Influencer marketing and content marketing go together like peanut butter and jelly. Of course, you can have one without the other, but they’re sweeter together.
In many ways, the idea of any form of online marketing operating in a silo is a false one.
Each online marketing channel typically relies on other channels to be successful: the social media team shares blogs and videos created by the content marketing team, while the Pay Per Click (PPC) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) teams share keyword strategies.
But influencer marketing and content marketing form an especially sweet pair. Both share many of the same tactics, which stem from the same goal: for brands to establish consumer trust and capture their audience’s attentions.
Below we’ll offer a quick recap of influencer marketing and content marketing, and then we’ll dive into various ways these channels can partner together to meet that main goal, driving additional wins in conversions, brand awareness, and SEO along the way.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a foundational form of inbound marketing. That means it brings the customer to you, instead of interrupting them when they’re not interested, like a YouTube ad or billboard would.
To do so, it focuses on creating content that’s easy for consumers to find, draws them in, and makes them want to engage with your brand.
Popular content marketing tactics include ebooks, press releases, blogs, podcasts, webinars, SEO, and social media.
The defining characteristic of content produced with content marketing in mind is that it provides value, and aims to be helpful – whether by solving questions about your product, your industry, or something else important to your customer.
It’s about delivering highly relevant information to consumers that helps them connect with your brand, instead of just your product.
Distilled offers a helpful graphic that demonstrates how content marketing is absolutely central to all stages of the inbound marketing funnel.
You may notice that some of these tactics, such as the celebrity endorsements and testimonials, sound strikingly similar to influencer marketing.
What is influencer marketing?
Like content marketers, influencers also create content on behalf of your brand, promote it through social media, and drive brand awareness and engagement.
However, its key distinction from content marketing is that all this activity is performed by influencers, rather than the brands themselves.
This degree of separation makes all the difference. Because the promotion is done by influencers, rather than employees of your brand, the content appears significantly more credible.
And because the influencers are from your industry, or have influencing power within your industry (these are not always the same thing), that promotion is not only more credible, but more credible from a voice with authority.
The reason it delivers 11 times higher Return on Investment (ROI) than other forms of digital marketing is because the word-of-mouth is being spread by people who have considerably more clout, influence, and reach than your average customer.
How influencer marketing and content marketing can work together
All influencers, whether they realize it or not, are excellent content marketers. It’s just the brand they are marketing is their own.
From Instagram posts to YouTube videos, influencers are pros at producing content and promoting it through distribution on multiple channels.
They’ve even found ways to get their audience to reshare their content. All brand content marketers could probably learn a thing or two from successful influencers they work with.
They say two heads are better than one. When those heads are an influencer and a content marketer, respectively, your brand reaps the benefits.
By working together on content, you exponentially improve the results of your campaigns.
How to collaborate on content with influencers
From re-sharing each other’s content to developing brand new content, here’s how content marketers and influencers can combine their efforts.
Have the influencer promote you on their blog.
One popular tactic is a full-length product review. For example, Blue Apron partnered with food bloggers across the country (like Teri of A Foodie Stays Fit), sending them a free week of meals and a discount code for their readers in return for a review on their site.
Alternately, encourage influencers to mention your brand whenever it’s relevant.
Joshua Fields Millburn, one half of the duo that is The Minimalists, has made a career out of writing, speaking, podcasting, and more.
The first step discusses buying a domain and hosting from his sponsoring brand Bluehost.
You can also use influencers to make the content on your own site more interesting.
Roundup posts in particular are an efficient way to feature multiple influencers at once. You can highlight the ones you’re already working with, as well as attract the attention of ones you hope to partner with soon.
Besides making your influencers happy, this tactic also establishes credibility with your audience in more ways than one. It shows that not only are you aware of the experts within your industry, but that they’re willing to give you the time of day by contributing to your blog.
For example, Search Engine Journal interviewed 25 PPC experts in a roundup post smartly targeted towards their audience of online marketers.
If you have a physical product, you should absolutely be encouraging influencers to snap gorgeous photos of it for their Instagram feed.
Style blogger Adriana Gastélum is known for her sense of style and high-fashion photography.
She featured Daniel Wellington watches in a tasteful photo – it fit her Instagram personality and fans ate it up (along with the 15% off discount).
Through collaborations like these, Daniel Wellington grew their Instagram followers by 1.2 million and profits by 214 percent in just one year.
Even if your product isn’t physical, you can still use visuals to highlight your brand.
Influencers are known for being creative – they’ll be able to think something up. They can take photos of themselves enjoying the end results of your product, or wearing a branded t-shirt.
U.S. Bank’s #ISaveSoICan targeted millennial consumers by appealing to their desire for a meaningful life. They partnered with Instagram influencers like Jordan Herschel to show how saving up helped them live awesome lives.
Sometimes it’s easier to demonstrate your product in action.
Videos are perfect for that. In the process of showing consumers how to use your product, videos also demonstrate that your marketing claims are true, instead of just telling them.
This is why beauty vloggers show themselves applying makeup from brands. In fact, according to Pixability, of the most popular beauty videos on YouTube, 86% were created by influencers.
Clearly, people prefer watching video that’s not from brands. That’s why it’s essential for your brand to be featured in influencer videos.
In her fashion and makeup videos, YouTuber Jordan Lipscombe explains why she recommends the products she uses, and drops affiliate links to the various brands in the description.
Webinars are another popular marketing tactic you can partner on with influencers, especially if you’re in a Business-to-Business (B2B) industry.
Whatever your service is, there’s an influencer you can partner with to help your customer reach their goals in complementary areas of their business.
For example, email marketing provider AWeber hosted a webinar with podcaster and entrepreneur Nathan Latka.
They know that if their customers are interested in email marketing, they also likely need help with Facebook Advertising.
We talked about imaginary silos at the top of this post. As you collaborate with influencers on content marketing, consider how your efforts can be useful for your other marketing channels.
Don’t forget to loop in your SEO team, for instance. While many influencers are content marketers at heart, they may not be as well-versed in SEO.
This is where you can share knowledge back with them. Fill them in on your keyword strategy, so they can incorporate that in the h2s for the product review blog and properly link back to you from their website.
In turn, they can help inform your future keyword strategy. While the best brands keep up with trends, the best influencers set them.
Ask them what’s coming up in your industry, so you can get ahead with your own content creation.
A perfect pair
Combining influencer marketing with content marketing just makes good business sense. When you partner with influencers on content, you amplify your efforts.
With access to a larger audience, your content sees increased engagement. Your brand enjoys better visibility, and more sales. Plus, you simply get a creativity boost.
Collaborating with others – especially people outside your office – brings in fresh ideas and perspectives.
Don’t resist combining content and influencer marketing. Lean into it.
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Michael Quoc is the Founder & CEO of Dealspotr, a social shopping platform and influencer marketplace that connects innovative brands with top lifestyle influencers around today’s best discounts and offers. Previously, Michael was the Director of Product Management for Yahoo’s media lab, where he spearheaded the launch of many innovative services in the live video & mobile social networking areas. Michael has been awarded nine patents relating to mobile and social network applications and technology. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelquoc.