If you’re marketing for a startup, chances are you’re juggling lots of hats, and there’s enough work for each of those hats in its own right. You’re short on time and money.
Influencer marketing sounds attractive. By connecting with the right influencers, you can effectively augment your own in-house marketing resources. These ambassadors spread the word about your brand on your behalf, expanding your reach and helping you permeate new audiences.
You want to partner with larger influencers. These people have bigger voices. With bigger platforms comes bigger audiences.
But, how are you supposed to connect with these influencers when you’re managing your blog, email marketing, events, and everything else?
Create an expert roundup post. These posts attract big-name influencers and pass some of your content creation work on to them.
Roundup post best practices
Roundup posts aren’t magical. Like everything in marketing, you need to put in some thought, strategy, and sweat if you want them to be successful.
To develop an expert roundup that earns your brand influencer partnerships, follow these best practices.
1. Plan ahead.
It takes time to brainstorm topics, find and contact influencers, review their response, and turn your post into something publishable. And that’s all before promotion!
Realistically, it could take up to a few months after you first reach out to influencers before your post is ready. Set expectations during your outreach so influencers don’t feel like you dropped the ball. Give them an idea of when you’re planning to publish the post.
Also, know that you’ll likely have to reach out to twice as many people as you ultimately want to feature. If you want your post to include at least 10 experts, plan on reaching out to 20 to 30 people.
2. Land on a great question.
It goes without saying that your roundup topic should be relevant to your brand and what you do.
But for your piece to be fruitful (i.e. become the jumping off point for future influencer marketing relationships), you need to show the influencers that partnering with your brand leads to high visibility, engagement, and social shares.
For that to happen, your question has to be interesting enough for your audience to care about it. Ideally, there are demonstrated search volume and social engagement for it.
Brainstorm ideas with your team. Then test your assumptions using tools.
- Google Trends will show you if a topic rising or falling in popularity.
- BuzzSumo reveals which questions drive higher social shares.
- You can even pose the question to your own social audience via a poll, or by posting on Quora, to gauge interest.
Once you have your topic, word the question so it requires more than a simple yes or no response, and gives influencers room to expound on their personal experience and provide a specific piece of advice. For example, SEO software Ahrefs joined the “expert roundup craze” with this piece on white-hat link building techniques:
SEOs are always looking for new ways to build links, so this is a question dear to their audience’s hearts. The question is direct, but it enables the individual experts to shine by sharing how the technique actually worked for them.
3. Identify your influencers.
You can find influencers by searching social media and Google. You can also find them using influencer discovery tools like Dealspotr, Ninja Outreach, Klear, and Onalytica. Search by industry keywords or hashtags to find the ones who are experts in your industry.
There are even influencers who specialize in talking about startups, specifically. Beyond your product niche, this may be another category worth going after. These are bloggers, entrepreneurs, and founders who care about startups’ success.
Find these people by searching for the #startup hashtag on Twitter or Instagram, or Googling “startup influencers” to find (you guessed it) roundup lists of startup influencers.
Start following these influencers now, before you contact them about a roundup post. Take the time to reshare their content, like, and post in the comments. Actually, try to form a relationship.
This will make your name familiar to them by the time you do reach out, so they’ll be more likely to respond positively, given that you’ve already established a genuine interest.
4. Make it about them, not you.
Your outreach email or DM should be as short as possible, without leaving anything out. Influencers get contacted by brands all the time. Their time is precious; so make your moment with them count.
Briefly introduce yourself and your brand. This is not the type to hype yourself up. They have no reason to care – yet.
Instead, this email should focus on making your ask clear, and emphasize what’s in it for them. This may include a backlink, social media promotion, free samples, and visibility. Back these numbers up with your traffic numbers or social media follower counts. The key is to convince them that responding to your request will be worth their while.
Using the Ahrefs example again, the company did a great job crafting the roundup to feature the influencers heavily, which is likely why they shared such in-depth responses. Influencers are promoted in a navigation section at the top, making it easy for fans to find their favorite influencers instead of forcing them to scroll.
Along with their response, Ahrefs also included each influencer’s name, social media handle, website link, and a photo. Each response also prominently includes a link to share that section specifically on Twitter:
5. Follow up and promote.
Once your article is live, email everyone again to let them know – including the people who didn’t respond originally. You may find these people suddenly have FOMO when they see the company they’d be featured among and how awesome your article looks.
Encourage the included influencers to share your post, and let the ones who weren’t included know that they can still give a response now to be added.
Observe how the influencers respond and share your post. The ones who do a decent job of promotion are worth following up with again. Ask if they want to partner up for a tutorial, a Facebook Live interview, or a blog post that digs deeper into their response. Or, just go ahead and ask if they want to formalize a brand partnership with you (and do your happy dance when they say yes).
Next, we’ll dive into examples of what roundup posts can look like. Keep these best practices in mind as you read through, and think about how you can apply these ideas to your brand.
