Social Media

Social Media Marketing & Influencers

When I was doing part time marketing in early 80’s, I popularized the concept of Early Adopters. I read the book Diffusion of Innovations and hence borrowed the term from Professor Everett M. Rogers who was a communication scholar, sociologist, writer, and teacher. He originated the diffusion of innovations theory and introduced the term early adopter. I only made it popular.

Early Adopters of a technology were those who risked their money and bought the very first of everything not knowing how good it might be. This was in their DNA. For manufacturers reaching the very first buyers or early adopters was the key to a successful launch of a technology or product or service. This is almost 15 years before the Internet. Finding Early Adopters for Branding and Marketing was very difficult prior to Internet and Social Media. Social Media has facilitated this search tremendously.

In very similar ways, Social Media Influencers are the same as Early Adopters or at least their fans and followers believe they are. These days they don’t even have to risk their money. Companies will be glad to send them free products to test and influence others to buy them. Example is a toy tester on YouTube. This is a very powerful marketing concept. Social Media is growing very fast and I believe there are tons of good article on the Internet. I have selected a few depicting my future Social Media Strategy. Notice you still have to create content. Our strategy for creating content to foster Intrinsic Motivation will not change.

Alex Katiraie

Why Influencer Marketing Pays Off for Small Businesses
Small-business owners face a massive challenge when it comes to marketing their companies and products. Without the proper tools or experience, they can end up spending large budgets with no guaranteed return. The typical customer sees countless ads every day, across a huge array of channels.
The chances of a small business successfully cutting through that noise are slim. The way small businesses thrive is through relationships, and influencer marketing could be the best option. Word-of-mouth marketing is the oldest and most valuable way of convincing people to buy a product or service. Being encouraged and reassured by a trusted source has more value than any other sort of advertising. Social-media influencers have proven rapport with their followers, easily affecting the buying behaviors of those who subscribe to their feeds.
With carefully chosen, highly relevant influencers, a small business owner can target the most relevant consumers for a fraction of the cost of traditional media. Here are some of the advantages:
1. Create a cost-effective campaign.
An influencer-marketing campaign is extremely flexible, meaning that your initial investment can be quite small and a successful program can immediately be scaled up.
2. Build brand loyalty fast.
A startup does not have the benefit of years of customer relationships and brand loyalty. By having an influencer create native content with your brand’s message, you can build equity with potential customers more quickly.
Thus, you leverage the longstanding relationship an influencer has with an audience based on a crucial pre-established trust. You are essentially being introduced to the person’s followers with an implicit credibility: This gives a company a major advantage, especially when paired with the vital market research that social media can provide on consumers (from “likes,” shares and comments).
3. Achieve highly targeted advertising.
The traditional model of attempting to reach a large, broad audience can be very expensive and inefficient. With an influencer-marketing platform, you can create a highly targeted campaign by zeroing in on very specific variables, like the geography of consumers or an age group. For instance, pairing with an influencer who has a dense following in a particular geographic location and a high concentration of millennial followers could make a campaign more focused and budget sensitive. My company, InstaBrand recently executed a campaign for a jewelry company to promote a highly curated collection for men. By carefully selecting key influencers on Instagram whose followings were most likely to appreciate the brand, the campaign resulted in a fourfold increase in online sales. Reaching the right people is sometimes far more important than reaching a lot of people.
4. Return on investment is easily trackable.
With influencer marketing, return on investment is highly quantifiable. With a wide array of metrics available to your business, you can appraise the success of an influencer-driven campaign. Follower acquisition is an important key performance indicator: A follower is essentially a potential customer who can be targeted and advertised to at no additional cost. A potential consumer is more likely to become a purchasing customer if he or she elected to hear from you. You can then draw on a wide array of metrics to track the effectiveness of individual posts, seeing how well followers react to the content and if it translates to sales. Hashtags and promo codes let you monitor sales, usage and click-through rates, making them valuable indicators of a return on investment.
5. Create premium content without paying model or a photographer.
Content creation takes labor and resources from talented individuals, and a small-business owner might find it best to outsource this. Influencers are also major content creators, not just distributors. Pairing up with a fashion influencer will not only bring you marketing, but professionally produced photos that you can repurpose. Next time you’re considering traditional advertising for your small business, take a stab at influencer marketing and track the return on investment. You may be pleasantly surprised by the results.
For example, take Periscope, which was recently acquired by Twitter—it allows users to give a live video broadcast of some stretch of their lives. Compare that to simply taking a video and posting it later—Periscope users collectively watch 40 years of live video each and every day. Instagram and Snapchat also support on-the-go, in-the-moment updates as opposed to late-game retrospectives, and could collectively herald in a new era of immediacy in social media. If it catches on, you can forget about scheduling all your company’s social media posts in advance. Source:
Reward your influencer.
Rewards for your influencer need to reflect the relationship that you’re building between you two. Money is great compensation, but should be mentioned with caution. Influencers can also be paid with product, shout-outs, discounts and even commissions, if that is a good fit. Remember that you are building a relationship where the influencer should leave feeling loved, important and well-compensated for their time, effort and brand loyalty. Source:

7 Steps to Get Influencers to Share Your Content
Influencer marketing is one of the hottest strategies today, which means there are plenty of marketers out there wanting to build mutually beneficial relationships.


You’ve already researched and identified your influencers (if not, read this). Now, here are seven steps to get them to share.
Related: How to Get 1,000 Visitors to Your Next Blog Post Using an Influencer Group Post
1. Share their content.
Sharing your influencer’s content is an easy way to get them to notice you. Determine what platforms they’re most active on, and focus your efforts there. You can check up on their social pages or use a social-media management tool to create a list of your influencers. That will make it easy to view and retweet their content. Add a personal touch to your sharing by creating a modified tweet that says something positive about the piece. You can also tag them in the tweet to increase the chances that they’ll see it.
2. Comment on their blog.
Engaging with your influencer on their blog is a great way to connect with them further — especially if they actively respond to comments. Say something insightful about the post that might inspire others to engage as well. Make sure you use your real name, so the influencer can recognize who you are, but don’t say anything that can be perceived as self-serving.
3. Offer to contribute to their blog
If the influencer hasn’t noticed you yet, they will if you contact them about writing a guest post. Check their website to see if they have posted guest submission guidelines, and follow them to a T. If they don’t have any guidelines listed, then reach out to them with an email requesting to contribute.
Be sure to include:

  • Who you are and what you do
  • A detailed synopsis of what you’d like to write
  • An explanation of how their audience could benefit from the piece

4. Write amazing content.
Engaging with your influencer and landing a guest post are helpful steps to building a relationship with your influencer. Now you can see if they’re interested in sharing your content. I’ve always stressed the point that quality trumps quantity — and it couldn’t be more true when you’re trying to create content that influencers will share.
Research by Moz and Buzzsumo found that the Internet has a dearth of quality content, which is why when it does appear, it’s bound to get more engagement:


