Last week, I talked about some of the trends I see in promotion, and one of the big ones is influencer marketing.
It’s something that we see a lot of advice to do it — but what is influencer marketing and how the heck do you actually do it?
I’ve created a free spreadsheet you can download to keep track of your influencer research and outreach. Just click right here to grab it and then follow along.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is like your friend telling you their favorite brand of laundry soap when you mention that yours didn’t get the grass stains out of your kid’s clothes — except done on a bigger scale.
Studies show that 90 percent of buyers trust recommendations from people they know over brand messaging. We’re smart enough to know that brands are only going to say good things about themselves (duh), so we’re more likely to trust a third party’s opinion.
When you get a third party — someone influential in your space or with your audience — to recommend your blog or product, that’s influencer marketing.
Big brands have been doing this for decades by hiring celebrities and athletes to be spokespeople for their brands. And while you may not be able to get Serena Williams or Kim Kardashian to link to your blog post, you can get noticed by the “celebrities” in your own space.
What’s interesting, is that these influencers might be even more effective at amplifying your message than a celebrity would be.
It’s less about finding the person with the biggest audience, and more about finding the right person to speak to your customer at the right time.
How do you find and choose the right influencers?
If I asked you to name who the “celebrities” are in your business niche, I bet you could name me the top one or two. The key to influencer marketing is to identify your industry leaders, and many of them, not just the one or two names that are top of mind. But how do you generate that list?
There are a few metrics and tactics you can use to discover who the influencers are in your niche — and in my next post, I’ll be talking about how to engage with them.
In general you want to look at:
- Search engines
- Social media
- Social influence
Finding influencers via search engine
Google is the most obvious place to start, here. Google your topic or some of your favorite keywords, and which websites come up first in the results. Kick out big sites like Wikipedia, and then look for patterns. Does one author or website come up a lot for a lot of different keywords related to your business? Make a note of the top results.
If you’re particularly interested in SEO, you can also use the tools I recommend for how to rank guest post opportunities to judge if they have strong SEO juju with Google.
Check social media for influencers
The next step is to take the list you’ve generated from the search engines and look them up on social media. You want to use any and all social media channels on which you are regularly active.
Check out their reach on each channel. For Facebook, see not only how many followers they have but their “talking about” number to check engagement. While you’re there, go ahead and like and follow them on your favorite networks.
Pro tip: Create lists of influencers on your various social media sites. For example, I have a “digital marketing” list on Facebook that anyone can follow, and to which I regularly add influencers in my space. When we get to the step of engaging with these influencers, these lists are extremely useful.
Make a note of their social media reach in your list, and then look for other influencers. Who else do Facebook and Twitter that you follow when you follow one influencer? Who else is posting on a particular hashtag, or talking about a key subject? Allow yourself some time to go “down the rabbit hole” here and add to your list. Just because they don’t rank in the top 10 on Google doesn’t mean they’re not a huge influencer on Twitter.
Check social media influence
Klout is a site that uses more than 400 metrics from activity on ten social media sites to come up with an influence score between 1 and 100.
Sign up for an account and check out your own score, then start looking up influencers on your list. How do their scores compare with yours and with one another’s?
Under the Explore tab, you can also check out “recommended experts to follow” in your niche. Are there any names that aren’t already on your list? If so, add them.
Klout also has features that allow you to engage with influencers and share content (mostly via Twitter) directly from the site.
Sort and rank your influencers list
Once you’ve got a list of 15 or 20 top influencers, start sorting and ranking them. How you choose to do so is up to you.
Most importantly, consider who is already reaching the audience you want to reach.
For example, Darren Rowse of Problogger is always going to be on a list of top influencers in my field; but Problogger tends to reach people who are blogging as their business model, whereas I want to reach business owners who are blogging to support their business model. It’s a fine distinction, but an important one.
(Would I love to be mentioned by Darren somewhere? Absolutely! But it’s important for me to remember that his audience is not exactly my audience.)
If you’d like to download my spreadsheet for keeping track of your influencer marketing efforts, you may do so by clicking here. Next week, I’ll tell you what to do with this list, and how to start engaging with influencers regularly.