“If you build it, they will come”

(“Field of Dreams”, 1989)

That quote summarizes one of the biggest mistakes you can make in content marketing. It looks like this: You come up with a great content idea, you invest energy into producing quality content, and then you stop there, without putting in the work to ensure that content is seen, shared and linked to.

As a result, that content lives and dies in obscurity, never reaching its full potential.

You can dodge that outcome once you understand that producing content is just the beginning. There are several steps you need to follow up with if you want to make the most of every post.

Grab your free copy of the printable Content Post-Production Checklist. It will make sure you maximize the benefit of every post you write. You’ll also receive free marketing tips in your inbox a few times a month. [click to download]

Influencer marketing can be a valuable accelerator

There’s a lot you can do to promote your content. For example, you could search engine optimize it, and patiently wait for it to rise in the rankings. Or you could reach into your wallet and buy advertising.

But if you’re looking for a free shortcut, social media may be your answer. In my post on how to increase your referral traffic, I explained that sharing content with influencers on social media can be an effective way to:

  • Attract referral traffic to your site
  • Increase your rankings  on search engines (as a result of more incoming links to your content)

But influencer marketing only works if the influencers you approach share your content. And that’s something you can influence, by choosing the right influencers and approaching them the right way.

Influencer marketing is time-consuming

The problem is that old-school influencer outreach — the kind where you manually sift through possible influencers and reach out to them one at a time with a personalized message — can be painstaking and time-consuming. But there are ways to use Twitter, combined with the right tools, to systematize your approach and get better results, more efficiently.

In this post, I’ll share the method I’ve been using with clients to help them scale their influencer outreach on Twitter.

Your Toolkit

Here are the tools I use for scaling my influencer outreach on Twitter.

We’ll use BuzzSumo to find existing content that is related to yours and that has been highly shared, as well as to uncover and filter the influencers who have shared that content.

I use Smarterqueue‘s bulk import my outreach posts to influencers on Twitter (and for a ton of other things, but that’s what matters for this post).

I’ve created a spreadsheet that constructs your outreach tweets and the template you’ll need to import your tweets into SmarterQueue.

BuzzSumo and SmarterQueue are both powerful tools. Above, I outline the ways I use them for the purpose of scaling outreach. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. They are both very versatile and I use them in many, many other ways, as well.

Even when I’ve made efforts to trim expenses, these are two tools that I’ve never been willing to give up, especially because they both offer low-cost plans that are so worth the investment.

How to scale influencer outreach on Twitter

Here is an outline of the steps I’ll take you through to scale your influencer outreach on Twitter:

Key Steps:

1

Produce or select a strong piece of content

2

Identify influencers who are likely to share your content

3

Prepare your outreach tweets

4

Bulk import your tweets

5

Tweet to sources you referenced

Tools:

My Tweet Generator spreadsheet
(FREE download)

Step 1: Create a strong piece of content

This should go without saying, but the content you create to support your outreach should be of very high quality.

Don’t waste your efforts on a cookie-cutter, dime-a-dozen blog post that doesn’t provide real value. Not only will that lead to mediocre results, but you could also end up burning bridges to your influencers.

For the purpose of this post, I’ll use my post on 8 best practices for marketing to millennials as an example.

It’s chock-full of interesting stats. Plus, it includes a companion whiteboard video that we produced. And who doesn’t love a good whiteboard video?

Whiteboard video we produced for the post I’ll be sharing

Step 2: Identify influencers who are likely to share your content

One of the reasons this approach delivers a high return on effort is that you’re not reaching out to every person with a large Twitter following. You’ll be qualifying influencers to identify those who are most likely to share your content by:

  • Starting with influencers who have shared similar posts.
  • Whittling down your list to the influencers who have a large following and are frequent retweeters.

That’s where BuzzSumo comes in, by streamlining both of these steps.

Find related content that has been heavily shared

In this step, you’ll use the BuzzSumo Content Analyzer to search for articles on the subject of “marketing to millennials”.

I like to sort the results by decreasing Twitter shares, then start evaluating the articles at the top of the list, which have the most shares.

Pro tip: Read each post and ask yourself this question: Would someone who shared that article, find enough value in my piece of content to share it with followers? Ideally, choose a highly shared article that doesn’t quite measure up to yours, because yours is longer, more thorough, more recent, or offers more value in some other way.

Using that process, I found an article that shares 4 strategies to use when marketing to millennials, and which earned 812 shares. Perfect! I have good reason to think that someone interested in that article would also be interested in my 8 best practices for marketing to millennials, as well as the companion whiteboard video. We’re off to the races!

I click on “View Sharers” for that article.

Identify the best influencers to reach out to

Now, still in BuzzSumo, you will want to analyze the list of sharers you just displayed. To start off with, there are some very useful filters you can apply, like “Active Influencers”.

You’ll also want to study the descriptions of each influencer, as well as key metrics that are included for each one, such as Twitter Followers, Retweet Ratio and Reply Ratio.

Your goal is to reduce your list to a maximum of 200 Twitter influencers who

  • are the most focused on your space (based on their profile)
  • have large Twitter followings
  • have high retweet and reply ratios

The best way to do that is to use the BuzzSumo Export feature to download the data to Excel. You can then use Excel’s sorting and data filtering to reduce your list of influencers to the ones who are most likely to share your content.

Step 3: Prepare your tweets

In this step, we’ll use a spreadsheet to quickly generate a personalized tweet for each influencer. Each tweet will:

  • Use the influencer’s handle
  • Mention influencers by first name (where possible)
  • Thank them for sharing similar content to yours
  • Share a link to your content

Because you don’t want to tweet the exact same message again and again, I’ve created some formulas in the spreadsheet to rotate through four unique formats. For example, one tweet might read:

“Hi John, thanks for the great article you shared about marketing to millennials. I’d love your feedback on my post.”

While another might read:

“Hey Susan, I saw you shared a post about marketing to millennials. I hope you like my own version 🙂 “

Featured download:

The Tweet Generator spreadsheet

Download this FREE spreadsheet to generate hundreds of personalized outreach tweets in minutes, and prepare them for bulk import in SmarterQueue.

DOWNLOAD

The spreadsheet uses built-in formulas to do most of the heavy lifting for you. All you have to do is:

  1. Copy your influencers’ Twitter handles and names from the BuzzSumo spreadsheet to the equivalent columns in your Tweet Generator spreadsheet.
  2. Fill in some basic information at the top, including the URL of your article and a description of the topic.
  3. Follow the simple instructions to customize your tweets with the influencer’s first name, where possible.

The instructions are clearly outlined in the spreadsheet.

In the next step, I’ll show you how to use the Tweet Generator spreadsheet to import your tweets into SmarterQueue.