I deal with bloggers and influencers on a daily basis. I’m marketing lead at an influence marketing software company, and I also co-founded SteamFeed.com, a multi-author blog. I have conversations with marketing and PR professionals all the time about influence marketing, influencer strategies, how to engage them, etc.
The conversation always seems to be about engaging influencers and bloggers so they start promoting the company/products you’re representing on their own site. But I honestly think companies are missing a huge opportunity – developing owned media assets with influencers.
Finding Influencers To Contribute To Your Corporate Blog
I had a great conversation with Daniel Newman not that long ago about this, and I’ve been a strong believer in this strategy for quite some time.
Owned media is really important for companies. If you want your company to rank on search engines, if you want customers to engage with you on social networks, if you want to build email lists, generate leads, etc., you need to create content.
Most companies don’t have the capacity to create the daily content required to generate a decent amount of traffic and leads. So instead of hiring more staff to increase the output, they hire freelancers or ghost writers to post on their site.
Now this is an acceptable strategy, but often times the content isn’t that great of quality, and it doesn’t reach a new audience. Freelancers don’t always have the expertise for topics you need to cover, and it shows in their writing.
Expertise, New Audiences, and Higher Quality
Here’s where working with influencers to build your owned assets gets interesting.
You can find people that really know what they’re talking about on social networks. People that have great backgrounds, lots of experience in your industry, that like to share their voice. And the beauty of influencers is that they REALLY want to share their voice. Giving them a new channel to write, to share, to associate themselves with a brand, and to reach your audience is something that they’re excited about – if it brings value to them
In return, you get to fill the expertise gaps that your staff and freelance writers can’t fill. Also, they’re better than a freelance writer in a sense. Why? Because when you work with influencers, they will want to bring their audience to your blog. They share their content. They promote it. Their audience is receptive, and targeted (if you’ve done your homework) – win-win, because you get new eyeballs on your website.
Last point in this section – since the content influencers create come from deep understanding of a topic, it usually ends up being higher quality. If your corporate blog showcases a multitude of different opinions from influencers/industry experts, and have a lot of social shares and comments (since the influencers can bring a new audience), people that land on your blog will view you as higher quality, and higher credibility.
Why Owned, and not Earned?
Don’t get me wrong! I like my fair share of earned media! We get 20% of our leads through earned referral traffic. We get backlinks from people linking to our content. But do you know where we get more leads? Search engines. 55% of our leads to be exact. And a lot of them are high quality, and convert into customers.
With building out our owned media assets, we get more pages indexed through search engines, which brings more leads to our website.
Why? People go to search engines with a question in mind. They want to find a solution to their problem. If your website has the answer, they click on it, explore, and possibly convert.
Here’s another reason to focus on owned media – you can’t get earned media and backlinks unless you have something that’s worth linking to. How do you do that? By developing more owned media.
Examples of Companies Using This Strategy
My favourite example, which I have used over and over again, was the Radian6 blog (before the Salesforce takeover). They had 3-5 articles going out each day – a few from their staff, a few from industry experts. They filled the expertise gaps by bringing in people that were knowledgeable, that had a good audience, and that were social in every way. They did very well.
Our company, InNetwork Inc., uses different bloggers and professionals to fill in expertise that’s appealing to PR professionals. It attracts the right audience to our website, allows us to publish more content, more often, and indexes more content on Google, resulting in more leads.
American Express Open Forum is a great example as well! They bring in different people with different expertise to create a great resource for small business owners.
I could go on with more examples, as there are so many great ones out there!
But the point is, don’t just look at building relationships with influencers for earned media purposes. Be creative in the way you work with influencers. The most important thing to remember is to understand your digital marketing goals, and see what’s the best way to achieve them. If owned media and increased content output solves your problems, then perhaps working closely with experts and influencers in your industry might be the best way to go for you and your company.