What if your inbound growth is too slow?
You could always go all in and apply a massive action strategy for maximum growth across all channels. However, truth to be told, this is rarely doable for practical reasons. Another way is to design a clever viral loop. This will require some development and it can easily turn into quite the project.
But, there’s a third way to try:
Most community managers I talk to are struggling with the same dilemma. And when I ask readers to share their number one digital marketing challenge with me, it’s often times the same story; they passionately create great content and publish it in a timely fashion. Everything is optimised to perfection. Growth is steady — but far from explosive. And you don’t want to build an online community only looking for mindless giveaways and cheesy sweepstakes.
When you do the math, you realise that it will take you ages to reach critical mass. Every hour you spend on a community that’s too small is an hour you’ll have to defend internally.
Recognize this problem?
One of my favourite blogs, Copyblogger, ran this awesome post the other day — The Smart Way to Use Other People’s Audiences to Build Your Own. While this might not be a revelation for most of you following this blog, I really find this term useful: other people’s audiences. Or, OPA for short.
Great content is … well, great. Some say, “content is king” and to some extent, I do agree. Without great content, what claim can you make in regards to taking up the valuable attention of others? Unfortunately, many believe that ‘epic content’ alone will get the job done.
Putting out ‘epic content’ will engage your existing community and attract more inbound traffic, engagement, and followers. However, great content is first and foremost what allows you to keep your existing community. Not a way to grow it explosively.
However, there are brands that have already made the journey you want to make. They have already acquired critical mass. By getting your content in front of their audience, you can piggyback on their success to facilitate your own explosive growth. In short: influencer marketing.
So how do we get there?
Incentive mapping tips for OPA
These are my best quick tips for how to get in front of OPA (other people’s audiences):
Exclusivity is often the way to go. This is why you need to create and offer exclusive content. Some online influencers are reporting the news, others are providing valuable knowledge, but in either case — exclusivity will help your pitch greatly.
Example: Watermark unique promotional content with “Exclusive for …” and send it over. Make sure it works well for the influencer’s audience.
Offer your own traffic
When pitching your content to others, remember that you yourself can drive traffic once it’s up. I always do this when PR students pitch me their projects — I ask them to share my post featuring their content like crazy. It’s a win-win.
Example: When you’re pitching, make sure to outline how you can drive new traffic from your channels to theirs — even if your traffic is relatively small.
Do honeymoon outreaches
Having an existing network of interested online influencers is probably the best way to succeed with influencer marketing. But how do you establish such a network? i often recommend doing a honeymoon outreach, which is basically getting in touch with influencers before you have anything to pitch.
Example: Include honeymoon outreaches in your daily online marketing grind. It’s never too late to start. Learn how to do it here.
Include the influencer
If you include the publisher in your content in some way, your chances of success will be so much greater due to the narcissistic principle.
Example: If you’re doing a product shoot, invite an influencer to do the styling and/or modelling. Or make a podcast or a Skype interview with the influencer.
Pay to play
This is pretty self-explanatory. Being an online influencer is a profession for many (albeit not the magic middle, yet). And getting paid from brand endorsements earns the influencer online cred, bragging rights as well as cash, of course.
Example: Reimbursing the influencer for their work is often the correct route to take. Just manage their expectations and be extremely clear — many of them haven’t developed a business sense yet.
Ask the influencer what they would like
A mostly overlooked tactic is to talk with influencers and ask them what they would want. Some of the more creative ones have many ideas on how they would like to entertain and grow their audience. If you ask them nicely, they might just give you the recipe for a successful collaboration.
Example: Make good use of your honeymoon outreaches and take every chance you get to ask influencers in your network what they would like to do.
Grow your online influence
I could list many ways on how to behave properly when pitching. But there’s nothing quite like being an online publisher yourself. You don’t need a massive audience to acquire the right mindset. With just a little bit of traction for your personal brand, you’ll get a lot more respect for your ideas.
Example: Grow your own online influence by establishing a personal brand.