Building a strong influencer network can be one of your best customer acquisition strategies. Good influencers speak to large communities and their recommendations are trusted and followed.
But building a network can be especially time consuming and often discouraging if your first round of outreach is met with silence or “no thank you”.
Here are some best practices and tools that can help you more effectively build a strong network:
1. Define your goals.
What is your ask? Are you simply looking to build links to your site? Do you just want a relationship where you regularly support each other by sharing content to your respective communities? Do you want to place content via a guest post, or are you looking for 3rd party reviews and posts (often for a fee)? Are you looking for direct promotion to the blogger’s community via newsletter, Facebook, an ad on their website, etc? Are you looking for one specific action (like a link) or a long-term relationship such as an affiliate with commissions? Are you just looking for traffic, qualified leads or actual sales/conversions?
2. Define your target niche(s).
What communities are you targeting (for example, motorcycle fans)? Or what needs/topics/problems does your company help solve (for example, saving money)? Look at your current website analytics data for clues on where visitors have come from to find your site.
3. Develop a target list.
You can start creating your list by asking for recommendations (and introductions) from your existing network. Blog rolls, or lists of blogs that write on a certain topic or speak to a particular niche, can also be used to seek out main writers and sites in particular areas. There are also online tools/services like Inkybee and GroupHigh that compile lists of literally millions of bloggers.
4. Prioritize your list.
Blogger influence and reach are often measured by Twitter followers, Facebook followers, or MOZrank (a measure of search optimization on a scale of 100; you can install a Moz toolbar on your browser to learn the influence score of any the site). But you should also look at other important characteristics such as the quality of the blogger’s content, visuals and professional appearance.
5. Cultivate the relationship.
Many third party firms and larger companies blast out emails to all bloggers on the list, and then wonder why they get almost no response. Stand out (and save time) by being selective and personal in your outreach. Follow each blogger on her social media channels, get a feed to her blog and subscribe to her newsletter. Then start to support and engage by placing comments on her blog, and sharing and retweeting social media posts. Review her products, cite her articles, email her with praise and ask for feedback. When she replies, then start to approach her with the “ask” defined in step 1.
6. Monitor and Support.
Once you have a network you can use a tool such as Buzzstream to track results such as backlinks, retweets, shares, etc.