by Zoe Huden on October 22, 2012
As engagement in social media has continued to grow over the past few years, search engines have recently begun to incorporate a more social approach to SEO. Digital marketers however, have been talking about the value of social signals and mentions from “influencers”, for years. And so, if influencer outreach is so important, what does a successful influencer outreach campaign look like?
“Hey, I just saw you have tons of followers, and this is crazy… but here’s my website, so mention me maybe?”
Finding influencers, starts with how you define them. There are many ways in which you can numerically begin to identify an influencer by looking at their website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Numerically identifying influencers means specifically looking at the SEO numbers: page rank value [link to definition?)], number of subscribers, number of people who “liked” it, number of reviews, number of back links, etc.
These numbers can’t be ignored. It’s clear that conversations are happening offsite. Some digital space commentators have even begun to wonder whether social media is displacing SEO as people seem to put greater value on websites and blogs that have higher numbers of “likes”, “shares”, mentions, etc. And while these numbers are important, your search for influencers must also focus heavily on quality over quantity, in this case specifically: influence over reach.
It’s called “influencer outreach” because the people you are reaching out to are understood to have influence over their audience (their reach). However, because so many people get caught up in the numbers, reach has unknowingly and falsely been considered more valuable than actual influence, their ability to get others to listen to them and follow their recommendations.
Consider this: you find a blog that seems to be speaking to a community that would be interested in your service or product. The blog has a high page rank and a high number of backlinks, but a mention from them was hardly worth the effort of reaching out to them in the first place. In this instance the chances are this person has a far bigger reach than influence.
Bottom line – Don’t confuse the size of an audience with the influence the “influencer” has.
An influencer outreach campaign is most successful when it doesn’t look like a campaign at all. The way you do this is by making sure you are contacting only relevant influencers. Influencers often have their greatest influence in only a few areas which typically line up with their interests, so unless your product or services fits that, you are not likely to see success from approaching that person, since they simply will not be able to help.
Consider this: you have a favorite celebrity gossip blog that you read every day, sometimes multiple times a day. You and thousands of other people read and interact with the content on that site each week, however, when they write a blog post about your hardwood floor business, the response is nowhere near its average.
Always remember that the context and relevancy of the influencers you choose is extremely important.
Online influencers usually don’t have the same reach as someone on T.V. or even on your favorite radio station, but that doesn’t mean the scope of their reach is anything to scoff at. Relevant online influencers can help improve your web presence tenfold by targeting just the right audience, but they aren’t the magic marketing pill. Not all influencers will drive direct traffic to your site, but they can help create awareness around your product which could lead to sales down the line.
The more people you get to “like” and share your content with, the more you will expand your own reach (audience), reducing your need for influencer outreach. Ultimately you should strive to become an influencer yourself. Until then, contact the influencers, figure out why it is that they are influencers, and figure out if they will influence the people you want them to, in the direction you’d like. Influencer outreach is a great way to start and get your brand out there.