Imagine you spend hours crafting a resource for your audience. When you publish it, not much happens. You get a few social shares, but your content doesn’t get the attention you thought it would.

Suddenly, a leader in your industry shares the piece on Twitter, and then he references it on his blog. This brings in tons of visits, an outpouring of social shares and even a few links. This influencer got you the eyeballs you wanted.

Sometimes influencers find great stuff by chance, but most of the time, a marketing team worked long and hard to capture his attention. We’ll show you how to approach and leverage influencers to improve your content’s reach and boost ROI.

1. Nail Down Your Strategy

You need to figure out who you want to target, what resources they might like and how you're going to get in touch with them. Here's how to start developing your influencer marketing strategy:

  1. Identify potential influencers. Create a list of influencers and brands that could help you amplify your efforts. This list should include influencers you hope to connect with, partners you already work with and brands you admire.
  2. Establish content assets. What are you going to create? Determine what types of resources will be attractive to the influencers you want to reach.
  3. Formalize your outreach strategy. How are you going to make this happen? Figure out how you can effectively get in touch and build relationships with influencers so they'll be happy to share your stuff.

Let’s get even more specific with these points.

2. Build Relationships

Influencers are busy people who get hounded by marketers all the time. To see success from influencer marketing, you have to develop relationships — real ones — with the influencers you're trying to reach.

Start by looking for the influencers you admire. Maybe it’s the founder of a company you follow or someone you heard speak at an event. Or perhaps he writes a blog or email newsletter that you read on a regular basis.

Then, look for opportunities to connect. Don't just send these influencers your content and hope they'll share. Instead, see if there's a way you can work together on a project, or ask for their insights. You can always ask an influencer what types of content they enjoy the most, or interview them for a blog post.

Remember, influencers can smell inauthenticity from a mile away. You need to have a genuine interest in connecting to build a relationship.

3. Create Timely, Influencer-Friendly Resources

What are influencers already sharing? Visit the Twitter feed of a favorite influencer and check out what he’s tweeted in the past week. Are there any similarities between the pieces he’s shared? Can you get a feeling for the kinds of things that impress him?

Take Ann Handley, for example. She's an influencer in the content marketing space with an active Twitter account. A quick look at her tweets reveals that she's interested in blogging, content marketing and creativity.

If you want to connect with Ann, you need to be creating resources that are in line with what she shares already.

4. Ask for Their Opinion and Insight

One of the best ways to build relationships with influencers is to ask for insights and advice. Not only will these insights educate you about where an influencer is coming from, but they'll also help you build resources that influencers are invested in.

For example, if you're writing an article that gives tips on how to create a sales strategy, you might interview an influencer in the sales space (we recommend Dan Tyre). When you publish your article, this influencer will likely share the piece, because it contains his own insights.

5. Strive to Be an Influencer

There are many articles out there that detail exactly how to connect with influencers, but they neglect to mention that you should consider striving to be an influencer yourself. That means finding opportunities to blog on other sites, sharing the work of others and building relationships wherever you go.

The Bottom Line

Influencers can not only help get your marketing assets in front of a new audience, but they can also encourage this audience to take action. This will help you identify influencers, define relationships, set goals and pay rates and produce lasting returns.

Author Photo
Joe GriffinJoe Griffin is the Co-founder and CEO of ClearVoice, a content marketing technology company for high-quality blogs and content destinations.
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