startup influencer marketing

Influencer marketing takes many forms. When an authoritative web publisher mentions or links to your content the impact on your marketing program can be significant. The same can be said about an individual with a strong social media following pointing traffic in your direction. Through SEO backlinks, startup influencer marketing can expand brand awareness and provide unique product promotion opportunities.

This kind of increase of awareness can then add additional value to your other search engine optimization efforts. As well as your content marketing and social media campaign. There are many bits and pieces that goes into influence marketing. But here, we are going to focus on how to use influencer marketing for SEO backlinks to improve your search ranking. 

What Really Is an Influencer? Is It a Term Reserved for Social Media Stars?

startup influencer marketing
Photo by Steve Gale

The world is crawling with influencers — Instagram, YouTube and other social platforms are alive with the sound of influencers. The Gen Z superstar is essentially a cliche at this point. 

But makeup videos and funny skits are not the beginning and the end of influencers or your influencer outreach program. Influencers can be anyone with access to a substantial niche audience and the capability of generating engagement and interest in the content they share. 

The manager at your local Home Depot may be an influencer if he’s making how-to videos that reach ten or fifteen thousand highly-engaged woodworkers every time he posts. Relevance is key. Targeted influencers that you contact for influencer marketing should work in your industry and connect with your potential customers.

Startup Influencer Marketing: Relevance

Relevance works both ways. The influencer that you should choose for a particular campaign should be relevant to the product or service you want to promote. Meaning, they should have at least basic knowledge and understanding of what is asked from them. Of course, they should be relevant within the your target audience as well.

Which is more important is up to you. A person with less social media following can appeal to the target audience if they are able to do a good presentation of your product or a service. On the other hand big following immediately brings in the attention of their audience. Majority of which is probably willing to buy whatever their favorite influencer promotes to them.

If you are huge company that can afford collaborating with the biggest names in industry there won’t be such a dilemma. However, for the beginners or those on a tight budget it’s better to hire someone with a considerable amount of following; but focus more on their ability to really help you out.

You should consider the location of your business operation as well.

If you mainly operate locally and target local audience don’t try to bring in a “foreigner”. Not in the literal sense of course. But the key here is to strike up a collaboration with a local celebrity. Usually, this will cost you less money. If that’s not the case and you target global audience, your company must be generating enough finance to handle hiring someone with a big following plus useful to you.

Startup Influencer Marketing: The Type of Influencer Working Behind the Scenes in Your Marketing Campaign

Source: Sidewalker Diary

Let’s say you run a catering business and you’ve just written a blog post and shot an iPhone video on 15 new ways to fry a potato. How would you go about building an outreach list? It’s tempting to go straight for the “big fish,” but you need to be realistic as you build your influencer prospect list. Try breaking your list into three categories: A-listers, B-listers, and C-listers. 

A-listers

Those are celebrities such as Gordon Ramsay — highly respected, but difficult to reach or convince to give you a backlink. A social mention would be great, frankly — the right influencer can turn a firehose of traffic toward your site. Such celebrity level influencers can usually only be hired by huge, well established and respected names within the industry. Unless you reach that level, don’t waste you efforts and time to get on with them.

B-listers

Those are popular food bloggers — influential, but their name may only be familiar to others who work in the field. And that’s fine. They may have popular websites, blogs and social channels that can provide strong signals for our friends at Google. It’s a good thing and can have it’s downsides as well. The good thing is, you are introducing relevant people to your audience of those interested in similar things as you. Another good thing is that such influencers are professionals who know exactly how to help you out.

Downside could be their lack of influence outside of your immediate target market. This may sound a bit pretentious but when you consider a particular example, it makes sense. Anyone can be interested in frying potatoes. But if the video you shot includes lots of detailing and specific terminology they will probably skip to only the “relevant” parts. The same about writing a blog post. Oh, and those people are usually really busy too.

C-listers

Those are your local food experts. They write about adventurous recipes and discover new restaurants around town. You’ll want to vet these folks, because while they may be popular with your hometown audience, a link from a website with poor authority may actually hurt your site.

Figuring out who you are realistically able to go after is key to a successful program as there’s little point in creating an influencer marketing program if all your emails go unanswered. 

Tips on Creating a Solid SEO Startup Influencer Marketing Program

Influencers can provide two valuable components to your SEO program:

  • Backlinks. SEO and backlinks go hand in hand. Links to your site from authoritative web publishers are the gold standard of Google. The most consistent factors that influence high search rank are relevant content and a strong SEO backlink profile. Influencers who can link to your website are extremely valuable — and they know it. 
  • Traffic. Traffic is a strong signal to Google that your website has relevant content that users find valuable. While it is only one of many signs that Google reads to determine search rank, it is safe to say that traffic is a big help to your SEO program — whether it comes from a web publisher, social media, an email newsletter or other quality sources.

