Tag Archives: influencer marketing

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How to amplify your content marketing with influencer-driven writing contests

The purpose of a content marketing campaign is almost never a boost in sales: People who want to consume and share information rarely intend to buy. Content marketing is mostly about influencing the influencer, i.e. those people who can impact your customers’ buying decisions.

Hence the most effective content marketing strategy is the one that involves influencers, especially influencer-driven content.

According to the ANA survey from Linqia, 57 per cent of marketers report that influencer-driven content outperforms brand-created content:

  • Influencers are people who have already earned your consumers’ trust, hence influencer-created content is more trustable than brand-created content
  • Naturally, people prefer to engage with people rather than brands, hence influencer-created content triggers more audience engagement than brand-created content
  • With the above in mind, it’s obvious that influencer-driven content results in higher ROI – and also thanks to the fact that it spreads easier using the power of participating influencers.

But how to engage influencers into creating content for your company blog? One of the most effective ways is to set up a writing contest: Have them contribute content to your blog for a chance to win a prize or a set of prizes.

Benefits of holding a content marketing contest

There so many marketing opportunities behind this idea that it will make your head spin:

  • Free editorial content from notable names in your niche published on your blog will attract more clicks, grow your email list and diversify your rankings
  • Social media shares that content will bring will build your brand awareness
  • Partnering with other businesses in your industry for them to provide prizes for your winners will build important connections
  • Involving niche influencers and popular media outlets to judge and announce your winners will bring more connections and exposure.

Furthermore, think about the customers you will be able to engage when announcing the contest in your newsletter and on your social media channels.

There are so many reasons to try this tactic that you may be wondering why you haven’t done it before. Well, it’s tough and time-consuming, but the steps below, together with some handy tools, will make it possible.

1. Brainstorm and research topic areas

Obviously, hosting a content marketing contest starts with what any content marketing tactic should start: Brainstorming and keyword research. There are mainly two approaches you can take here:

  • Focus all entries around your brand: Invite your current customers to submit content that talks about your product. How are they using it? Which problem did it solve? This way you’ll enrich your blog with a variety of user-generated content that will bring many more users who will be encouraged to give it a try too. Of course, that will engage your userbase but it will limit your contest entries to your current customers.
  • Focus all entries around your general niche. This can be timed out to upcoming holidays (e.g. “Submit your Christmas recipes”, etc.) In order to keep the topics relevant to what your product does, you may want to come with a set list of topics which is where keyword research comes into play.

When I plan any content marketing campaign, I always start with keyword clustering, which is something I’ve explained how to do in a previous article for SEW. Playing with keyword groups always gives me a nice perspective and helps me brainstorm.

Here’s an example from Serpstat breaking down a very cluttered topic into nice categories to pick one to go with:

How to amplify your content marketing with influencer-driven writing contests

Read more on how keyword clustering works on Serpstat and how to group your keyword lists.

2. Reach out to participants

Now that you know the topics you want to focus your content marketing contest around, it’s time that you reach out to prominent writers and bloggers in your industry who you think will want to participate.

If you are focusing on your product-related content, it’s as simple as reaching out to your customers. For general how-to content contest, you’ll need to create a list of influencers who:

  1. Will want to participate
  2. Are probably to busy to participate, but will agree to help you spread the word and collect more entries.

I use Buzzsumo to find active content writers in my niche. They have handy filters that allow me to find bloggers who have hosted or participated in similar ventures, or don’t mind contributing to others.

How to amplify your content marketing with influencer-driven writing contests

3. Get organized!

You’ll be dealing with lots of new contacts: hopefully influencers participating and coming on board to spread the word, press contacts, media partners, sponsors, etc. Unless you get organized, you’ll be lost and miss a lot of opportunities.

You can use your current customer management platform to organize all the new contacts and leads you’ll be building throughout the contest. Otherwise, give Hubspot’s CRM a try: it’s free, and it will give you all the required features to record, organize and follow up with all the new contacts you’ll be building along the way.

How to amplify your content marketing with influencer-driven writing contests

I also use Cyfe to keep everything relating to a current campaign I am running within one dashboard. You can use the dashboard to keep an eye on brand mentions, create quick links to other tools you should be keeping an eye on a daily basis, import your Gmail messages, and so much more.

How to amplify your content marketing with influencer-driven writing contests

4. Keep your content quality standards high

  • You want your participants to disclaim any relationship or bias when they mention other sites
  • You want your participants to stay away from mentioning your direct competitors
  • You want your participants to only provide exclusive content and never publish it anywhere else
  • You want your participants to adhere to particular quality guidelines (a certain length, format, using images, etc.)
  • You want your participants to clearly understand the judging process (I recommend against using easy-to-game metrics like “The most shared article wins”. It’s much better to come up with something more complicated, for example, winners will be determined by a panel of unbiased judges based on certain criteria. However keep the process very transparent: Those judges should be publicly listed and their voting should be publicized too)
  • You may want your participants to support a certain payment method (in case you offer a cash prize)

All of that should be listed in a formal agreement all the participants should review and sign to avoid any misunderstandings later. Try using KeepSolid Sign app which is currently free to make sure every participant is well-informed.

How to amplify your content marketing with influencer-driven writing contests

5. Collect in and present your entries

There are plenty of ways to easily collect entries for your contest. You can use Google Forms or set up advanced Contact Us Forms that will force entries to comply with your guidelines (e.g. set the required minimum word count, include extra mandatory fields like links to the author’s social media profiles and previous articles). Here are great WordPress plugins for that.

There’s also a tool that is specifically designed to collect entries for content marketing contests, called Easy Promos. They have additional features that may make your job easier like integrated voting features, photo and video uploads, etc.

