic efforts, try buying clicks.
Most social media offer uber-targeting ad options. And, of course, Google and YouTube offer a variety of pay-per-click, pay-per-view and retargeting options. Your influencers are likely to surf the same sites and are bound to see you there.
20. Use your newsletter
Your newsletter is a great medium for featuring and referencing influencers. I have a newsletter, “AEIOU,” which was specifically developed to showcase the work of accomplished leaders in the field of online marketing.
21. Get your employees involved
Your online marketing efforts should include people from across various departments in your company. Also, you may hire contractors to help with your content and social media.
Make sure everyone understands who your influencers are and what tactics you’re using to make influencer marketing a team project.
22. Throw your competitors some love
You can cast a wider net by including competitors in your content as you’re applying some of the action items I’m suggesting. Maybe a competitor published a great book or is hosting a webinar (and it features your influencer). Don’t be too proud to recognize and support competitors.
23. Connect people
What a power tip this is. Look for opportunities to connect people including your influencers. For a number of reasons, I frequently introduce people to each other with an email that explains why. In many instances, I connect bloggers to the managers of sites I think they’d be a good fit for contributing to.
24. Create community
25. Present badges
When you start to get some traction with your influencer efforts, let it be known. When available, grab a badge or small piece of artwork that reflects your alliances and display it on your site. I show off my Inbound Marketing certification badge and the logos of sites I write for in various places on my website.
Don’t be afraid to start small with this. The badge need not be from the New York Times.
26. Be an early adopter for new platforms
When given the opportunity to test, try or buy a new tool, go for it. If it turns out to be a winner, create content about it and don’t be shy to suggest it. Imagine an influencer telling his or her tribe you were the reason why he or she runs “XYZ.”
27. Ask for advice
Granted, you’ll have to have established some rapport with your influencer to hit them up for advice, but don’t be shy to try it. Influencers value great students.
28. Study under them
In addition to speaking and hosting webinars, influencers often develop and sell information products delivered online (courses and membership sites are two common examples). Buy them. Get involved. These types of products are often complemented by online forums, which could turn out to be the ideal place to connect.
29. Give thanks
Say “thank you” and recognize your influencers often and in creative ways.
30. Be an influencer
As your influencer marketing efforts begin to gain steam, you’re going to get asked to do interviews, co-create content, give advise, and more. Do unto others.
I’m hoping you have some questions, comments or thoughts. I’d love to see the comments section below become a conversation on this topic. Who knows? Perhaps we’ll improve our influencer marketing chops by sharing ideas here. So go for it.