Andy is a well-known marketer and the founder of Orbit Media, which is a multimillion-dollar agency that was built on content marketing and inbound marketing.
I transcribed the interview I recorded with him.
Still, I also added a few ideas, examples, and extra tips so you could have a better idea of how to start with influencer marketing, how to work with influencers and to understand the power of influencer marketing.
The definition of influencer marketing
Robert: How do you look at influencer marketing right now?
Andy: Well, there’s paid social media and organic social media.
There are paid search and organic search.
There’s also paid influencer marketing and organic influencer marketing. Paid influencer marketing is advertising.
It’s just buying some visibility by inserting your message into the streams or the content of someone who already has a big audience.
So influencer marketing is about borrowing or renting the audience of someone who’s already connected with those like you, with your target paid influencer marketing is paying someone to have them inject your message into that audience right into those streams.
Organic influencer marketing is a collaboration.
Organic influencer marketing, which is what you and I did and what we’re doing now and what smart marketers had done forever, long before it was called influencer marketing, it was just collaboration.
It’s collaborating with people that have already built that audience you want to connect with.
Andy: We could gather survey respondents faster by partnering with a media company; you’d be connecting with editors and writers, columnists, people at that media, PLA, publishers over there, and just saying, yeah, we’d like to collaborate on a survey.
I’ll hit my list; you run your list, we’ll gather the data, we’ll do the insights, I’ll publish, you publish, let’s do this as a collaboration.
In that case, it speeds up the data gathering because they have a broader reach. They can connect with more people. So that’s just collaboration.
Organic influencer marketing is a collaboration, and it can be done accurately for SEO. But it’s just making and promoting things together, which is why we used to call it collaborative content marketing.
But now you could call it more accurately organic influencer marketing.
What kind of influencer marketing does Andy use for Orbitmedia?
Andy: If you think about how content has worked for generations, it’s about adding a source.
Like in the news, a journalist would not write an article without adding a source because, without a cause, your content is not credible.
As a content marketer, I don’t write content without adding a contributor quote.
By adding contributor quotes to content, a lot of good things happen.
Four benefits for collaborative content marketing
Growing your network
The content is going to reach farther because your experts are very likely to share it on their networks
You can learn by reading your content
Your content becomes more credible because you’re borrowing the expertise of others
That’s just adding contributor quotes to content that you are already creating.
And that is also organic influencer marketing.
When I build a relationship with that person, now I’m visible to them. Maybe they’ll invite me on their podcast. Perhaps they’ll add me to their content when they write for that more significant publication. Or perhaps they’ll accept a guest post from me, or maybe now they’ll share something that we made, or they’ll respond next time when I want to do something bigger with them.
Maybe it’s a complete interview, not just a contributor quote, or perhaps I can include them in a roundup.
All good things happen when people make things together.
And that is something we’ve done for, I don’t know, seven years, but now it has a new name.
How to experiment with influencer marketing in content marketing? [Challenge]
Robert: I want to experiment with you because you’re a very smart marketer, and I admire you a lot.
Here’s the brief:
You don’t have any budget
You can’t use your name
You have a specific piece of content.
You want to use influencer marketing to get more exposure, to get more awareness, and also to get more web traffic.
Andy: I’m going to try to create something that has statistics on it.
I’m going to publish a piece of content that answers a question for my industry and is filled with data and evidence.
Before I publish that, I’m going to reach out to some people who are experts on the topic and ask them if they would like to contribute a quote for this piece of content.
I’m going to put in three or four quotes from other people.
Some of these people are going to be social media influencers or have a good following.
Some of these people are going to write for high domain authority websites. Some of these people are just experts on the topic. They know everything.
Now my content is research-driven. It answers a question, and it’s filled with contributors.
I publish this on my site. I let them know that I posted it. There’s no real requirement, but I invite them to contribute, to share it on social media if they like it, and they find it valuable. Also, if they think their audience would be interested.
Next step for the editors (other publications), I’m going to reach out and say, “I’ve got something new on my site. Here’s the best statistics in it. Would you like me to write about this for your audience? Can I write a guest post for you covering this new piece of information? It’s original. It’s data-driven. Here’s a draft of an article that might work for you.“
That draft has a backlink to my original. Now I’m building a link. So that’s SEO value.
I’m growing my network that’s going to give me long term personal benefits. I have greater social reach because I’ve already involved these other contributors in it.
Next year, I can repurpose my article into a new type of content with a more visual format, maybe make an animation, video, or an infographic out of it.
And then you want to pitch it again to another website. “Would you be interested in this infographic? It’s relevant to your audience. I’ll write a short article to go with it.”
And I’m just going to keep combining editors and contributors and formats with my topic to grow the reach of that, to reimagine it in different formats, in different places, and continue to publish.
It’s influencer marketing because everything I did involve other people.
