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Influencer Outreach – 5 Ways to Fail

Posted on Dec 11th, 2014
Written by Lee Odden
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    Content Marketing has dominated much of the conversation about marketing in the past 2 years and the popularity of influencer marketing is also on the rise. What could be better than a combination of both?

    The intersection of influencer marketing and co-creation for content marketing is an area we’ve been testing and implementing thoroughly over the past 5 years. Not only have we implemented these campaigns for ourselves in partnership with marketing kingpins like MarketingProfs, Content Marketing Institute and Social Media Examiner, but also major brands like LinkedIn, Dell and McKesson.

    But as the approach to content shifts from marketing departments to crowdsourcing, insourcing and community co-creation, I’ve noticed a sharp increase in sloppy or ineffective tactics like influencer outreach.

    Being on both the sending and receiving end of influencer communications, here are a few things that I see happening that are sure fire ways to get your outreach emails deleted or worse, designation as “spammy” or “ignore”.

    1. Shoot first, ask later – Taking liberties with influencer content without asking, ie publishing a quote or excerpt in marketing content that is explicitly intended for lead generation. After the content is published, reaching out to the influencer to indicate they’ve been cited and asking for help in promotion.

    Tip: Allowing your influencer to shape their contribution will go a long way with how well they help you promote it.

    2. Relevance – Requests for content participation that are barely related to the domain expertise or interests of the influencer.

    Tip: Do a little research before you ask. Knowing what your influencer is known for will always lead to better requests and better responses.

    3. Lack of Disclosure – Asking for contributions “for an article”, when in reality, it’s a paid content for a client that will be used for marketing purposes.

    Tip: Just don’t ever do this. Consider how small of a world the digital marketing space really is. What if your influencer knows someone in your client’s offices?

    4. Great Expectations – Asking influencers to answer 10+ question interviews on short notice and to promote to all their social networks.

    Tip: This probably isn’t going to work, even if you’re an influencer yourself asking input from other influencers. Let’s face it, people are busy. As much as we want to contribute and collaborate, we all have our own projects that demand focus as well.

    5. No follow up – Not saying thank you – supreme #fail.

    Tip: Sometimes all it takes is a link to the post in which the influencer appears and a few words of appreciation. This can leave a lasting impression on your influencer.

    The solution to most of these influencer outreach fails can be as simple as slowing down and making the effort to understand the real goal you have as a marketer and whether influencer marketing is a reasonable approach. Also discover what actually motivates influencers and empathize with their situation – busy, in-demand, looking to be lifted up vs reaching down to lift your brand up.

    Every influencer outreach effort we implement at TopRank Online Marketing starts by understanding first, how we can create value for influencers. These efforts are treated as an informed hypothesis that go through iterative improvements (optimization of communications) to ensure we are creating a positive experience for influencers in a way that is credible and motivating for action as well as the start (or continuation) of a relationship.

    Photo: Shutterstock