With the platform, you can pick a winner via public voting, a jury or by random choice with certificate of validity.

How to amplify your content marketing with influencer-driven writing contests

When it comes to collecting and displaying entries and participants, you can go as creative as your imagination takes you. For example, Gleam allows you to create and embed blog widgets with the contest leaderboard (which naturally attracts more entries).

You can also collect your contest entries and turn them into a beautiful Slideshow using Haikudeck and/or a nice flipbook using Flipsnack. You can embed both to your blog when announcing winners.

How to amplify your content marketing with influencer-driven writing contests

6. Scale up your content promotion

Obviously, you want that content from your contestants to do well on social media because it’s your site that will generate additional traffic and exposure from those shares. I use Drumup for all my social media campaigns, because it makes it so easy to organize content that needs promotion.

Use Drumup Content Library feature to keep all the entries in one category to easily go back and see all of them. Furthermore, set up each article to go live throughout your social media channels several times in the future to reach more of your followers:

How to amplify your content marketing with influencer-driven writing contests

You also want that content to spread beyond your immediate social media circles! To achieve this, you can submit every entry to a tool called ViralContentBee [Disclaimer: This is a project I co-founded].

ViralContentBee allows you to tag each contributor in the “RT” field to encourage your participants to engage with every tweet:

How to amplify your content marketing with influencer-driven writing contests

I hope these tools will encourage you to give hosting an influencer-driven writing contest a try. Good luck!

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Influencer Marketing Strategies for Success [PODCAST] by @brentcsutoras

Joe Sinkwitz joins Search Engine Nerds to talk about share strategies that will help you succeed in influencer marketing.

The post Influencer Marketing Strategies for Success [PODCAST] by @brentcsutoras appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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How to achieve off the charts off-page SEO that will boost traffic

When you think about improving your SEO, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

Maybe you think of rewriting your web copy to rank better for certain keywords, churning out new posts for your blog, or making sure your website is structured in a logical way.

All of these are important aspects of ranking well in search engines, but they aren’t the only ways you can optimize your web presence. If you want to rank better and get more traffic, you need to improve your off-page SEO, too. This guide will help you get started.

So, what exactly is off-page SEO?

In the simplest terms, off-page SEO encompasses all the aspects of SEO that occur outside your website (yes, it’s true). You can think of it as your reputation. Off-page SEO includes the things you do as well as the things other people say about you. Your social media activity, your customer service practices, and the online reviews customers leave for you on other sites are all examples of off-page SEO. Below is an example of reviews for realtors on Redfin:

Many people think that off-page SEO is just about link-building. It’s true that, at its core, the objective of good off-page SEO is to drive traffic to your site by earning plenty of high-quality links.

But if you just think of your strategy as a way to get more link juice, you’ll be missing a lot of the potential nuance of this topic.

Getting started with off-page SEO

Instead of focusing solely on links, it’s better to improve your off-page SEO by working on your reputation, your authority, and your popularity. In a nutshell, your objective should be to provide excellent value and connect with as many people as possible.

This is a long-term strategy, but your patience will pay off down the road – your business will gain recognition, you’ll establish your expertise in your field, and eventually you’ll start earning links from respected sites.

With that said, there are two main ways you can start improving your off-page SEO: connecting with your target audience and networking with influencers.

#1: Connecting with your target audience

Interacting with the people who might need or want your product or service is smart, both in terms of making more sales and thus improving your SEO because of the traffic that comes with it. However, it’s important to connect with people the right way.

Consumers are savvy, and they don’t like feeling pressured to buy things. Instead of focusing on what you’re selling, which can come across as spammy, grow your following by finding ways to help other people without asking for anything in return. A few ideas include:

Stay active on social media the right way

It goes without saying, but social media is one of the best ways you can connect personally with people who might need or want your service. Figure out where your target audience spends time online (this article covers how to do so in more detail), and make sure you have accounts on those platforms.

In general, the more accounts you have, the better, but keep ROI in mind – there is obviously no point wasting time on an obscure platform most people don’t use.

Furthermore, if you don’t have the resources to manage a lot of social pages, that can end up hurting your reputation, so start with the ones that matter most, post regular updates about your business, product, or service, and engage with your customers every chance you get.

Always remember, people like to know there’s a human behind their favorite business.

Share your knowledge on forums and message boards

If your target audience spends time on sites like Quora or Reddit, create accounts there and start posting. Join interesting conversations and answer other people’s questions. Aim to provide value instead of just increasing your post count.

It’s okay to mention your business if it’s pertinent to a question – for instance, you might tell a story about how you solved a problem with a customer. Just don’t push your product or service.

Your strategy on forums should just be to build up your reputation as an authority in your field. Over time, people will start to recognize you and come to you for advice.

There are tons of people online doing a great job of this. The example below from a personal trainer is just one example of someone who answers a lot of questions, has gained followers because of it, yet doesn’t focus on self-promotion but rather just making those connections:

How to achieve off the charts off-page SEO that will boost traffic

Be on the lookout for opportunities to create useful off-site content

You might already do content marketing with your on-site blog, but why stop there? Consider incorporating various types of content, like videos, images, and infographics, into your social media marketing and your forum posts.

It’s rare these days to see an infographic on a forum (except for maybe something like Reddit or Tumblr), but when you do, it stands out. Guest posting is also, of course, another great way to do off-site content marketing, but more on this later.

How to achieve off the charts off-page SEO that will boost traffic

#2: Building relationships

Connecting with your target audience is essential for good off-page SEO, but it will only take you so far. To become a recognized authority, and to start earning valuable links from experts in your field, you’ll have to network, too. Here are some tips for building strong relationships.

