So, you want to know how to connect with industry influencers. Well, take a number.

All of your competitors want to engage with the relatively small number of people in your market with a great deal of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T).

Why?

Because these industry influencers can actually help you achieve measurable business goals.

That’s why micro-influencers are becoming more and more popular every year. You have a real shot at connecting with some of them.

But, I’m going to share a secret about how to connect with macro-influencers in your industry.

It’s called “schmooze optimization.”

What Exactly Is Schmooze Optimization?

How does “optimized schmoozing” work?

Don’t ask Google, or you’ll get this result: “Hmm, your search doesn’t have enough data to show here.”

Nevertheless, optimized schmoozing can help you to connect with industry influencers.

According to Wiktonary, schmooze means “to talk casually, especially in order to gain an advantage or make a social connection,” and optimization means “the design and operation of a system or process to make it as good as possible in some defined sense.”

So, “schmooze optimization” is the process of making casual conversation with influential individuals who can actually help you achieve measurable business goals.

So, how does optimized schmoozing work?

Well, I used to think that there were three key steps. But, that was before I discovered – the hard way – that there were four.

1. Identify the Right Influencers

The first step is identifying the right influencers.

I use several different tools to discover the most relevant influencers for a campaign. This includes:

  • BuzzSumo.
  • Traackr.
  • Tubular Labs.

Why so many tools?

Because each one has different strengths (and weaknesses).

Schmoozers shouldn’t become too dependent on any one tool to ensure that their efforts can continue to be optimized in the future.

For example, I recently used Tubular Labs to take a closer look at “Ping Pong Trick Shots 3 | Dude Perfect,” which was published April 3, 2017.

This sponsored advertising by Oreo Cookies got 40.5 million views in its first 30 days. (It has 167 million views as of this writing.) And its engagement rate in its first 30 days was 5.4 times more engaging than average – benchmarked across all social video content.

Tubular Video Ratings enable me to compare this video with “Ping Pong Trick Shots 4 | Dude Perfect,” which was published July 2, 2018.

Nerf sponsored this second video, which got 34.6 million views in its first 30 days. (It has 45.7 million views as of this writing.) And its engagement rate in its first 30 days was 5.4 times more engaging than average.

So, despite getting fewer views in the first month, the second video had an engagement rate that was just as extraordinary.

So, if a Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) or a Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) brand was planning to partner with an influencer to create a sponsored video asked me for my advice, then I’d feel pretty confident about recommending Dude Perfect.

Results in terms of views may vary, but their engagement rate continues to be off the charts.

2. Find the Right Engagement Tactics

The second step is finding the right engagement tactics.

Why is this so hard to do?

Well, there are several types of influencers. The right engagement tactics for one type can backfire for another.

So, you need to analyze each type of influencer before deciding which set of outreach best practices to use.

But over the past 15 years, I’ve written blog posts, presented case studies at industry conferences, and taught courses that featured schmooze optimization tactics that worked multiple times or across several types of influencers.

For example, Orabrush created an unlisted video and emailed a link to Rob Beschizza, the influential editor of Boing.

This tactic prompted Beschizza to write a funny item about alternative uses for the classic tongue-scraper, which included: “muffin tenderizer; cat de-dandruffer; scoring paddle for kinky lawn bowlers.” He added, “Also, best PR pitch so far this year.”

Orabrush used the same engagement tactic – sending a link to an unlisted YouTube video – to an influential buyer at Walmart’s headquarters.

The personalized video addressed the buyer by name and featured Austin Craig, the face of Orabrush from 2009-2014, and Orabrush’s mascot, Morgan the dirty tongue.

“Hi, we’re Orabrush,” they said. “Here are our sales numbers from the test market in Utah.”

They incorporated clips from Orabrush’s video ads, episodes of the “Diary of a Dirty Tongue,” and excerpts of user reviews. They also included a lot of mainstream media coverage.

Orabrush was hoping that the buyer at Walmart would call them to request a face-to-face meeting. Instead, Orabrush received an email that asked, “Can you support 735,000 Orabrushes by August?”

There was no in-person meeting; there wasn’t even a phone call. With one email linking to an unlisted video on YouTube, Orabrush got nationwide retail distribution in 3,500 Walmart stores.

3. Measure the Performance of Your Programs

The third step is measuring the success of your programs with the appropriate key performance indicators (KPIs).

For example, Rutgers Business School Executive Education (RBSEE) launched the Mini-MBA: Supply Chain in a Digitized Network course in June 2016.

The in-class course cost $4,995 to attend. My agency provided pro bono services worth $2,497 for a small test program that combined press release optimization and influencer marketing.

We wrote, optimized, and distributed a Smart News Release about the new program on Business Wire.

We contacted Supply Chain Matters Executive Editor Bob Ferrari, who said he would run a guest post if we got permission to use additional information in a recent Gartner report.

Gartner approved the use of a quote and an excerpt of its research in two business days. The blog ran a guest post by Margaret O’Donnell, the program’s director.

Susan Fourtané of EBN asked to interview one of the instructors in the new program. So, we sent up an interview with Glen Gilmore, a Forbes Top 20 Social Media Influencer, the author Social Media Law for Business, and principal of Gilmore Business Network.

Using Google’s campaign URL builder, Google Analytics showed us that the pilot program had generated a total of 70 new users and 107 sessions.

More importantly, it showed us that an investment worth $2,497 had generated six new registrations for RBSEE worth $29,970 in incremental revenue. That’s a return on investment of 12X. This case study earned my agency a spot on U.S. Search Awards 2016 shortlist for Best Use of PR in a Search Campaign.

4. Create Content Worth Sharing

Now, for a long time, I mistakenly thought that the secret to success was identifying the right influencers, finding the right engagement tactics, and measuring the success of your programs.

But, there was a fourth step in schmooze optimization that was hidden in plain sight.

As you can see from the examples above, creating content worth sharing can optimize your schmoozing dramatically.

In other words, influencer strategy isn’t as effective or successful without content marketing.

Great content is at the center of the value exchange between a brand or marketer, an industry influencer, and a consumer or business buyer.

And incorporating influencers in your content creation process enables you to reach new audiences with brand messages from people who have a great deal of E-A-T.

Get it? Got it? Good.

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