Archive for the ‘Influencer Marketing’ Category

Webinar Recap: 500 Writers and Editors on How to Pitch

Perfect Pitches

Kelsey Libert, VP of Marketing, and Ryan McConagill, Promotions Supervisor, oversee the Media Relations team at Frac.tl. Libert and McConagill partnered with BuzzStream for a webinar to share exclusive research on what publishers want for content creation and media outreach. They interviewed over 500 writers, editors, and publishers to present a story about a noise:value ratio that has gotten out of whack.

Libert created a survey that helps us master the art of the perfect pitch. Here are her findings:

 

And here’s the video from the webinar:

 

Did you know: In 2014 the US department of labor announced that for every single journalist, there are 5 PR professionals beating down that writers’ door. Editorial voices are outnumbered by PR professionals by almost 5:1 and on average, PR pros earn 40% more than journalists.

Q: About how many stories do you write per day?45% of writers write one story per day
The majority of people you’re pitching to only write ONE STORY per day. These are not favorable odds. Therefore, it is imperative that you craft a perfect pitch.

Q: About how many pitches do you receive per day?

How many pitches writers receive per day

Although most writers publish one story per day, 44% of them get pitched a minimum of TWENTY TIMES per day. According to Harvard Business Review, the average worker receives 12,000 emails a year, while writers at top tier publications receive 38,000. Because of this, many writers are unsubscribing – so make sure to never put writers on mailing lists unless they have given you permission. Make sure to wait until after big conventions to follow up or send a pitch- sending one while the writer is at a convention will be a waste of time.

Q: How often do you write a story based on something that was sent through a pitch?

How often do writers write a story based off a pitch?

Although writers are inundated with pitches, only 11% often write a story based on content that was sent through a pitch. However, 45% said sometimes, so there is an opportunity for change. Here are some tips on how to find out if the writer is a perfect fit for your content…

1) You want to make sure you’re doing your research. Go through the writers’ posts  from several months back, and go through publisher’s bio.

2) Look at their twitter timelines to get a sense of their personality.

3) The Principle of Liking, based off a Northwestern Law Study states, “The degree to which we perceive another person to be similar to ourselves in traits and attitudes and to be worthy of our generosity or assistance, depends on the extent to which we perceive a personal connection with that person, no matter how trivial.”

4) Do a cursory google search for the writer.

Outreach Strategies

Q: Would you rather be pitched ideas that you can collaborate on or get a finished asset?


Would you rather be pitched ideas that you can collaborate on or get a finished asset?

STOP spamming writers with poorly matched assets. Instead, collaborate on mutually beneficial ideas. Here are some tips on how to go about collaborating…

1) Tap into existing publisher relationships to see if they would be open to collaborating.

2) Try to collaborate with editors.

3) Always use a static asset, a lot of publishers have said that their content management systems can’t handle embedding interactive content

4) Have your standard assets smaller with your option to make them bigger upon publisher requests (work with designers, many publishers can only hold content 600 pixels wide).

5) Don’t make the pitch all about you, it should be about your relationship with the writer and how you’re connected in some fashion

Q: What characteristics does the perfect piece of content possess?

What characteristics does the perfect piece of content possess?

There is a vast difference between what writers prefer.

Q: What types of content do you wish you saw more?

What types of content do you wish you saw more?

Networking Lesson

Q: How important is it for a person to establish a personal connection with you before pitching content?

How important is it for a person to establish a personal connection with you before pitching content?

Strive to make a personal connection with every writer that you pitch. 64% of writers think it is of some importance that you establish a personal connection before pitching. Use Twitter as a platform to socialize with your prospects weeks prior to the pitch. Engage in blog posts. Try to get on their radar and connect on a personal level by favoriting or retweeting their tweets. Dig deeper than just “hey great post I really liked it.” Write them a friendly email if you’ve noticed an error or a typo to engage in conversation.

Q: Which of the following channels do you prefer to be pitched on?

Q: Which of the following channels do you prefer to be pitched on?

Put down your cell phone. Stop spamming on social media. Start writing sincere emails to the best-fit person for your campaign. Use CRM such as BuzzStream to manage your relationships.

Pitch Lesson

Q: What time of day do you preferred to be pitched?

Q: What time of day do you preferred to be pitched?

Use a pre-scheduling tool, like BuzzStream, to send your emails in the early morning hours. Pitches are generally more successful when sent during the mornings on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Enable a pitch freeze around holidays and long weekends.

Q: What email length do you prefer?

