Influencer Marketing: The Content Code

Influencer Marketing. You’ve likely heard this term being bandied about the internet a lot lately. But what is it? And how can it help your business? And what steps should you be taking to begin working with influencers?

the content codeGood questions, all of which I hope to answer in this blog post, with the assistance of Mark Schaefer’s new book, The Content Code: Six essential strategies to ignite your content, your marketing, and your business.

In the book, Schaefer outlines 6 strategies (which form the nemonic “BADASS“) for getting your content seen and, more importantly, shared. They are:

  • Brand Development
  • Audience and Influencers
  • Distribution, Advertising, Promotion and SEO
  • Authority
  • Shareability (embedded into each piece of content)
  • Social proof

I’m not going to get into all of these–it would take me too long to break it all down, and I only have one blog post. 😉

The thing that drew me to this book in the first place was an interview I heard with Schaefer on The Social Media Marketing Podcast, where he talked about why people share our content. 

As content marketers, if our stuff isn’t being shared, it’s difficult to make a case for continuing on. Obviously, you need to share your own content through your social channels, but you need other people to share it as well, so it gets introduced to a bigger, and different audience than the one you own.

influencer marketingPhoto Credit: pfig via Compfight cc

Why do people share content? The psychology behind social sharing might surprise you.

Reasons include: 

  • To be useful: everyone likes to feel needed in some way, right? Every time you share a new gluten-free restaurant with your GF friends, it makes you feel good.
  • To define ourselves to others: if you share articles about veganism or women’s rights, that says something about who you are, and what’s important to you. Or who you want people to think you are.
  • Because you have a relationship to someone: we’ll often share something, even if we aren’t really interested in it, because someone we love asked us to.
  • It strikes and emotional chord: if it made you laugh, cry, or angry, you’ll probably share it.

So. Now that we’ve established that, let’s get back to Influencer Marketing. Influencers are people on social media that are respected in their specific niche. They may have a large following (those are usually the most sought-after influencers), but they don’t have to in order to affect change. A smaller audience of passionate individuals can be just as, or even more effective.

These are people who have grown a following because they have come to be trusted–they share valuable information, and have established themselves as “the guy/gal to go to who knows about x.”

Connecting with influencers is a kind of marketing short cut. If you have a new product or service, and you want to get the word out about it using social, it can be really hard, especially when you are growing your following, and it’s small. If you can connect with someone who already has a large audience, who is a like-minded individual, and get them to talk about your product or service, you are, in a way, borrowing their followers. It’s a win-win; both for the influencer, the new business, and the audience (I guess that would actually be a win-win-win!).

There are three types of influencers: the Celebrity (think movie stars and rock stars), the Niche Influencer (who will likely have a following based either on a specific topic, or on a specific medium, like Instagram), and the True Advocate, who is your average Joe, without tons of followers, but who just really believes in what you do, and will spread your content without question.

The first type of influencer is probably out of your price range. The last kind of influencer is already doing the job (but you should still give them lots of love, anyway). So how do you connect to the second type of influencer? Schaefer outlines five steps:

  1. Build a list. My favourte way of doing this is via Twitter, but really you could use Facebook Interest Lists, YouTube playlists, or RSS feeds. You could even do something in an Excel spreadsheet (list numbers, email addresses, handles and website). I make a list in Twitter (by doing keyword and hashtag searches) and then pull it into Hootsuite so I can see what those folks are tweeting all the time.
  2. Forge relationships. You have to get on their radar! That includes things like commenting on their blog, linking to them in a blog post, re-tweeting their stuff (remember that list you just made?), asking them for a quote, or writing them a recommendation on LinkedIn.
  3. Ask them for help. Most people won’t say no, as long as it’s an honest request, and you don’t have a hidden agenda. Make it easy for them to say yes by, for example, pre-writing some tweets for them. All they have to do is copy/paste.
  4. Thank them/Return the favour. Social media is a give-to-get space. Give lots. Thank them publicly online, and RT their stuff, like their posts. Or send them a Starbucks gift card or a bottle of wine.

So there you go–Influencer Marketing. Just one piece of the The Content Code. If you want the rest, you’ll have to read the book… 😉

There is also a ton of great information on Schaefer’s blog, and he has a Podcast as well.  Hit him up with questions on Twitter @markwschaefer.

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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

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