Why Content Marketers Should Tap Into The Power Of Niche Influencers
Columnist Kerry Jones explains why thinking small might be your best bet when it comes to influencer marketing.
Content marketing and influencer marketing are a natural fit — influencers need valuable content to share with their audience, which is where your content comes in.
Many marketers looking to incorporate influencer outreach as part of a content promotion plan make the mistake of choosing influencers based on popularity alone. While getting your content in front of a large audience has value, it’s not necessarily the best approach if you’re trying to reach prospects further along the buyer’s journey.
If you want your content to achieve conversion-driven goals, getting your material shared and published by niche influencers with small but highly focused followings may be the best approach.
The Benefits Of Niche Influencers Versus Popular Influencers
When categorizing influencers, it’s helpful to think in terms of generalists versus subject matter experts, with niche influencers being the latter.
Niche influencers are not only typically experts on a specific topic but also more likely to be closer to their audience and more accessible than well-known influencers with huge followings.
As a brand, partnering with niche influencers offers the following:
• Trusted Experts. Since their focus is small, rather than broad, niche influencers are viewed as authorities on specific topics. By sharing your content or writing about your brand, the influencer transfers some of their audience’s trust to your brand.
• Accessibility. Compared to more popular influencers, niche influencers are relatively easy to access — they aren’t so famous that they’re out of reach. This makes it more likely that they have a close, authentic relationship with their audiences. It also makes it easier for marketers to build relationships with niche influencers.
• Educated Audiences. When your brand’s niche closely aligns with the influencer’s niche, the audience is already well-educated about the niche. This makes niche publishers a better choice for reaching target customers who are in the consideration stage of the buying cycle.
Although getting your content placed on a niche blog or site may yield less social sharing due to the smaller audience, it may achieve higher conversions, since the audience requires less education about your niche.
Do Niche Influencers Have The Greatest Influence?
Beyond the above benefits, new research suggests niche influencers may have significant influence over their audiences due to a unique social network phenomenon.
Fractl (my employer) collaborated with Moz to examine a pattern in social sharing called the “majority illusion,” which occurs when something appears more popular than it is due to highly connected individuals skewing a social network’s perception.
It’s hardly surprising that influential members of a group are trendsetters, but here’s what’s fascinating about this finding — when something appears popular, it can actually create the right conditions to make it popular.
From a marketing standpoint, this explains why it can take only a handful of the right influencers sharing content to make it go viral.
The researchers found the majority illusion is most likely to happen in social groups when highly connected members are linked to individuals who don’t have a lot of connections. These group dynamics are typically found in niche communities, which include a handful of influential members.
Under this assumption, an extremely popular influencer may be less influential than someone who is well-known within a close-knit niche community.
Create An Illusion Of Popularity: Several Influencers Talking About Your Brand At Once
Since becoming aware of the majority illusion, I’ve started to notice how frequently it happens within my own social communities. For example, I recently saw that a wardrobe tool called Capsules was being mentioned by a lot of the minimalist fashion blogs I follow.
Naturally, my marketing brain got the best of me, so rather than signing up for the product, I started analyzing the brand’s digital marketing strategy. (My fellow marketers can relate, right?)
According to Open Site Explorer, the wardrobe tool’s site received 37 backlinks within the last 60 days, and many of those links came from sites with a mid-to-low domain authority. In other words, these links were coming from niche influencers, not major fashion blogs.
While generating this number of links in such a short time span is impressive for a little-known brand, it’s not a huge amount of exposure for something I felt like I had seen everywhere.
This was probably majority illusion at work: I thought it was way more popular than it actually was, thanks to the right people talking about it at the same time.
My assumption is that a lot of people like me who follow minimalist fashion blogs also had the same “I’ve seen this everywhere” feeling, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that boost brought them a sizable uptick in new customers.
The point is, you don’t need A-list influencers to promote your content or product when a handful of niche influencers can get the job done.
The key to this approach is coordinating it so the influencers spread your content or message within the same time frame to increase the appearance of popularity.
Finding Niche Influencers
Once you’ve decided that you want to work with niche influencers to promote your content, you need to first identify those who will be the best match for your brand and your needs. BuzzSumo and hashtags are two of my favorite tools for identifying influencers.
BuzzSumo is one of the most useful tools for locating influencers, since its features give you multiple avenues for researching your niche keywords.
Use the “Most Shared” tab to search for your industry keywords and find publications writing about your niche topic. You’ll also discover influencers sharing stories about your niche topic.
Look for people who frequently write about your topic using the “Top Authors” tab. This will give you some names to consider as potential outreach targets. From there, you can check out which content these individuals have written to gauge if they have a strong focus on your niche and if their articles get a lot of engagement.
Searching on social media for hashtags related to your niche is also useful for uncovering niche influencers. For example, the #capsulewardobe hashtag on Instagram displays the top posts for that hashtag first, which is helpful for identifying influential accounts.
As you evaluate influencers, consider the following:
- Is their brand closely aligned with your niche? The relevance to your niche should be obvious, with the influencer frequently discussing your niche and sharing content about it.
- Does their audience overlap with your target audience? Look at who shares and comments on their content and interacts with them on social media. Some influencers will make this easy for you and tell you who their audience is — check the “About” page on a site or blog for audience insights.
- Do they have an engaged audience? Pay less attention to the size of an influencer’s following, and instead, focus on how much their audience interacts with them. Blog comments, retweets and social mentions are all signs of an engaged audience.
Identifying niche influencers is just the start. Once you’ve reached out and sparked a desire to work together, you’ll need to nurture the relationship by consistently creating content that satisfies the tastes of the influencer’s audience.
Study what resonates most with their audience and ensure your content matches the formatting, tone and topics of their top-performing content.
It’s also good practice to involve influencers in the content creation process. Entrepreneur Neil Patel suggests asking influencers to help create your content or give feedback on how to make your content better.