Guest post on other people’s blogs

Guest posting is a tried-and-true strategy for getting links back to your site. But while it’s a useful way to build your link profile, that’s not the main reason you should offer a guest post.

Instead, think of guest posting as a way to forge new relationships and help people who aren’t in your circle of regular blog readers.

The problem with guest posting for links is that you might be tempted to go for quantity over quality. But writing a lot of low-quality posts on blogs that don’t get much traffic won’t actually help you that much, and depending on where you’re published, it could even damage your reputation.

Instead, pitch guest posts only when you think you have something useful to say. Choose blogs you’d be proud to appear on, and make sure your idea is a good fit by studying the style and content of the blogs you’re pitching to.

Of course, not every blog you write for has to be a household name. In fact, if you’re just starting to guest post, they almost certainly won’t be. Still, you’ll get better results (and you’ll be able to publish on the big-name blogs sooner) if you focus on making genuine connections with other bloggers and saying something of value every time you write a guest post.

Leave comments on the blogs you read regularly

If you find certain bloggers helpful or inspiring, let them know! Bloggers love it when readers leave them thoughtful comments, and commenting on a blog post is one of the easiest ways to connect with someone you admire.

Keep in mind that there’s a right way and a wrong way to comment on blogs. Take the same approach here as you would for a guest post – focus on connecting, not just on commenting for its own sake. Don’t leave generic comments, don’t link to your website or blog, and don’t comment on a post if you didn’t actually read it.

Instead, say something relevant to the post itself. Greet the blogger by name and tell them why you liked this post. Was it helpful? Thought-provoking? Tell them how you implemented their ideas, or ask a question inspired by the post.

When you interact with bloggers this way on a regular basis, they’ll start to notice and remember you. The Wired.com community seems to do this well:

How to achieve off the charts off-page SEO that will boost traffic

Look for avenues to connect with thought leaders in your field

Leaving comments on blogs is a great way to build relationships, but it’s far from the only way. Remember those social media accounts you made? Use them to follow thought leaders and experts in your field.

Twitter, in particular, is a great way to reach out to others – it’s simple, professional, and brief enough that you don’t have to worry about bothering anyone.

Don’t forget to take advantage of offline networking opportunities, too. That’s right – your off-page SEO efforts don’t even have to involve the internet. Cyberspace makes it easy to reach out to people, but in-person networking events can be far more useful since you’re more likely to be remembered if you connect with someone in real life.

Put yourself out there by looking for some interesting conferences and meetups to attend. Start hanging out where your target audience hangs out and see how far it can take you.

The takeaway

On-page SEO is important, but it’s only half the battle if you want to maximize your success. Off-page SEO plays a huge role in building your reputation, bringing in traffic, and encouraging your target audience to choose you over your competitors.

Improving your off-page SEO is an ongoing task. Whether you’ve been working on your reputation for years or you’re just getting started, there are plenty of things you can do to connect with more people and expand your brand’s reach.

Focus on helping people out, providing useful information, and cultivating a strong network of peers and mentors. Along with a great reputation, you’ll build a profile of high-quality links that will drive more traffic to your site than ever before.

What are your favorite off-page SEO strategies? Let us know in the comment section below.

 

Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer for NoRiskSEO, a full service SEO agency, and a contributor to SEW. You can connect with Amanda on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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How influencer marketing can benefit your SEO strategy

Influencer marketing is a powerful tactic to add to your SEO toolbox.

With links continuing to reign supreme in SEO, but the difficulty of acquiring them increasing, influencer marketing can help you to generate authoritative links which have the additional benefit of an increase in your user engagement signals, traffic, and visibility.

In this article, we’ll explore a few ways influencer marketing can make your SEO campaigns into digital powerhouses.

Influencer marketing builds inbound links

The issue with using influencers for inbound links is that many will disclose the links as sponsored.  One way to get around this is to create content-driven influencer campaigns.  Traditionally, brands use influencers to create “commercials” for their brands.  They are very sales-driven and are focused on pushing a product or brand directly.

When working with influencers, why not create campaigns that are related to specific issues in your industry?  Instead of making them an extension of your sales team, get them to create video or text content based on their thoughts on a specific topic, citing your site as a resource. This may be a way to bypass the need for disclosure.

Depending on your budget, you may need to start with micro-influencers (influencers with smaller, but highly engaged audiences) to begin earning those inbound links.

Influencer marketing boosts brand visibility and engagement

The biggest challenge many brands and marketers face is getting heard over the buzz. The competition in today’s digital marketplace is fierce. In fact, engagement and traffic ranked number five among most important ranking factors, according to Moz.

Simply put, the more your engage your target audience, the more traffic you will drive to your site, products, and services. This makes influencer marketing an essential asset in every industry.

How influencer marketing can benefit your SEO strategy

According to an advertising survey by Nielsen, 92 percent of people trust recommendations from other people over brand advertisements. And whom do consumers know? The influencers they follow on social media. In fact, a study by Annalect and Twitter found that users have as much trust in influencers as they do their friends.

How influencer marketing can benefit your SEO strategy

Influencers amass followers who hang on their every product review or recommendation. You can take advantage of their community to enhance your brand’s visibility via social media, blogs, and vlogs.

The traffic your influencers drive to your site will boost your SEO rankings in ways paid ads simply cannot. But don’t forget about content engagement. An influencer with one million followers may not be as powerful as a micro-influencer in your niche with 20,000 followers.

“Posts from people with small followings get strong engagement, and bring an air of authenticity and trust,” according to Business Insider.

