By ProBlogger Expert Jerry Low of Web Hosting Secrets Revealed.
Regardless of your particular industry, you likely created a blog in order to draw attention and traffic to your brand.
A blog is one layer in a broad spectrum of inbound marketing techniques used to build momentum for a business. The ways that you utilize your blog to make an impression may vary, but the one thing you don’t want to do is become attached to strategies that have grown redundant (either for your blog, specifically – or for the blogosphere in general).
An effective way to generate the interest of your readers is to conduct periodic interviews with influencers in your industry. Doing this may not only stimulate the appeal of your blog to your current followers; it could also broaden your audience in ways that you never dreamed were possible. The following tips should help you to gain a clear sense of how to leverage your blog with influencer interviewers that will keep your readers coming back for more.
Why an Interview?
At this point, you may be ambivalent about whether you really need to offer an interview on your blog. How could this type of content actually improve and grow your site?
As Hamlin School Director of Public Relations Daniel W. Polk puts it, “You create a personal connection with your guest speaker.” This type of connection is powerful because once it has been established, you will then be in a position to freely discuss topics that are important to your readership.
You also have a chance to educate your audience about objectives that you wish to accomplish within your own community. Mr. Polk is a social philanthropist who places an emphasis on global citizenship. In his interview with ABC News anchor and author Dan Harris, Polk discusses the topic of mindfulness because it was explored in Mr. Harris’ recent bestseller. This is also a subject that would probably be of interest to the readers of Mr. Polk’s blog. In this fashion, you might interview an influencer in your own industry – and you can lead a discussion that should be compelling to your audience. If the content is compelling enough to engage the minds of your readers, they could share your interview on a wide range of social media platforms – and that is how your blog might grow exponentially.
Identifying the Right Influencers to Network
Now that you have an idea of how much potential an interview may offer in terms of helping you to grow your blog, you will need to think about which influencers may be of the most value to your blog and your brand.
Examples of influencers may include authors who have written on topics that concern your readers, as well as professionals in your industry who have experienced great success. Any person who might exert influence over the opinions formed and decisions made by your readership could serve as a viable choice for an influencer interview.
Your primary objective should be finding someone who will appeal to your audience and who is relevant to your mission.
Social media is your best friend
An efficient way to find the right influencers to network is to search for them on social media. You might cull a wealth of prospects worth considering on a single Facebook page, including Entourage actor Adrian Grenier, e-commerce pioneer for the fashion industry’s Federico Marchetti, and even Facebook’s own COO, Sheryl Sandberg. Since online users turn to social media for a broad range of purposes (such as meeting new people, staying current on the news, and seeking peer reviews of products and services), utilizing social media influencers makes perfect sense for countless bloggers.
According to Tech Crunch contributor Polina Haryacha, companies at a global level have now recognized the sheer marketing power of influencers on YouTube. You could locate influencers via YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn. Just be sure that the person you choose is someone who will help showcase your goals and your brand.
YouTube phenomenon Michelle Phan is a perfect example of a top influencer in the cosmetics industry. Michelle has helped to alter the course of how the general public perceives the industry in general. She would make an ideal interviewee for a blog on anything related to the topics of makeup and beauty. Because of her noteworthy success as a vlogger who built a strong following from nothing, Ms. Phan could be a great interview choice for people with blogs in many other genres, as well – including blogs on business, social media, and the entire spectrum of online marketing in general. She would likely be well received by an audience that frequents a blog for young female entrepreneurs, no matter what their prospective fields might be.
Using Metrics to Identify Influencers
Trying to find influencers may consume more time than you have available – or you might spend the time to identify people who seem great, but you may not be sure if they’re the right influencers for your blog or purpose. Fortunately, you don’t need to approach this task without assistance. Several websites are dedicated to matching suitable influencers to the people who seek access to them. These sites typically implement data analysis to help people make the right match for their needs.
Keyhole enables you to track posts that include your keywords and hashtags. You can also monitor the posts of your competition, as well as your own posts. The site’s technology helps you find the influencers who are using your keywords on social media, and you can view all of the data you’re accessing via a graph on your dashboard.
Klout was at the forefront of the trend to measure influencers with metrics. The sites from which it derives these measurements include at least 10 social media platforms, such as Google+ and Facebook. Klout utilizes advanced algorithms to score businesses and individuals based on how much influence they have on social media.
Kred uses data measurement to assist users in finding and engaging with influencers. You can use the analysis to explore which influencers should be at the top of your list. Another feature that the site offers is a service enabling influencers and marketers to make connections.
Influencers Outreach – How to Get Mission Impossible Done
Unless you happen to be personally acquainted with influencers whom you’d like to interview for your blog, you’ll need to be able to successfully introduce yourself to such people.