What email length do you prefer?

88% of writers prefer a pitch be less than 200 words. Make sure to check your word count before sending. Get to the meat of the data as soon as possible. Make sure your intro has value and isn’t just fluffy.

Q: Do you open an email based on its subject line?Q: Do you open an email based on its subject line?

Test your subject lines in your inbox. What stands out? The golden rule is 45-65 characters. Have a call to action. Don’t be vague, be descriptive.

Q: Which of the following subject lines catches your attention the most?

Q: Which of the following subject lines catches your attention the most?

An overwhelming number said they want a subject line that is:

  • Direct
  • Concise
  • Descriptive
  • Includes keywords relevant to the writer’s beat

Q: How likely are you to delete a pitch based on a spelling/grammar error, regardless of the content’s quality?

Q: How likely are you to delete a pitch based on a spelling/grammar error, regardless of the content’s quality?

Avoid errors by clearing your head and taking a walk before sending your pitch.

Q: Do you auto-delete pitches that contain certain words?

Q: Do you auto-delete pitches that contain certain words?

Refrain from using these words in your pitches at all costs.

Q: If you could give 1-3 points of feedback to people who pitch to you, what would you say?

  • Do your research
  • Know the publication
  • Be relevant
  • Make it newsworthy
  • Know my beat
  • Don’t use all caps
  • Be personal
  • Be concise
  • Don’t cold call
  • Does it fit my beat?
  • Use spellcheck
  • No giant attachments
  • Don’t pitch on social media
  • Know my audience
  • Avoid phony friendliness
  • Get my name right
  • Avoid the fluff
  • Tailor your subject lines

Q: What characteristics does the perfect piece of content possess?

  • If your content isn’t top notch, the pitch isn’t going to matter
  • Breaking news
  • Exclusive research
  • Emotional stories
  • Timeliness
  • Relevance
  • Data
  • New hook
  • A story
  • Interview opportunities
  • Data visualizations
  • Useful information
  • Innovative
  • Interesting analysis
  • Storytelling
  • Well-researched
  • Meets editorial mission
  • Original content
  • Solutions to problems
  • Engaging
  • Amusing
  • Useful insights
  • Humor
  • Unique Angles
  • High-quality graphics

 

Do the findings match your experiences? Share them below or tweet to us @BuzzStream. You can also follow Kelsey and Ryan, our wonderful webinar speakers.

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How to Find and Analyze Your Competitors’ Campaigns

When you understand what your competitors are saying and doing, you become more confident in what makes your brand different and special. You get better at targeting and create more compelling messaging. An audit of your competitors’ marketing campaigns is a great place to start.

5 Steps to a Competitor Campaign Analysis

The following process will help you conduct an audit of your competitors’ marketing campaigns.

Step One: Determine Who Your Competitors Are

Spend some time brainstorming who your competitors are. Ask business executives who they consider to be your biggest competition. Look at who else is performing well in search results for your keywords. Check out tools like SEMRush and SimilarSites. Don’t be afraid to include businesses that are significantly larger or smaller than your own.

Step Two: Research Your Competitors’ Online Properties

Look at each competitor’s website and all of its social media properties.

Website

  • What’s being merchandised on the homepage?
  • Are there any products, categories, or themes that are getting special attention?
  • What categories or themes is the blog focused on lately?
  • Are there any weekly or on-going post themes?
  • Does it explicitly mention any campaigns or contests?
  • Do any specific bloggers or influencers get mentioned on the blog?

Social Media Profiles

  • Is the competitor using any hashtags that indicate an organized campaign?
  • Are there themes that stretch across platforms, like Twitter and Instagram?
  • Has the competitor shared any specific content they’ve created?
  • Are there any topics mentioned frequently?
  • Does the competitor regularly point to specific bloggers or websites?
  • Is there any unique content (like videos or photography) hosted on the social media platforms?

Step Three: Research Your Competitors on External Sites

A backlink analysis (using tools like Ahrefs or OSE) is a great place to start, but results can be muddied if one of your competitors is a megasite like Amazon or Target. In those cases, consider looking only at relevant subdomains or categories. (E.g., If I’m a local garden center competing with a huge brand like Home Depot, I’d pay attention to the backlinks for gardenclub.homedepot.com and homedepot.com/gardenclub.)

Try to find the referring sites that look like blogs, then run a Google search for “Competitor Name” site:theblogname.com. You’ll be able to find when the blogger talked about the brand, what they said, and whether the brand/blogger relationship was a one-off mention or an on-going relationship.