A great example of reach versus engagement is the different between the audiences of celebrity Jimmy Fallon and YouTuber Connor Franta. Falon may have a bigger reach, but Franta has a much higher engagement.

How influencer marketing can benefit your SEO strategy

Improve your social visibility with influencer marketing, and also keep your engagement high. This is an influencer marketing tip many marketers and brands will overlook.

Influencer marketing keeps your content fresh

Creating fresh content can be challenging for marketers and brands, thus emphasizing the need for influencer marketing. The sole job of influencers is to develop unique and compelling content that your target audience can’t resist.

Influencers can also leverage their followers to produce content for you. They can maximize a social campaign by encouraging their community to share unique images or thoughts associated with your brand or campaign.

One excellent influencer marketing case study is when the brand Gloria Ferrer used influencer marketing to boost their brand awareness by launching the #GloriousBites campaign. Influencers used the hashtag to create buzz around the campaign, netting 44 million social impressions.

How influencer marketing can benefit your SEO strategy

Generating millions of social impressions via influencer marketing will surely increase your social visibility and brand engagement.

Influencer marketing leads to collaborative content and publishing

Cultivating meaningful relationships with influencers is a powerful way to maximize your SEO efforts. A quality partnership with your influencers ensures exceptional content with collaborative opportunities down the road.

This is a long-term goal, but once you and your influencer have a mutually beneficial thing going, collaborative content like an interview series or industry report could be in the mix.

How influencer marketing can benefit your SEO strategy

You and your influencer can benefit greatly from borrowing one another’s authority, proving to add more visibility for both sides. As partners you can earn more links to add to your robust link profile for a boost in SEO.

The relationships you develop via influencer marketing could also provide you and your brand with an in to otherwise off-limit high-authoritative publishers. You influencer networking can open doors, and those doors could lead to social visibility on a global scale.

Finding relevant authoritative influencers

Finding relevant authoritative influencers is the most important aspect of influencer marketing. You want your influencer content to reach your target audience with engagement. This will make your influencers SEO assets to your brand.

Key influencer metrics include…

  • Check the influencer’s domain authority
  • How many unique visitors does the influencer get per day, week, and month?
  • What does the influencer’s engagement per post look like?
  • What are the audience demographics, such as age, location, and gender?

Despite influencer marketing’s trending nature, many marketers, SEOs, and brands are still coming up short. Don’t fail to utilize the true power of a well-cultivated influencer campaign.

Use the above examples to maximize your SEO strategy, and get a first page Google ranking for your brand.

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Six stats on the importance of trust in influencer marketing

Successful influencer marketing depends on trust. 

Influencers need to establish trust with their audiences in order for their posts to resonate. Brands and agencies conducting campaigns must establish trust with their influencers if they want their campaigns executed effectively.

Consumers are inundated with media competing for their attention, and consumers’ trust for brands is lower than it’s ever been. This makes establishing trust with your audience harder and more important than ever.

Generally, people trust their peers and the recommendations that they provide. So to cope with this battle for trust, savvy marketers are turning to influencer marketing to take advantage of these peer recommendations and build trust with their audiences.

Don’t just take my word for it — look at the statistics.

Image by Walter Lim, available via CC BY 2.0

“Only 22% of brands are trusted.” (Havas Media)

That’s a frightening metric for any marketer. Without establishing trust between your brand and your audience, it’s nearly impossible to market your product or service. So marketers are faced with the difficult question of how to create and maintain trust with their audience.

61% of women said they won’t engage with an influencer’s sponsored content if it doesn’t feel genuine.” (Bloglovin)

Trust and authenticity are critical for engagement in any influencer campaign. Without trust, the content that you’re hoping will build engagement won’t feel genuine and won’t resonate with your desired audience.

Low trust equals low engagement, and a pattern of this can erode an influencer’s audience over time. While this report references women specifically, these principles are applicable across the influencer marketing sphere.

“43% of millennials rank authenticity over content when consuming news.” (Forbes)

According to a survey of 1,300 millennials carried out by Forbes, young people prioritise trusting a company or news site before they will look at any content it produces. As Dan Schawbel of Forbes wrote, “Millennials connect best with people over logos.”

If trust isn’t established, millennials may not even interact with your content. An influencer can get a lot of attention, but the only attention that matters for your brand is authentic, genuine interaction that builds trust between you and the audience.

“60% of YouTube subscribers say they would follow advice on what to buy from their favourite YouTube creator over a traditional celebrity.” (The YouTube Generation Study)

Celebrity spokespeople have long been considered a surefire way to build positive associations for your brand among your target audience. H&R Block wants to establish trust with their audience, so they recruit Jon Hamm to be their spokesman.

But savvy brands are turning to influencers on YouTube and other channels who have built audiences related to a shared set of interests. These placements are more authentic, and drive more brand-relevant recommendations than the generalized appeal of celebrity spots.

83% of consumers trust recommendations from their peers over advertising.” (Nielsen)

Consumers take recommendations from their peers much more favorably than the ‘recommendations’ they see in ads. They trust the opinions of their friends because they know they’re both unbiased and providing recommendations that are personalized to the individual. Influencers fit this bill nicely.

The best influencers turn down deals that don’t have a natural fit in their feed and approach branded deals without bias. Either they already love a product and are happy to endorse it, or they agree to test the product and give an honest review or endorsement.

If you find the right influencers whose personas fit your brand values, targeted to your area of interest, the recommendations they share are more personalized for their audiences.