As Huffington Post Blog contributor Margaret Olatunbosun suggests, an excellent way to acquaint yourself with thought leaders is to establish your presence in places that they frequent. In the same way that you might reach out to potential customers in person or via social media – thus forming invaluable relationships – you can network with influencers and build relationships with them. You might do this in person or online – or both. Once you have cultivated an authentic connection with someone, building a sense of mutual trust is the next logical step toward extending an invitation to participate in an interview for your blog. By creating a feeling of rapport, you will naturally create bonds that will make reaching out to influencers easier.
Don’t forget about LinkedIn when you are searching for people to interview. A quick way to locate influencers in your field of interest is to go to this major platform known for connecting users at a professional level. Doing this could save a lot of time for you in your journey to secure interviews with influential people in your industry. Take a cue from Chandler Jones International CEO Ben Abrahams, who discusses his objective of connecting with leaders worldwide. By simply following “Influencers” (influencers who are also registered with LinkedIn), you could discover a wealth of individuals whose experiences and talents are closely associated with the topics you wish to broach.
After You’ve Identified a Potential Interviewee…
Once you’ve identified an influencer who seems like a good match for your blog, you’ll need to explore strategies for approaching that person about being the subject of an interview. Always do your research before approaching a prospective interviewee. You should start by knowing exactly what your intended influencer does, especially in terms of recent accomplishments. Then, your job is to open your intended subject’s eyes to the possibilities that an interview for your blog may yield.
Most influential people are apt to be highly in demand, so you may be uncertain about the best way to proffer an invitation. You may even feel nervous about taking this kind of step – but don’t be. A great strategy for instantly making yourself valuable to an influencer is to offer that individual something of value – and by the very nature of running a blog, you already have something of value to provide – added exposure. Remember that the right kinds of exposure are as beneficial to influencers as they are to your brand. When Powell’s Books Marketing, Content, and Promotions Coordinator Jill Owens invites authors to be interviewed for the bookstore’s blog, you can be sure that many of them are happy to oblige such a request.
While you might not yet have achieved the status that Jill Owens has to date, the key to setting up an interview with an influencer is to show the individual what an interview for your blog might mean in terms of furthering his/her brand.
You might offer to review the influencer’s latest creative endeavor prior to an interview. Be ready to provide statistics related to your readership and social media following. Keep your pitch clear, concise, and always courteous. Be realistic and professional, and never make false claims or try to insinuate exposure potential that is untrue. In short: Treat an influencer the way that you would like to be treated upon being approached for an interview.
The Interview: Generating Questions That Engage the Influencer
After you secure a Q and A session with an influencer, the next phase involves constructing the framework for the interview. You’ll need to ask questions that engage the influencer and compel your audience to keep reading. A basic strategy is to employ the “five Ws” of journalism: Who, What, Where, When, and Why (as well as H for How).
This is a classic practice for many reasons – and in the case of an influencer interview, asking questions based on this set of five Ws will almost always serve to keep your interview subject engaged.
Questions to ask
Here are a few examples of questions that could keep an influencer engaged:
- “Who are the primary members of your audience – and who are the more unexpected ones?”
- “When did you get the idea for your latest project?”
- “Where do you see yourself (or your brand) five years from now?”
- “What project will you be working on next?”
- “Why did you want to be a…..?”
- “How do you start your workday?”
Some of the above questions require concrete answers. Others are open-ended and designed to elicit a thoughtful response. A combination of both types of questions should keep your influencer engaged in the interview and your readership invested in the answers.
How to Prepare on the Day of the Interview
A profile interview focuses on the individual. By the time the interview begins, you should have researched as much as possible about your influencer and his/her work. On the day of the interview, you can take a few steps in order to be fully prepared:
- Be sure that your interviewee understands the scope of your audience.
- Communicate your expectations for the session, as well as the tone you’d like to set.
- Introduce yourself to the influencer if you haven’t yet met in person.
- Offer the person a beverage if he/she did not bring one along. In addition to just being a polite thing to do, this may help to avert a need to stop mid-interview due to a dry throat from speaking continuously.
- Don’t neglect to formally introduce your interviewee at the onset of the interview – both to anyone else who may be present, as well as to your readership.
- Build rapport and make your influencer feel comfortable by engaging in a bit of small talk before the interview begins.
After the Interview
Once the interview is over, remember to thank the influencer for his/her time. Make sure that you remind your readers of the interviewee’s name, and provide them with a link to his/her website. You might also remind your audience about the basic details regarding the influencer’s current or upcoming projects.
Congratulate your interviewee if the session was particularly successful and compelling. You may want to send a thank-you card or email, as well. Provide the subject of your interview with a time frame for when the piece should be published, and offer to send him/her a written or online copy.
By exploring the above guidelines, you’ve learned ways to identify, locate, and approach prospective interviewees for your blog. Influencer interviews can be highly rewarding if your objective is to grow your blog and increase your readership. When you put in the footwork to make an influencer interview happen, you could also create and strengthen invaluable connections.
Jerry Low is a geek dad who enjoys building web assets. You can find more of his work at WHSR Blog.