A 2015 survey by influencer marketing platform Tomoson found that 59 percent of marketers planned to increase their influencer marketing budgets over the next 12 months.
But what if that’s not an option? How do you get influencers’ attention—and get them to share your content—if you can’t fatten your budget? Here are three “musts” to consider:
1. You Must Choose the Right Influencers
There are thousands of influencers—easily. But only a small subset is likely to be receptive to your efforts.
The process for selecting influencers has been covered heavily elsewhere (such as in Convince and Convert), but it is important to note that:
- You need to target influencers who are relevant to your brand.
- You need to target influencers who will help you achieve whatever your ultimate goal is.
- You need the target list to be manageable in size, but not so small that you need an unreasonable success rate to achieve your ultimate goal.
If you choose the wrong influencers, your influencer marketing efforts are doomed from the start.
2. You Must Do More Than Retweet, Like and Share
Retweeting and liking influencers’ social updates and sharing their content is a good practice, and influencers surely appreciate it. But here’s the hard truth: this kind of quick and passive engagement isn’t enough to convince influencers to share your content.
Why? Many companies do it, influencers (rightfully) are often cynical about the motivation behind it, and, no matter how many times you do it, they still don’t know you any better.
Nope, it ain’t that easy. You need to form relationships with influencers, get them to like you, to respect you, to be interested in your company and what you have to say. You do this through active interaction, which takes time and effort.
One of the best ways to begin actively interacting with influencers is commenting—if you do it right. You want to generate responses, to create conversations, to be memorable. To accomplish this, comment on influencers’ social updates and articles in ways that are likely to get them to respond. Instead of just saying “great article,” ask questions, add insights about particular points they make, or even point out where you might disagree with them—thoughtfully and pleasantly, of course.
Important note: Individuals do commenting, not company accounts. It’s critical to choose the right people to do it—people senior enough in your organization to have the influencers’ respect and who have topic expertise so they can make smart statements and ask smart questions. A good rule of thumb: The person attempting to actively interact with a given influencer should be someone who would have an active role if you were having an in-person meeting with the influencer. Incidentally, at some point you might like such a meeting to happen.
3. Your Content Must Be Stellar
No matter how great your target list and how strong your relationships, influencers are under no obligation to share your content. In fact, you need your content to be so good that they want to share it—otherwise, they almost surely won’t.
So take the time to evaluate your content. Is it well-written? Are the topics interesting? Does your content show topic expertise? Does it provide direct value to the reader? Does it avoid blatant self-promotion?
Also consider other elements that impact your content’s readability and sharability, including the quality of your images, your use of charts and data, and links to outside content.
Actually, even if you don’t decide to pursue influencer marketing, you should perform many of these activities with your marketing collateral. Because, ultimately, influencer marketing shares a common feature with so much of marketing: the quality of your content heavily impacts your results.
About the Author: Eric Anderson works with fisher VISTA clients to create compelling content. His previous experience includes eight years as a reporter and editor.