Ah, the influencer roundup post that is so near and dear to all of our hearts.
I think by now everyone’s familiar with the general approach:
- Find a list of influencers in your space
- Reach out to those influencers and ask them to contribute a quote
- Once the article is published, reach back out and ask them to share
There’s a reason for the roundup post’s popularity. They were once novel, effective and easy to produce. Now they’ve been beaten to death by lazy marketers. Where an influencer receiving an email asking for a roundup quote may once have felt honored, now they’re just as likely to roll their eyes at this obvious tactic. #justsaying.
In a Whiteboard Friday last year, Rand proposed that roundup posts are on the way out because they’re overdone, they don’t deliver value to searchers, and they therefore provide little value aside from short traffic spikes.
AJ Ghergich put it much more succinctly in a tweet:
— AJ Ghergich (@SEO) January 24, 2017
In short, influencers are tired of being asked to write and promote other people’s content for them when there’s so little value offered up front.
As Adam Connell of Blogging Wizard says regarding personalized outreach, “…by doing something to help the blogger out, before you’ve even asked them for anything – you’re far more likely to grab their attention.”
I’m going to show you a pretty simple process that will allow you to immediately deliver value to the influencers in your space.
Oh, and you’ll also get the sharing benefit that you’d get from a traditional roundup post while creating content that’s actually useful.
How does this work?
Basically the strategy is to get in front of influencers in your space by incorporating expertise into your content and building buy-in before you publish. To determine how this traffic will benefit your business, I’d highly recommend you review this fantastic guide to driving traffic to your site from Cody West on the Ahrefs blog.
Generally in a roundup post teams think about conducting their outreach first, getting info, then writing the article and asking for shares when they publish.
We’re going to flip that model on its head.
Instead, we’ll include influencer expertise in our content first. Then we’ll reach out about promoting the piece.
A brief note here: You always ALWAYS want to be organic when adding research to your content. Although we’re going to base our outreach around building buy in from influencers, whatever info you include should actually increase the quality of your content. Soapbox speech over.
What you’re looking for are influencers with authority on a topic that have large, highly engaged audiences. It’s actually not so important that any given piece of their content have massive engagement, even if that’s the piece your referencing. Content quality matters much more here.
To illustrate the process, I’ll show how I go about doing my research on bloggers, but you can read about how we find influencers across other channels here.
The first step is finding useful information that will support our article. Generally I like to look for a minimum of ten “snippets” which can include data, direct quotes, or useful insights, per major segment of my post. Although the odds are low that I’m actually going to use that much info, I want to have enough so that I have flexibility when determining what to include in the final draft.
So, if I’m running this type of campaign for “The Comprehensive Guide on Whiskey Tasting” for my personal blog (which may or may not but definitely does exist because why not write about your vices), I’d look for snippets of info about the process of tasting whiskey.
I. Using BuzzStream Discovery
To start my process, I’m just going to run a simple search for “whiskey tasting” . I’ll also filter down results to show those influencers that have been active in the past year, and that have a Twitter following of over 1,000 (so I can be reasonably certain that they can drive engagement through their audience).
Now that I’ve got a list of results, I can start diving into the content itself. When I find something that looks interesting, I’m actually going to click into the article itself to open it in a new page. This will give me a gut check on the quality of the site and allow me to pull the right info for inclusion on my article.
I’ve verified that it’s a high quality site and I’ve found a snippet that will add value to my content. So, I’m going to add that info to my list. To make it simpler I’m using the BuzzMarker extension here.
Now I can return to Discovery and continue working my way through the rest of the results in the same way until I’ve built up a large enough list of prospects I can use to reach out.
II. Using BuzzSumo
BuzzSumo offers some unique features within their content oriented search. I like to use BuzzSumo when I want insight into the content itself, including diving deep into popular content types and getting some info on the people who share an influencers content.
To start, I’ll use the same basic keyword search “whiskey tasting”. I’m also going to filter on content that was written less than a year ago.
There are some other filters that are worth taking a look at depending on the type of content you’re writing.
The first is, predictably enough, the Content Type filter. This filter will let you review only specific types of content, which can be helpful if you’re looking for instructive info to add into your piece (like how-to articles) or data (like infographics).
The other filter you might want to review is Word Count. BuzzSumo breaks your filtering options into “Thin Content” (meaning the article has less than 750 words) and In-Depth Articles (meaning over 2,000 words). This won’t always be helpful, but anecdotally if I’m looking to refer to evergreen content specifically then the In-Depth Articles option turns up more relevant results. They do also have an evergreen score, so sorting on that can give you similar results.
Once I’ve found an interesting piece of content, I’ll once again open it up to vet the site and grab any relevant snippets. I can then use the BuzzMarker to add the info to a BuzzStream project, or of course I can add that info to a spreadsheet or other system.
