Thursday, June 18, 2020

How To Level Up Marketing Content From B2B Influencers

Cameraman filming image.

Cameraman filming image. Why do you even need a content person for influencer marketing? After all, the influencers are providing the content. You just have to collect their pearls of wisdom, make them look pretty in a PDF, and you’re good to go, right? I’ll confess, on my first influencer marketing project, I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing there. Over the last few years, however, I’ve come to understand the role that content marketers can play in shaping influencer content. It’s the content lead’s job to shape the conversation with the influencer. We have to ask the right questions, and provide a structure and framework to elicit thoughtful, detailed responses. There are a few extraordinary thought leaders who will dash off a thousand-word, amazingly insightful response to the vaguest prompt. But most folks — even those who write for a living — need more to go on than “What is the biggest problem facing our industry?” The influencers you’re talking to have spent hours of time and effort learning about their subject matter, building an audience with powerful, useful content that provokes action. When you email that list of questions, or sit down for an interview, make sure you don’t leave any insight untapped. Here’s how we at TopRank are evolving our influencer approach to get at that next-level content.

How to Unleash Your Influencer Content

So you’ve identified the true influencers to your target audience, you’ve developed relationships, and now you’re ready to co-create content together. Before you start, make sure you lay the groundwork for a productive Q&A.

Ask More Specific Questions

Influencers will take their cue on how to answer based on how you ask the question.  If you start with a mile-high question like, “What challenges should leaders be aware of right now?”, you’re likely to get a high-level response, something vague and oracular. That’s not because the interviewee can’t get into specifics — it’s because you didn’t invite them to. A better approach is to find out the biggest challenges that your industry is facing, pick one, and ask what we should be doing about it: “The latest Gartner report says that 75% of managers don’t have enough donuts in the breakroom. What are the options for HR leaders to fix this problem? What do you recommend?” Limit the scope of your question, and you invite the influencer to give a more detailed response. [bctt tweet="Limit the scope of your question, and you invite the influencer to give a more detailed response. @NiteWrites on #InfluencerMarketing interviews." username="toprank"]

Don’t Ask Questions Everyone Knows the Answer To

It’s easy to fall into this particular trap. You offer the influencer softball questions that have a broad consensus for the answer, they agree with the consensus, everyone goes home happy.  I’m talking about questions like, “Do you think automation is, on the whole, a good thing or bad thing?”  And they answer, “Well, it’s a different thing. It will cost some people their jobs, but for others it will make their jobs less repetitive and more meaningful, and that will open up new opportunities to innovate.”  The above is perfectly acceptable, content-wise, but it’s a waste of your influencer’s time and talent. You don’t hire LeBron James to dunk on a 4-foot rim. Ask questions you don’t know the answer to, questions that your industry is struggling with, questions that cry out for guidance! [bctt tweet="You don’t hire LeBron James to dunk on a 4-foot rim. Ask questions you don’t know the answer to, questions that your industry is struggling with, questions that cry out for guidance! @NiteWrites on #InfluencerMarketing" username="toprank"] And, of course, give your influencer plenty of time to think about these questions and formulate thoughtful responses.

Let Your Audience Ask the Questions

One of the best ways to get at these more detailed, more challenging questions is to see what questions your audience is actually asking. There are two ways to go about soliciting audience questions for an influencer. The first is the direct one: Ask on your social media channels and your email newsletter. For example, a Twitter post could say, “If you could ask Lee Odden one question about influencer marketing, what would it be? Answer with #AskLeeO.” Collect the most pertinent questions and let them guide the interview. The second way to let your audience ask the questions is to do some keyword research. The topics your audience is searching for are the ones they need answers on. If they had the answers, they wouldn’t be searching! But don’t stop at the highest-volume keywords; those are likely to be too general. Dig into the long-tails on a tool like SEMrush to get at the burning questions.

Ask for Stories

Many of the influencers we work with are consultants, keynote speakers, or have been executives at multiple companies. These folks have a ton of practical experience — we just have to ask them to draw on it. Instead of asking, “What do you think are the three biggest challenges,” ask, “What problems are your clients coming to you with?” Or, even better, “Have you had clients with a similar problem? Tell me about how you advised them, what they did to solve it, and what success looks like.” Asking for stories like this gives your influencer a chance to demonstrate their expertise in action, and offers your audience a more grounded, relatable look at your topic.

Power Up Your B2B Influencer Content

Content planning is a crucial part of influencer marketing. It’s the content team’s job to ask questions that meet audience demand, inspire thoughtful contemplation, and make full use of the influencer’s experience and insight. Asking the right questions is the difference between good and great influencer content. If you want to level up your B2B influencer marketing content, make your questions specific, skip telling the audience what they already know, and ask for unique stories that only your influencer could tell. Want to power up your influencer marketing even more? Check out The B2B Marketing Force Multiplier: Integrated SEO and Influencer Marketing.

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