Those people are all influential to my audience in different ways through social, through other sites, through media publications.
Leverage your content with podcasters
I could reach out to podcasters and say, “I have some new data. Your audience may find this interesting.“
Podcasters don’t get pitched very often. A lot of them don’t.
“What if I could come to your show and we can talk about this study. Here are some counterintuitive insights we may be able to share with your audience.”
That podcast has show notes on a website or landing page.
That show note can include a link back to my original research, so I’m just doing a lot of PR, which is another word for influencer marketing.
Digital PR is influencer marketing.
It helps at extending the reach, extending the value, extending the collaboration, giving value to everybody involved.
Everybody’s audience gets value.
Every co-creator gets value.
Influencer Marketing – complementary to social media and SEO
Andy: So if it’s influencer marketing and it’s not advertising, it must then be collaborative content.
So now you’ve got collaborative content.
How is it promoted? Content marketing channels.
There are three main content marketing channels:
So you’re collaborating.
So organic is if it’s not paid or marketing, it’s organic, which means collaboration.
And how’s it promoted? It’s almost always through social media.
And when the marketer is very smart, it’s also promoted. It gives SEO benefits.
So there is no separating influencer marketing from social media and SEO.
They should always be together.
Influencer Marketing in B2B
Andy: I’m a B2B marketer, so everything that I do for myself is B2B marketing.
And everything that I do for myself is also collaborative.
Sometimes I get this question: well, how does this work for B2B? And that that’s the primary way that it works. This is how I always do it.
A B2B marketer often needs, not always, but often needs a lower number of higher value connections, right? It’s like you’re not selling t-shirts for $10. You’re selling software for $10 million. So you don’t need millions of people to know about you.
You need a smaller number of people to know about you, a lower volume of higher value connections.
An example of B2B marketing using influencers.
Andy: I’m going to start a webinar series.
My webinar is going to include experts on my topic, call it software, some software products.
I’m going to invite the most influential people to do short presentations. And then I’m going to talk to them. I’m going to take questions from my audience. I’m going to reach out to potential buyers of my software and occasionally ask them if they’d like to be interviewed on my show.
Now, I’m right in front of my target audience. I used content to put myself in front of my potential buyer.
It’s not uncommon.
Podcasts created to give an excuse to call prospects
Andy: There are a lot of podcasts that are created specifically to give that brand an excuse to call prospects. “Hey, I’d love to have you on my show. Would you like to be interviewed? Yeah, it’d be great. I’d love to be interviewed.”
At the end of the show, the potential buyer is now aware of that product and service where they wouldn’t have been aware otherwise. There are lots of case studies about this that only happen really in B2B.
Marketing is sales.
You can use the content as a format for a prospect.
B2B – podcasting – selling a product
Andy: You can use your podcast as a new way to connect with possible clients, ask them to be interviewed on your show, and after that, you could tell them about your service.
It’s not uncommon. I’ve never done it, but I could introduce you to people that use this tactic.
Some people have told me that their primary source of lead generation is their podcast show.
Because if you’re trying to do cold calling or cold outreach of any kind, you’re “ask” is pretty weak.
“Hey, do you want to look at my software? No, I’m busy. Why do I want to look at your software? I’m not; I wasn’t thinking about that today.”
But if the request is a PR hit:
Hey, would you like to be interviewed?
Yeah, great. Sure. Of course.
You know, very few people don’t want to be interviewed.
It’s welcome to request. I think the content doesn’t have to be sneaky or disingenuous.
I mean, you can be upfront about it too.
“Thanks for coming to my show. We didn’t talk about it much, but I’ve got a product, if you want to hear about it, let me know. I’d be happy to show it to you.”
So there’s nothing underhanded about that approach.
People do it all the time.
The biggest misconception about influencer marketing that marketers must understand today
Andy: Influencer marketing is best known as friendship.
It is not spam. It is not Instagram mentions.
It is a long term relationship with someone who wants to help the people that you want to help.
You are in alignment with the influencer because they care about your audience. You care about their audience. And it’s not a one-time event.
It’s a long term relationship, and you in that influence are working together to create new value that matters to people and helps them in their lives.
It is collaborative, and it is empathetic.
Influencer marketing is two people working together to help a broader audience through one person’s content and the other person’s connections.
People need to think differently.
It’s not about celebrities. Anybody who can advocate for your brand or who has a similar audience is influential.
So don’t chase large followings.
Word of mouth is the most powerful marketing and anyone that you meet or talk to or share or work with, it could be very influential over a few essential dozen people.
Don’t underestimate the power of micro-influencers.
Anyone who shares your content and talks about your brand is influential.
So that’s another critical factor.
People think that influencer marketing is about celebrities sharing stuff on Instagram. That is true for so few brands that are not relevant to most of us.
We need to think differently about it.
We need to drive the most significant benefits, which are: collaborative, resourceful, and fun.