We live in the era of micro-celebrities (or influencers, as we marketers like to call them). These are people who are well-known within their very specific niche. They may have an average social media following (never be quick to judge by numbers!), but they are able to influence someone…and that someone may very well be your future customer or promoter.
I am a big advocate of this definition of content marketing:
Content marketing is creating a content strategy (from content creation to amplification) geared towards influencingnot only your potential customer but alsopeople who can influence your potential customer.
Influencing the influencer has becoming a more powerful concept recently as more and more online businesses are forced to become more niche-specific (while watching bigger brands taking more competitive areas).
In our mid-Penguin reality, we can extend the purposes of influencer marketing to include:
- Those who can influence your potential customer in any way (from promoting your brand to simply adding trust signals)
- People who can link to your site or encourage others to
Social media marketing is the most obvious way to build relationships with influencers. Yet, it is not the only way.
If you are not thinking “people” and “influencers” when developing your content marketing strategy, you are losing out.
The Concept of Ego Bait in Content Marketing
Ego bait is a widely used tactic to attract online influencers’ attention and turn them into promoters (or brand ambassadors if you like buzz words). While the term ego bait in itself may seem rough (to some, even offending), I personally have no problem with it (and I’ve been a happy target of ego bait dozens of times).
The following types of ego bait are the more popular ones:
- Targeted ego bait (when you target one influencer)
- Group ego bait (when you target a group of influencers)
- Associated ego bait (when you associate yourself with micro-celebrities and thus attract more of them on board). The term has been coined by Anthony D. Nelson.
- Community ego bait (when you target the whole micro-community)
Let’s discuss each of the type and give some examples – and tools, of course!
Targeted Ego Bait
The best example is an expert interview. You’ve seen them a lot. It’s quickly getting old though because, let’s face it, they are time-consuming (your influencer needs to actually write the whole post for you) and it’s not as effective for promotion (you have only one person helping you with the sharing).
Another good example of a targeted ego-bait is inviting a guest columnist or a guest contributor. This may have the similar drawbacks as the interview, which you can overcome by choosing to pay your micro-celebrity to contribute or become a regular columnist. That can be a great way to turn an influencer into the brand ambassador!
FollowerWonk: To identify micro-celebrities in your niche.
BuzzStream: To manage your communication with those you picked to contact
Group Ego Bait
The oldest type of group ego bait is a round-up: Here’s a good example of an expert round-up I did for SEJ. Various types of roundups have always been effective in getting an influencer to at least share your blog post.
Here are some ways to make the most of round-ups:
Always link to the blog post (not “About page”, not a home page, not a category page, etc)
Linking to a blog post leaves a comment (trackback) on the linked page. That’s a backlink alert which is hard to miss (hence a better way to attract the influencer’s attention)!
Add the influencer’s name and moniker…
Many of them monitor their name mentions, so they will be nicely surprised!
Add inline tweetstagging the influencer…
These will naturally tag the influencer in the tweets by your readers driving him/her back to your site again and again
You can download my presentation discussing those tricks and others here.
A group expert interview is another great example of a group ego-bait. It’s more effective than the round-up because all the participating influencers are well-aware it’s coming and they are more willing to help you promote it when it’s live.
Here’s the perfect example of how a few experts + mind-blowing format can turn an expert interview into a truly epic piece of content.
BuzzSumo: This search tool will work wonders for your blog round-ups. You can search most popular blog posts by category, keyword, or author.
HARO: This is a well-known way to hook some PR opportunities with huge online publications.
MyBlogU: A newer platform that lets you easily request/browse group interview opportunities and submit your answers to any. Disclaimer: I am the co-founder of MyBlogU.
A natural extension of a group interview would be bringing the conversation to public platforms like Twitter (via Twitter chats) and Google Plus + Youtube (viaGoogle Hangouts on Air). This would both increase your brand reach through the participants’ following and help you solidify your relationship.
Two creative sub-types of group ego-bait are the community ego-bait and the associated ego-bait.
Community Ego Bait
Community ego bait is targeting a larger scope of people – not necessarily just an individual or a group of individuals within it. The concept is very well explainedhere.
Associated Ego Bait
Associated ego bait means broadening your outreach effort by mentioning well-known names. A good example of that would be TechWyse interview with Rand Fishkin—after which they had no problem hooking up with lots of other search and social experts.