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Influence Marketing: How Your Customers Drive Traffic to Your Blog

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I’ve talked about Influence Marketing with your industry leaders, both top and middle. But what about your real social influencers? Do your customers read your blog? Do they share it? Have you nurtured them into being your brand ambassadors?

90% of consumers, and readers, trust the recommendation of their friends. Word of mouth marketing is the best way to spread the reach of brand, and your blog article.

Tap into the power of your customer and you tap into the power of real word of mouth social marketing.

Here’s 12 tips on how to get your real influencers to share your blog content.

1. Ask for a share


The simplest way to get people to share your content is to - uh, well - ask. What’s not so simple is asking for a share in a way that your customers will respond to positively.

An outright ask to “Share this Post, please” generally results in lower share rates - and a drop in readership.

Do include social share buttons on all of your blog articles. Make them clear and easy to click. Use a side bar share button, too, to increase the spread of your blog by your customers. Studies show that an easy-to-use ‘Like’, ‘Tweet’ or ‘G+’ button increases content sharing by 700%.

Example:

Make your share buttons prominent and easy to see on your articles:

Tips for asking for a share:

  • Include share buttons on all of your blog posts
  • Make sure your share buttons are for all of the major social sharing sites , including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest
  • Post your blog articles on your social sites , such as Facebook and Twitter, and ask (nicely) for a Share or retweet

2. Give incentive to share


To boost your shares, give your customers incentive to tell their friends about your blog content. Give away exclusive deals or social bragging rights for sharing your articles.

Run a fun contest or sweepstakes on your blog. Use a referral app to make it a “refer a friend” contest. Give away a prize such as a discount on your products or online gift card. The more people share your content, the more of a discount they could get.

When you do this, be sure to create Call to Actions on your page, to get people to visit more of your blog posts, or other landing pages on your site.

Example:

Add incentive to share your blog post, such as offering discounts to customer influencers.

Tips for giving incentives to share your content:

  • Provide monetary rewards or exclusive deals for readers to socially share your blog articles
  • Giveaway prizes that are relevant to your brand, and to your readers
  • Use a ‘refer a friend’ contest, and give away exclusive discounts to people who share your content with friends

3. Crowdsource your blog topics


Get your customers involved in your blog articles. Ask them what they want to read. They’ll be more likely to share your content - and appreciate that you care to ask for their views.

There are a number of ways to crowdsource blog topics:

  • Send out an email to your customer list to ask for topic suggestions
  • Post an ask on your social sites to create involvement with your Fans and Followers
  • Host a vote contest on your blog, with 3 topic ideas, and get your readers to vote on the topic they like most

The more you engage with your niche readership, the closer of a connection they will feel. Give them the power to decide and they will feel a vested interest in what you write!

Example:

Use a fun vote contest on your blog, to give your readers a say in the topics you’ll write about next.

Tips for crowdsourcing your blog topics:

  • Create a personal connection to your blog - ask readers what they want you to write
  • Host a vote contest* with 3 topic ideas*, share it on all your social sites - and write about the winning topic
  • Tell your contest participants when it is published , and thank them for taking part

4. Share-gate your content


Do you have an ebook or webinar you’ve produced? Do you email-gate it? Why not spread the content further through share-gating it?

Let’s say you have an ebook. Give it away for free, but ask for your readers to share it on their social sites. There are tools such as Pay with a Tweet that makes this easy for you to get that Tweet or Facebook Share. When a reader downloads your ebook, a Tweet or Share is sent out to followers.

Share-gating is an amazing way to get your great content shared and spread by your readers. It can also deepen the connection your customers have with you - by giving them stuff for free.

Take it further, and include Call to Actions in your content, such as “Visit our blog” or “Sign up for our online webinar”. This will bring your readers back to your site, and onto the next step of your marketing sales funnel.

Example:

Unbounce has been Tweet-gating their brilliant Noob Guide to Online Marketingebook for years. The book has become a staple in many social media marketers’ reading lists. They now use Pay with a Tweet.

Tips for share-gating your content:

  • Create great bundled content , and give it away for the price of a social share
  • Use a tool like “ pay with a tweet** to make your social share look good
  • Include a CTA in your content , to get readers to continue their engagement with you

5. Encourage comments - and respond to them


Get your readers involved by asking them to comment on your blog. Encourage dialogue about your topic. Ask questions about the article to create a community on your site. (The more engagement you have on your site is also good for your SEO).

When readers do engage with you, make sure you respond - even if it’s from a blog post you wrote a long, long time ago!

Be interested in what your readers say, and they’re more likely to stay interested in you.

Example:

Popular blog sites like Social Media Examiner engage in the practise of ending articles with related questions. Their posts frequently get 40-50 comments in one day!


Tips for responding to your comments:

  • Respond to all comments on your blog - whether they’re positive or negative
  • Encourage comments by asking what your readers think at the end of your blog posts
  • Show interest in what your readers say - they’ll be more likely to share what you have to say

6. Connect with customers on social sites, and engage


Do your customers Follow you on Twitter? Show you care, and follow them back. Connect with your real influencers on other social sites too, such as Instagram, Pinterest and Google+.

