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How Content Plus an Influencer Network Can Grow Your Business

Posted on Mar 28th, 2014
Written by TopRank Marketing
In this article

    Ready to elevate your B2B brand?

    TopRank Marketing drives results with content, influencer, SEO & social media marketing.

    Lee Odden

    Photo credit: DJ Waldow

    Your customers are experiencing content shock. Every day there is more content being created than the day before, and it’s up to savvy content marketers to cut through the noise and increase the number of people who view and engage with their content.

    After years of experience, Lee Odden has learned that co-creating content with influential people in your industry can give your brand the visibility that your content needs to succeed. Co-creating content can help you increase the content’s exposure, grow out your social following and increase your brand’s influence.

    An excellent example of co-created content is the SlideShare presentation Riding the Waves of Social Media: 38 Tips from the Pros that Lee created for this conference: SMMW14. He’s also co-created 36 Content Marketers who Rock for Content Marketing World 2013 because co-created content works!

    Before you start tweeting your industry’s top influencers, create a plan of attack:

    Define Goals

    Determine what business and marketing goals you want to achieve with co-created thought leader content. Do you want to create demand, connect with prospects or repurpose content? Set clear goals and metrics for measuring success in order to gauge the success of the co-created content.

    Select Topics

    The topic that you select for your co-created content must be relevant to your brand, the influencer and your customers.

    Answering these two questions can help you find a truly relevant topic:

    • What questions are my customers asking? How can you answer a commonly-asked question with co-created content?
    • What does your brand want to be known for? Hone in on your #1 area of expertise. Remember that if you can’t answer this question, your customers won’t be able to either.

    Identify Type of Content or Mix

    Decide what type of content you want influencers to help you co-create.  Your co-created content should create an affinity between your brand and how you want to be known. Want to promote your social media outreach? Write an e-book about social media with social media experts!

    Find and Qualify Influencers

    The topic that you choose will help determine who your influencers should be. Choose influencers who are already authorities on that topic.

    Identify and engage with influencers before you approach them to help you co-create content. Blog, industry news sources and social networks are all great places to find industry thought leaders. Discover who’s consistently writing, speaking and tweeting about the topics that are most important to your brand. Who are the big players in your industry and where are they most active? What industry thought leaders do you and your colleagues follow on social networks?

    Influencer discovery tools like Traackr, Keyhole, Little Bird, followerwonk and Buzzsumo can also help you find influential people for any topic imaginable.

    Inspire Participation

    After you’ve decided which influencers you want to reach out to, romance them for at least two weeks by commenting on their blog, engaging with their social messages and sharing their content in order to get your name on their radar.

    When you’re ready to make the pitch, send the influencer a private message and be understanding of the fact that they might not get back to you right away. Make your message creative and succinct and give them an example of what you want from them.

    It’s also imperative that you clearly demonstrate how the influencer’s participation will help them get what they want, whether that’s promoting their personal brand or having the chance to share their opinion on a topic that’s important to them.

    To optimize your chance of getting a response, try different methods of getting in touch with the influencer. Making a face-to-face introduction is an old-fashioned but very effective way of getting their attention. To make your pitch, contact the influencer privately on a few different platforms: email, a Twitter direct messages, a Facebook message or LinkedIn InMail .

    Plan and Co-Create Content

    You should also be very explicit about what you need the influencer to do; this will make it easier for them to contribute and ensures that you will get the results that you want. Share exactly what you need from the influencer, what their responsibilities are and what the timeline is.

    Inspire Promotion

    Make it easy for the influencers to share the finished content by sending them pre-written social messages and links.

    Performance Measurement and Optimization

    Track the performance of the co-created content so that you can share successes with your team and the influencer. Demonstrating success will validate the influencer’s participation and all the hard work that you put into creating and promoting the content. If you can demonstrate to your team that including influencers expanded the reach and impact of the content, then you can make a case for working with influencers again in the future (or on an on-going basis!).

    Continue relationships

    Create a good experience for the influencer and consider how you would like the influencer to think of you after this experience. Keep in touch with the influencer after the co-created content has been published and continue to engage with their content. Strive to create a relationship in which you can comfortably ask for their advice or opinion and offer them opt-in opportunities.

    Here’s the full presentation on Slideshare:

    Does your organization work with influencers as part of your content marketing programs? What thought leader engagement tactics have you experienced the most success with?