54% of consumers believe the smaller the community, the bigger the influence.” (Technorati)

Although influencer marketing can help you reach a larger audience, ultimately, that audience doesn’t matter if it’s not the right audience. It is more valuable to show your brand to 30K likely buyers than it is to show it off to 200K totally uninterested viewers.

Finding influencers whose content and style perfectly match your brand, no matter their follower level, is a much smarter strategy than just getting as many eyes as possible. Influencers with smaller followings may have a more relevant, engaged and trusting audience because they haven’t “blown up” yet. Check the comment sections on a Kardashian-branded post and you’ll see what I mean.

To build trust with your audience, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. But you do need to foster trust between your brand and the influencer — trusting them to make content that will capture your brand values while also engaging their followers in the best way.

You can take advantage of existing marketing principles to build a playbook to engage your audience. Make use of peer recommendations from authentic influencers to drive engagement with your brand.

Brian Zuercher is CEO & Founder of SEEN, and a contributor to Search Engine Watch.

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What is influencer marketing, and why should it be part of your digital strategy?

If I tell you I have the secret formula for any entrepreneur to succeed, you may not believe me.

You probably have never even heard of me, my company, or have yet to follow me on social media.

But if Neil Patel, New York Times best selling author and a person The Wall Street Journal calls ‘the web’s top influencer’ tells you, “My secret formula is the greatest”, you will probably believe him.

In a nutshell, that is influencer marketing. It takes the “I” out of the equation, letting others tell the story about your products and services. Haven’t you seen George Clooney’s Nespresso commercials?

Now getting Neil Patel or George Clooney to be your influencers is where the challenge lies. Sending either one of them an email may prove difficult, but fortunately there are many social channels and creative ways of identifying and targeting key influencers.

The return on influencer marketing may be worth the trouble too. Trusted influencers can boost your brand awareness and market your products and services in unprecedented ways traditional marketing can’t compete with.

Why you should absolutely use influencer marketing

Why influencer marketing? Well, the answer is quite simple. Influencer marketing can provide you with instant visibility, hordes of potential customers, and a high return on your digital strategy.

A relevant influencer to your industry exposes your brand to the right consumers. These targeted consumers are already interested in your niche, and they will be paying attention with a strong likelihood to purchase.

According to an influencer marketing study by Tomoson, “51% of marketers believe they acquire better customers through influencer marketing.”

This may be why 84 percent of marketers are planning at least one influencer marketing campaign in 2017, according to a survey by Schlesinger Associates.

And it is all about established trust. An influencer’s followers are loyal with rapport built over several years. In fact, 92 percent of people trust recommendations from people over brands, according to research by Nielsen.

Another great reason to add influencer marketing to your digital strategy is that you will get instant results.  You can be sure your influencer’s sizable loyal audience will stick around and give your brand instant attention.  No need to wait for organic SEO results to kick in after months and months of work.

Find influencers relevant to your brand and industry

The first thing about influencer marketing you want to keep in mind is relevancy. You want to not only look at a potential influencer’s audience numbers, but also how they fit with your brand.

“The best influencers work to integrate their branded campaigns into their unique stories without skipping a beat,” says AJ Agrawal of Forbes. “They know their audiences are fickle and can quickly leave, so they treat each and every post with care.”

Three things absolutely essential to consider when qualifying potential influencers are Context, Reach, and Actionability.

Asking a foodie to promote your new marathon training app will not work. Sure, there is a connection between these niches, but they have completely different Context and audiences.

Reach is a simple one to qualify. You want your influencer to have a healthy sized audience. But qualify this audience since anyone can buy social media followers these days.

And Reach is only as good as the influencer’s Actionability. They have one million followers? Fantastic! However, if that audience isn’t engaged, your influencer marketing efforts are wasted.

You can get very granular when it comes to creating metrics to qualifying your influencers.  We look at demographics such as age and gender and calculate a number for potential relevant audience when reviewing what influencers to work with.  This, and other metrics can be used to determine an estimated CPM which can help you compare the power and value of your influencers when it comes to potential reach vs ROI.

Influencers are social media moguls and popular bloggers

To get your influencer marketing campaign off to a great start, target social media influencers. Those with the biggest following are certainly on all social media channels.

To begin your research, determine what social media network will maximize results. If your brand is in the fashion realm, Instagram and Pinterest influencers are best.

If you want to raise brand awareness via video engagement, then YouTube influencers may be a better fit. However, don’t rule out the other social media channels, like Facebook, Twitter, and SnapChat.  Facebook live has created interesting possibilities for influencer marketing.

The power of hashtags will also assist in your influencer research. If your brand is all about fitness, begin searching hashtags related to fitness.

Your influencer marketing campaign should target bloggers too

Interestingly, 86 percent of influencers have a blog. And 88 percent of those say they actually blog themselves. Excellent blogger outreach sources are Inkybee, BlogDash, and GroupHigh.

Get those bloggers to share their Google Analytics traffic. This lets you research blog metrics and get an understanding of an influencer’s true SEO value.

Key influencer metrics to check are . . .

  • Domain Authority
  • SEMrush Organic Keywords
  • SEMrush Organic Traffic
  • Unique Visitors
  • TrustFLow
  • CitationFlow
  • Engagement Per Post
  • Audience Demographics (Age, Location, Gender)

What is influencer marketing, and why should it be part of your digital strategy?

How do you entice influencers?

There are no free lunches, and your influencers will certainly want compensation for access to their loyal audience. How much, or how little is simply a matter of negotiation.

Cold hard cash is one of the most common ways to entice an influencer. But sometimes you can find an influencer or two that truly believes in your brand, and those are simply the best.

These influencers may accept small monetary compensation. Or they may be interested in free products, social media mentions, and cross-promotional content.

