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Wouldn’t it be neat for a thought leader (or ten) to share something you wrote?

When we mentioned Ann Handley’s book in a blog post, we tweeted the story and CCed her (@MarketingProfs). As a result, she RTed it to her 221,000+ followers.

Though that tweet didn’t exactly go viral, our blog post ultimately received ~180 shares, a good number of which came from digital marketing thought leaders, who helped us reach their fans and followers — our target audience.

Want industry pros to share your content too? Here are 4 things you can start doing today which will grab the attention of influencers in your niche, compelling a few of them to volunteer a ‘like,’ tweet or share.

1. Include ’em

Egobait an industry influencer by mentioning them

“Mentioning them within the content usually works best,” recommends Adam Connell, Marketing Manager for UK Linkology.

This is egobaiting at its finest, and yes, in most cases, it really works! But be sure not to royally aggravate them.

Henry O’Loughlin, Marketing Manager of TakeLessons, suggests you may, “find and make a list of the top experts/resources/sites within your industry and turn it into a well-researched, well-thought out blog post.” While the upfront cost for producing such a piece can be high because it can be research-intensive, the payout in social shares is well worth it. O’Loughlin points out two proven examples of this:

  1. This post received ~100 Facebook shares and 67 tweets within a very niche community. Average posts on the site receive less than 10 shares overall.
  2. Another post, crafted in the same fashion, received ~50 tweets and 73 Facebook shares. Normal articles on CollegePlanningGroup’s blog each receive 5 FB shares and 5 tweets.

Essentially, O’Loughlin says, “People love to share things about themselves.”

Generally speaking, I share things that directly mention me or the blogs and companies I work with. Unless it’s a gratuitously flattering piece which I’d be embarrassed to share (and even more embarrassed that it was published), I’d happily support the story with a share so my friends and followers can discover and read it. Just don’t write a post titled, “[influencer name here] is the greatest person alive.”

2. Give ’em some love

Give To Target Influencers Before You Take

The age-old mantra of “Give Before You Get” still — and always will — apply.

When targeting industry influencers, Connell notes, “sometimes you may need to ‘get on their radar’ before you ask them to help you out.

“This could involve: commenting on their blog, sharing their content and following them on social media for example.” These days though, a simple “Hi, how are you?” is hardly enough.

Of course, back before blogging went mainstream, a kind comment and generous share was all you needed to build rapport with people across the social web. Now that everyone is eager to drop a line saying, “I read your article and loved it. Keep up the good work!” we’ve all become pretty numb to this superficial sort of interaction.

What really warms hearts is a well-thought comment or question. Better yet, share additional analysis that pushes a conversation forward (not backward) if you want someone to both like and respect you.

3. Interview ’em

Interview industry thought leaders

The interviewer-interviewee relationship is a special one.

That interaction tends to lead to more natural relationships.

Andrew Warner, Founder of Mixergy, once shared, “If you’re an interviewer, you can get in more doors than if you send a note saying, ‘I’d like to do a business deal with you.’ People sit down for interviews, and then naturally — it happens to me all the time — they will want to do business with you.”

Given that I’ve been on both sides of the table — the interviewer and the interviewee —  I believe this to be true. You tend to make a lot of friends when you actually connect with someone. And you get a lot of brownie points for giving them a shoutout on your blog.

How does this work with influential peeps? David Fallarme, Author of Growth Hero, explains, “[The interviewees] increase their influence while your content benefits from their credibility. Since they’re more invested in your content, they’re also more likely to help you promote it to their networks.”

Earlier this year, I poked Shane Snow, a tech journalist, publishing thought leader and the Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Contently, to contribute his thoughts on a story I was working on. In the story, I quoted him. Once it went live, I pinged him with the link and almost instantaneously saw this pop up in my Twitter notifications.

Although a share from an industry influencer might not help you go viral, at the very least, the virtual kudos is always nice, and it’s especially good to know that your readers are smart people. You can also rest well knowing they may even remember your brand and help you promote it further through word-of-mouth.

How do I source experts for my posts? Direct outreach is one way, if I already have a list of influencers I want to interview. Otherwise, I usually post queries on Help A Reporter Out, ProfNet and Source Sleuth. Within days (often hours if I’m on a short deadline), I have dozens of great responses, and generally pick out between 5 – 10 to include in my story. It’s especially exciting when someone I regularly read and follow writes in with a contribution for my upcoming article.

4. Recruit ’em

Recruit industry thought leaders to contribute content

Finally, you could — and should — recruit them to write on your blog.

CRM business Base realized remarkable results after following this strategy.

“Since launching our content partner program at Base, we’ve seen our unique blog traffic visitors grow 525% in just over 4 months,” says the company’s Content Marketing Manager, Lauren Licata. Licata knows firsthand, “By inviting key thought leaders, respected people in your industry who have large social followings, to write for your business blog, you’re able to get your content in front of a wider audience.”

Naturally, this is easier said than done. Individuals that are already in the limelight (i.e. influencers) are regularly bombarded with offers they often interpret as “please write for me for free” which tend to get discarded almost immediately.

If you’re willing to make the investment, you can hire them as a paid contributor, which will truly motivate them to share your content and get their friends and fans to do the same. Alternatively, if you’re strapped for cash, you’ll need to point out compelling selling points that’ll convince your target influencer that they’d be passing up the opportunity of a lifetime if they didn’t become a regular contributor to your blog. p.s. we’d love to have you contribute to the Shareaholic blog.

Bonus: Don’t know who your influencers are? Here’s how you can research ’em

Research Tools to Identify Industry Influencers in Your Niche

Chad Pollitt, VP of Marketing at DigitalRelevance, shares this pro-tip he uses to uncover the influencers in a certain niche. “We use web tools like Hitwise, followerwonk, Open Site Explorer and many others to identify ideal personas, media outlets, topics and influencers to target.” Connell (of UK Linkology) also recommends these tools for finding and connecting with influencers.

What’s one special technique you use to make targeted thought leaders care and share?

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