Your article should be relevant to both of your niches and be well-researched, accurate and engaging. Influencers won’t be interested in sharing rewrites of other people’s work, so be original, and offer a new perspective that will get people talking.
5. Consider mentioning them.
One easy way to get an influencer’s attention with your content is by somehow featuring them in it — especially if you didn’t manage a guest post with them before. It can be something as simple as curating a quote or highlighting positive attributes of the influencer or their brand. If it’s a high-quality, helpful endorsement, they’ll love to share it.  Mentioning an influencer in your article is a great strategy — especially for new relationships. However, you can still find success with just quality, targeted content.
6: Tell them about it.
The blogosphere and social media are crowded arenas. Even if an influencer is interested in your content, there’s no guarantee they’ll manage to find and read it on their own. It’s your job to make sure they do. If you featured them in your post, it’s totally acceptable to send them a quick email about it.
Otherwise, I definitely recommend tagging them when you share the post on Twitter. Just be sure that the post you’re tagging them in is genuinely relevant to them and their audience — otherwise it will seem like you’re fishing for shares.
7. Ask them to share.
There are only so many ways to encourage someone to share your content indirectly. If you wrote great content, built a relationship with the influencer and consistently shared their content, there’s no reason they wouldn’t be willing to share yours — unless they’re not interested in collaborating with you at all.
If that’s the case, it’s best to move on to targeting someone more aligned with your interests. If you send them an email telling them about the post, you can include a short comment at the end asking them to share if they think their audience would enjoy it. The worst thing that could happen is that they say “No,” and you take your efforts to the next influencer.
How Influencer Marketing Moves Beyond Raising Awareness
One of the biggest challenges in social-media marketing is making a direct connection between social activities and the point of sale. For the most part, social and influencer marketing are largely considered awareness-raising tactics, so effectiveness is usually measured using three main metrics: reach, impressions and engagement.
However, from awareness to familiarity and consideration, consumers at different stages of the purchase journey regularly interact with influencer content. Therefore, by working with social-media stars, brands are able to influence consumer decision-makings and ultimately shorten the sales cycle.
In traditional marketing, brands blast consumers with sales pitches and promotional messages to drive conversions. Today’s decision journey is a highly consumer-driven process where empowered customers use Internet and social media to actively seek information helpful to them. According to McKinsey, two thirds of consumer touch points with brands during the consideration phase, where people add or subtract products based on their evaluations, are customer-centric activities such as online reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations.
In today’s world, here is a layer of social relevance in the modern sales funnel — brands not only need to know who their target customers are and what they like, but also who they listen to and connect with. In essence, the idea is to understand the customer so well that you know what motivates them to make a purchase and develop content to guide them toward that destination.
So how does influencer marketing fit into the whole process?
Education phase
For consumers who have only heard of your brand or seen your ads somewhere, collaborating with influencers is a great way to get them familiarize with your brand identity and product offerings. For instance, influencers can help tell a great story that instantly elevates your brand image and fosters strong brand affinity among their fans. If your products have more technical details and require more usage instructions, influencers are able to create how-to tutorials that demonstrate product benefits in an easy-to-understand way.
Consideration phase
When consumers are comparing your products to competitive ones, reviews can be make-or-break factors for their final purchase decisions. A review from an average customer is valuable, but it can never rival the reach and effectiveness of an influencer review that is well trusted by the followers. While a typical customer review evaluates a product based on an individual’s circumstances, influencers usually test a full range of products in a given category in order to offer recommendations that cover different people’s needs. Most importantly, social validation and third-party endorsement is key to captivate today’s social-savvy consumers.
Purchase phase
Offering discounts to wavering customers is probably the quickest way to convert them into sales. One way in which influencers can step in is to weave announcements about your sales events into nicely packaged posts that entice their fans to take actions. Another approach is for influencers to share promo codes — the best practice here is to always create codes unique to each influencer you are working with, so you can track whose audience respond well. This is particularly important if you are promoting on platforms such as Instagram and Vine, where direct sales attributions are not currently available due to their mobile native nature.
Other considerations
Admittedly, brands are also able to target prospects at different phases of the life cycle by producing tailored, engaging content on their own. In fact, GoPro, Red Bull, and GE are among some of the most sophisticated content marketers out there who have successfully become social influencers themselves. However, the level of trust that people have towards influencers is unparalleled — it has been shown that offers shared by trusted advocates are four to 10 times more likely to convert than those distributed by brands. Here are some tips to help you make the most of influencer marketing that aligns with the consumer purchase journey.

  • Develop relationships. Influencers usually collaborate with brands whose products they genuinely like. Turn one-off projects into long-term brand-influencer relationship by regularly interacting with influencers on social media and inviting them to your events. After all, a true brand advocate is hard to come by.
  • Encourage full disclosure. Being forthright about sponsorship details is not only compliance with FTC regulations. In fact, including a disclaimer about the relationship between brand and influencer could boost the credibility of the brand as well as the endorsement.
  • Give influencers creative freedom. Authenticity is the currency of influence. The more authentic influencers are, the more their content will resonate with their audience. If you are merely using influencers as digital billboards to broadcast your brand messages, you are being disrespectful to the influencer as well as their audience you want to reach.


9 Social Media Marketing Trends That Could Make or Break Your Business in 2017
Social media is always evolving, so what’s next?
That’s the question I was asked in an interview recently. This kind of question can be really easy since there are so many easy candidates – IoT, VR, and just about anything to do with Facebook.
But if you don’t want to rely on the cliches of future social technology, it can be a challenge to pick out what will matter and why. I suppose this post is somewhere in the middle and I hope it helps you think about where the substance breaks away from the shiny social media objects.
The most important thing about social media marketing isn’t always the tech. It’s the people.1
A lot of what draws marketers’ attention to social media is technology: new apps, networks and the latest features on major platforms. But the most important thing about social media marketing isn’t always the technology. It’s the people and how they use that technology to create, publish, share, interact and transact.
Social media is a dynamic of consumer behaviors driving new social technology development while at the same time, new technologies that affect consumer behaviors. It’s important for brands looking at what’s next in social media to understand this dynamic amongst their own customers and broader community.
With that dynamic cycle of people and technology in mind, here are a few directions for social media evolution I think are worth paying attention to:
1. The Facebook Internet
Facebook is dominating social media usage, video and advertising and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Along with WhatsApp messaging and predictions that Instagram will soon become the second biggest social network, many Facebook users don’t really need to leave, do they? Think about that customer expectation when developing your Facebook marketing strategy and how much you can accomplish with customer engagement before they ever even think of visiting your boring corporate website.
2. Converged Social
The combination of Microsoft and LinkedIn will create innovations that will benefit marketers in some interesting ways, especially if professional social profiles become accessible and integrated within Microsoft 365 apps. There’s more convergence to come and guesses are hot as to whether Facebook, Google or Apple will buy Twitter or if Twitter will go the way of Friendster and MySpace.
Imagine what it could mean to your content co-creation and influencer marketing efforts with the integration of the LinkedIn network to Office 365. Need an expert quote for a blog post, ebook or article? Right click.
3. Hot Video
Real-time video is the hot shot on the block right now with Snapchat, Facebook Live and Periscope leading the way towards social engagement with customers in ways many brands haven’t explored before. Facebook’s own Nicola Mendelsohn says in five years, Facebook will “probably” be “all video”.
Like live TV, live video presents brands some opportunities for things to go differently than planned, like Mark Zuckerberg’s inevitably comedic Q/A with Jerry Seinfeld on Facebook live that has reached over 9 million views. On the other hand, who wouldn’t trade some awkward for the reach and exposure (159m views) of aChewbacca Mom event?
If real-time video isn’t in your comfort zone, find someone who is comfortable with that kind of exposure and media creation. Then train them to be your social champion.
4. Paying to Play Social
Social Advertising will continue to rise with even more options for advertisers. Social media advertising is projected to generate $11 billion in revenue by 2017, up from just $6.1 billion in 2013. More social networks and apps will expand their advertising offerings, just look at Snapchat now inserting ads in between users’ “Stories” and Snapchat Partners, API access that will provide access to creating custom buying and management tools.
There’s no getting around the requirement for paid amplification with content on social networks. More importantly, with Facebook’s continued efforts at putting the focus on individuals over brands, companies need to think about the collective social wisdom of their employees and community for distribution vs. simply publishing on the brand social home base.
5. Dark Social
With 84% of global social shares dark to social media analytics, there’s a growing importance, but brands are challenged to measure its effectiveness in ways that synch with other social media measurement. There’s no shortage of recommendations on how to  measure dark social, but we all need more concrete direction on this and collaboration between apps, networks and platforms to make it meaningful.
6. Social Chat Bots
Again, Facebook has opened doors for a new kind of engagement and with customers’ expectation of real-time engagement, bots may be able to satisfy basic customer service and information needs for brands. Will bots be a service or communications solution for your brand? Maybe.
At a minimum, brands will need to invest in more interactive social experiences for their community and what better what to that than a neural network and some AI?
7. Mobile First
Mobile traffic now exceeds desktop traffic and 2 billion consumers worldwide are expected to own a smartphone in 2016. There’s nothing new about the importance of mobile friendliness or having apps, but the cost of ignoring mobile social media experiences for brands dragging their feet will rise dramatically. At a minimum, make sure Google thinks your site is mobile friendly and maybe, most of your customers will too.
8. Social Media Automation
“Martech Shock” extends to social media as brands look to automate and scale. The use of social media automation tools and platform features will grow to help brands with prospecting, delivering content to the right customers at the right time and engagement – all integrated with a marketing dashboard for end to end reporting of the impact social media has across the customer journey. Just don’t think this kind of solution is “plug and play”. As with CRM, analytics and marketing automation, you will need human expertise and a strategy to make the most out of your automation software investment.
9. Social Content Participation
People are empowered and motivated more than ever to co-create social contentwith brands. If a brand makes that possible, I think consumers will be incredibly interested in partnering with companies in ways that serve mutual interests.
In a way, this kind of consumer and brand collaboration is tapping into the whole user-generated content phenomenon. There are so many ways to do it, especially because of mobile devices allowing people to participate at all times with brands on topics they’re passionate about. Content can easily become an outcome of this type of participation, whether it’s a video, image or even text. Activating passionate people within a social network environment where they can co-create and participate is an exciting opportunity to scale reach, content quantity and connect with social influencers.
Here’s the thing: Sometimes social media marketing often seems doomed to become nothing more than another advertising channel, with artificial automation schemes for brands to scale the illusion of customer engagement. While that seems a bit cynical, I also think the collective power of individuals on social networks has never been greater – for content, engagement and influence. When brands and marketers can marry the wisdom and action of the crowd with technology that actually solves a real problem, I think the future of social media is brighter than ever.
How To Get Your Content Amplified By Influencers
Do your content marketing efforts need a boost? Contributor Wojtek Mazur discusses how to identify and court influencers to help amplify your message.  Creating content can be relatively simple and straightforward, but successfully getting it out there in front of the right audience is much more difficult. To get noticed on a scale as large as the internet, you need help with the amplification of your content.
A great way to reach your target audience is through entities that already exist and matter within your sphere. To achieve this effectively, though, you need to find people and platforms that are of great influence already.  Before we delve into how to identify these key players, you should really define what value you are searching for. A large part of this is understanding what “influence” means, then finding someone who embodies these very qualities.
What Is An Influencer?
In the current world of extreme content competition on the Web, influencers are those who control the authority within a particular niche and industry. Influencers are resource persons, and thus, they command a large number of engaged followers. Most importantly, a true influencer’s words are weighty, and therefore, they drive action. An influencer’s post is certain to inspire a conversation and engage the audience. This simply means they are able amplify your content, help you reach your targeted audience and more.
Don’t Let The Social Follower Numbers Fool You
First off all, a word for the wise: Don’t be fooled by large numbers. An account may have many Twitter followers or Facebook fans, but that can mean next to nothing. How many of those followers are active and committed users? It is better to look for someone with an engaged audience.
Compare two blogs, for instance — one with a huge number of followers with no user engagement or one with a moderate number of followers with a lot of comments and shares. The one with more comments and shares may very well be better, as their audience is not only reading the content but also having more active discussions on the matter in question. Do you want to share with 1,000 readers who might simply glance over your work or 100 who will readily share, discuss and relate to it?
Twitter is another great example. Retweets, favorites and replies are all huge indicators of an engaged following. The number of followers doesn’t matter if the content doesn’t resonate.
An account with tons of followers but few retweets, favorites or replies simply has followers who aren’t engaged. If there’s a high volume of content being re-shared, however, it shows an audience that’s paying attention and diving into the content already on offer.
Identifying Real Influencers
Simply following the trends in your niche or industry is a starter for identifying influencers who matter. A manual search also can help determine those whose opinions carry the most weight in the industry, influencing a large base of active and engaged users. However, there are also tools that have made the task of identifying and initiating contact with influencers a breeze.

Use The Right Tools To Research
The right tools will not only help you identify and create a list of influencers who matter within your niche, but they also can help you determine the behavioral pattern of each influencer based on historical data. This includes the kinds of posts they like or are most likely to share, the blogs they are most likely to visit, authors they follow and so on.
Knowing this type of information will put you at an advantage when trying to establish contact with such an influencer.



Klout grabbed a lot of attention when it launched back in 2008, as it was one of the first networks to score its users based on social influence. The service analyzes your content on multiple major social media platforms and how it resonates with users to calculate your score within a range of 1–100. Klout is usually used for measuring your own social media impact. However, its score can be valuable if you want to get a quick overview of a given user’s social influence within your network. It also allows you to add topics of interest to your profile and to discover the top scoring experts within these particular topics.



The Impactana app is a very complex tool that provides you with a bunch of interesting features for influencer discovery. For starters, through researching any keyword and topic, you can see top influencer profiles, along with their scores in terms of audience reach, social buzz around them and the impact of their content.
You can also view full profiles containing detailed data about each of your influencers. This information includes email addresses, a list of all existing social profiles, websites a particular influencer is associated with and a list of content he or she has authored.
Another way of benefitting from the Impactana tool is by using a keyword or platform search to discover the most influential pieces of content on the Web. Aside from the basic metrics of social buzz, such as likes and shares, the tool provides other important user engagement metrics, such as the number of views, comments and incoming links generated by a particular piece of content.
The icing on the cake is the feature that allows you to view those who shared these pieces of content. Thanks to this, you can find those who have read and actually care about the content around your area of interest.
What Can An Influencer Do For You?
Connecting with real influencers can bring you many benefits. More than just sending traffic your way thanks to amplifying social reach to your audience, a well-respected and known voice in your industry adds quality and a stamp of authority to your brand. It works like a personal recommendation, exceptionally improving your credibility.
Additionally, by linking to your platform, making mentions of your brand or referring to your posts, an influencer can help increase your rankings in organic search results. Since this signal is one of the ranking factors search engines take into consideration, you are likely to benefit from a quality backlink from an influencer in more ways than simply reaching your target audience alone.
In his presentation, “8 Things Influencers Can Do For You,” Jay Baer named eight types of influencers, along with the functions and positive actions they take on for you and your brand.

  • The Megaphone: Amplifying your brand or content to their audience.
  • The Reporter: Covering, reviewing and reporting your brand like a journalist would.
  • The Face: Giving an identity to your brand and pieces of content.
  • The Connector: Linking your brand and content with new platforms that matter.
  • The Creative: Creatively setting your brand and content apart from competitors with unique strategies.
  • The Designer: Giving your brand innovations in terms of ideas, contents, products and services.
  • The Neighbor: Setting you up as a voice and authority within your niche through meaningful conversations.
  • The Defender: Protecting your brand during the bad times.