Be interested in what your customers post. If they:

  • mention you in an update, share it with your Followers
  • send out some great tips related to your market, share it
  • engage with you through your business hashtag, respond

Example:

Mike Alton tweeted a guest article on The Social Media Hat. The article was written by Wishpond’s Nick Steeves, so we retweeted it.

Tips for engaging with customers on social sites:

  • Follow your customers back on Twitter, Instagram, and other social sites
  • Engage by @mentioning or +mentioning customers , especially when they mention you
  • Share and Like customers’ social updates , when they mention you and your blog posts - they’ll be more likely to keep sharing your content

7. Create quality, engaging content


Of course, you need to be writing good, quality content on your blog. Without this, you will be hard pressed to get your influential customer to share your stuff!

Write on topics that are of interest and informative for your market demographic. If your blog posts resonate with your niche and socially connected consumers, they will want to share it with their friends and followers. (It makes them look good too!)

A great headline, eye catching images, and interactive content can go a long way to get immediate shares, too.

Example:

Copyblogger writes some of the best headlines and eye-catching content on their blog. Here’s an example:

Tips for creating quality, engaging content:

  • Create attention grabbing headlines , and provide content your readers will share
  • Run engaging and interactive contests on your blog
  • Use eye catching images in your blog posts

8. Spice up your Blog Content


Reuse your blog content, in cool new and varied formats. Everyone likes ‘new’ stuff - your readers do too.

Take an article you’ve written, and make it into an infographic, for example. Or turn it into a visually appealing slideshare.

Read an article, and make it into a podcast. Or even make your blog posts into a short video, or series of videos.

Example:

Here’s a slideshare we made from our blog article, Influence Marketing: How to Find your Industry Leaders

Influence Marketing Part 1: How to Find Your Industry Leaders from Wishpond

Tips for spicing up your blog content:

  • Reuse the content you’ve made , and create new posts in a variety of formats
  • Make visually appealing information like infographics, and slideshares
  • Read a blog article, and record it into a podcast , or a even a series of short videos

9. Give customer shout-outs


Showcase your customers as examples of success, and give them a shout-out on your blog!

In a B2C, show how you value your customers, by posting UGC like customer photos, customer appreciation events, and more. Write a blog post or make an image collage of the coolest images you get from a photo contest, or other UGC methods.

In a B2B, showcase your customers successes by writing their stories and helping to promote them on your blog. Email a number of your best customers and interview them.

When you publish the article, tell your customers. They’re likely to share it with their friends - and customers too.

Example:

Wishpond writes articles to showcase the social media best practices of our customers:

Tips for giving customer shout-outs on your blog:

  • In a B2C, write about how you value your customers , and show that you do by posting customer photos, customer appreciation events, and more
  • In a B2B, showcase your customers successes by writing their stories and helping to promote them on your blog
  • Tell your customers when the blog is being published - they’re likely to share it, and appreciate you as a caring business

10. Make a customer appreciation mini-series


Take the idea of customer success stories, and write a mini-series to show the great results of your customers.

You could, for example, make up a series of blog posts showing the face behind the business. Tell the story of how cool and successful your customers are, and how they came to be.

For Example:

Tips for making a customer appreciation mini-series:

  • Make a monthly or weekly customer appreciation series on your blog
  • Interview business customers (through email or recordings) and make a series of excellent success stories, or a series of tips for how to succeed
  • Give away weekly prizes to your loyal customers. Show this on your blog

11. Host webinars or G+ hangouts about your blog content


Webinars don’t always have to be about the sell. Develop customer relationships by hosting weekly webinars about your blog article topics. Get your customers engaged by sharing your knowledge.

When you do a hangout or webinar, make a #hashtag on Twitter for it, so your viewers can engage with each other too. You’re creating a community, and your hashtag will be seen by their followers too.

Example:

Mari Smith is the queen of webinars and Google+ Hangouts. She hosted one on a few weeks ago, and has the replay of her informative dialogue on her website.

Tips for hosting webinars and Google+ hangouts :

  • Develop relationships and readership by hosting interactive webinars
  • Post recorded Google+ hangouts and webinars on your blog , so readers can view them at anytime
  • Make a webinar hashtag on Twitter when hosting a live cast - this creates a community for your customers to engage with you and other like minded people

12. Keep in touch


Keep in touch with your real influencers. Send out regular emails to thank them for reading your blog. Send out weekly or monthly newsletters too. (Here’s more email tips to drive traffic to your blog)

We tend to forget the power of a simple thank you. But it works.

If you’ve written about a customer success story, follow up with them. Send a thank you email or tweet. If you know a customer who shares your articles a lot, send them a thank email or tweet.

Example:

NewsCred sends out regular newsletters to keep in touch with real influencers, and drive traffic to their blog.

Tips for keeping in touch:

  • Send out thank emails and tweets to customers you’ve mentioned in your blog
  • Email regular newsletters , to keep in touch
  • Sent out personalized, automated emails for every person who signs up for your RSS feed, downloads an ebook, or signs up for your service

Conclusion


Your real influencer is your customer. Regardless of each customer’s Klout score, they likely do have social clout with their friends.

Create an emotional connection, and give them reason to share your blog articles with their friends. Their friends are likely to be your customer too.

Read more about Influence Marketing:

What do you think? Do your customers share your blog posts? Do you have tips to develop your customers as your key social influencers? Share your comments!

Written by Krista Bunskoek @ Wishpond