You have written a series of useful blog posts and done everything you have been told to optimize that content with your most important keyword phrases. Now it is time to post it to your social media profiles and enjoy the rush of traffic.
Several years ago, this scenario may have been true, but, today content marketing has become so competitive that you must include significant promotion as a core element of your editorial process.
When we build content plans for our clients today, we always include what we call an influencer program that over time can help us significantly increase the reach, traffic, engagement and leads from the content our clients produce.
Below are five steps we take in building an influencer program.
1. Find Influencers
Step one of course, is to find the Influencers we want to target. By Influencer, we loosely mean other content producers in our chosen industry who we believe to have a following in our ideal client pool.
There are a variety of tools you can employ to find such folks. Currently, I’m quite fond of BuzzSumo’s influence ranking tool.
2. Segment Influencers by Customer Persona
Next we build a spreadsheet of influencers segmented by our client’s differing market segments or personas. Many businesses seek to gain influence with different levels of stakeholders. For example, a company might need to interact with the CFO and the purchasing agent. Therefore, we need to create profiles of influencers for both. This is true as well for businesses that serve significantly different industries of market demographics.
3. Build Relationships First
Now that have our list, we should work on building relationships. We never pitch story ideas or ask for links or tweets until we have established relationships based on value. One of the first things we do in most cases is to follow every member on our list by putting them in social media. We also subscribe to their blog feeds using Feedly, as well as their newsletters and other forms of content. Obviously if you want to build a relationship you must take the time to get to know their content habits, behaviors, and needs.
Next we begin the practice of sharing their content with our followers, posting relevant and useful comments on their content and, where appropriate, featuring their content in our own blog posts, emails, and newsletters.
All of this effort is aimed at gaining some recognition and building a relationship based on mutual content goals. At this point, we may reach out and directly share something that we think they might find extremely relevant – hopefully something they might want to blog about or use as a data point in an upcoming post.
4. Add Guest Blogging to Your Editorial Plan
In addition to our targeted Influencers, we also build a list of potential guest blog post opportunities. We are looking both for places that we can post and potential writers that may have great content to share on our blog. The reason this is such an important element is that we can often find blogs that will not respond to covering some topics, but would love a well thought-out blog post.
In addition, when we add guest posts to the mix of content on our own blog we often find that our content is more diverse and we start to build relationships with bloggers who wish to promote their content features on our site. Of course, we also vigorously promote our guest posts run on other blogs.
You may find there is some cross over here from your influencer list, but we also use keyword searches on BuzzSumo and Topsy - adding the term “guest post” to help build our guest post plan.
5. Expand with Strategic Partnerships
Finally, we look to blow up one or two significant pieces of content ever so often. We have found that one of the best ways to do this is through collaboration and cobranding.
Our first approach is to take an eBook, tip sheet or case study and offer to let a strategic partner or Influencer cobrand the already proven content to share with their audience. This often allows us to gain introduction to large groups of prospects and is welcomed by partners who know they should be producing more content.
Another approach is to jointly create a long form post, infographic of even an eBook with a strategic partner. Quite often one partner may have big data to share while another wants to showcase their killer graphic design skills and this collaboration creates an impressive end product that just may get picked up by numerous blogs and influencers as you co-promote with your partner or partners.
Yes, content marketing is tough work, but it is the most effective way to generate leads for any business that wants to compete on expertise and authority rather than price.