Once you know and understand these types of influence and benefits, it helps you set your needs and determine what exactly you want to achieve. Whether your goal is content amplification alone or something else, you should adjust your research to target influencers whose qualities and behavior are the best fit for your goals.
What Can YOU Do For An Influencer?
Relationships with influencers are not a one-way partnership that benefits you alone. In fact, such partnerships work only when they benefit from you first. Asking yourself what they may need and what can you do to help out should be the first thing you do, rather than what the influencer is able to do for you right away.
Just as in everyday life, you will likely not ask for a favor from a stranger or somebody you just met a while ago. The chances you will get help are much higher when you ask someone who has benefited from your help in the past and may want to reciprocate the gesture.
As Rand Fishkin stated on an episode of Whiteboard Friday, “The interesting thing about influencers is they need new, unique content to share all the time.” Therefore, you should work to provide them with valuable content which will make them look good and help them grow their own brand and audience.
Establish And Nurture Valuable Relationships
Influencers will give preference to members of their community who engage in their conversations, follow them on social media platforms, comment on their articles, share their posts and so on. It might be worth spending some time breeding this familiarity with the influencer even before sending the first pitch.
When initiating the first contact, offer something that provides value to the influencer. For example, you might just want to appreciate his/her last article, provide constructive feedback on the post and creatively throw in an interesting angle. You might also want to mention how you shared it with your friends and colleagues and how they, too, found it very valuable.
That’s just a first step, of course. You will need to work to build genuine relationships with influencers so that in the future, should you have a piece of content you need to amplify, it will be much easier to reach out to them. This is the stage where you can explain your content or content idea to the influencer and explain why sharing such content would provide value to his/her followers and inspire a conversation.
When this works, be sure to follow up with a note of gratitude, and even maybe a shout-out on social media. This will most certainly be valuable again later down the road.
Real influencers have an active passion and interest for what they do, so the content you offer needs to be worth sharing.  Furthermore, it’s often better to build valuable relationships — such as by sharing their content and opening channels of communication — even before trying to get any of your own work shared. Building relationships is by far the most important aspect when aiming to employ the influencer strategy to get your content amplified.
Influencers in every niche are those who have a lot of clout, so it is imperative that you employ a strategy that grabs their attention. Remember that influencers have needs, too, and only by helping them reach their goals can you hope to benefit from them.

How To Find Trending Topics for Social Optimized Content

What’s hot? What are the trending topics getting shared? Creating content around trending content can build entire businesses and feeds the content-social-sharing mill that is the Internet.
I’ve written about how to find pre-qualified “evergreen” content ideas for search. In other words, how to do research to find content ideas that you know will work well for organic traffic.
Finding prequalified content ideas around trending topics is a bit trickier – there’s much more noise. But it can be done, BuzzFeed certainly doesn’t guess at ideas. They have tools that help them identify and bubble up winners.
If you are a website owner trying to go viral and get ahead on a trend, you may not have a proprietary listening tool, but you can certainly do plenty of deep research to find the next trending topic to cover.
You may have seen Twitter Trends and you may stalk BuzzFeed Trending but here are several free (or mostly free) tools & sources for trending topic ideas.
Ruzzit is a fairly new tool. It’s still in Beta in fact.
But it surfaces new, trending content faster and easier than other tools I’ve found (also it’s free and doesn’t require a login).
It pulls social stats from all the major social platforms’ APIs and sorts them according to the most shares by time period or network.


You can also search by keyword or media type. Extremely powerful stuff, and very straightforward to use.
Try out Ruzzit here.
Trending Reddit + Subreddits
Despite the recent controversies at Reddit, it is still the “Front Page of the Internet” and general tastemaker of cultural trends. Even BuzzFeed sources a lot of content from there.
I’ve written on how to use Reddit for SEO & Content Marketing before, but never on using it to surface trending topics. First a bit of background.
By default, Reddit is set to surface trending topics. When you sort Reddit or individual subreddits dedicated to a specific topic, you are seeing which posts have the most velocity (by upvotes/comments) right now. The tab is called “Hot.”
It’s extremely powerful. The problem is that every other news outlet and website owner publishing trending topics knows this. Once you see a Hot topic on the Reddit Front Page, you’re late to the trending party.
The secret is to look at Hot topics on specific subreddits, each of which is dedicated to a specific topic. For example, the /r/woodworking subreddit is dedicated to… woodworking.
If you click on the Hot button in Woodworking, you’ll see trending topics of that topic. If you are in a specific niche, go explore all the subreddits related to your audience and have




Micro-influencers Bring Mega ROI for Brands
The expansion of social media over the last several years has given brands a direct line of communication with consumers like they have never had before. Social platforms have become the go-to for product announcements, customer engagement initiatives and customer service issues. But one initiative has started to stand out among them all — advertising and marketing.
Brands want to spend their money advertising where the consumers are most apt to see and engage with their content, and social media is a hotbed of brand engagement. A recent report said the average American checks their social media profiles 17 times a day, which is basically once every hour they are awake. So the strategy for brands seems simple — find some mega-celebrities with millions of followers, pay them to post about your brand, and watch the money roll in, right? Wrong.
Markerly recently completed a data study that shows utilizing a mega-celebrity just isn’t the best option for the majority of brand influencer campaigns. Sure, the follower counts are eye-popping and have value in terms of mass appeal, but when you’re looking to market a product or service that is meant for a niche audience, and you need a trusted and influential member of that circle, mega-celebrities aren’t your best bet. That’s when you turn to micro-influencers — folks with smaller, more loyal followings who have significant clout within their respective communities. Here’s why:
Increased engagement.
Most would assume that more followers mean more engagement, right? According to our recent study on Instagram engagement, as total followers go up, the engagement rate actually decreases. Influencers with follower counts of 1K-10K have a like rate of 4 percent, compared to just 1.6 percent for those with follower counts of more than 10M. Comment rates also decline significantly, as those with 10K-100K followers are four times more likely to get a comment than those in with more than 10M followers.
Of course, as you decrease follower counts, you lose reach while adding that extra engagement. Conversely, as you increase followers you gain back that broader reach but lose the engagement that drives sales and brand loyalty. As such, we’ve found that the sweet spot for influencers is in the 10K-100K follower range. This results in a broad enough reach while also ensuring a solid amount of engagement.
Related: 3 Strategies for Finding the Best Influencer to Boost Your Brand

