As you go through your content promotion checklist, you probably see the usual suspects: social media, paid social media promotion, native advertising, and email distribution. That’s a great start to get your content seen by your target audience, but you may be forgetting a very important promotional medium: influencers.
There are influencers in every industry niche and trade. These influencers help shape buying decisions and are seen as trusted sources for content. From editors of top-tier publications to independent bloggers, they all consistently reach an audience with which they’ve developed trust. By getting their attention and having them help tell your story, you can reach their audiences and develop awareness and trust in your brand.
Reaching out to influencers has traditionally been a PR practice. However, as barriers come down between paid, earned and owned channels, marketers are now finding that influencer marketing is a necessary part of any content marketing effort.
Whether it’s selling shoes or making surgical equipment, there are influencers in your space that people are engaging with every day. You probably know of some off the top of your head. But there are also dozens, if not hundreds, more that you may not be aware of. Followerwonk, Kred, and Klout are free tools that allow you to search for influencers in social media. Media databases like Cision offer comprehensive information on influencers, journalists, bloggers, and outlets, and enable you to target mainstream and social media influencers at the same time.
When searching for influencers, pay close attention to what they are writing and which topics seem to resonate with them. Also, look at the demographics of their followers. Are their followers truly your target demographic? If not, they might not be the right influencer to pitch.
Once you’ve identified your influencers, it’s time to pitch them. The art of pitching influencers is truly that—an art. Do your research on what each influencer is writing about and what his interests are. Don’t send mass emails expecting recipients to pick up your content. Instead, personalize your pitch and give them a reason to want to run your content. Mentioning previous articles they’ve written and crafting your pitch to show the value your content will bring to their readers will increase your likelihood of getting your content picked up.
Boost your chances of getting your story picked up by providing supporting content that influencers can use “out of the box” such as multimedia or statistics from a study that you’ve done. Infographics seem a bit cliche in 2014, but they are still a great way to convey information in an easy and digestible manner that takes very little work from the influencer themselves to put up.
Influencers are trying to get people interested in what they publish, so think about what content will be newsworthy and draw an audience for them. Knowing their audience and demographics can help you customize content that fits their, and your, needs.
Pitching influencers is just one part of the bigger picture when it comes to earned media. Building true relationships with influencers in your industry will pay off in the long run with more coverage of your stories, more pick-up of your content, and more exposure of your brand to your target audience. Don’t just leverage them to tell your story, but help them tell theirs. When they run into issues, help them by directing them to resources that you know of – even if those resources have nothing to do with your brand. Be their partner when you can.
The integrated media model is here to stay, and if you’re only paying attention to paid and owned media, you’re missing a major opportunity to expose new audiences to your brand in a trustworthy manner. As content and influencer marketing continue to set roots deep into marketing organizations, those companies that blend integrated media campaigns most effectively will rise to the top.