I’ll be the first to admit that “influencer marketing” has become a bit of an overused phrase in the online marketing game. Most of the people using it know that leveraging the power of influencers is cost-efficient, valuable, and massively scalable, but the The Premise The premise is relatively simple. There are currently existing influencers in the social media world, with prominent reputations and large circles of followers—likely numbering in the tens of thousands or more. A great summarization of why you need influencers: Why Does Your Brand Need Influencers? Consumers trust recommendations from a third party more often than a brand itself. And it makes sense if you think about it in a more personal context. You don’t usually trust a person at a cocktail party who comes up to you and brags about himself or herself and spouts fun facts about his or her personality to convince you to be a friend. But you often believe your mutual friend who vouches for that person. An influencer is the mutual friend connecting your brand with your target consumers. When you align with an influencer, not only do they bring their audience, but they also bring their audience’s network as well. Because of the loyalty of their audience, an influencer has the ability to drive traffic to your site, increase your social media exposure, and flat-out sell your product through their recommendation or story about their experience. Any posts these influencers make is instantly going to be seen by thousands, and probably treated with more respect and interest than a typical user’s post. Because of this, any post they make is inherently valuable. This leads to a handful of possibilities. If they post about you, your reputation could rise, giving you more followers and more influence over publishers (incrementally, of course). If they post a link to your site or one of your articles, you’ll see increased traffic and have a higher likelihood of attracting links, which as we all know pass authority to your domain. The bottom line? If you engage with influencers regularly and get them to post about your brand and website, you’ll earn more social signals and links that will help you earn higher rankings. This doesn’t even take into account the peripheral benefits of influencer marketing. Escalating Forms of Social Visibility Social media marketing can be very weak or very powerful, depending on how much reputation you currently have, how much time and effort you put in, and how you’re able to scale your efforts over time. Influencer marketing, largely dependent on social media, functions along the same lines. If you’re just getting started, it’s a good idea to start from the bottom and slowly start escalating the intensity and reach of your various forms of influencer engagement. In order, some of these engagement forms are: Conversational involvement This is the simplest form of engagement, and it doesn’t even require that the influencer respond. All you have to do is find a discussion already in progress, preferably started by the influencer in question, and participate. Give an answer, debate their stance, or ask a question. Getting involved makes you noticeable, and even if you’re not addressed specifically, you’ll generate attention. Mentions or callouts The next phase is getting mentioned or called out by an influencer. Usually, this just involves their tagging you in a post, but it could also mean referencing your products and services in one of their blog posts. You can ask them questions, get their attention, or offer them products to review to achieve this. Sharing The next highest form of engagement is when an influencer shares your content, which is hard to achieve. In order to get to this level, you’ll have to have had several engagements in the past—enough for them to know who you are—and you’ll have to produce a piece of content that really speaks to them (or their audience). Collaboration Finally, there’s the potential for collaboration. Here, you’ll be working alongside the influencer, developing a mutual piece of content you can share to both your audiences. This is hard to achieve, as you need to have several points in common (and a common motivation), but it can be incredibly powerful for link building. How to Get Started These forms of engagement are nice, but how do you actually go about achieving them? It’s all about building a relationship, and these are the steps you need to take to do it. Identifying influencers The first step is identifying some potential influencers to work with. There’s no “right” way to do this, but I’ve found that following industry topics and using both content discovery and social listening software makes the process faster and easier. Generate a short list and start from the bottom (in terms of total influence). Building a relationship from scratch It will take you time to build an actual relationship, so don’t try and force it too quickly. Just get involved as a participant at first, and slowly work your way into your influencer’s inner circles through your participation. Making the ask Making an ask for something big, like a product review or a collaboration on a piece of content, can be intimidating, and you’ll probably face rejection at first. Just be sure to frame your request in a way that benefits the influencer—their time is valuable, so show your appreciation. Ongoing contributions and escalation Relationships are best built and maintained by repetition and escalation. Keep getting involved in their discussions and projects, and gradually work your way to more significant requests. Overall, influencer marketing can be an incredible ace up your sleeve in the SEO game. It’s a shortcut to a greater online reputation, a portal for earning more links and social mentions, and you’ll be earning tons of new traffic and followers as peripheral benefits, too. It can be an intimidating game to enter, especially if you don’t have much authority in your own right, but as long as you’re willing to exchange value, and you can handle a number of rejections, it’s a viable and approachable strategy for almost any business. Image: Influencer, opinion leader, team leader, CEO and another business leading concepts. Opinion leader (for example politician) has power to influence opinion mass of people especially customers.