Whatever the deal, if you did your research, the return on your investment could be well worth it.

Ready to get your influencer marketing campaign moving?

The following will give you the nuts and bolts of a powerful influencer marketing campaign…

  • Identify and Qualify Relevant Influencers: This means investigating each potential influencer. Study their profiles and read their blogs to ensure they are relevant to your brand.
  • Build Your Influencer Marketing Strategy: This includes defining a budget, identifying possible incentives, creating your campaign’s KPIs, and writing up a campaign brief.
  • Pitch Your List of Influencers: Connect with a pitch letter that is unique, compelling, and concise. You should track pitch dates, replies, and followups to stay organized.
  • Track Campaign Results: Speaking of staying organized, track your influencer marketing campaign results. This includes metrics like impressions, clicks, transactions, emails, and audience growth.

Develop an influencer marketing campaign that maximizes your efforts, builds meaningful relationships, and gets the end result you envisioned. The results just may change the dynamic of your brand forever.

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6 Influencer Marketing Mistakes That Waste Your Budget by @LEHoneycutt

Influencer marketing is about authenticity – natural-sounding recommendations from real people to build your brand’s credibility.

The post 6 Influencer Marketing Mistakes That Waste Your Budget by @LEHoneycutt appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

Influencer marketing: where we’re headed in 2017

Early in 2016, we promised that this would be the year that influencer marketing would become mainstream.

We wrote about the progress that influencer marketing made in 2016, but as a marketer, you always need to be looking forward to be prepared for what the future holds. So what direction can we expect influencer marketing to take in 2017?

We’ve seen the tactic grow, but we’ll see it explode in 2017. Here are a few things that we expect to see in the New Year:

Less is more

Influencer marketing’s growth across each individual network can largely be credited to the growth of the big player “celeb” influencers. The Logan Paul’s and Andrew Bachelor’s of the social world. These are the big names who are getting the headlines from mainstream outlets like “60 Minutes,” taking the marketing tactic away from a niche specialty among forward-thinking marketers, to an everyday occurrence.

Though they’ve made influencer marketing popular, what’s made it successful is the use of “micro-influencers”. These are creators who may not have the audience size of some of these big names, but they’re creating the type of content that grabs a consumer’s attention–and they’re able to much more authentically connect with their followers.

Often with the celeb -influencers like Kim Kardashian, they have their following because of who they are rather than what they create. In our time in influencer marketing working with some of the top brands, we’ve found that the best results come from the people who’ve built engagement with their audience based on what they’re creating. The “micro-influencers”, as they’ve often been called, have come into prominence in 2016 and will see their heyday in 2017.

Influencer relationships approached more as partnerships

The brands that will find success with influencer marketing in 2017 are the ones who will approach their relationships with their influencers as business partnerships, and not as line cooks who can churn out content for them.

Too often, brands use influencers as an opportunity to just promote their brand to a large audience. And they would tell the influencer to share about their brand in exchange for some free product. But as influencer marketing has grown, influencers are now able to command the respect they deserve for the amazing work that they’re creating.

Building a relationship with the influencer means actually collaborating with them on the program, and getting their input on what will work with their audience in order to ensure that ever-important authenticity. This is why communities such as Snapfluence, which defend the creator’s position, are so important. These communities help to level the equate both sides of the table to bring everyone on a fair and even playing field to build amazing programs.

Creating meaningful experiences

The brands that find success with influencer marketing in 2017 will do so by creating meaningful experiences for their audiences. The type of experiences that are both interactive and tangible for your community.

In 2016, TAKE5 set out to have influencers capture the remixed TAKE5 bar’s new branding by creating a series of experiences throughout 2016 that “remixed” everyday occurrences. At SXSW, they invited influencers to the TAKE5 Swag Exchange to swap their unwanted swag for some awesome remixed swag– like a free Uber ride, or a line-sitter, or a year’s worth of candy bars. The experience embodied the fun, surprising and uncommon spirit that the brand was trying to inspire in its content creators.

We expect to see more brands provide their communities with direct and unique ways to interact with the brand and its influencers.

Decline in influencer “networks” and “marketplaces”

With 2016 came the rise of influencer “networks”, or rosters of influencers that are purported to have some degree of exclusivity to the network over others. These networks were billed as the simplest way to find influencers for your brand, and–due to the “exclusivity”– the easiest way to negotiate rates with the best influencers.

But like dating sites, we all know people rarely belong to just one network. Influencers and daters alike join multiple networks in order to increase their odds of being found. Discovery on these networks was also found to be pretty limiting as the searching was restricted to just the individuals in their databases. And moreover, these networks also tended to treat the influencers simply as commodities that could be bought and sold for your brand’s need, ignoring their unique ability to create amazing content for your brand.

In 2017, we’ll see a decline of these supposedly exclusive networks and a rise in agnostic searches that find the true best match for your brand’s program.

A network agnostic strategy

Many 2016 marketing predictions called for a huge surge in Vine campaigns, and in the same year, we saw the network shut down.

With social networks constantly evolving – new ones growing, old ones shutting down, features constantly being added or removed – we forecast a more network agnostic strategy for brand influencer marketing programs in 2017. This will allow for an increase in focus placed on the right audiences to target and the best ways to do that with various networks for each campaign.

FTC will clamp down

In 2016, we saw a lot of enforcement on the part of the FTC on various influencer marketing programs. Brands such as from Warner Brothers and Lord & Taylor saw the FTC crack down on their activations due to a lack of clear disclosures.

And all signs point to the FTC continuing this enforcement in 2017. Brands will need to prioritize ensuring that their programs abide by all of the FTC rules and regulations on influencer marketing in 2017.