You can run searches for Competitor -site:competitor.com to begin to find similar results. Again, look for the domains that look like blogs or editorial sites. You can get more advanced by including keywords with campaign types:

  • Brand -site:brand.com
  • Brand review -site:brand.com
  • Brand guide -site:brand.com
  • Brand sponsors -site:brand.com

Tip 1: As you go, keep track of all of the sites that could be an opportunity or fit for your brand in the future.

Tip 2: The BuzzStream List Navigator can save you a ton of time here. Watch the video.

Step Four: Analyze the Campaigns

As you review all of the internal content and external sites that mention the competitor, you should start to get an idea of what the competitor is prioritizing. Maybe they’re working on product reviews within a certain category, or maybe they’re trying to get in front of a specific audience.

Ask the following questions for each campaign:

  • What type of campaign is it? Sponsorship? Review?
  • Who are they targeting?
  • How are they positioning themselves?
  • What are their main messages and tagline?
  • Are there offline components to this campaign?
  • What behavior are they asking for? What are they ultimately selling?
  • Does it seem like they’re using a PR, Social, or SEO agency?
  • What is their goal with this campaign?
  • Why might that be their goal?
  • Does this campaign look natural or does it feel a little forced or spammy?

Step Five: Find Opportunities for Your Own Brand

Now that you have an idea of what your competitors are up to, you can begin to glean insight and ideas for your own brand.

Ask yourself the following about your own brand:

  • What strategies are my competitors missing?
  • Where does their messaging fall short?
  • Which audiences are they missing out on?
    • Why are they running these campaigns?
    • Has the business prioritized a category?
    • Are they after something like coupon use? Does that mean coupons convert well?
    • Are they getting links for the sake of links? Are they at risk for penalty?
  • What do bloggers generally expect from these campaigns?
  • How are my products or services different from what my competitors are promoting?
  • What can I offer to bloggers that my competitors can’t?

Going back to the Home Depot gardening example I mentioned earlier, my research helped me find that the company ran a blogger review campaign last year with the hashtag #DigIn. Rather than looking for links, though, it seems Home Depot was really after email signups. If I were a small, local garden center, I’d think about a few things. First, I should consider an email newsletter of my own. Second, it seems like the Home Depot missed out on local bloggers, so maybe they’re the ones I could go after.

Did we miss any key questions? What do you usually look for when doing competitor audits of your own? Leave a comment or tweet to us @BuzzStream.

P.S. Special thanks to our intern, Olivia Polger, for her help editing this post.

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Targeting Mid-Level Influencers with FollowerWonk and BuzzStream

As marketers, we often talk about building relationships with influencers. Sometimes, though, it makes more sense to connect with the people in the middle. They’re usually pretty persuasive to their small followings, but they just haven’t hit “major influencer” status yet. Here’s a walkthrough of how you can use FollowerWonk and BuzzStream to find and reach them, using a real-life example, a campaign from our recent ebook launch.

 

Targeting-InfluencersTargeting emerging influencers and niche experts can lead to campaign success.

When we launched the Advanced Guide to Content Promotion last month, I created a tiered outreach strategy to promote it, heavily focusing on “emerging influencers” and “niche experts.” Together with some paid amplification efforts, that strategy helped us earn thousands of views and hundreds of shares. I relied heavily on FollowerWonk and BuzzStream to do it.

Prep Work: Strategy, Personas, and Goals

Just like we recommend in the book, I began by identifying and prioritizing target audiences. Getting in front of (and helping) “Forward-Thinking Link Builders” was my primary goal.

Creating the top tier prospect list was easy. I know our industry pretty well and could easily list twenty heavy-hitting SEO super influencers (and, lucky for me, BuzzStream already had a relationship with most of them).

But the bulk of my list needed to be what I call “emerging influencers” and “niche experts.” These aren’t the superstar CEOs, but the people who are a few years into their career. They’re beginning to develop specialities and personal brands. Some of them might be managers, others not, but they’re all still pretty close to the daily work of content promotion, link building, strategy, and outreach.

I cared most about these guys, because they’d be the ones who would find the most value in our guide. (It was written with them in mind.) They’re also the ones who can be very persuasive inside organizations and on teams. I did hope they’d read and Tweet the guide, but, really, I wanted them to read it, learn from it, and share it with their coworkers and bosses.

