If you’re not using influencer marketing in 2018, you’d better have a good reason.

The recent stats showed that 92% of marketers who used influencer marketing in 2017 found it to be effective. Now they are increasing their influencer marketing budgets.

Influencer marketing is becoming one of the most popular marketing strategies. It also means that influencers are extremely busy these days, so it’s becoming more and more challenging to reach them.

Today’s article will reveal five hacks (mostly related to content marketing) to unobtrusively start a conversation with an influencer and get a chance to build those valuable long-term relationships in the future.

A Word on Influencer Marketing

Influencers who are industry experts are swamped with senseless offers, advertising, and spam. People ask them to share, to help, to advise. This is why they tend to ignore most of the messages they receive without even reading them.

Once you strike up a conversation, you’ll be able to start collaborating on some projects and building long-lasting relationships.

1) Conduct an Expert Interview

How It Works

  • People love sharing their experience and discussing things they’re passionate about or they’ve learned.
  • Because influencers don’t have a lot of time, your offer to interview them as an expert is a great opportunity for them with very little work on their part.

It’s best if you pitch some large publications and have a publishing contract or agreement in place first before asking experts to contribute. Tell the influencer your idea and where you’re going to publish it. They are usually more than happy to contribute. Once your interview goes live, it will be much easier to ask your influencer for a favor or discuss some other ways to collaborate.

How to Implement

To find exciting questions for your interview, I suggest using BuzzSumo’s question analyzer:

BuzzSumo Question Analyzer

It gathers millions of questions from Q&A sites, e-commerce sites, and forums like Quora, Reddit and Amazon Q&A.

  • Decide where you are going to publish this post (on your own blog or another platform).
  • Add it to your editorial calendar or make an agreement with the other platform.
  • Find influencers by using Mention, by searching LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter communities, and by finding lists of industry experts on Google.
  • Add influencers on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, and follow them on other social media platforms to make it easier to reach out or follow up in future.
  • Start reaching out to influencers! Send a personalized email explaining who you are, what you want, and what your idea is.

Follow up at least two times if there is no response for 3-4 business days, and then try to reach out via LinkedIn/Facebook/Twitter, or the contact form on their site. But remember, don’t be too pushy and don’t write too often. Stop after 2-3 messages.

2) Don’t Ask For a Favor; Do a Favor

Influencers are swamped with messages from people asking them for a favor. Try the opposite approach: do a favor for them first.

How to Implement

What kind of favors can you do for an influencer? Here are a few ideas:

  • Comment on their blog post
  • Share their blog post
  • Review their book
  • Endorse their skills on LinkedIn
  • Find and report an error on their blog

These steps will help let influencers know about you so that your name rings a bell when they see it in their inboxes.

The most important thing here is to find the right words to start a conversation so that it doesn’t look like:

Hey Ben, I reviewed your e-book. Now I want you to share my article in return.

The better variant would be:

Hey Ben. Recently I was reviewing your e-book on Amazon and I came up with a brilliant idea for a blog post that would complement your book. Could you please take a look at it and share your opinion?

3) Create a Personalized Pitch

Influencers usually have their own blogs, and pitching a high-quality article is a great way to start a relationship. If your idea is good and unique and your pitch doesn’t look like spam, you have a great chance of getting noticed by the influencer.

How to Implement

  • Call the influencer by his/her name in the subject line

Although it might seem weird to use the first and last name of a person in your subject line, the research shows that it actually works well:

personalization in subject lines

  • Add a small personal note

It could be anything that shows the influencer that you have done a little research before pitching.

Some examples are:

Hey, I found this article on your blog, and I think I could develop this topic in another direction…

I found an article about backlink building strategies in 2017 on your blog. I’d like to write an updated article on the same topic…

I’ve found that articles about content marketing are the most shareable on your blog, so I would like to offer…

Your pitch email should consist of a short introduction, a personal note, suggested topics for a guest post, and several writing samples (if necessary). So cut out the fluff and get straight to the point.

4) Ask For a Piece of Advice

If you ask meaningful questions, some of them will respond, and it’s a great way to strike up a conversation and get the chance to collaborate in the future.

How to Implement

  • Write down several complex or difficult issues that only an experienced person could answer. Never ask something that everyone can find on Google! If you can’t think of anything, try looking on Quora or other relevant forums.
  • Send a brief and polite message asking the influencer if they could help you out by answering a quick question(s).

5) Mention the Influencer in Your Content

You’re helping the influencer promote his/her blog, personal brand or service, so of course s/he would be happy to take a look at this post and share some feedback.

How to Implement

  • Find influencers who are interested in your topic. To do this, you can use special tools, follow LinkedIn/Facebook communities, and follow influencers on Twitter.
  • Find a way to mention them in your blog post. It could be a quote, a link to his/her post or research.
  • Email the influencer and ask them to take a look at your post and share their feedback. If the post is good, an influencer can share it with his/her audience, and you’ll have something to talk about.

Conclusion

All these hacks are based on helping the influencer instead of asking for help.

  • Write a valuable article for the influencer’s blog
  • Conduct and publish an expert interview with the influencer
  • Comment on and share his/her blog posts, help find an error on their site
  • Reach out to the influencer to ask a question only they would know
  • Involve the influencer in an interesting conversation

5 Hacks to Start a Conversation with an Influencer

PS. Commenting on their LinkedIn posts or writing them short messages on LinkedIn in reply to their published content is also an effective strategy. If they’re active on LinkedIn, of course.