Bang for your buck.
Let’s face it, utilizing a celebrity as part of your influencer campaign is not going to be cheap and could likely bust your entire budget. For $25,000, you can run a campaign with several micro-influencers within your chosen verticals and get in front of roughly five million consumer followers. That same price figure will barely get a conversation started with a celebrity — it will run you well into the six figures to work with the Kardashians or Jenners — and all you’re really paying for is bragging rights. Why spend all of that money if it isn’t going to move the needle? Where does the ROI come from?
Consider a major sports brand that is launching a line of shoes specifically for serious runners. Should they pay into the hundreds of thousands of dollars to have Selena Gomez (98.2M followers) post a photo to Instagram wearing the shoe? Or is there more value to use an influencer like Meb Keflezighi (30K Instagram followers), who is one of the most successful marathon runners in the world today? If the brand wants to engage with an audience that they know is directly in the market for their products, they choose Keflezighi over Gomez any day.   As a brand, you want to engage with consumers who are passionate about the products you are selling. Whether it’s athletic wear, mobile apps/games, clothes or food/beverage, utilizing micro-influencers will drive visibility and engagement, and ultimately brand loyalty and sales, without a mega-sized budget.
10 Marketing Tricks From the Pros
Marketing is the lifeblood of any startup – without it, the company will be sure to sink. So for entrepreneurs looking to boost their productivity with simple tricks, I set out to find answers.
I recently asked some of the smartest and most experienced marketing people I know for their No. 1 marketing hack. While all provided extremely effective solutions, I was amazed at how simple some of them were.
Here is a list comprised of the top ten, categorized by marketing experts.
Social Media
1. Boost your posts. "Give your social media content a boost. Businesses are finding it more and more difficult to get their message heard. By the latest estimates, Facebook is showing only 6 percent of a business’ content to their fan base. So give your content a paid boost. If you have more than 100 likes on your page, a ‘boost’ button will appear at the bottom of each post. Use it. For less than $30, you can get your message out to thousands of unique users."
-Rob Wellman, CEO of Social5
Related: Is Your Marketing Message Getting Muddled?
2. Load up on data, and do it quickly. "Facebook advertising can deliver the cheapest CPM’s in online marketing with the ability to test ad efficiency in real-time. Use the power editor "duplicate" tool to create hundreds of ads and change one element per ad. Give these a small budget, and you’ll quickly see what works and what doesn’t without breaking the bank. Double down on the ones that work, and kill the ones that don’t."
-Kyle Ivins, co-founder Envolve Agency
3. Retweet and engage "Don’t just tweet out stuff about your company. Engage with other companies, your customers and thought leaders in your market. Retweet their tweets and add your thoughts. Respond to tweets that aren’t directed at you and give your thoughts on those. Followers will start flowing your way."
Jason Barber, co-founder Friendemic
4. Explore pay-per-click advertising. Google isn’t the only show in town when it comes to pay-per-click advertising.
 "Google has the most volume when it comes to their ad network. But they’re far from the only option. Bing provides great results for businesses targeting the baby boomer generation. You can also look into Google Search Partner Networks for other opportunities for higher ROI."
-Jacob Baadsgaard, CEO Disruptive Advertising
5. One ad per keyword. "If you’re running a campaign with a dozen keywords and only have one ad, then you’re throwing money away. Create specific ad groups that target single keywords. Then create two to three ads for that one keyword. See which ad works best, then run with it."
-Scott Cohen, CEO of 180Fusion
Related: 7 Marketing Truths Every Business Leader Should Know
Public relations
6. Don’t brag, give real value. "The greatest secret in media and public relations right now is that the press (and your potential customers) are most interested in the value added information that will help them succeed in a given area—not in hearing promotional information from you. By thinking of your readers’ needs first—not your own self-interests—you will receive business traction and audience engagement beyond your dreams."
-Cheryl Snapp Conner, Snapp Conner PR
7. One sentence "Here’s a pro tip that’s extremely obvious, but often completely ignored by entrepreneurs everywhere: You should be able to explain your startup in one sentence. That’s it. No exceptions."
-Harrison Weber, Journalist and News Editor for VentureBeat
8. Poach your competitors’ mentions. "Create a Google Alert for your competitors’ brand names. Find out where they are being mentioned and in what context. Then, see if there’s opportunities to be mentioned alongside of them. Many times journalists and editors will write about one brand and be open to including a similar brand for parity."
-Nathan Tanner, Foxtail Insights


Email marketing
9. Trim your subjects. "Get an immediate lift in email marketing revenue by reducing your subject lines to only one word. Choose that word carefully. It should induce irresistible curiosity, while staying relevant to your message. With the right word, your open rates will skyrocket. Do some testing to really dial it in."
-Tyler Dixon, Marketing Director for SpinGo
Outdoor advertising
10. Think outside the box. "Get creative when working with a budget and with advertisers. A client of mine recently secured a ‘pay for performance’ billboard on one of the busiest stretches of an interstate. They only pay the billboard agency if a sale results from that billboard. You’d be surprised what you can get accomplished if you only ask."
-Matt Frisbie, CEO of ChiefMO
Related: 6 Ways to Get Customers Hooked and Raving About Your Brand
3 Strategies for Finding the Best Influencer to Boost Your Brand
1. Enlist Vizsense.
There’s no shortage of influencers out there, so the challenge lies in finding the right one. Companies are trying to solve this problem by building tools to collect billions of social interactions and interpret them systematically. Imagine these tools as x-ray machines, where data interpretation is only as good as the lone radiologist who knows how to interpret. Enter VizSense, which helps users interpret their data to make sure they’re targeting the right influencers by providing a team of radiologists. With a slogan like “weaponize your brand’s influence,” you really can’t go wrong.
Related: 4 Ways to Get Influencers to Spread Your Brand’s Message
2. Identify “right.”
There are two types of influencers: those who spend more time doing what they talk about, and those who spend more time talking about what they do. When the former group speaks, people actively listen because they’re inspired, whereas when the latter speaks — again — people may still listen but they’re also reading their email, checking Facebook, or otherwise attempting to multi-task because they’re not engaged. The point is, there are influencers who don’t necessarily have a million twitter followers but drive impact nonetheless.
Related: Enterprise Tech Takes the Guess Work Out of Influencer Marketing
3. Vet them.
Having “influencer” status is great — unless it’s self-prescribed. Make sure the people you target are who they say they are by verifying their identities on any of the big three social media sites (LinkedIn, Twitter, FaceBook). Look for the little blue badge that means “vetted” no matter what platform you’re using.
Connections and relationships are everything. Building a credible network of influencers earns not only greater brand awareness but also trust, making your brand more reputable and praiseworthy. 

