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Influencer Outreach: Where do you Start?

In every industry, there is a select group of people who have the power to influence buyers. They are third-party leaders who create content in those industries and have a large following. Brands, especially new ones, can benefit immensely from these “celebrities” endorsing or interacting with their products or services. So how can you connect with your industry’s influencers?

Identify your audience

Choose the top 10 keywords/phrases that people would use to find your product or service. Then use those keywords to find who is posting content about them. Try to cover a full spectrum of content creators – journalists, bloggers, industry leaders. Then, create a list of the content creators you found. They are the influencers you will want to reach out to. Collect their email, phone number or fill out a form to contact them. Other helpful info is their Twitter handle and any past articles they published that would be relevant to your cause.

Properly identifying your audience is crucial. Getting published in the New York Times sounds great, but your content probably isn’t newsworthy for that publication. Do not underestimate the power of local influencers; they are as important or perhaps even more important than the big guys.

Build a network

Now that you have the master list, it’s time to bombard these influencers with your sales pitch, right? Wrong. Developing relationships with influencers takes time. Just like a new lead, influencers need to be nurtured. Start at the bottom of the communication funnel and share their work or tweet them a question. This will also help you get to know them a little better so you can write a more personalized message later.

Share Something Newsworthy

Once you have started the conversation, move toward a less open communication, like email or a private Facebook message. Reference the influencers' past work and how it relates to your XYZ eBook, and tell them how you thought they might like to read it. Give them something, rather than asking for their help. Don’t get discouraged if they do not reply to your message. Receiving a response on a personal rather than public platform is not easy.

Make a Pitch

Once you feel a solid relationship has formed, make a pitch. Would you like insight for a new piece of content you’re writing? A quote perhaps? Or would you like your blog post to be shared? Make the pitch short and sweet. You have already courted the influencer, so there is no reason to continue praising his or her work. At this point, your target is already listening. So just be upfront and ask for something.

Be Clear

What actions do you want them to take? Give them a clear next step so they can easily share your content or provide input. If you want them to share a piece of content, then provide social-friendly files or links to the piece. Make it as easy as possible, so they have little reason to decline your offer.

Give gratitude

If influencers do share your content, be sure to follow up and thank them for helping spread the love. Follow up either through the medium they used to share your content, or the original medium you used to communicate with them. So if they shared your event on Facebook, thank them on Facebook, not Twitter.

Influencer outreach is no easy task. It takes time to curate the right influencers and convince them to listen. Yet in the age of dead press releases, influencer outreach is one of the most important ways you can publicize your business. So do not hesitate to start making your list. Even if you don’t have time to personally contact influencers now, you can start following them on Twitter or referencing them in your content. It’s never too early to start building a network of influencers.

Are you ready to start reaching out to influencers? Make sure your digital footprint looks its best. 

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*Photo credit: stockmonkeys.com via Flickr