Jay Swansson and Joe Griffin are co-founders of iAcquire, a digital marketing agency focused on content marketing and SEO that drives Internet marketing campaigns for more than 100 leading brands.
This e-mail interview has been edited and condensed.
Why is it important to reach out to social influencers?
Joe: Social influencers – bloggers, social media power users, journalists and those who carry clout on the Internet – have a far greater reach than average consumers. Influencers are prized by marketers for their ability to spread insights, tips and early word on brands, products and services. With less effort, brands are able to build their share of voice to their target customers faster and more effectively.
Relationships with social influencers, though only one part of the overall marketing mix, can benefit your business in the following ways:
- Amplify the reach of your social messages to increase customer awareness and higher search engine results
- Add credibility to your organization through a third-party endorsement
- Help secure guest posts, which can improve your organization’s brand voice and domain authority
Can you scale influencer outreach? If so, how should you do it?
Jay: Yes, you can scale it, but it’s not easy. There are a lot of great tools out there you can use to find influencers, but any time you use tools it matters who’s using them. It matters who’s managing the team. That’s an investment and for many brands it’s an investment better placed elsewhere — on their core business. You can scale outreach by hiring people in mass but that’s expensive and, again, it’s a management issue.
What we’ve done at iAcquire is build our own technology called iRank. We’ve developed the technology in an effort to search millions of websites that rank for any given term and then filter by factors such as PageRank, MozRank, inbound links, outbound links and other “authority” metrics. The point is to find the top-ranking and most influential domains per any given keyword. We’ve also crawled and identified every author we can find on the Internet. That information is combined with data sets from Moz, Nielsen, Facebook, Twitter, Experian Simmons, Compete, and Sysomos. You take all that and you have the ability to talk to connect the best brands, with quality authors, with influential publishers, with the most targeted audience — at scale.
What does success look like? How can you measure it?
Joe: With big data on our side, most organizations today are driven by ROI. “What’s the value of your influencer outreach, and how do you measure it?” your CMO may ask. The first step is to decide what you want to achieve before setting up your measurement program.
- Social metrics: Top-of-the-funnel metrics like social follows, engagement and brand mentions can be tracked with tools like Social Mention, SocialCrawyltics, Sysomos, Facebook Insights and Simply Measured.
- Number of links: I’m a big fan of the Moz suite of tools. Open Site Explorer is my favorite tool to analyze a website’s backlink portfolio, anchor text and domain authority. Majestic SEO is king of trajectory analysis.
- Social-specific referral traffic/conversions: Google Analytics offers ways to measure how much traffic is being referred to your website from the various social channels. To set this up: Under the “traffic sources” tab, click on “referring sites” and then type in your social network of choice to see how much traffic is being referred. Then, establish goals based on the actions you want your visitors to complete. Use this method to track the conversion rate of influencer marketing tactics.
What are some mistakes to avoid when seeking influencers?
Jay: Make sure every point of communication you make with influencers represents your business in a positive light. Avoid profanities and generalities; be unique, professional and human. Personalize each e-mail or social message based on the target’s interests, history or even geographic location. Read up on past blogs and messages, and establish exclusive relationships with them. It should be a mutually beneficial relationship. Add value before asking anything in return.
What is the most crucial social network to be on to boost search relevancy?
Jay: We are really pushing Google+ authorship at the moment. As Google+ continues to proliferate to become the second largest social network, those who choose to ignore it do so at their own peril.It comes down to this: Google+ is the first network that truly is based on trust and clout. Users rank Internet pages by +1-ing, and subsequently sites with multiple +1’s end up getting higher ranking in the Google search engine results. Google authorship is one stride toward a more personalized search experience.
Joe: Google+ is so important to us that we are launching an author platform that is centered around Google+ authorship information called Clearvoice in the next few months. We have a pool of 20,000 writers with a G+ profile, where publishers can gain access to top talent. It’s a win-win for both parties: Web authors can find work and publishers have added editorial support to high-quality and high-clout authors.