3 Qualities to Look for in a Social Media Influencer
Influencer marketing is gaining immense popularity. In fact, it can work exceptionally well, often outperforming traditional marketing channels. The key is to connect with the right social media influencers who can help you drive brand awareness and revenue.
Of course, a seemingly endless supply of influencers can be found across popular social platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Vine. But your task to be choosy: Here are three qualities to look for as you identify potential influencers to help market your brand.
1. An audience and personality that matches your brand’s
Looking solely at follower count is a common mistake that leads to a poorly performing influencer marketing campaign. It doesn’t matter if an influencer has 3 million followers — if there isn’t a similarity between the influencer and the product or service you are selling, there’s going to be very little-to-no interest from his or her social following.
An example? While Snoop Dogg might be a great influencer to help build brand awareness for a hover-board company, you probably wouldn’t want to market a female fitness product to his following. You need to immediately sense a connection between this individual’s following and what you yourself are promoting.
You also want to be cautious because of the financial element: Securing a notable influencer doesn’t come cheap; some brands are literally shelling out millions to get their products into the social feeds of personalities with massive followings.
Influencer marketing campaigns with a mismatched personality and/or audience, then, will result in just one thing — a wasted marketing budget.
2. A social media profile with high levels of engagement
Again, follower count isn’t everything. A social media influencer with a smaller following that likes, comments on and shares content is more valuable than one with a larger audience that doesn’t engage. The latter group is going to be more likely to follow your brand or click-through and land on your website or social media profile.
So, while a global superstar with millions of followers looks appealing, oftentimes you will see more success with a more targeted influencer who has a smaller, but highly engaged, following. 
When you do identify the right potential influencer, spend some time looking at his or her previous posts and check out newer posts carefully to see what kind of engagement they experience. Take your time to make sure you find the best influencers for your brand. 
3. A true understanding of marketing and branding
You are going to encounter some influencers who will gladly take your money and post your content or promote your brand, but are people that don’t truly understand marketing.
You are also going to encounter some that will go the extra mile and interact with their followers to help your campaign be a success.
To find the latter instead of the former, ask to see examples of previous campaigns and check whether this influencer interacted at all within the post. Don’t be afraid to say what it is exactly that you want.
If you want this influencer to be involved, say so. These people aren’t mind readers, so be very detailed when discussing your expectations.
The influencers you choose should be accommodating, especially if they are anticipating a long-term relationship with your brand.
Marketing Via Paid Online Influencers Sees Dramatic Growth in Survey
Paid endorsements by online influencers is now used by 52 percent of online marketers — a number that is rapidly closing in on display ads (58 percent) as the top paid avenue for online advertising. The explosion was registered in the 2014 State of Sponsored Social Report conducted by Halverson Group on behalf of influencer marketing firm IZEA.
It’s not just the fact that "sponsored social" is second on the list of channels used, it’s how quickly it rose to popularity. When asked how they feel about various marketing channels vs. how they felt a year ago, marketers showed a far greater gap between then and now in sponsored social against any other channel. In fact, sponsored social’s momentum was almost twice that of experiential marketing and more than twice that of online display ads.
It destroyed traditional channels. Official sponsorship status in standard TV spots and ads in radio, magazines and newspapers all scored negative momentum from last year (meaning they are less favorable now).
When asked about the leap, even the industry’s biggest supporter of sponsored posts — IZEA CEO Ted Murphy — was surprised.
“It floored me, to be honest,” Murphy says. “I think we have been watching the industry and kind of seeing this happen, but I didn’t realize the support would be quite that strong.”
Murphy, whose IZEA serves as a platform to connect interested brands with willing social influencers and publishers, says the results surprised the research team at Halverson as well. He says what they think is happening is earned media, paid media and content marketing are beginning to blend. Sponsored social offers so many benefits across channels — public relations, media and marketing — brands get more benefit for the investment, according to Murphy.
Murphy started IZEA in 2006 when the industry found sponsored blog posts and social posts largely taboo. Today, the New York Times sells sponsored posts and even the Associated Press offers sponsored tweets.
While the study’s impression is that sponsored social is suddenly shifting to be a nearly universal marketing activity, let’s also be fair. The survey was a sampling of a national panel who had some level of accountability or familiarity with sponsored-social marketing. It didn’t include those not accountable or familiar with the topic, so if that universe is vast, the numbers may not be all that impressive. Despite the bias, however, the numbers are quite interesting and have implication for marketers and business owners, large and small.
Sponsored social is effective.
Sponsored social ranked first among all other channels for overall effectiveness, scoring 7.27 on a 10-point scale. It beat out experiential marketing (7.25), celebrity endorsement (6.87) and television advertising (6.54). Based on that list, it’s no surprise that 74 percent would use or recommend sponsored social in the future.
Perhaps the most interesting and tactically useful result from the survey was the average dollar amount marketers paid for each type of post. The average video post will run $554 while a blog post comes in at $384. A sponsored tweet runs $331. But the survey does little by way of telling you who charges what, so assume that high-dollar investments were with high-follower-count influencers.
The survey showed interesting upward trends for brands investing dollars on social marketing beyond a content and organic-focused program. Of those surveyed, 85 percent were moderately or highly familiar with sponsored social and 53 percent had experience with sponsored-social opportunities in the past year. However, almost 30 percent said they had no experience with it, indicating an upside potential, but also perhaps lingering hesitation. 
Some 52 percent of companies responding said they had standalone budgets for sponsored social and 25 percent had organizational budgets for the channel in excess of $500,000.
“I ultimately believe that you’re talking about a multi-billion industry,” Murphy says. “To be honest, we may already be there. The difficult thing is we’re the first folks trying to quantify this in any real way, but we already know that all the major media companies are doing sponsored posts. In celebrity endorsements, sponsored posts are included but not always broken out. So this channel may already be that big. We just don’t know for certain.”
As for how sponsored social works, companies say 36 percent of the time, money is the incentive. Free products come in closely behind at 33 percent while discounts and coupons, 22 percent, and free service, 18 percent, follow.
And Murphy says there are few holdouts to the old, taboo way of thinking. 
“I think that you’re probably north of 90 percent at this point,” he says, referring to the percentage of publishers, bloggers and influencers who are open to sponsored social. “There are still some holdouts that I would say are more traditional journalists who consider it an ethical issue. At the same time, the New York Times is selling sponsored posts. The question is no longer, ‘can you,’ or ‘is it ethical?’ The question is, ‘How are you doing it?’ Are you being transparent, disclosing properly and does the audience understand the content is sponsored, authentic and fair? If it becomes an infomercial and people feel like they’ve been tricked, it doesn’t work.“
Murphy says the audience is the most important part of sponsored social. Without the audience, the publisher has no opportunity to monetize.
It’s fair to note that the survey’s definition of sponsored social focuses specifically on a brand or company paying a blogger or online influencer to write, tweet, post or otherwise share a given product or service with his or her network. It does not take into account paid social advertising like when a brand uses Facebook’s Sponsored Posts on its own content. That would certainly tilt the scales to show that social advertising overall has overtaken other avenues of spend to reach consumers. Perhaps that balances the bias in the survey panel, perhaps it doesn’t. But we can at least draw a broad assumption that spending money to gain endorsement is a growing trend and thought of well by those who do it.
Creators are word-of-mouth advocates.
As for influencers, or as the report calls them, “Creators,” the main takeaway for me was that this type of influencer outreach seems to create the coveted stakeholder all brands want: an advocate. Results showed 88 percent of the creators — all IZEA program participants, so again biased but relevant — verbally tell friends about brands that sponsor them. What that tells us is sponsored social effectively turns influencers into true word-of-mouth advocates. That’s pretty powerful stuff if you believe the Word of Mouth Marketing Institute’s statistics that word of mouth is 62 times more powerful than traditional advertising.
Additionally, 72 percent say they share additional posts outside of the contractual agreement for free, adding value for the investment. And 77 percent say they are likely to purchase from brands that sponsor them, meaning the investment results in customer acquisition as well. 
“This is something we’ve known for a long time, but never had the ability to quantify it,” Murphy says. “To put a number to that is huge. It underscores that this is more than just a transaction for these people. When someone decides they want to work for a brand and publicly share and endorse them to their followers, it’s much more about creating a relationship and doing so in an authentic way. If they were truly fans of the brand and excited to spread the word, they wouldn’t be doing things outside of what they’re contractually obligated to do.”
The creators bring credibility to the table, so social-media purists can calm down. The most important factors they consider when deciding to take a brand’s money include whether their audience finds the content interesting or relevant, and whether the product or service fits with their content or was something they were proud to represent.
Some other interesting nuggets:

  • The majority of those being paid to create content or refer brands were over the age of 30. In fact, 83 percent of all creators were, with 59 percent ages 30 to 44. Only 7 percent were under the age of 25.
  • Food was the most prominent category of content followed by lifestyle, parenting, beauty and DIY/crafting. Health, fashion, entertainment, music, pop culture and video games ranked on the list as well. Social media (eighth), technology (11th), advertising (12th) and business (20th) were as well. 
  • Social-media paid-sponsorship posts ranked eighth on the category. This tells me social-technology companies are spending an inordinate amount of money sponsoring social compared to other industries because social is a very small, defined niche of content compared to other verticals. 
  • Twitter, Facebook and the good, old, trusty blog were the top three networks used for sponsored social according to the creators. Instagram and Google+ were close behind with YouTube and LinkedIn next in line. 