So that’s the ultimate goal: you want these influencers to link to your site and drive their rabid fans to your content. So how do you actually do that?

Here’s what you need to do:

The first step is to create great content that aligns with your keyword ranking goals. Use keyword research tools to find the best strategic keywords for your content. Then, find out what type of content is ranking on the search engine results page (SERP) for your targeted keyword. Differentiate your content, so it’s more valuable to the consumer. Once you’ve done that, you’ve set the foundation of your influencer marketing strategy.

A side note: influencers are difficult to dazzle. If you want them to link to your content, what you share with them should be mind-blowing. If that sounds difficult, you’re right — it is. 

Outstanding content: the kind that will get an influencer fired up about your brand — takes time, thought and effort to make. Just hoping that an influential individual shares your content and gives you an SEO backlink because it would really help you out is like planning your retirement by buying lottery tickets.

As you create your SEO influencer marketing content strategy, be sure your content is easy to consume, highly engaging and uniquely interesting. Add visuals such as high-res photos, original designs, infographics, videos, or GIFs that help to break up bulk text blocks and complement the story you’re telling. The end product should be in line with your keyword targeting strategy and valuable enough to capture influencer interest. 

Startup Influencer Marketing: How To Reach Out to Influencers and Convince Them To Promote Your Products or Services

startup influencer marketing
Photo by Kenny Eliason

Let’s pretend I send you an email, asking you to do me a favor. What’s the favor? It doesn’t matter. But out of the blue, you — and we’ve never met — get an email asking you to make a minor change to your website and essentially endorse my work. Why? Because it would really help me out.

Would you do it? Probably not. If you want to make an “ask” of an influencer, you need to establish a baseline relationship and offer a clear, concise rationale for moving forward. That starts with the initial outreach. The best ways to contact an influencer are email and social media direct messaging (DM).

Research the influencer’s website and find out their preferred method of communication. If you can’t find a contact form or email address, use an email finder tool. Then, explore the influencer’s social media profiles. Many influencers prefer to connect through social media platforms like Twitter or Instagram. If the influencer is highly active on social media, you might find the best way to receive a response is through a DM. 

It’s important to note that not all social media profiles accept DMs right away. For instance, most celebrities on twitter have their DMs “closed”. If you experience this roadblock, try tagging the influencer in a post.

Startup Influencer Marketing: Crafting Your Outreach Message for the Best Results From Influencers

You Googled “SEO influencer marketing examples” and found a bunch of great templates for your first outreach email. That’s a quick way to fail. Ditch generic influencer marketing templates. Your first outreach message to the influencer should be personal and concise. From subject line to the signature, let’s break down what a link-worthy email looks like.

How to Write an Influencer Email?

Subject: Avoid vague or general subject lines. Keep it short while being clear about what’s inside.

Body: Greet your influencer by their first name. Include the reason you’re reaching out in the first or in the second sentence. Tell them why the content you’re sharing is relevant and worthy of their time. Make the call-to-action as clear as appropriate, without it sounding like a demand. Keep the text short and to the point. Stand out. Influencers are getting a lot of asks — stand out and show that you respect their time.

Signature: Use a professional email signature.

Tips for Writing an Influencer DM

Social media DMs do not allow subject lines. Focus efforts on establishing a captive, concise opening sentence. Hit on the same notes as your influencer email. Influencer outreach is a marketing strategy, so testing is an essential factor for success. Test your subject lines, main message and even the days and times you send your emails or direct messages.

Should you send a follow-up email?

If you don’t receive a response to your email after two weeks, send a follow-up email. Try sending your follow-up email on a different day or time. And a few things to remember:

  • Send a reply message. Instead of starting a new email, send a reply email in response to your first message. This way, both your first and second outreach attempts will be on the same email chain.
  • Keep your follow-up message short and sweet. The purpose of a follow-up email is to remind the influencer that you’ve already reached out. Remind them what you are sharing and remember to ask for a response. Don’t be rude of complain about not getting the response the first time. Most people are busy.

Summing Up On Startup Influencer Marketing

Think of the long game. Even if the influencer does not provide you with an SEO backlink, do not cross them off your list. There is still value in connecting with them down the road. And there’s value in social media mentions!

Highlight the influencer in your content. Ask them to take part in an interview for a Q&A; blog post or feature them as a guest on a webinar. They’ll be more apt to share your content if they are the center of attention. 

Sofia Nikolaishvili
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Sofia Nikolaishvili

After earning a professional degree in linguistics and literature I decided to try out blogging to explore my passion for writing and gain first hand experience. I write about everything I'm interested...

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