 

Using FollowerWonk to Find Influencers

Using tactics similar to what Richard Baxter shared in his 2013 MozCon presentation (this is sort of like what he did, but reverse) and lessons my teammate Matt Gratt learned with targeted Twitter advertising, I decided to use FollowerWonk to build our list of emerging influencers and niche experts.

 

Influencers-Followers

We started with influencers and used FollowerWonk to find their audiences.

 

First, I brainstormed groups of two highly specialized experts for various disciplines (e.g., Paddy Moogan and Jon Cooper for link building; Adria Saracino and Kelsey Libert for content and outreach). I was familiar enough with the industry to do this without the help of any tools, but had it been a new industry, I would have turned to BuzzSumo.

I loaded each duo and the @BuzzStream twitter handle into FollowerWonk to get a list of people following the three accounts.

It was important to me that I only selected people who were already following @BuzzStream, because it meant I could be confident they were at least somewhat aware of us and had, in a sense, opted in to hearing what we have to say.

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 7.40.19 PM

We focused on the people who followed all three accounts.

I always chose to pull the triple-overlap group. (If you follow Paddy Moogan AND Jon Cooper AND BuzzStream, you’re probably quite interested in link building.) And, in some cases, I pulled groups that followed only one of the influencers and BuzzStream.

I created a bunch of Excel reports in FollowerWonk and downloaded them all.

 

Cleaning the Data: Filtering the List

I combined all of the documents and then removed duplicates (there were a lot.) Next, I sorted by follower count. A lot of the superstar CEO influencers floated to the top of the list, and I deleted them out, since they’d already been accounted for elsewhere. I also deleted anyone who had less than 150 followers.

Using Excel’s filters, I got rid of inactive accounts by excluding people whose most recent tweet was earlier than Jan 2014 and people who had tweeted less than 100 times. To address spam accounts, I only included people who had a follower number greater than the number of people they were following.

Basically, I whittled down my list until it had about 100 people, which was a reasonable amount of outreach for the time I had allotted.

 

BuzzStream for Outreach and Followups

I saved my doc as a .csv and uploaded it to BuzzStream (Note: I was working in the People section of BuzzStream, not the Website section.) BuzzStream automatically matched FollowerWonk fields to contact records.

I tested a few different outreach templates and personalized them pretty heavily. Since I’m an active member of the community I was reaching out to, it was easy for me to bring up personal connections. I could mention conferences we’d both attended, stuff they’ve written that I liked, friends we had in common, etc.

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 2.08.37 PM

Sending outreach in BuzzStream.

 

The template that performed the best was personalized, fairly short, and featured a friendly request for a share.

 

Our Results

Response to the guide was very positive. Lots of people shared on Twitter and a bunch let me know that they’d also shared with their teams internally. We got a lot of views, and — with the exception of a small list of things we’d do differently next time — we deemed the project a success.

The outreach has proven successful in other ways, too. So far, it’s led to people pinging us when they have content of their own that our audience might like, a delicious coffee meeting that involved insightful conversation about the industry and our work, and a bunch of shoutouts in presentations and blog posts.

 

Conclusion

Getting linked to or written about on huge sites is great, but sometimes smaller niche blogs make more sense for your business. Going after the mid-level influencers and niche experts can drive the right views from the right people (and great links, too).

How do you create prospect lists? Where do you go to find influencers? Leave a comment below or talk to us on Twitter.

 

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Social Influencer Analysis Smackdown: Klout vs PeerIndex vs Kred

Measuring influence is hard.  It’s more than just Twitter followers, reTweets, and mentions – influence has many dimensions.

Yet at least 3 companies have thrown their hats into the ring to measure influence: Klout, Kred, and PeerIndex.

The Social Influence Smackdown

While researching these companies, I asked myself, “How different are the results? Is this easy? Or is it hard? And if these three companies got into a fistfight, who would win?”

Today I’ll look at how these three companies stack up on some influencer identification tasks:

Heat 1: How Influential is Matt Gratt?

I started with the easiest question: How influential am I?  (The answer is ‘Not Really, At All.’)

Let’s see what our players came up with:

Klout: 51/100

PeerIndex: 61/100

Kred: 705/1000

Outreach Level: 6 of 12

 It appears that I’m most influential on PeerIndex.  I believe these scales are logarithmic (not absolutely certain – doesn’t seem to be in the documentation), not linear, so with a little math, we can make an apples to apples comparison:

Klout: .85

PeerIndex: .89

Kred: .95

Heat 2: How Influential is Aziz Ansari?