4 influencer roundup ideas for startups
1. Question roundup blog
Question or tip roundup posts are a good way for your brand to buddy up to influencers and give them a low-level commitment to work with you. All you’re asking for is a quote, in return for a backlink, social media shoutout, and positioning as an “expert” among your audience.
That’s a decent return for not much work on their end, and it’s free influencer marketing for you.
Tortuga Backpacks was started by two guys who “couldn’t find the perfect travel backpack, so [they] made it.” The company is small, with fewer than 20 employees. Yet they’ve found a way to grow their social media following and drum up discussion around their business by partnering with influencers.
In their roundup post, they asked 31 travel bloggers and Twitter influencers on their best “packing light” tip. Each influencer’s quote was featured in the post, along with a link to their Twitter profile and their website.
The post earned over 1,000 social media shares, in large part because the featured influencers all posted about it on their own channels:
2. Curated influencer lists
Before you make the influencers do any work, catch their attention by including them in a roundup post that introduces them as a top influencer for your audience. This way you’re reaching out with a gift, instead of asking them to do something for you out of the gate.
Share it with a short message, along with the lines of “Hey, we genuinely admire you and your work, which is why we went ahead and included you in this roundup post. Let us know what you think and feel free to share with your fans!” You can personalize it further by complimenting a recent social media post of theirs.
Take a look at how curly hair care brand DevaCurl made this strategy work for them. Back in 2016, the brand did a roundup post featuring their favorite curly hair influencers.
These people celebrate their natural curls, just like DevaCurl helps their customers do. By aligning their brand with these influencers through a roundup post, DevaCurl helps their fans connect with that mission.
The post truly just listed out notable #curlyhair Instagrammers, with links to their profiles and a featured post. Some of the highlighted influencers were current DevaCurl sponsors, while others were not.
However, some of those non-partner influencers eventually became influencers. Tori, on the right above, started doing sponsored posts for DevaCurl a year later, and Lynn, on the left, was a partner then and still is today.
3. Video reviews
Roundups don’t have to be written; they can take video form, too. Consider working with vloggers to drive conversions through review roundups.
In an ideal world, no one ever talked about you and your competitors in the same sentence. Heck, no one would even know your competitors exist. Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in.
Don’t miss out on brand awareness just because you’re afraid of the competition. Consumers are looking for product comparisons from influencer experts, so make sure your brand is included in the conversation. Ask review influencers to review your product alongside your competitors, and point out the standout features of your product that make it rise above the rest.
In this roundup video, The List Show TV of 30K subscribers reviews three great lunchbox options for adults, including the lunch pot by Black+Blum, highlighted front and center:
The vlogger finds different features that make each lunchbox a great option in its own right. Black+Blum even helped drive additional views for the video, by doing a roundup post of their favorite reviews:
4. Non-exclusive roundups
As a startup, you may not have the budget to afford multiple larger influencers to write dedicated blog posts reviewing your product or host an Instagram giveaway. So, you’ll have to find cheaper ways to work with influencers.
One option is to be included in a non-exclusive roundup post, where an influencer features multiple sponsoring brands in a single post. Influencers love when brands give them this option. It makes less work for them since they’re developing a single post of content, but they can make money off that single post from multiple brands.
Unless this is a review post, the other brands should be complementary to, not competitive with, your own. Here’s an example from YouTuber MonicaRoseSF, an online boutique coach, and fashion entrepreneur:
In the video, Monica shares her must-have supplies for running her online business, some of which are her own proprietary products, some of which are affiliate links, and some of which are from influencer marketing partnerships. The brands all help Monica run her business, without directly competing with one another.
Pro tip: For a quick way to find influencers to feature your brand in a roundup post, check out Dealspotr. The influencer marketplace is free for brands to sign up, and they only pay once a campaign completes. Not only can you specify the types of influencers you want to work with, but you can also request roundup posts in particular. It’s as easy as checking a box.
Don’t limit yourself to your brand’s blog. The whole point of influencer marketing is to reach new audiences who haven’t discovered your brand yet. So ask influencers to include your brand in their own roundup posts.
Coming full circle
By featuring influencers in your roundup posts, you slowly build a relationship with them over social media and email conversations.
As your relationship grows, so will your partnership, until you reach a point where all that “free” work turns into a paid sponsorship, and they start featuring you in sponsored roundups of their own.
About the Author
Michael Quoc, founder and CEO of influencer marketplace Dealspotr, has been on a mission to create an open social platform where trend-seeking shoppers, social media micro-influencers, and brands can link up around today’s best deals. As a former Director of Product Management for Yahoo’s media lab, Michael has experience launching several innovative mobile social networking and live video services, as well as acquiring nine patents relating to mobile and social network technology. Follow Michael on Twitter at @michaelquoc.
Also published on Medium.