Self-regulation from brands and agencies

With so much growth and change in 2016, it’s no wonder there were so many mistakes from influencers like Scott Disick and from brands like Lord & Taylor. Influencer marketing is still operating like the Wild West, with brands and influencers alike attempting to determine the best way to connect with audiences and stay within the rules.

In 2017, we’ll see more brands and influencers learning from their own mistakes and the mistakes of others (after all, there are plenty of resources sharing best practices). Will there still be slip-ups, mistakes, and fit tea posts? Absolutely. But we’ll see incremental improvements and even more badass campaigns.

If 2016 was the year of growth for influencer marketing, 2017 will be the year where it all comes together. The growth that has occurred over the past year has led to a few bad practices among brands and influencers, but we’ve already seen glimmers of hope in both parties correcting these practices. In 2017, we’ll see influencer marketing grow up to become a more meaningful and practical marketing tactic.

By Brian Zuercher is CEO & Founder of SEEN, and a contributor to Search Engine Watch 

Influencer marketing: the strides we’ve made in 2016

Influencer marketing saw a huge bump in popularity in 2016, and it’s expected to grow even more in 2017. The social media marketing industry is evolving faster than ever, which is why it’s important to stay on top of the industry changes coming in the New Year.

This is how your brand or agency will stay ahead of the curve to be better prepared for your influencer marketing strategy:

Marketers are investing more in influencer marketing

Recent “60 Minutes” reports show that influencer marketing is rapidly inserting itself into the mainstream conversation and is becoming more familiar to average consumers. As a result, marketers are investing more in influencer marketing.

This will cause influencer marketing to grow rapidly, relative to other marketing tactics. Brands are finding a lot of success connecting with their audiences through targeted influencers and this will only continue in 2017.

Influencer identification is top priority

Brands and agencies are learning that they will only be able to generate authentic content if they put in the necessary work before a campaign’s launch to find and recruit the right influencers for their programs.

Getting enthusiastic participants to create meaningful content and expose their audiences to your brand hinges on one thing: knowing who is a good brand match. SpaghettiOs knew that their product was a childhood favorite and a choice for busy moms everywhere. They chose moms and dads on Instagram who posted frequently with their families to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this beloved childhood snack.

Additionally, they worked with influencers who loved Sci-Fi, comic books, and video games to help promote the launch of their special edition Star Wars cans. The resulting content perfectly captures the fun spirit of the brand.

This type of effective influencer matchmaking is what drives the authenticity and engagement critical to a successful program.

Authenticity is the cornerstone of influencer marketing

Authenticity on the part of the influencer and the campaign strategy is key to any successful influencer marketing strategy. This authenticity comes from a confluence of the influencer’s posts and the audience’s expectations of that influencer’s content. This need for authenticity on the part of the brands and influencers becomes dire with the proliferation of spammy posts from some influencers. The brands and influencers who are able to build authentic programs for their audiences will succeed and see a measurable positive reaction from their audiences.

So in 2017, the onus will be on brands and agencies to build programs that enable this and find the right influencers who can post in these styles.

Brands giving influencers more room to create

As influencer marketing grew in popularity, more brands began jumping into the fray. Some that did were prescribing too strictly what they wanted their influencers to share. But this tendency takes away from the influencer’s skills and abilities to drive authentic engagement.

The brands with the most experience began giving their creators more flexibility and creative liberty to create content for the programs. These brands saw results with the authenticity of the influencers’ content and the response from their communities.

Hilton Garden Inn wanted to learn about the best spots in 19 different American cities so they could create an interactive map for guests visiting those destinations. They selected talented city-insider photographers to document their favorite spots around town. The result? An unfiltered guide to non-touristy destinations in some of America’s best cities and a major value add for Hilton Garden Inn’s guests.

In 2017, we expect brands to do a better job of setting up their influencers for success by giving them more creative opportunities such as this.

Using influencers for content creation

Some of the best accounts on Instagram are professional photographers who used their feeds to showcase their work. These creators were getting hired both as influencers to promote content on their Instagram accounts, and separately as commercial photographers.

More and more those lines are getting blurred and influencers are getting hired by brands simply to create content with no expectation of sharing publicly. Brands have an insatiable appetite for amazing visual content and influencer marketing is one of the best ways to keep up with these demands.

Consumers demand less spam

Though consumers are more familiar with influencer marketing in general, they’re also familiar with the dark side of the marketing tactic. Too many consumers have come to know the tactic as one associated with fit teas and body scrubs promoted by attractive models on Instagram. This is not only an ineffective way to promote any product; it also gives influencer marketing itself a bad name.

As consumers continue to view these types of promoted posts less favorably, we’ll see a decline in their frequency and an increase in content from the quality creators who are inspiring thoughtful brand activations that are authentic to their audience’s expectations for their feed.

Redefining success metrics

In 2016, every brand and influencer marketing agency set out to determine the ROI of influencer marketing. But the brands that were the most successful understood that the true returns of influencer marketing came from the influencer’s impact on the awareness building for the brand and their ability to add to the true story of the brand.

The savvy marketers went from pushing straight for downloads and sales success, to story building success.

Measurement in 2017 will move beyond simple vanity metrics like engagement and sales. Brands will begin to build a better understanding of where influencer marketing fits in their customer’s lifecycle and the brand’s storytelling.

Early in 2016, it was clear that influencer marketing was going to move beyond the practice of a few savvy, forward-thinking marketers to become an essential part of most marketing strategies. We’ve even seen a handful of traditional advertising/marketing agencies launch their own influencer departments this year in an effort to innovate. We’re excited to see how influencer marketing grows in 2017.