To their credit, 92 percent of creators were at least aware of the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines around disclosure for receiving payment for endorsement or promotion. Unfortunately, marketers have a ways to go. Only 71 percent were aware of FTC guidelines in the space. That will need to change, so be aware of the disclosure guidelines.
In the end, take the report with a grain of salt.
The bias pointed out in the selection of marketers, coupled with the fact that the only creators surveyed were IZEA publishing partners leaves a lot to be desired in the sampling. The total number of respondents was also concerning as only 152 marketers and 152 creators made up the quantitative part of the survey.
To be truly indicative of a wide market trend, we need a lot more responses, but also for it to be of brand marketers, not just those familiar with sponsored social. What if that group makes up less than 10 percent of the total? That would make these numbers moot. And asking questions such as “Is sponsored social a source of income for you?” to an audience of people who are paid to share branded content by a company is sort of redundant, right?
Still, the swift change from last year’s sentiment around sponsored social is something to take note of. There are brands spending money — apparently a considerable amount — on sponsored social. It is perceived as effective and is producing the coveted word-of-mouth behavior in the influencer community. You may wish to consider sponsored social for your company.
It should be noted that while IZEA benefits from a positive overall take on sponsored social and it sponsors the study, Halvorson Group conducts the survey and produces the results independently. Prior to this year, IZEA conducted the study itself, but elected to add third-party creditability and management this year.
Using both a quantitative national study and a qualitative online bulletin board as gathering points, Halvorson gathered the results and published the report. You can find it online here.
27 Masters of Marketing and PR Every Entrepreneur Can Learn From

Everyone in marketing and public relations knows just how difficult the job can be. If you are just starting out, you are wise to learn from the key players on this list of industry leaders who have succeed in a big ways in this challenging field. They are all a little different but share these fundamental values:

  • Willingness to learn and try new things.
  • Patience with people.
  • A strong sense of pride in what they do.
  • Always able to overcome adversity.

Here, in no particular rank, are 27 top experts worth paying attention to if you want to become a successful marketer or public relations professional.
1. Bryan Eisenberg is a world-famous speaker and author. He understands what it takes to turn heads in the business world, and is great at what he does. He is most famous for his co-authorship of the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and USA Today.
Related: 10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a PR Firm
2. Lewis Howes was named "5 Internet Guru’s Who Can Make You Rich" by Details Magazine and is host of The School of Greatness Podcast on iTunes. He started out playing professional football then transitioned into the business world. Since then, he has written a number of books, invested in start ups, built a successful company and sold it for seven figures. He is the guy to follow if you are interested in entrepreneurship.
3. Oliver Roup, the founder and CEO of VigLink is someone you need to keep your eye on. His company has raised a whopping $26 million for web publishers who are looking to make money from content. He understands the process of starting a new business, and he is still growing as a marketing expert and entrepreneur.
4. Zac Johnson is a leader in the online marketing world. He is the president at MoneyReign, and boasts more than 500 followers on LinkedIn. On top of the people that follow him for his quality, he also has 99 plus endorsements in PPC, affiliate marketing, and blogging. Close behind those, he has 91 endorsements in online marketing.
5. Jeremiah Owyang is an expert marketer. He is the founder of the website Crowd Companies, which helps draw crowds to different sites by using marketing techniques. If you’re not following him, start now! He has a lot to share with people who want to learn more about the world of marketing and public relations.
6. Jacob Morgan is an inspiration to anyone in the public relations world. He is an accomplished writer who just released his second book,The Future of Work, discusses how to run a business in a professional, efficient manner. If you’re an inexperienced entrepreneur, there is lots to learn from Morgan.
7. Anne Ahola Ward is an author and entrepreneur who understands what it takes to succeed in the business world. She has quite a few publications, including her most popular ones “7 Reasons Why You Have to Fire Yourself” and “Desktop is Dead, not SEO.” She knows what works in online marketing and shares tons of tips.
8. Tammy Blythe Goodman has experience in the world of social media marketing. She has taken multiple courses on the subject and has expansive knowledge on how to market for your social media business and make the most of it. If you follow her lead, you will see growth in your business in no time.
Related: 6 PR Tips for Generating Publicity for Your Startup
9. Mat Morrison knows his way around the marketing world. He currently owns the English company Mediczar Ltd. Prior to that, he was a social media strategy director for Starcom MediaVest Group. Combine this with his experience in the business since 1999, and it’s plain to see why he is a key player to follow in the social marketing world.
10. Scott Monty is a communications expert with vast experience in public relations who knows how to communicate in a way that gets results. If you’re in the midst of figuring out your business, he offers great tips to get your business that extra growth you need without spending extra money.
11. Larry Alton is a professional freelancer who knows his way around social media marketing. His writing style brings crowds to see what is being offered or shown on the page he is promoting. He is a key figure to follow if you want to learn how to market your business using a freelance writer.
12. John Boitnott is a widely-published writer who can score results. His work on alone shows his writing commands attention. If you need someone who can get you connected, this is your guy.
13. Duane Forrester has been in the business of online marketing for 15 years. He understands what makes people want to visit your page, and he’s very good at what he does. His public relation skills are off the charts – he can bring people together just by using his words.
14. Scott James is currently a brand strategist with Greenleaf Book Group. He works with people who are publishing books in the field of marketing. Scott can help people plan for the most effective marketing strategy before their book even hits the shelves. He also uses his extensive public relation skills to communicate with people in a way that gets things done.
15. Lea Ann Stundins has in-depth experience at branding for many different companies. She has worked in the field on a freelance basis for almost 10 years, and has also served as a creative director title at United Commercial Realty. Keep your eye on her to learn how to start your company using simple branding strategies.
16. Travis Wright has been in the business of digital marketing for 20 years. He focuses on helping businesses grow via social marketing. It doesn’t matter how big or small the company is, Travis is up to the job. His enthusiasm and professionalism make him a key person to follow.
17. Liz Strauss knows how important it is to communicate in the world of marketing. She is the CEO for GeniusShared, which trains people how to be good people and business smart. This combination of public relations and marketing savvy is the perfect mix for a successful business structure. Follow her if you are interested in learning about both of these important aspects of entrepreneurship.
Related: The 6 PR Tips Every Startup Should Employ
18. Andre F. Bourque is an advisor who helps companies figure out how to create the best content for their business. Couple that with an extensive journalist career and you can see why Andre is a solid person to follow if you want to gain more business knowledge.
19. Gary C. Bizzo has made a career out of nothing. He climbed to the top and proved himself to be a strong leader in the world of business, entrepreneurship and marketing. You should follow him if you want to learn how to lead your business into the future with public relation skills.
20. Eric Siu is the CEO of Single Grain, LLC. He worked very hard to bringing his public relation skills out in the open and used them build trust. He’s capable of helping companies build their audience by using a range of marketing strategies including SEO and social media marketing.
21. Rohan Chandrashekhar has a long list of achievements, most notably as the CEO of BUZZVALVE. In a little less than a year, Rohan has built a thriving clientele. He has also been published in The Wall Street Journal. He has the knowledge and experience in customer service. He knows how to please people.
22. Larry Kim, is the founder of WordStream, a company that creates software designed to make search engine marketing easier than ever before. He knows how to get people’s attention and it shows through his work. If you want some marketing inspiration, he is the perfect person to follow.
23. Steve Hall is well known for starting the successful publicationAdrants, which covers every aspect of marketing, but focuses on social media and advertising. If you want to start up your own business, or you’re trying to make your already existing business flourish, then he is the guy to follow.
24. Ritu Sharma is an excellent speaker who has made a career out of her public relations skills. Ritu took it another step and co-founded Social Media for Nonprofits. The organization seeks to help nonprofit companies expand their social media awareness. If you want to see how a leader speaks, don’t miss out on Ritu’s updates.
25. Peter Daisyme works in accounting. His public relations skills are second to none. He spends his time talking to people and figuring out how to help them sell their property online. He is a skilled problem solver and has a keen eye for helping people with property that they otherwise would not be able to sell. He’s currently working on Host.
26 Chris Monteleone has spent his entire career in sports, media and entertainment dealing with major leagues, TV networks, film studios and more. He has made a career out of building relationships and listening. He recently raised $1 million to fund his new company, Sweigh, which is a social polling platform that measures sentiment around keywords, people and topics in real time. He is a key figure to follow if you are looking to learn how to successfully package, sell and market a new idea. 
27. Justin Levy is a social media expert who knows how to market to any demographic in a way that is attractive to the eyes and is always successful. He is the director for social marketing at Citrix, and also does public speaking via his website. Justin is a great person to follow if you want to learn how to market your company using social media outlets.
There you have it. If you’re looking for some new ideas, marketing tips, or PR advice to help your business grow, these are the professionals that you need to follow. Each of them brings a particular expertise to the table with insights that will help you take your business to the next level.

