Groove, a company that provides help desk software, is a perfect example of executing an influencer strategy with precision. They were a start-up company with literally no audience— and no time to build an audience—so they relied on borrowing the audiences of others. The result? 5,000 new blog subscribers in five weeks. Here’s how they did it:
1. Build the influencer list. The company carefully considered which potential influencers connected to their target audience (web start-ups and small businesses) and which of those leaders would be able to get true value from their content and service. This is a critical step. Most influencers are deluged with spammy requests for their help, so doing careful research up front gives you the best shot at success.
2. Forge relationships. Influencers may hold the keys to the audience kingdom, but simply making a cold pitch doesn’t work. Groove embarked on a plan to use the social networks to connect with them and move beyond the relational weak link. Their plan included tweets, blog comments, blog post shares, and emails. Here are other ways to engage with influencers:
• Ask for a quote you’ll use in your article.
• Re-tweet them consistently.
• Provide them with a recommendation on LinkedIn.
• Interview them for a video or podcast.
• Ask them for feedback on an idea.
• Link to something they wrote about (they will generally see this “pingback”).
3. The Ask (part 1). By this time, the people from Groove were on the radar of their target influencers and it was time to make a move. But they didn’t ask for a favor. They asked for help—a subtle yet important difference. Most people have a hard time saying “no” to an honest request for help. This plea included a link to their site, a request for feedback, and emphasis on potential mutual benefits. Using this technique, Groove earned an 83 percent positive response rate from the influencers. “Help” is a more benign ask, and more importantly, it helped Groove start real back-and-forth conversations with industry experts.
4. The Ask (part 2). Now that the company was ready to launch their blog, they needed a push from their new influencer friends. Since this group had been involved in providing feedback to the Groove team, they had a built-in stake in the company’s success. Groove sent these new advocates a link to the first blog post with a request for help promoting it.
5. Results! Not only did most influencers promote the post, but almost all of them also commented on the new blog. This level of response provided proof to new visitors that the blog (and company) had traction. In 24 hours Groove had acquired 1,000 blog subscribers, and by following up with consistent, high-quality content, they attracted more than 5,000 subscribers and 535 trial sign-ups through five weeks of blogging efforts.
In this case, Groove methodically built relationships with influencers that led to measurable success. But there was another force at work here, too—the powerful, magnetic attraction of involving key audience members in your content creation and transmission.
– from “The Content Code” by Mark Schaefer