For every $1 you devote to influencer marketing, you generate an average of $6.50 – so tell me again why you haven’t budgeted accordingly.

The digital sphere is exploding with new realms of possibility, and the most successful leaders are finding the dual might of quality content and targeted influencer campaigns to be a marketing must-have.

Moving forward, we should think of content marketing and influencer marketing as two sides of the same coin:

Without relevant content, influencers have nothing to promote, and without influencers, content creators aren’t amplifying their message.

Here’s how to make this work:

How does content spearhead an influencer marketing strategy?

We spoke with Digital Strategist and Business Consultant Shane Barker to gain more insight into how he views the convergence of content and influencers, and one of the key takeaways was something we here at Brafton preach ‘til we’re blue in the face: Content for content’s sake accomplishes nothing.

“The quality of content plays an integral role in the success or failure of an influencer marketing strategy,” said Barker. “It doesn’t really matter if the influencer has massive reach if the quality of their content isn’t up to par.”

Content must be engaging, authentic and useful, and if it’s visual, even better!

Influencers are the bedrock of many industries, and audiences tend to take their word as gospel (Elon Musk, can you hear us? It’s Brafton). By leveraging the vast network of influencers and their followers, it only takes one share, one retweet or one backlink to propel an everyday piece of content to the forefront of industry conversations. From then on, your reach has fundamentally changed.

The quality of content plays an integral role in the success or failure of an influencer marketing strategy.

You can have influencers guest-produce content for you, or you can craft content and incentivize them to share it on their own platforms, utilizing a mutual understanding of rewards (sometimes this means financial payment, other times it’s a symbiotic branding/networking venture).

So how exactly do you discover the right influencers, and how do you woo them?

What type of content catches influencers’ attention?

Influencers are human, too. And we encourage everyone to speak human.


There isn’t a single piece of content that will grab everyone’s attention, so don’t immediately cast a wide net. If you’re really doing your due diligence, you should conduct upfront research on:

  • What’s currently being published in your field/shared by others.
  • What’s performing best/getting the most traction.
  • What unique angle you have to offer.

Then, customize content to capitalize on these findings. You’re not aiming to appeal to everyone but rather a hyper-specific subset of individuals or even a singular person or entity. Go for personalization, and go for something that will be worth the time (aka provide value) of whomever you’re hoping to engage as an influencer.

Tips to finding the right influencers for your brand

Scouring the internet or blindly emailing pitches for collaboration is going to cost you time and waste resources. You first need to analyze the profiles of prospective influencers and determine what stands to be gained by a relationship.

To compile a targeted list of potential influencers to reach out to, start with:

  • Identifying relevant keyword searches and hashtags: Who’s using/owning them?
  • Examining influencer reach: How many followers do influencers have? How many retweets? How many shares?
  • Assessing engagement: Are you sure influencer followers aren’t bots? Are followers starting conversations or contributing to the industry discourse?
  • Evaluate intangibles: What’s their tone, style and image? What are they like as people? Does their brand mesh with yours?
  • Investigate microinfluencers: They may not be as popular as celebrity influencers, but their followers may be more devoted and their profile may be a closer match to yours.

Essentially, you need to create an ideal influencer persona and filter out everyone else who may not fit the bill. Tools like BuzzSumo and HYPR can automate some of the more manual components of your search.

Once you have a more defined influencer in mind, you’ll need to perfect the pitch, which should in reality be less of a pitch and more of a partnership.

Tips for pitching influencers

  • DON’T send content via email right off the bat: If you do, your message will be received as just another email blast. Hello, delete button.
  • DON’T assume influencers will accept all of your terms: Influencers have their own goals and incentives, and coming across too arrogant or demanding will not inspire a positive working relationship.
  • DON’T beat around the bush: We’re all crunched for time, so be direct and honest about  why you’re reaching out and what you’re hoping to accomplish.
  • DO personalize your comms to their interests/audience: Customized content and influencer requests will receive higher email open rates and imbue a more human connection.
  • DO interact with them on social first: A few simple back-and-forths on social with a potential influencer can at least get you on his or her radar and make your opening pitch less salesy.
  • DO set realistic expectations on both sides: On first impression, your goals may not be fully aligned with an influencer’s, so clearly define the campaign and the scope of the engagement.

Content + influencer marketing in 5 years: Where will your brand be?

Influencer marketing is the natural continuation of social media, just as content marketing is an outgrowth of traditional advertising.

In the years ahead, the core audience of ALL companies and industries will be digital natives, those who have never known life without the internet.

You can’t serve this audience thin or neutral content – you need each piece of content to hold up as its own standalone interactive experience yet still operate within the larger arc of a media-rich campaign. And we know that content that connects, converts; when paired with a sophisticated distribution plan that incorporates the marketing muscle of influencers, you’ve got a strong launching point.

As Shane noted, “Influencer marketing is so effective because it helps brands tell a more authentic story about their products through a reliable source. They add a more human touch to how brands communicate with their target audience, and as a result, the audience engages with the content and develops a level of trust in the brand.”

Influencer marketing is so effective because it helps brands tell a more authentic story about their products through a reliable source.

In the next five years, B2B companies in particular have their work cut out for them, as they are, for the most part, behind the curve with integrating influencers into their marketing plans.

Conversely, B2C marketers may already be on the verge of accommodating long-term influencer strategies into their annual budgets, but they too will need to more rapidly adopt influencers as a primary marketing medium to keep pace with competitors.

Imagine the day when every dollar put toward content is already earmarked for a specific asset type and intended for a pre-determined influencer – in other words, the full value chain of your campaign is fixed, actionable and measurable.

Sounds like a good deal, huh?

That day will be here sooner than you know it.

Mike O'Neill is a writer, editor and content manager in Chicago. When he's not keeping a close eye on Brafton's editorial content, he's auditioning to narrate the next Ken Burns documentary. All buzzwords are his own.