Brian Zuercher is the CEO & Founder of SEEN, and is a contributor to Search Engine Watch.  

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6 tools for a better, smarter social media influencer campaign

Influencer marketing involves a lot of listening, planning and experimenting. These tools will help you set up a social media campaign allowing to better find, monitor and approach influencers.

One important word of caution though: Social media influencers should be tackled with huge care. Remember each of those people has a dedicated online audience: If you appear too spammy, they have eager ears to describe their bad experience to. An influencer media campaign can thus turn into an online reputation crisis.

Always think twice before pitching the influencers anything: Brainstorm together with your team before taking any action.

1. Start listening: Brand24

The first step to setting up a solid influencer marketing program is to start listening to your audience on social media. Not only will it allow you to better engage with people who discuss your brand or products, but it will also help you better understand niche influencers, what they do for a living and how to best approach them in the future.

Brand24 is a great tool for real-time social media monitoring and social analytics insights.

It has very robust features allowing you to organize social media noise and make the best of it:

  • Set up employee collaboration to make sure there’s always someone listening
  • Set up many sources and keywords and organize them in groups (for example, “brand-sensitive”, “niche influencers”, etc.) to assign different teams or team members to different channels
  • Detect social media sales opportunities
  • Keep an eye on your competitors and who endorses them on social media
  • Access easy to digest social media analytics.

It’s a good idea to keep all your social media influencers under a single channel to better interact with them and spot the best opportunity to approach them.

2. Define your audience: MakeMyPersona (or an alternative)

One of the most important part of forming groups of ambassadors is making sure they click with your target demographic. Which means they have to be a part of that demographic. You need to figure out who your audience is, what they want, what they like, and the concerns and needs they have. Hopefully you have already mined a lot of that data through past market research for advertising and product development. Start from there.

If most of your target audience are trendy 20-something early tech adopters, for instance, then that is who you target as an influencer. They will immediately fit in with your audience, and convince them that they know what they are talking about. It drives a connection, and adds a tone to your brand, and the campaign.

It’s a good idea to create personas for your niche influencers the way you’d create them for your customers as well. This way, it will be easy for you and your marketing team to understand how to best approach the influencers, which contests to try and engage them and which type of content would appeal to them.

MakeMyPersona is a cool tool by Hubspot that helps you create marketing personas by taking you through the process step-by-step. It requires no registration, so you can play with it any time.

6 tools for a better, smarter social media influencer campaign

There are other tools that help with persona building. Two of my favorite tools are:

  • Userforge allows for cool collaboration features, so you can work on influencer personas together with your teams
  • Xtensio offers very clean user-experience and is very easy to use.

3. Search for more influencers on Twitter: Buzzsumo

Once you are all set with listening tools and you feel like you know your niche social media channel quite well, it’s a good time that you go out and find more influencers outside of your immediate circles.

6 tools for a better, smarter social media influencer campaign

Buzzsumo is the best tool to start here. It has a handy “Influencers” section where you can find influential Twitter users by typing any keyword in the search box.

  • Sort lists of influencers by their
    • followers,
    • reply ratio (shows how responsive this user is: Avoid broadcasters!)
    • average retweets (shows how many retweets each user’s tweet gets on average)
  • Add any influencer to Twitter lists or follow right from Buzzsumo
  • View tweeted links (i.e. links this user tweets) to get an idea of the type of content they like
  • Filter lists to see only bloggers, companies, journalists, etc.

If you are into local business, you may want to also search for local hashtags. Local hashtags include city hashtags, event hashtags and venue hashtags. Use local directories to find more of those, e.g. Yelp, Patch, DJ Local, Zvents, etc

4. Find influencers among your subscribers / customers: Followerwonk (or an alternative)

There may be active social media users among people who have already bought from you (or subscribed to your list!). These people already know you and your company: they will be much more willing to respond and engage with your messages.

Matthew Barby shared a very easy hack explaining how you can find Twitter accounts behind your email list for free:

  • Create a new Gmail account
  • Add your whole list to your address book
  • Create a new Twitter account under that Gmail account
  • Let Twitter follow everyone from that Gmail account
  • Here you go: People you follow = Twitter users behind your email list

Now use Followerwonk (or other alternative) to analyze those you follow and identify people with solid following and interaction signals. These are your influencers!

6 tools for a better, smarter social media influencer campaign

You can also use Twitter Tailored Audiences to reach those people even more effectively. Just upload your email list to Twitter and create a new audience to target your ads to. This way, you have higher chances to get noticed. Just don’t be too pushy: Don’t look like you are aggressively stalking those people.

5. Find influencers who are looking to be pitched: ClearVoice

ClearVoice is a solid searchable directory of niche influencers who created their profiles their and are in active (or passive) search for new gigs.

6 tools for a better, smarter social media influencer campaign

You can create projects to have influencers apply or you can simply search the directory and reach out to influencers. ClearVoice also offers all kinds of publishing and editorial tools you may be interested in

6. Set up smarter social media links: Startafire

Not quite a most obvious influencer marketing tool, Startafire is a must-have tool for any social media campaigns you are thinking of.

Startafire adds a badge with your recommended content within any link you share, to grow and expand your content’s reach. This is what it looks like:

6 tools for a better, smarter social media influencer campaign

This way, even when you are sharing your influencers’ links, you’ll still be able to showcase your (recommended) content and engage more people with your tweets.

It integrates with all sorts of social media management sites and platforms including Buffer, Hubspot, Hootsuite and many more.

Are there any other influencer marketing tools that belong to this list? Please share them in the comments!