Aziz Ansari is a famous and incredibly funny actor and comedian, best known for playing Tom Haverford on Parks & Recreation, Randy in Funny People, and appearing in Flight of the Conchords, I Love You, Man, and many other entertaining programs.  He is also really, really good at Twitter.

Klout:

85 of 100

PeerIndex:

 

74 of 100

 

Kred:

Influence: 988 of 1,000

Outreach Level: 6 of 12

Now this ranking begs the question, “What does it mean to be influential?”  For example, if Aziz Ansari tweets he has a new comedy special, I’ll buy it immediately. However, if Aziz (for some strange reason) decides to start a display advertising platform, I would not be moved by his endorsement.

Heat 3: Who are the Most Influential People in Business Intelligence?

In this heat, I’m using a business case:  Who are the most influential people in business intelligence? If I ran marketing at a BI company, who should I build relationships with?

Klout:

Klout produces a list of ten influencers.  In a quick analysis of the ten influencers, 4 were vendors (either marketers at vendors or corporate accounts), 2 were consultants, 1 was an analyst, and 3 seemed to have no relevance to business intelligence.  So in that search, 3 useful results were obtained.

PeerIndex:

PeerIndex doesn’t have topic pages – they have these ‘coming soon’ pages.

 

Kred:

To get a Kred page, I had to search on the hashtag #BusinessIntelligence.  Then I got this page back.  Using the same rubric as before, I see two analysts and eight others who appear to have no relevance to business intelligence.

Note I didn’t use any of the companies’ paid products in this test – I only used their free versions.  I understand their paid versions are more robust, particularly at influencer identification.

As you can see, while this tool category is rapidly developing, we’re still far away from reliably sourcing influencers from social media data alone. 

Thanks for reading- What’s your favorite social media influence assessment tool? How do you use it?

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The Problem with Influence Scoring

Jeremy Porter has a post on Journalistics today about influence scoring and the challenges associated with it.  Jeremy’s post does a nice job of pointing out some of the challenges with trying to use influence scores like Klout, PageRank, etc..  Most notably, when looked at them by themselves, they’re not particularly useful because, unlike a search engine that includes both relevance and influence/trust in its algorithm, there’s no contextual relevance.  So Justin Bieber may have a Klout score of 95, but if I’m selling fly fishing equipment,  the guy with a klout score of 20 who only writes about fly fishing and who is very active in a number of fly fishing community sites is much more important to me.

I don’t think this problem is unique to klout…this is a very difficult problem to solve.  Frankly though, given the changed face of media, I’m not convinced it’s even a good idea to rely on fine-grained scores like this at all.  Knowing that one influencer has a score of 64 while another has a score of 78 might be useful in a world where a relatively small set of traditional outlets have significant reach (and you’re going to be extremely high touch with a small number of outlets), but when you have a completely fragmented landscape, you just don’t need to be this fine-grained.  It’s a bit of a dirty word, but frankly in a world where everyone is an influencer and where links and social mentions drive search performance, the biggest issue is scale – like it or not, you have to build a lot of relationships in order to move the needle for the business and spammy approaches just don’t work.  So the challenge is this – how do I build REAL relationships with LOTS of people without hiring an army of people to do it?  When you rely on these fine-grained scores, inevitably you get caught in the discussion of  “is this person really more influential than this person in my niche.”  It’s a total time suck and it really shouldn’t impact how you engage.

Given that you need to engage with a lot of people in order to have an impact, I think you’re better off thinking in terms of broad groupings – i.e., a person’s level of influence is either high, medium, or low.  Then you can focus your efforts on the thing that really matters – developing the processes and tools that will allow you to engage with more people (in a real, relationship-oriented manner).  Specifically, you need to reduce the time required to: 1) find out when influencers are talking about the topics you care about (so you can engage), 2) keep track of the conversations you’re having with influencers (so your conversations are more meaningful and relevant), and 3) engage with more people in less time without sacrificing personalization and relevance.

So, given this, you’re still left with the challenge of developing a methodology for classifying people into the “high/medium/low” influence categories as a starting point.   I think the details for this are probably best covered in another post, but at a high-level I think there are three things you look at:

  • Are they relevant?  (using tools like listorious, alltop, google searches, monitoring, etc)
  • What percentile do they fall into for some of the key engagement and reach metrics? (e.g., average comments, uniques, retweets)
  • Who’s in their network (i.e., do they have relationships with some of the known influencers in the space)?

All of this info is available, the key is developing a way to quickly aggregate it and leverage it to classify people.  I’ll cover this in a follow-up post.

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