As SEO best practice continues to evolve, relationships with brand-relevant influencers are more important than ever. Working with bloggers, but also vloggers and influencers, that have a real say in online conversations allows for the development of a wide range of engagement methods to better suit the needs of the client.
For some brands this involves identifying the main influencers and building relationships directly with them, keeping them well informed and welcome in the brand’s online conversations. The ambition is that they become active brand ambassadors, loyal to the brand amongst its peers. The benefits from this are obvious: they spread the word and the positive signals will help the brand gain organic visibility and referral traffic.
The other – more indirect way – is to engage with influencers who are not exclusively focused on one brand but who like and engage with several that share their passion. Generally, these bloggers are influential in an area of interest. They might have a powerful voice about a city or neighborhood, a specific type of music or a particular sport. They may initiate contact with your brand online, talk about their experience and share with their community. Although the method is different, the benefits are similar: the brand will gain organic visibility and be seen more by the target consumer.
Regardless of how contact is made – directly or indirectly – there are several things a brand can do to maximise on the powerful voice of influencers.
Here are five top tips:
1. Engage with the person, not the blog or Twitter account
There are different ways of engaging with influencers but whatever way you choose; collaboration is key. You can’t specify what another person writes about or links to. It isn’t a value exchange and if you go down this route, there will always be someone who will offer more money. Relationships are not founded on payments and they are not made with a domain. They are founded on a mutual interest, passion and trust between people and brands. Never forget that influencers care about their assets and image and ultimately want to increase their online reach just as much as brands so.
2. Offer moments that can’t be bought, only earned
Understanding what the influencer wants and is passionate about will give you something better to offer than money. Do they dream about flying? Make it happen! Do they want to make their blog better or increase their online reach by learning more about social media marketing? Help them. Offer your influencers access to exclusive events, positive press coverage or access to unique content.
Success comes from understanding what the person behind the great online metrics really wants. My advice is to ask - never assume you know – what people currently care about can change frequently.
3. Don’t get obsessed with links – they are a bi-product
Yes, Google’s algorithm is based on links and this won’t change in the mid-term. But you can’t build links – brands must earn them as a confidence vote. After all, a link is really a public announcement made on the influencer’s assets that they like you! Don’t use link targets. Instead, care about the social metrics and the traffic from your alliances.
4. Grow social at the same time
Conversation is still at the heart of SEO. And social is the easiest way to start a conversation or to shine a light at one going on elsewhere online. Use your social channels to highlight the relevant conversations. Be sure your social lives up to your brand promise. Invite your community of influencers to be part of the conversation.
5. Think big! If one person loves a campaign chances are others will too
Engaging with a handful selected influencers is great but in order to be successful we need to think big and deliver at scale. Don’t let this idea intimidate you, it’s actually very natural. So if you have a great initiative planned by your brand team, leverage this for your community. Add an SEO angle. If you start your campaign from your SEO or Owned Media department and get positive feedback from influencers, it’s a very safe bet that more people will like it too so consider scaling up and really push the amplification.
By Britt Soeder, Head of Owned Media at iProspect.
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