One of the coolest features of BuzzSumo is the ability to view who is sharing content. This can be useful for my campaign because it will let me know a little bit about the makeup of people that are influenced by my influencer.
All I have to do is click “View Sharers” and I can quickly get a sense of the type of engagement I can expect if the influencer shares my content. In this case, it looks like I’d be getting shares from restaurants, bars and bourbon enthusiasts, which would be perfect for my guide.
This extra step isn’t strictly necessary, but since BuzzSumo makes it so easy I think it’s worth it so I know that I’m engaging with people who have a relevant audience for my content.
Once I’m doing reviewing this piece, I can continue working through the remaining results to build up my list of snippets and contacts before moving to the next step in my process.
2. Add Info to Your Content
Once I’ve fleshed out my lists, it’s time to incorporate my research into my content. At this point, I would already have an edited draft of my content written up. I’m looking to insert the most useful snippets of info I’ve gathered around each point, and will make only minor edits to the piece as necessary to make everything sound natural.
You don’t have to do things this way. I personally think it’s easiest because I already have a good idea which snippets of info I’ve gathered will work best for each point, so I can just plug them right in.
It’s important to remember that you should not base your content around the influencer comments like you would in a roundup post. As Rand correctly pointed out, that type of content is short-lived and readers are just as burnt out on it as influencers are.
Instead, use these existing influencer comments to add authority and expertise to content that is strong enough to stand on its own. Not only will your readers thank you, but influencers are much more likely to engage with you if it’s obvious you know what you’re talking about.
3. Reach out to included authors
The outreach process for this campaign is pretty straightforward. There are just three main steps.
Quick sidebar: I’m going to show you some examples of the emails we’d write for a campaign, but you shouldn’t consider these as templates you should copy. In general, using publicly available email templates is a really good way to make your outreach obvious and marked as spam. Just use these as inspiration and you’ll be golden!
I. Let the influencers know they’re included
You’re going to send your first round of emails shortly before you publish your content. I like to send at least a week before publication in case I need to make any final edits based on influencer feedback.
In this email, I want to convey the following:
- I’m including your info in my post
- Are you still good with this info or would you change or add anything?
- How do you want to be attributed? Do you want a link to your Twitter profile, blog, or some other page?
This shows the influencer that I’m already serious about including their content and that they are going to get the attribution that will be most valuable for them.
An example email would look something like this:
II. After they respond
Once the influencer gets back to me, I want to further build buy-in by continuing the conversation and giving them insider access to my content.
This email will be super simple:
- Thank them for their response
- Give them access to a draft of the post for feedback
Most likely, the influencer will not give feedback on the post. They may not even read it. However, offering early access builds rapport by showing that you care enough about their expertise to ask.
Here’s an example of the email:
III. After publication
After I publish my content I want to let the influencer know that it’s live and talk about promotion.
The email will have the following parts:
- The post is live
- Here’s what we’re doing to promote it
- Share and link however you see fit
Here’s an example of the final email:
This will let the influencer know that we are putting some muscle behind promoting the content, and gives them a gentle nudge to do the same. Assuming you’ve done a good job engaging and building buy-in, they’ll be more than happy to help (especially since they will get benefit from the increased traffic and links as well)!
Once influencers start promoting your content, you’re going to want to highlight and boost their promotional efforts even further. This will make them more likely to share continuously, and will also demonstrate to your audience that you’ve got relationships with experts in the industry.
For example, it’s very common to receive a share like this from an influencer:
“Excited to have my tips included in The Comprehensive Guide on Whiskey Tasting!”
You’d want to respond to this by sharing that post with your own audience, giving them public thanks for their insightful information you included in the post. Not only will this give you more credibility with your audience and theirs, but it will endear them to you for future campaigns.
This is a super basic approach, but it’s a good first step. To really maximize the value of your integrated influencer strategy, you’ll want to dive into more advanced content promotion strategies such as those that Aaron Agius, co-founder of Louder.Online, covered on the Kissmetrics blog.
5. Update and catalog promoters in your database
Once your campaign ends, you’ll want to note all of the influencers who helped you promote the content in your contact database. It’s astounding how many teams don’t take the time to manage their relationships in this way, because they are missing out on proven promoters for future similar campaigns.
There are so many ways to manage successful relationships (I’ll likely cover these in a future post), but the key is to have an established way to view and engage with people who have provided you value in the past. This can involve carefully curating individual campaigns, or even creating unique databases for successful influencer engagements as detailed by Josh Stanton of Screw the Nine to Five.
Ideally your process will involve more than just updating a contact record. If you regularly check in with these influencers you can build lasting relationships that will amplify the results of all of your influencer marketing efforts.
Tell us what you think
Did you find this strategy helpful, and will you be trying it out in the near future? I want to know about it! Also, if there are areas of this post you want covered in more depth, let me know that as well. I’d be happy to give more detail through future updates or follow-on content.