5 Free Influencer Outreach Templates for Your Content Campaigns

Influencer outreach is critical for any content marketing campaign, because influencers expose your brand to a larger audience, and because your audience values endorsements from third parties — often more than they value your word alone.
According to Zuberance, 92 percent of consumers trust brand advocates. Further, found that content shared by influencers receives 16 times more engagement than paid advertisements or content presented by a brand itself. Despite its importance, influencer outreach is often one of those to-do list items that marketers fail to get around to — mostly because it’s such a huge task.
Related: 5 Strategies for Becoming More Influential
Want to simplify things? Here are five free templates you can use to streamline the influencer outreach process.
1. Initial outreach template
Once you’ve compiled a list of potential influencers, I suggest you prioritize top influencers and send them personalized emails. For those a little further down the list, a template will do just fine.
Here’s an example:
Hi [name],
My name is [your name] from [company]. I’ve been following your blog since 2013.
Your recent post [blog topic] really resonated with me. I thought it was something my audience would appreciate, so I shared it with my social media and email subscribers.
I wanted to get in touch with you to discuss [topic] further, and see if we can work on something similar together.
If you’re interested we can set up a phone call this week to discuss starting a collaboration that would bring value to both our audiences.
[your name]
2. Curation template
A common way to build a relationship with a potential influencer is by asking them to contribute to your content. Here’s a clear, polite template you can use for this purpose:
Hi [name],
Can I feature you in a blog post?
I’m writing an expert advice piece and am reaching out to all the big players in the [topic] field, and I think your contribution would be very valuable. I plan to mention your brand in the post as well, so it could bring you some helpful exposure.
Here’s what I would like to know for the piece:
[insert question(s)]
I know you are probably busy and completely understand if you don’t have time to contribute. If you are interested, I would appreciate it if you got back to me within the next seven days.
Thank you,
[your name]
3. Influencer mention template
Once you’ve featured an influencer in your content, you have to make sure they notice.
Related: 5 Ways to Maximize Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Here’s a template you can use to let influencers know you wrote about them, and to politely request that they share the content with their networks.
Hi [name],
I wanted to thank you again for contributing to my expert advice post. I was amazed by how much great advice I got, including yours, and I think the post will bring a lot of value to my readers.
The post just went live:
[insert link]
Take a look at it if you have time. I would love to know what you think. It would be great if you could like and share it with your audience.
Thanks again,
[your name]
4. Guest blog template
This template can help speed up the process of contacting potential blogs to guest post, but be sure to note whether or not they have specific guidelines before you send a message.
Hi [name],
My name is [your name] from [company]. I’ve been following your blog since 2013.
I read all your posts and I loved your recent one on [blog topic]. However I noticed that it’s been awhile since anyone wrote about [your topic idea] on your blog.
I know a lot about [your topic idea] and think I would be a valuable contributor if you let me write a guest post about it.
Here are a few headline ideas that I think would really draw your readers in:
[headline 1]
[headline 2]
[headline 3]
Also here are a few samples of other pieces I’ve written in the niche:
[link 1]
[link 2]
Thanks for your time,
[your name]
5. Invitation template
Finally, this template will be helpful if you want to ask an influencer to review your product or feature your giveaway on their website.
Hi [name],
My name is [your name] from [company]. I really enjoy your [relevant content] and am impressed by how well you’ve done with [their company name].
I’m reaching out to you because I have a product that I think your audience would appreciate. Would you be willing to test and review [product]?
I can provide a free sample for you to review, and three extra ones that you can give away to your audience.
Please let me know if you are interested.
Thanks for your time,
[your name]
Influencer outreach is a huge task, which is why it’s important to take advantage of any tools you can to make the process a little easier. These five email templates are a great place to start, though you’ll want to customize their language to suit your business and your niche.
Are you active with influencer marketing? If so, share any other tips you have for getting in contact with influencers by leaving a comment below.

Bottlenose is a trend intelligence platform that’s designed to help you filter through the noise of social conversations to find what really matters. Its Sonar trend visualization shows that matters to your business in real time.
Buzzfeed provides a wealth of social news and entertainment. While this is definitely not the New York Times, Buzzfeed shows what’s going on in popular culture. You can browse content in sections ranging from Style to Books, and the trending section shows the most popular posts.
Google Trends can help you find trending searches and the most popular searches in a wide range of categories. Click on “Trending Now” on the home page to see a list of hot searches. You can click on the calendar icon to see the top searches for the past month or visualize the top searches in full screen.
Read my previous post for more on how to use Trends.
Buzzsumo is an awesome resource for finding hot topics and key influencers. Just enter a topic, keyword or domain to perform a search. Your results are filtered by the number of total shares across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.
While you can click on a link to read an individual article, you can often get a sense of popular sentiment simply by skimming the headlines returned in your search.
Pricing ranges from a free version for individuals to an enterprise version at $499+ per month.
Google+ has its own trending list on the Explore page. You can explore individual hashtags or click on the Trending topics on the upper right to see what people are posting for those topics.
Quora provides its members with personalized information feeds while encouraging them to answer questions in their areas of expertise. The company’s mission is to “share and grow the world’s knowledge” by creating a massive database of questions and answers.
You can browse the Top Stories feed on your home page to see some of the most popular Quora content. In addition, you can search for specific keyword phrases and look at the most popular content (according to “upvotes,” comments and shares).
Reddit has its own version of trending topics. While some of the things you’ll find here are silly, this “front page of the internet” can give you the pulse of what’s hot in popular culture.
Facebook rolled out its own version of Trending Topics early this year. “Trending” appears on your homepage sidebar with a personalized list of trending phrases and a short explanation of why they’re hot. Click through to see a lengthy list of related posts.

Swayy allows you to discover and curate new content. You get recommended articles, trending keywords and topics of interest, as well as an analytics dashboard that shows the trends of your actions and people’s reactions.
Sprout Social is a system for social media management with features including engagement, publishing, analytics, monitoring, collaboration, CRM, helpdesk and mobile.
You can get a 30-day free trail. The Deluxe version is $59 per user/month and includes a social inbox; real-time brand monitoring; publishing, scheduling and drafting; comprehensive reporting and management of up to 10 social profiles.
Radian6 is another enterprise-grade tool for social that allows you to listen and engage, monitor your brand, and get insights into sentiment, demographics, trends, intent and more. You can request a demonstration if you’re interested in this social component of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
So there you have it: 11 tools for finding the hottest topics, social listening and more. What other tools do you use for coming up with content ideas and keeping up with the latest trends in your industry?

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