Relationships are important in online marketing. Developing relationships with thought leaders, influential bloggers, or other site owners in your niche can:
- Lend credibility and authority to your content and brand.
- Amplify content distribution.
- Build brand evangelists.
- Augment link acquisition.
- Lead to collaborative marketing efforts.
When it comes to relationship-building content, there are four, specific, evergreen content marketing activities that are perfectly suited to helping you connect with influencers in your niche.
The Group Interview
Cold outreach is rarely effective these days. Plus, it's a terrible way to connect with thought leaders. You need a legitimate reason to show up in the inboxes of big-time influencers in your space. Running a group interview is a terrific excuse to initiate contact.
If you're unfamiliar with group interviews, they usually feature a panel of subject matter experts and their individual responses to a specific question. They're effective for earned link acquisition, can drive high-intent traffic and are also great for establishing relationships.
When conducting a group interview, some tips are to:
- Reach out with a thoughtful, personalized email. It's difficult to build relationships with anonymous, boilerplate emails.
- Explain why you'd like the influencer to participate. Flatter them. Laud their work, cite specific examples.
- Ask them if there's anything specifically they'd like to promote in their panelist bio.
- Once published, be sure to reach back out and thank them for their time.
- Create a custom Twitter list with all your panelists and include a link to it in the post. Let your panelists know about it too. Going the extra mile helps leave an impression.
It's also important to continue the dialog even after the group interview project has ended, so you can sustain these relationships. Try to:
- Carve out a few minutes each day to continue to promote the influencer's work on social media.
- Reference them or their content in future posts on your site.
As is often you case, you can develop a mutually-beneficial relationship with reciprocal promotional opportunities that will return dividends over time. But the key is to give before you receive.
And if you'd rather do something more exclusive than a group interview, you can run individual spotlight type interviews.
"Best of" Lists
"Best of" articles are collections of quality resources on a particular topic that range from the best sites on a certain subject, to a top tools or apps list, to a massive list of amazing resources that your audience will find really helpful. Examples include this one on educational technology tools for teachers and this one on Google Reader alternatives.
From a relationship-building perspective, best of lists are effective because you're showcasing and promoting the content of others, and not really asking for anything in return.
You'll need to do personalized outreach to everyone on your "best of" list to begin the relationship-building process. Obviously, this is the case for any type of influencer-targeted content. Sure, you can just @ them on Twitter, but that's pretty lazy and impersonal and not nearly as effective for building a lasting connection.
When doing outreach, you want to let them know that:
- They've earned a spot on your list because they've got a great site, tool, or app. Thank them for such a useful resource.
- You're in the process of promoting the list
- If they're working on anything else—a new tool, app, blog post—let you know and you'll be happy to help spread the word.
With best of lists, I'm of the mind that "the more the merrier" since the more sources you include, the more potential relationships there are. Also, larger lists tend to perform better when it comes to sharing, syndication, and outreach beyond the folks on the list.
However, if you're doing targeted influencer nurturing, you don't need to cast as wide a net and you can reduce the scope of your list to a few select sources.
Not only can expert guides help you position yourself or your brand as an authority on a specific topic, they can serve as great tools to help you connect with others in your niche.
An authoritative guide is generally a longer-form, information rich article on a specific subject that is expertly-researched and written. Examples include this SEO guide and these snowsports articles.
When it comes to making connections with your content, there are a few different approaches you can take like including:
- Expert quotes: Work in expert quotes within the guide to help raise the authority of your content. You can either target specific experts you want to connect with, or you can use a resource like HARO or SourceBottle to find quality experts if you're time-constrained. This is somewhat similar to the group interview approach, but more exclusive since you'd only include a handful of experts, which feels like more of a privilege. If you value higher education relationships, reach out to professors or university researchers for quotes.
- Resource lists: The approach here is akin to the "best of" list and you want to incorporate a list of links to quality resources in your expert article that either support your thesis or offer further information, like this and this.
- Product mentions: An offshoot of the expert guide is a consumer-oriented, buyer's guide that features in-depth product reviews, or specific brand mentions. Recommending brands and individual products can help open the door for you to establish connections with the in-house PR or marketing teams of product manufacturers.
Content roundups are curated lists of great articles or posts from your industry or a specific niche. Like each of the content types covered in this post, the common thread is celebrating others, their work, their efforts, and not asking for anything in return.
With roundups, you have the opportunity to celebrate and promote others on a pretty regular basis, since roundups are typically recaps published on a weekly or even monthly schedule. Examples include this one from Ahrefs and this one from Bruce Clay Inc.
Roundups are also a great way to help sustain and nurture any existing relationships, since you can leverage them to feature content from anyone you've already worked with in the past (e.g., group interview panelists, influencers, allies, etc.).